4 Tips To Help You Get A Pay Rise!

If you're anything like me, then you'll want to get paid as much as possible for the time you spend working.  When I worked within as an employee, one of the things I noticed at the different companies where I worked, was that no matter how good (or bad) they said I was working, when it came to talking about a pay rise, each company always had a reason why I had to wait a few months until we could get the pay rise finalized.
If you look at a company's employees, putting off raises makes sense as the majority of companies would prefer to pay you as little possible for as long as they can away with it.  In today's guide, I'm going to cover some tips to help you get that promotion quicker.

The Amount You Get Paid Will Be Tied To The Value You Offer The Company

This tip is probably the most obvious.  You'll only get paid more if you start doing more in your role.  As Spiderman famously said, "with responsibility comes greater power".  From my experience, power equates to more money in your back pocket. 

Over the years, I've seen a lot of developers bitch and whine that they deserve more money, however, in most of the situations, people think they deserve more simply because they've been at the same job for a long period of time. These folks are still doing exactly the same tasks they did a few years' ago, but think they are entitled to more money simply because of time.

Some developers are underpaid and deserve more money,  but the quickest way to get more money is to make yourself more valuable to a company.  We've all read about becoming a rockstar developer or learning to become the company's linchpin.  This advice might seem a bit cliche and actionable, but it's true. If you can position yourself in that role then you will be able to command more money.

So, the next question you should be asking...  how can you become more valuable to your employer?  The answer to this question is another obvious answer, however, very few people I've worked with actually commit to it...  you need to put in your freaking hours.  Now, when I say put in hours, I don't mean simply working longer, never going on holiday and having no social life... that would be silly. 

When I say put in hours, what I mean is spending a chunk of time every day, or every week, doing deliberate practice.  If you're confused about the difference between practice and deliberate practice then an analogy might help. Think about the differences between a painter and decorator and an artist like Leonardo da Vinci.  Now, no matter how long a painter and decorator paint walls, he's never going to develop the skills to be the next Leonardo Da Vinci. This principle applies to your work and programming as well. Within the first few months on any job, you generally learn a lot of new skills, then after a period of time, say 6 months, you get the way your company works and you know enough about the technologies and products they use to get on with your work without thinking about it too much.  So tip one, you need to put in the time, but, you need to put in the right time!

The Simplest Tip To Put You In The Top 10%

I read a great sales book when I was 18 by someone called Brian Tracey.  His tip was stupidly simple and obvious, but it's probably had the biggest effect on my career.  He said to read/listen to 5-6 work related books a year, every year, for the rest of your career, and you'll eventually, by default, be in the top 10% simply because hardly anyone else will bother to do the same.  
If you can follow this process for 10 years, that will mean you'll have read 50 programming books.  Now, consider most developers will only ever read 4-5 programming books in total in their whole careers, by having exposure to all that different knowledge and ways of working, your level of expertise will be significantly higher than most other developers.  Not because you're gifted with god-like powers, you just put in a tiny little bit more effort than 99% of your peers and you spent your extra time wisely, not simply doing the same thing over and over again.  

Developers Are Bad Communicators...  Don't Be One Of Them

When I started my career, one of the most frustrating aspects I had was working with people who knew a lot less than me, but who thought they knew how to do things a lot better than I did.  In most of the situations, I don't think this difference in attitudes was an intentional difference, I feel the difference was more down to that I had a certain 'technical' way of looking at the world, with technical expectations, while someone who was more business focused, had a business way of looking at the world.  Neither of us knew how to translate our thoughts and feelings to each other very well, so naturally, friction occurred.  
In the software industry, it is very common to work with project managers, BA's, stakeholders, directors, content people, marketing etc..  who aren't very technical and who won't technically understand what we're building, who don't understand why software is complex and why certain tasks have to be in done in a certain order.
I've spent 11 years learning how to technically deliver websites and the one thing I know for certain is that there's a ton of stuff I don't know.  Most non-technical people have a fraction of the knowledge that I do, but they still have their own wants and desires for the project. If I don't know everything, how are these business people going to know everything?
Learning how to effectively commute with different people within an organization is the most vital skill you will need to learn to get paid more.  I don't think developers are communicators, I think that when a lot of people say this, what they mean is that developers have a hard time translating the technical talk into a way that business people can understand.
Regardless of how much of a waste of time you think learning to communicate is, you ask your boss, read a book and everyone will say the same thing.  Luckily, there are a ton of books to help people communicate, so following on from the tip above, when you commit to reading 4-5 books a year, make two of them books about communication rather than just every book being technically focused.  The developer who has a better grasp of programming than their peers and who is better at talking to other people in the business will become the indispensable resource, who the company has to pay more.  

Be Independent

If you followed the advice above, you've started to read some books on communication and learning new tech skills, then the next step is to never ask for help again.  This one sounds odd but it's one of the big differentiators between the top guys and the middle guys.  

It might be tempting to ask your coworkers for help, even if it eats up half your day, but learning to solve problems on your own is an essential skill to take you to the next level.  Just look at your team, you'll likely see that the most senior engineers rarely, if ever, ask for help, while the junior engineers ask for it constantly.
To get paid more, you need to act like a senior all the time.  If you're spending your time learning new technologies and skills better than your peers, then you should be the one that people come to for advice, not the other way around.  This change won't happen overnight.  It took me several years to change.  One big factor in the evolution of my career is that I start working in a number of places where I was the only developer.  When you're the only person and a company needs a problem solving you don't have an option, you have to solve it, or at least change the problem in a way that you can do it using another approach.  Doing things for yourself will increase your self-confidence about being able to do things yourself which will ultimately lead to a pile of gold

Bonus Tip


My last bonus tip isn't a tip to make you quit your job.  The advice I've written here is my own opinion, which you can take or leave.  My last tip is based on research done by a recruitment company.  The research shows that people who tend to job swap every 3-4 years will end up with a significantly larger net income at the end of their careers compared to people who stay within the same company for too long.  This makes sense, a company who's already paying you will want to pay you the minimum to help increase their profits.  Companies advertising for jobs, on the other hand, need someone ASAP to help them make more money, so a new job offer, in 99% of the time, will get you a bigger increase in salary, compared to a pay rise at an existing company.   

Anyway, that wraps up this article, to help you get paid to your full potential.  I'm guessing a lot of readers, were expecting a load of hardcore dev tips, but, genuinely, companies care more about your soft skills, and your abilities to communicate, take ownership of a task and solve problems over encyclopedic technical knowledge.  Many developers might think that learning to program well is the only thing they should focus on, but just be aware, it's actually the communication side of things that will get you your money.  Hope someone found this useful, enjoy!

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Jon D Jones

Software Architect, Programmer and Technologist Jon Jones is founder and CEO of London-based tech firm Digital Prompt. He has been working in the field for nearly a decade, specializing in new technologies and technical solution research in the web business. A passionate blogger by heart , speaker & consultant from England.. always on the hunt for the next challenge

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