How to get that pay rise

In these tough times it is reasonably difficult for IT professionals to convince their boss that a pay rise is warranted. But if you can prove yourself as an asset to the company, you are on the road to wealth.

Brian Donovan, CEO, IT Skills Hub, said the IT industry is now looking for IT professionals with more holistic skill sets and are therefore willing to reward workers who can provide more than just technical ability.

"During an economic downturn, the reality is that companies are looking for better return on investment (ROI). Employees that can contribute both business and technical skills will therefore be more valued by their employers," Donovan said.

He said IT professionals need to emphasise both their soft and hard skills, and demonstrate the ways they are practically contributing to the company's bottom line.

According to Donovan, while it is tough for IT professionals to secure pay rises, it is an aspect affecting workers in all industry sectors, not just IT.

"Regardless of the economic climate, valued workers will still be rewarded by their employers, but maybe not to the same level and not with the same regularity as enjoyed in the boom years," he said.

Meanwhile, an anonymous IT manager for a consulting firm agrees that good workers get rewarded; he believes though that it's just not often enough for IT professionals waiting for annual reviews.

Donovan said if pay rises are not forthcoming because of the company's current financial constraints, IT professionals should use this time to build skills in preparation for the next economic upturn.

Donovan recommends professional development as the one way to ensure that an IT professional is at the head of the queue for a pay rise, once the company's bottom line begins to recover.

Joshua Sparks, director, Robert Walters technology, said pay rises for IT professionals, in accordance with most other executive positions, is increasingly linked to performance.

"No one wants to lose a top performer, and if the company can afford it, you should be looking at a pay increase to reflect your enhanced ability to contribute," he said.

Sparks said pay rises may be given on an annual basis, but often can also occur between formal reviews in recognition of an enhanced job spec, or a particularly successful project delivery.

Brian Youston, CEO, Icon Recruitment, agrees it is hard to gain a pay rise if you are unable to prove yourself an asset to the company.

Youston suggests listing other duties or initiatives performed outside of someone's normal job description, which has resulted in a direct benefit for the company.

Youston's examples include mentoring junior staff members, keeping abreast of technology at your own cost and industry representation.

"Always list the initiative, followed by the benefits to the company," Youston said.

Bob Olivier, director, Olivier e-recruitment Advisors, said IT professionals should look at their own performance and achievements, and learn how to communicate them.

"Expect and be prepared for some counter-arguments. Put yourself in [the employer's] shoes and consider their position," Olivier said.

Olivier said the current market is the main factor working against IT professionals as it has rapidly moved from a 'buyers to a sellers' market.

"There is probably someone out there who would do your job for less! Your performance is your main weapon. If you have performed well and this is acknowledged, then your boss will want to keep you and to see you rewarded and motivated," Olivier said.

Olivier also suggests that IT professionals keep abreast of market salaries and be ready to support their claims with evidence, "As it is likely the boss might have done the research too".

Youston said if IT professionals are happy with the organisation they are working for, then "ride out the current economic climate, because when the times are good employers generally reward employees that have remained loyal and haven't demanded salary increases".

And Joshua Sparks, director, Robert Walters technology, advises IT professionals "…if you focus on your impact on the company's overall success, it will serve to highlight your own".

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