February 2, 2010, 5:38 am

How I got 3 Salary Increases in less than 12 Months (and how I have 2 potential salary raises in the next 6 months!)

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Career
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***before we start with this post, please vote for me for the Free Money Finance March Madness. You just have to write “figures” in the comment section of this post. The winner will give $1,000 to a charity (paid by Free money Finance)***.

As you already know, I am looking to increase my income in order to pay back my parents faster. I have spoken to a few head hunters and participated in an interview, while I seem to have a very interesting profile, they all choke on the schedule of 4 days a week  ;-). In fact, I know that I am privileged at my current employer and on top of that, I really like my job. However, this doesn’t mean I can’t make more cash, right?

Due to recent events, I have received a third salary raise in the span of 12 months. I actually jumped my income by another 4.6% last week. How did I accomplish this? Patience please, I am going to tell you in this article. Getting a salary increase is sometimes easier than we think!

To begin with, I would say that asking for a raise is like playing poker, here are a few rules I used:

Know What Your Hand is Worth (you can’t ride the table with a pair of clowns in your pocket!)

Before you start betting, you must know if you have a winning hand or not. So I started to look at what kind of job offer was on the market and what kind of employee profile I have. I soon realized that I could earn more by working downtown and that I fit the financial planner profile sought after in today’s market. This is why I approached my employer and asked to move downtown. For me, it was another way to ask for a raise indirectly (I have already had 2 raises this year based on my performance).

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Know Who Your Opponents Are (talk to a few people before sitting at the table)

During a poker game, you certainly don’t want to make enemies just as you don’t want any specific player to try to nail you more than others. When you are asking for a raise, you better make sure you know who you will ask and how to go about it. Managers react differently to this kind of request and this is why there is a preferred method and time to ask for a raise. The first raise I received was during the time of the year they position each employee according to the salary grid. Then, I asked for another raise at the end of the financial year (in November) based on my overall performance and on the basis that I have finished my MBA. The third one (that I just got!) was provoked by a position opening in downtown Montreal. While it was almost impossible for me to move from one branch to another in the same area (our branch is considered downtown but we don’t get the downtown premium ;-) ), I thought of applying and explained that it was because I want to be paid the premium (as the branch  next door is only 10 blocks away!).

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Know When and How To Bluff (you don’t want your employer to give up on you, right?)

When you ask for a raise, you need to put a little bit of pressure on your employer so they realize what life could be without you. This is why it is always good to mention that you recently turned down head hunter offers because you are happy with your current employer and that you believe that you will be able to find a solution to your salary situation. So they know that other companies would like to have you on board but you didn’t threaten them. If your bluff is too cocky, your employer will obviously give up and tell you that you may be happier elsewhere… be careful!

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Know When it is Time to Pull Your Chips off the Table

We all want more money (all the time!) and a raise will keep you happy for only so long. However, at one point, it is important to avoid pushing your luck. I was able to get 3 increases in the same year and they are now looking at the option of giving the downtown premium to our branch (which would become my 4th raise in a span of 12 months!). However, now that I have pushed the HR machine to the max, I’ll just watch it run and see what comes next. I won’t ask for anything or apply more pressure. It is actually time to pull my chips of the table and start working to show them they were right to give me this raise.

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Play your winning hand till the end (you want to use each card in your hand)

When you ask for a raise, there are not only the market and your performance you can look include. While those 2 aspects will greatly affect  the negotiations, you can also talk with colleagues about their current situation and ask what your direct manager thinks of all of this. If you were not able to sell yourself to your manager, he won’t be able to turn around and ask his boss or the HR department (remember the evil group that holds the purse strings ;-( ) to increase your income. Since he will do most of the hard work, it is important to supply the ammuninition for him to work with, give him argument and keep doing an awesome job. Never let him down, talk behind his back or complain about your situation. Keeping a professional attitude will definitely lead the way to your next raise ;-).

If I am lucky enough, I should also get another income increase this upcoming June. While this one will be modest, it will still be another raise. So if we can have the downtown premium and the summertime raise, this will total 5 increases in the span of 14 months! After that, I better shut my mouth and work hard ;-)

One last thing, regardless if you achived what you were asking or not, keep your mouth shut. You don’t want to create inflation in your company as your manager won’t appreciate that you tell others that they can earn more ;-).

