You have experience, dedication and skills. Yet however good an IT pro you are, somehow your hard work or the value you deliver is not reflected in your payslip. It could be time to ask for a pay increase.
Recently, I've written about reasons for getting out of IT and alternative careers, if you do decide it's time for a change. But you may be among the countless IT workers who want to stay on their chosen career path. And although the economy is still shaky, that's no reason for being paid less than you're worth.
Being on call
As soon people mention they are on call at the weekend or on weekday nights, I know the heavy price they're paying. There's nothing worse than staring at a phone at the weekend, knowing the minute you start to do something enjoyable, the blasted thing will ring. Anyone who has ever worked on call knows how that tension affects their time off. If you are one of those unfortunates and you agree to go on call, you should certainly be compensated for the added stress.
Captions: Jack Wallen, TechRepublic
I have skills in Linux that are relatively rare in my area. Because of that skillset, I can command a slightly higher wage. Many people with specific skillsets find themselves in this happy position — those with Cisco and Unix skills, and database admins, come to mind.
You have to think about this point in the context of a company's ability to replace you. Are your skills pressed out of a mould so that anyone in your organization could do your job? Or do you have skills that no one else could cover? If that's the case, you deserve a rise.
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The stress levels experienced in IT are high and never seem to lessen. That stress can lead to health and relationship issues, not to mention other problems. If your business thinks you should deal with that pressure in return for less than acceptable pay, it needs to be put straight. I've worked in IT shops that paid only slightly more than I could make in a relaxed retail job. If your employer values your work, then it should recognise the stress you deal with daily.
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Like your daily encounters with stress, you may be in a role where you have to deal with clients every day, and conduct yourself professionally. In fact, often it is this engineer-to-client interface that helps make it easier for a company to make its money.
Because you have interaction with the clients, your employer must trust you with its income. The better you are at dealing with clients, the happier those clients will be. The happier your clients are, the faster they will be at paying their bills. Need I say more?
If you've gone through the process of upgrading your skills, and those skills are paying off, you deserve a pay rise. Not only did you take the time to become more skilled, you may well have done so out of your own pocket.
If your employer footed the bill, and you did your classes and studying during work hours, you could still have the firepower needed to claim an increase. The obvious exception to this argument is where your employer intervened to get you up to speed on a skill you should have already possessed.
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Along with experience, maturity plays a huge part in the remuneration you should be able to command. I have seen IT pros with nearly identical skills but with vastly different levels of maturity cope very differently with working life.
Those with more maturity are often better at dealing with stress, as well as improvising when needed. But more importantly, those with maturity are usually better at dealing with people. Professionalism goes a long way in this industry, and without maturity, professionalism is a hard commodity to come by.
There was a time when MCSE certification meant something. Today real-world experience far outweighs certifications. Experience translates to a better understanding of how technology actually works when deployed. That translation shouldn't end at understanding. Real-world experience should translate directly to higher pay.
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There are times when the documented solution simply does not work. When this problem occurs, a level of creativity will help you resolve the issue. Not only that, but creativity can help you come up with solutions that are cheaper and often more reliable. But creativity generally can't be taught. You either have it or you don't. Most in the IT field don't have it, so if you are one of the lucky ones, use it to your benefit when discussing a pay rise.
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As I mentioned earlier, the engineer-client interface is one of the most critical in this industry because it's where the money changes hands — at least figuratively. If you have solid relationships with clients or users, you are far more valuable to your company than an employee of equal skill but poorer relationships.
This point is especially true if you have solid relationships with all the clients or users with whom you interact. And the more important the client or user, the more valuable you become.
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Are you the administrator who developed your backup system? Did you spend weeks documenting your entire network? Do you know your systems or your clients' systems better than any other engineer in your department?
If that's so, you can easily make a good case for a higher salary. Always think of it with this point in mind: if you left the company, what knowledge and expertise would go with you? Is that knowledge and expertise greater than those of any other administrator?
Find the right way
One final point. My intention is not for you to burst into your boss's office and slam down a print-out of this list with a demand for an increase. As we all know, asking for more money can be a delicate business. Going about it the wrong way is invariably disastrous.
If you feel confident you deserve more, proceed intelligently and with caution. Do not make ultimatums unless you're at ease with the sack or redundancy. But rest assured, if you work as hard and as well as the average IT pro, that increase should be within your reach.
This story originally appeared as 10 reasons you deserve a raise on TechRepublic.