Software engineering and development is by its very definition incredibly stressful work. Make the smallest slip up in an algorithm, fail to input code correctly, or push code that conflicts, and you know the stress levels involved with trying to rectify your work! Add into the mix your desire to ask for a raise and you can be forgiven for thinking about pursuing a less stressful career.
But in reality, asking for a raise as a software engineer should not be stressful. In fact it is necessary not only for your own career progression but equally for your sense of job satisfaction. After all work is just a little bit easier if you are paid appropriately for having to deal with it. Moreover in a post COVID-19 world, where digital technology is estimated to have accelerated development by five years, it is people like you who will ultimately ensure that the global economy stays afloat.
So, first things first, stop dwelling on the prospect of asking for a raise and whether you should or should not raise it with your management team. If you truly believe that you are entitled to a raise, you should ask for one and here is a step by step guide about how you should go about asking for it!
How to ask for a raise as a software engineer:
- Put together a list of accomplishments to justify a pay raise
- Check to ensure your employer is able to offer you a raise at this time
- Prepare how you will ask and how much you will ask for
- Plan the right time to ask for a raise
- Make a list of alternative requests in the event your ask is denied
Let’s go through each of these steps in more detail.
Step 1: Are you ready for a raise as a software engineer?
As you are no doubt aware, software engineering is a fast paced career setting. It is not uncommon for many software engineers to achieve raises and promotions in next to no time at all. However before you even contemplate how you might go about asking for a raise with your management team, it would be wise to first ask yourself an incredibly important question. Are you ready for a raise?
Sometimes in our eagerness for a raise we can all be guilty of overlooking the fact that we might not be in a position to ask for one. So really look at your situation and have an honest conversation with yourself. Have you just started working as a software engineer, and if so is it too soon to be contemplating a raise? You might think you are worth more than your current salary, but perhaps it would be wise to prove your worth by establishing excellent work results over a more substantial period of time? After all you don’t want to come across as too forward and cheeky, especially if there are other software engineers who have been working longer than you in your workplace and who are the natural front runners to get any sort of raise on their salary.
Always remember: if you are not ready, do not ask!
Step 2: Is your workplace capable of offering you a raise?
As a software engineer, you know that the technology sector has big losses and big rewards. There are strict margins involved when it comes to developing the latest technology, be that the next big app or eCommerce technology.
Some companies with seed or venture funding aren’t profitable yet. While they may be trying to find and employ the best talent in the industry, they will likely have a ceiling for how much they can offer.
Therefore always make sure that your workplace is in a financially sound position to be able to offer you a raise. Failure to ascertain this can mean that if you ask for a raise unknowing of the fact that your workplace is struggling to balance its books, can make you look out of touch and willfully ignorant. This can also harm any chance of you achieving a raise in the future!
Step 3: Prepare how to ask for a raise as an engineer
If you believe you are justified for a pay raise, and that your workplace can afford a pay rise, it is time to move on to step three. Perhaps the most important step, step three is all about deciding what you are going to say to your management team, when you approach them to ask for a raise.
It is simply no good to hang around the water dispenser or the coffee shop and drop your request into the conversation with an unsuspecting manager. This is wholly unprofessional and will be just as awkward for you as it will be for them. Plus the chance of you actually being taken seriously will be close to zero as you have not approached your management team in a serious fashion.
A cavalier attitude with your request for a pay rise will give your management team every reason not to give you one.
So work out what you are going to say before you say it. Recite your reasons to yourself why you feel you deserve a raise. For example, your excellent work results, your excellent problem solving results or your crucial role within your team. Always use evidence to back up your request. Never rely on just your opinion. When it comes to a pay raise facts more often than not will get you that raise.
You will also want a general idea of how much to ask for. This figure can be based on either a percent increase, or bringing you up to your market rate if you are underpaid.
Step 4: Plan a meeting for when you will ask
Once you have worked out what you are going to say to your management team, the next step is to plan a meeting. Just grabbing their attention as they go about their business or dropping them a rather lackluster email outlining your request for a raise will achieve nothing. You are a serious software engineer and as a highly skilled professional, you should always approach your management team with issues about your salary in an equally professional manner. That is why it so important that you take the time to book an appointment to see them face to face.
This can be done virtually or in person. It will give both you and your management team an appropriate time whereby you can make your request and give your reasons. Then, your management team can give their response immediately.
If you want a bit more direction on when to ask, view Raise Guide’s article on when to ask for a raise.
Step 5: Be prepared for the answer
Sometimes no matter what you say and no matter how you can justify getting a pay rise, your management team will politely refuse. Be prepared for a No. After all there is no guarantee that you will achieve a pay rise on the first time of asking. But do not be disheartened and it is important to ask the question again at a later date. At that time circumstances within your workplace might have changed in your favor. And you might be granted your pay rise.
In the event that you may be denied a raise, prepare for two requests. First, put together a list of one or two non-financial asks you could request. These could be more additional vacation days, home internet reimbursement, or other perks that allow you to perform better in the role. Second, ask your manager if you can check-in in the future on a raise, and ask what timing would be best. Three months from now, six months from now, a year from now? With this info, your manager won’t be surprised when you bring up the conversation again on that agreed upon date.
For more ideas, see our guide on when you are denied asking for a raise.
No matter what happens, always be prepared to move elsewhere if you keep getting a ‘no’. Remember that as a highly skilled software engineer. You have the skill set and expertise to chase your pay raise elsewhere. And another company may offer more than your current employer could offer even with a pay raise. Never just settle for less if you know that you are worth more than your current salary.