Image sources : Boasor Teecareca, Blaine Rumsey, Dupo, Plutor, Tiago Ribeiro

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Comments

Just love the article, well done TFB. I would agree 100% with you. I think too many people think that raises will come without even asking. They will, but not as often and not as much.

Question for you, what do you consider as the downside risks of playing such an agressive “game” ?

figures

This is very good advice for those in competitive industries, like finance. I’m not sure how well it would play out with other types of employers. I would imagine the advice would be different for those working for companies that are not seeing much success due to the downturn in the economy.

Hey IS,

I would say that the downside is that if you fail and your employer doesn’t like the “agressive game” you are playing, you may end-up with a very bad work ambiance ;-)

Your employer can’t fire you because you are seeking for a raise but he can certainly make your life harder if he doesn’t appreciate it ;-)

As long as you don’t confront your employer and that you are diplomatic in your request (never put an ultimatum unless you really mean it), this should go smoothly.

@ RainyDaySaver,

you are right, if you are working in another industry where there has been lay offs, maybe it’s not the right time to ask for a raise. However, if you work hard, when the economy comes back, you should be part of the firt ones to be compensated for your work.

Fantastic article. By the way, congrats faire having so many raises, you deserve them!

I liked the analogy with poker a lot. Nice one there!

Know when and how to bluff seems to be a big one in my opinion..great post and congrats on the raises..you rock!

Agree with Ken… you rock ;-) !

I just begun my master, so there is still 3 years to go before I can ask for an increase on this point… but I won’t forget when I’ll get my paper in my pocket beleive me :-) !!!

I’m looking forward to get more responsibilities… if I can get a team to manage «officially», I can get a bonus for team management, which is interesting on the short term.

by: The Financial Blogger | February 2nd, 2010 (12:28 pm)

@ Ken,

you are right. If you push too far, you will end-up with nothing and with a very big problem : people at work disliking you!!

@ Mama Zen,
the key point is to be able to do your job, do it great and still complete your master at the same time. Believe me, it is VERY tiring, but the rewards are huge (I just finished my MBA in September 09 ;-) ).

Good luck with your project!

Well thought of article.. great strategy you got there, having read all this I think you are right most employers will not give a raise if there’s no pressure. I was just amaze on how you’ve come to this plan and became effective. What if something unexpected comes and not within these work plan you have like company closure, maybe you have some tips there; anyway thanks for a great post

I have to agree too ;) one of the best post. I really like the analogy.

But don’t gamble too much, you could get addicted hehe

TFB – What is the point where the employer calls your bluff and says “cya!”?

Also, what if your employer or colleagues read this post and know who you are? Or, is this never going to happen?

They usually don’t call bluff unless you play aggressive and arrogant.

I guess it would never happens since most people I know don’t read english ;-)

But I would say this would”nt be funny if they find out ;-) I love to live dangerously ;-)

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This is a very good strategy overall. However, I would always have a job opportunity waiting in the wings before taking the strategy very far, in case they call my bluff.

Sounds like a good plan/strategy, but a little risky aswell if you have family, kids etc etc to take care of, every month.

Great advice. Poker player I see. You ever consider making poker another income stream? Your previous two raises on performance, was this company wide? Sounds like you work for a great company, will be tough for you to leave, unless your empire calls for it. :)

by: The Financial Blogger | February 13th, 2011 (6:11 pm)

@Buck,
I like playing poker but I doubt I could make money out of it on a regular basis. I’m too “gambler” to play on a regular basis ;-).

I looked at Montreal’s market (where I work). this is how I base my performance. I’m part of the top 5 out of 90-100 planners for my company (for 2 years in a row). I guess they don’t lose much by giving me more money ;-)

Life is good at my day job but it is never as rewardind as working for yourself… I guess I’ll be able to make the jump to my online company in a few years ;-D

i agree with Karen, having something lined up gives you more fire power and reflects in your direct, confident communication

Nice article you got in here. Yes, increasing our salary appears to be quite difficult but we have to put on the right approach for it to work and for you to achieve results. We need first to set a goal, a goal that can be as simple as I want to increase my salary by 15%. Next, get organized, do your analysis, negotiate your best deals and keep on trying.

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