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Want a raise? Ten best midwest tech salary-increase pitches

So maybe your annual review date is approaching and you're really feeling like a salary increase should be coming your way.

You know you have to have a great argument for your boss to get him on board with your pay-raise proposal. You also know that dollars are tight and your boss is pre-disposed (or programmed after several years of heart-rending pleas from other employees) to ignore or discount most pay-me-more arguments.

So how can you create a pitch that will surmount that stony wall of indifference?

Here, for the benefit of ePrairie readers, is our list of the 10 best Midwest technology salary-increase pitches. Any of them (or a combination of two or three) can give you a leg up on the salary-increase selling process. Do your research, add your own personal details and enthusiasm to the pitch and off you go.

1) I am earning you money or will earn you more money in the future.
If you can show how your contributions tie directly to the bottom-line profits of your organization, you have access to the strongest argument of all for a pay raise. If you're a salesperson, presumably your comp plan already reflects the sales you generate, but if you're the company's top seller (or No. 2 or No. 3), you can always pitch for more.
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If you (as a marketing, PR, project management or any other kind of professional) can point to incremental sales that you have been or will be responsible for, that's a great thing. Be able to spell out your contribution to the sales process, the size of the order(s) and their importance to the company.

2) I am saving you money already and will save you more in the future.
Second only to the generating-sales argument is the argument that you have personally saved the company money. To make this argument, you must be able to show that the money you saved the organization would otherwise have been spent rather than saved.

In other words, you had a positive disruptive influence on the cash outlays. This is a terrific argument.

If your boss says "well, you are expected to save us money," be able to show that you haven't just saved a little money here and there. You've allowed the company to hold onto three or four or five or a hundred times your salary. People who can do that are worth a few extra bucks at review time.

3) I am worth more than I am being paid here in the local competitive market.
If you work with wireless technology and you're in a wireless-heavy town, collect salary data (as simple as visiting Salary.com or purchasing the annual industry-specific salary survey issue of a trade magazine) and be prepared to show that you're underpaid relative to your peers around town.

You can also poll headhunters and ask them what people with your background and experience are being paid elsewhere.

Type up this data in a professional-looking format and share it with your boss. The message is: "You're getting a bargain and you could lose me." You don't have to say that outright. It's a fairness argument you're making. I am worth more than what I'm getting here and I wanted to let you know about it.

4) I am being paid appropriately for my old job but my job has grown.
Maybe you're being paid a perfectly reasonable amount for the job you were hired for, but in the year or two that you've held the job, perhaps you've expanded the job description so the role is larger, more complex and more influential than what you were hired to do.

Because your boss hasn't necessarily tracked with those changes, you'll need to show him how your enlarged contribution has made a difference to the company. Some of these illustrations can be very effective at making the argument: "You hired an IT help desk person, but over the last 12 months, I've morphed into a networking engineer."

5) I have exceeded my objectives.
You can't ask for a raise above the normal level if you're merely meeting expectations. If you have blown past your goals, though, you can show the delta between what you signed up to do and what you actually did and ask for some financial recognition for that success.

Of course (referring back to our first and second pitches), you will want to also show how exceeding your goals brought new sales or new savings to the company.

6) I am desirable to other employers.
This is a tricky argument, but if you have a bit of chutzpah, you can pull it off. The pitch is not "pay me more or I'll leave" but more of a humble: "I've been getting so many headhunter calls that I thought I should let you know there's a lot of activity going on in the job market in our industry."

You are not throwing down the gauntlet. That's not a great sales technique. You're alerting your manager that you are someone who a lot of people want to talk to. If you say this, it should be true.

7) I am an up-and-comer with this company.
These days, years of loyal service and dedication typically mean bupkus when it comes to impressing an employer. The issue isn't what you've done over the years but what you're going to do next. After all, the company is investing in our future.

You need to show how you've risen quickly so far in your career with the organization and talk about your plan to continue in that vein and how your aspirations align with the company's goals. This is a great complementary pitch. It's not so great on its own as the retort can be: "Great. We'll pay you more when you have a loftier position."

8) I have unique and valuable knowledge of our products, customers and systems.
Now we get into more dicey territory. You're not threatening to leave so much as reminding your boss that what you carry around in your head is extremely valuable to the company. This is another good add-on pitch, but in some positions (product development or
sales), it could carry the day on its own.

9) I do the documented work of three people.
As much as many employers try to diminish the importance of taking on other people's work, it does save them tons of money and other resources (desk space, phone lines, etc.) when one super worker does the work of several.

This can happen after a layoff, a departmental reorganization or an acquisition. If it happened to you, say so. Remind your manager that what you do by yourself used to be done by bunches of people.

Companies like to pooh-pooh this argument with messages like "times are tough all over and you should be glad you have a job," but somewhere in the finance department, they do understand that the workhorse employees are the ones they rely on the most.

You'd be amazed at the amount of information that bosses forget over time. Be sure to spell out that what you do by yourself used to be the combined job of Sarah, Elliott, Dana and an intern. Show them the money.

10) I have another offer.
Now we're getting into the hard-sell territory, but if you're willing to play all your cards, having an offer to go elsewhere can definitely make your boss pay attention. You have to be ready to leave, of course, as many companies don't do counter offers on general principles.

If you get to the offer stage and then leave another employer at the altar, you'll have burned a bridge. Still, you may decide that those risks are worth it. I've seen it work a million times. Somehow, we're worth more to our bosses when other people like us, too. Be prepared to show your boss a written offer letter in case he's not convinced.

It is virtually certain that no rip-roaring pay raise will be coming your way unless you ask for it. The more and more well-founded arguments you can bring to the table, the better your chances for success will be.

You don't have to wait for annual review time if your ducks are in a row. Even if your first volley doesn't score any points, you'll have let your boss know that you have a real expectation of a good raise when your review does come due.

Think about the cost of living in the Midwest. (My first apartment near Belmont and Paulina in Chicago cost $215 a month back in 1980. Living in Chicago now is maybe slightly less expensive than living in New York.) Now think about what you do for your employer and how your check compares with that.

Then start your research, create your pitch and speak up!

Liz Ryan is the founder of ChicWIT (Chicago Women in Technology) and founder of WorldWIT (World Women in Technology). She can be e-mailed at lizryan@worldwit.org. Her column Nine2Five, which appears on ePrairie every Friday, is designed to keep you up to date with career trends and advice related to working and managing organizations in the post-bubble technology world. This article has been syndicated on the Wisconsin Technology Network courtesy of ePrairie, a user-driven business and technology news community distributed via the Web, the wireless Web and free daily e-mail newsletters.

The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

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