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How To Ask For A Raise

Janahan Sivaraman
Janahan Sivaraman
3 min read
How To Ask For A Raise
TC (total compensation) = base salary + bonus + stock

I got a 48% raise this year.

I didn’t threaten to quit. I didn’t get competing offers. Even with inflation at 17%.

I thought you had to do both, but luckily I saw this LinkedIn post from Louie Bacaj in Feb 2022 - during Performance Reviews.

Let me walk you through how I implemented this.

I suggest having this discussion with your manager during your 1-on-1.

Don’t Threaten to Quit

This splits your manager’s focus between increasing your pay and who will replace you.

There will be forms to fill out and people to persuade to increase your pay. That will take time. So will planning on who will replace you.

Your manager is already overloaded with work. Don’t add 2 things to their plate.

They need to be focusing on your money so let them.

Be Precise and Consistent

I let my manager know my exact expectations for base/bonus/stock compensation in dollars.

This way the goal posts cannot shift through the negotiation. Reiterating these is helpful for maintaining alignment. Each 1-on-1 you should say these numbers out loud.

Each 1-on-1, reiterate your commitment to the mission and focus on all the big opportunities to be won this year.

Relationships are the foundation of stability at work. People at work love stability.

Be the rock.

Prepare your manager with your achievements

I sent my manager the Github link to my Brag Doc over Slack.

He was able to use the Brag Doc during calibration meetings. As a basis for conversations he had to have to get my pay increase approved. And even in meetings with higher ups.

Preparing your manager for these tough meetings will build trust in your relationship.

Point to the roadmap for this year

I work as an engineer in HealthTech company. I run a HIPAA compliant cloud platform that developers run their applications on.

My roadmap looks like features or stability initiatives for platform component teams. One feature we’re working on this year will enable log shipping from mobile devices. The apps on these mobile devices will open up new lines of business.

Since there’s no money like new money, management will love it.

It’s super helpful to know how your work affects the bottom line.

Point to the market, that people like you earn way more

Right before these conversations, Amazon announced it was raising the ceiling on base salaries from 160K to 350K.

That’s a 118% increase.

Article link here

I was able to reference this as a competitor honoring a shifting market.

Additionally, you can leverage levels.fyi for seeing what the market is paying. When I did, my manager dismissed them as “self-reported”. Your mileage may vary.

Point to your own life and why you need this raise, make them feel your circumstances

Rents in NYC were up 33% over the prior year.

Groceries close to 50%. Without at least a 17% raise, I’d be taking a pay cut. I let them know that would not meet my expectations.

You could point to wanting to buy a house. Or you want to grow your family. Or taking care of a loved one that fell on hard times.

Make them honor your humanity.

In a world where humans are referred to as “resources”, it can be easy for people to forget the real life ramifications of withholding money.

Start this conversation with your manager but don’t stop there

I got 7 endorsements from colleagues at or above my level for my Brag Doc.

Social proof is persuasive. I regularly meet with folks in my department to understand what they need help on.

For example, last year we had to make a reverse proxy HIPAA compliant to externalize a consumer app. That same technology work was re-used (instead of re-invented) in another part of the business simply because another Director and I connected.

Give, give, give, …, ask.

Parting Thoughts

Conventional wisdom says the only way to get a raise is to get competing offers or threaten to quit.

But what if I like my teammates? What if I like the work I do? There had to be another way.

Pointing to the market and pointing to your own life will send a strong signal to most good managers. It’s a subtle nudge that if they don’t do something, you might start looking.

I used every tactic in this “TC Prep” strategy and got a 48% raise.
And it will get you paid too.

Please reach out to me directly (janahan at janahansivaraman dot com) if you ever want to talk compensation negotiations, would be happy to help :)

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