1. Do your homework 
It's only common sense to research the going rate for your skills before negotiating a raise. But it's even more important today because of significant differences in pay levels based on your skills, geography, experience, and the type of employer. Skills in the Angular web mobile development platform or big data "easily leads to a 20 percent or more increase" in pay compared to older technologies such as ASP.NET or Java, says Aubrey Bach, senior editorial manager at compensation tracking firm PayScale.

2. Prove your worth

That value is based not only on your technical skills but also on soft skills, such as communications and teamwork. They're increasingly important as more developers deliver applications in rapid "sprints" with continuous feedback from their operations staff and business users.

Verbal and written communications skills are most important.

Also important, he says, are problem-solving skills and the ability to work with coworkers who have "...different styles, different work preferences, different ways of communicating."

The best proof of those skills are emails and other communications from coworkers praising your skills

3. Know when to ask 
It's easy to wait until your annual review from your boss to bring up salary. But it can also be the worst time to talk about money. Your managers have already formed their opinion of what you're worth, and together with their peers, they've already divvied up whatever money is available for raises. 

The best time to ask for a raise is right after a big project that ended well, says Bach, such as one that was finished on time or under budget. That gives you the opportunity to describe how you contributed to the project and other successes you've had over the past six months. 

Talking with your boss about your pay and performance throughout the year gives you an opportunity to offer a reminder of your successes and correct areas where he or she thinks you should improve. To start these interim discussions, schedule a time that's convenient—when your boss can focus on you. 

When asking for an early salary discussion, Reed suggests avoiding words such as "review." They may allow your boss to brush you off with a statement such as "We do reviews at the end of the year.'" Reed advises using terms such as "performance discussion" and asking questions such as "How do you think I'm doing on the job?" Before having these conversations, make sure your research has prepared you with the specific pay you're hoping to get.

4. Be careful of how you use competitive offers 
Don't be too quick to wave a big pay offer you received from a headhunter or competitor at your boss and demand a big raise. 

First, determine how solid the offer is. "If someone tells you a [job] is available and you're a candidate, and it pays between 'X' and 'Y,' it doesn't mean that's a job offer," warns Reed. "It's just an opportunity"—potentially. 

Don't make threats or try to back your boss into a corner. Ari Weil, vice president of product marketing at Yottaa, an adaptive content delivery network provider, recommends saying, "Though I'm happy and not looking to move on...I need to make some financial decisions, and maybe we could meet in the middle."

5. Keep your cool 
Life runs on relationships, and you don't want to burn any bridges you may need later. 

Try to explain to your manager that you really like your role, you are committed, but by looking at market data, you are not where you should be in terms of salary. Make clear how you came to your conclusion, without demanding "You must do this or I'm going to leave," says Reed. "Don't get agitated or irritated or raise tensions by raising your voice. Let them know it's a discussion, it's a request." 

And choose your battles, suggests Reed. "If your salary is $70,000 and the market says the maximum is $75,000, I don't know if you're necessarily going to walk in and bang on somebody's desk six months before your review if you're at 90 or 95 percent of the maximum." Save the hard push for when your research shows you're dramatically underpaid and are receiving numerous solid and better offers. 

And if you do leave for more pay, he suggests, send a note to your current employer that explains "how much you enjoyed working with them and restate the good work you did." 

Leaving on such a high note helps build the relationships that will come in handy when—not if—the market turns and you could be the one asking for a favor. As Reed says, "Paths cross...many times throughout a career."

 


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