Smart Strategies for Getting a Pay Raise

A few years ago, my previous manager confirmed my biggest fear – I was being underpaid.  “It’s not my fault your salary is so low,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how low your salary was when you came into this department two years ago.”

His words hung over me like a great big cartoon bubble.  They made my stomach turn inside out.  They made me furious.  First, at him.  Then later, at myself. 

That conversation that made me realize I had to do two things: 1) stop working for this gooberhead, and 2) step up and fight for the salary I knew I deserved.

Three years after that conversation, I recieved a 35% salary increase (same company, different manager.)  Below are a few of my salary strategies that may help you get a beefier paycheck, too! 

  1. Work with people who value you!  
    If you’re performing high quality work but not being financially rewarded, then you’re working for the wrong person. I’ll say it again – you’re working for the wrong person!  The key is to work for managers or clients who value, respect, and appreciate your strengths and accomplishments.  When you work for people who appreciate you, they’re more likely to do everything they can to get you in the “right” pay range.

    I’m not talking about working for someone who has a job and needs someone to fill it.  I’m talking about someone who values your performance and has the means to pay for it.  Big difference.  One thinks anyone can do your job.  The other thinks you’re one of the elite few who can do your job.

  2. Put Yourself Out in Front! 
    She who gets the biggest results, gets the biggest raise.Doing your job successfully won’t get you a big raise.  Doing your job smarter could.  Stop thinking that working 70-hour weeks, attending 10 meetings a day and doing the work of four people will make you worthy of a higher salary.  It won’t.  It’s not the quantity of work you’re doing, but the quality.  

    Go for projects that are highly valued and highly visible by senior management.  Focus on initiatives that will generate revenue, save costs, or make the company more competitive.

    Search out ways to gain visibility and strengthen your credibility with senior managers.  This means stepping up and leading, or at the very least being a major contributor on these high profile projects and teams.  

    Yes it’s scary.  Yes it’s risky.  But if you want to keep playing it safe then get use to those 3-percent annual pay raises. (There’s nothing wrong with a 3-percent raise, but this article is for those who feel like they’re grossly underpaid.)

  3.  Know what you’re worth – and demand it. 
    There’s no excuse not to do your homework and find out what you’re worth in today’s marketplace. Find out what your job role is currently paying in positions inside and outside the company by doing a little research.  One of my favorite sites is    

    Also, check out salary calculators and reference guides on,, and Ideally, the more salary ranges for the same job role in the same geographical area that you can compare, the better. 

    Once you’re certain of the salary you should be making, then it’s time to meet with your manager.  Focus on three things: 1) clear and measurable results that you’ve delivered, 2) what the job is currently paying in the marketplace, and 3) the salary range that you want.  Be logical, not emotional. Remember, you rarely get paid what you’re worth unless you ask for it – or in most cases, demand it! 

And finally…
One of my clients ended her pay pitch by saying, “Every day I give 110% to this company.  I’m just asking for that last 10%.”  She got her 10% raise!  Hallelujah, Sister!!   :)) 


Sherri Thomas is President of Career Coaching 360, an international speaker, and author of “Career Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand” – on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books!  Career Coaching 360 ( provides career planning, management coaching, and leadership development support to help professionals change careers quickly and easily.   To learn how you can reinvent your career quickly and easily, visit Career Coaching 360′s website for resume help, interviewing support, and personal career coaching packages. 

Is Your Resume Getting Results?

Take a look at your resume. Is it getting you results? Today’s job market is extremely competitive – having a good resume isn’t good enough. Many clients bring me their resumes complaining about not getting interviews and about how there just aren’t enough jobs out there. In reality, millions of people will get new jobs this year. So, why aren’t you one of them? The answer may be because your resume is not sending the right message.

Your resume must prove you are a clear, focused and results-driven individual who can provide the value the company needs. Employers or new clients want to see the value and the results you provided in your last work environment, so state your accomplishments in terms of dollars, percentages and numbers. How have you impacted the bottom line? Highlighting your skills is critical, but stating specific results of your accomplishments will get you the job interview.

To ensure your resume is giving the right message, I encourage you to have it professionally written, or at a minimum, professionally critiqued. The result can not only give you the edge for getting an interview, but it can help you get a higher starting salary. This can mean tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career! A resume coach may also provide great insight about the skills and qualifications valued within the industry.

Salary negotiation research tools

In my previous post I started discussing how to know if you’re getting paid what you are worth. Today I will give you some tools to use in your research and some tips to help in your salary negotiations.


Find out what the position is currently paying for similar work in similar environments (including positions inside and outside the company) through —

    * On-line job search engines (e.g.,,, etc.)

    * Company websites (your company and others in the same industry)

    * Business Journals

    * Specialized Trade Publications

    * Personal networking contacts

    * Newspapers/Classified ads

    * Published salary surveys

Below are five excellent reference websites that offer salary calculators and reference guides. You may be required to subscribe to the service in order to obtain accurate, high quality information:

Once you have the salary data, the best indicator of the market place is to combine a number of different salary ranges set for the same job by at least a half-dozen employers rather than just relying on one company’s salary range. Ideally, the more salary ranges for the same job in the same geographical area that you can compare, the better.


Then, add all the minimums together and divide by the number of salaries you’re comparing. Do the same for the midpoints (the average of the minimum and maximum), and maximums. This will give you the range of the job’s the market value.


Now you can determine where in the range your current salary is. The norm is that the midpoint (the average dollars of the minimum and maximum of the range) is ideally where you should be after 5 or so years in that position. This is not an absolute but more of a goal to assess your value.


And finally…


The second thing you need to understand (and this is more difficult) to determine whether you are at the high end or low end of the pay scale is that various companies may offer different salary ranges due to the company’s internal salary policies and practices. There may be hiring policies stating that no matter how much experience you have, the best starting salary offer would be no more than a small percentage above the minimum starting point.


Of course, this is to help avoid internal salary issues. Also, despite your position and responsibilities, if the company has not kept up with the market movement for its current employees then they are not very likely to pay more to a new hire than they do for current employees. So even though a company may recognize and value your experience and skill-set, the salary offer may be minimal to avoid any potential internal salary issues.


After you have done your research and are more educated about your worth in the marketplace, it may be a good time to schedule a meeting with your manager to inquire about a potential pay raise! Now, go forth and prosper… and know your worth in the marketplace.