Just to add a couple thoughts to this…
The salary thing is more about marketing yourself and your worth to the company and less about the day to day tasks you perform during your job.
For instance, you mention that it was two years without a review. That’s a huge red flag because every company should be giving you constant feedback on how you’re contributing to their success.
In general, if you keep your head down, complete your tasks on time, do extra work on the weekends, have your co-workers send you emails of appreciation and praise then that will get you the bare minimum of raises. And after your review it’s pretty much too late to get an adjustment because a lot of budgets are approved and set at that point and a manager isn’t necessarily going to go to bat for you after they have submitted all their numbers – because that would be admitting they got your review wrong.
Instead, you have to be constantly marketing yourself and the business value you are bringing to the company to show what an excellent investment you are.
As an example, you might say something like, “I completed all my tasks for Project Unicorn on time and helped some of the other developers with their assigned tasks. We also came up with some great ideas for future enhancements.” And that would be a true statement, but there’s no motivation from the company to necessarily reward that behavior because isn’t that what they are paying you for to begin with?
Now instead, if you said, “Working on Project Unicorn, I delivered on time allowing the company to implement a $750K project and realize over $2MM is profits for the fiscal year. In addition, I mentored several team members to increase the overall expertise of the project team. During the course of the project we worked collaboratively with the rest of the team and were able to propose several additional features that are projected to make the company over $1MM in the next two years.”
Now your manager can attach a dollar amount to your contribution. When they go to bat for handing out those raises and bonuses they have some real and concrete values for justifying a 10% raise or a 20% bonus. They can’t afford not to keep you happy because you contribute to their success in a tangible way.
In many ways, salaries are not about equal pay for equal tasks or expertise, let’s face it in technology it’s such a rapidly changing world we’re all constantly learning new things – it’s about the impact you make to the company’s bottom line.
Or, to put it another way, which employee would be more valuable to the company’s bottom line?
Employee A: Super experienced with all sorts of technology, spends a year learning amazing technology (say, blockchains for instance), writing code and completing all their assigned work but none of it ever makes it into production.
Employee B: Junior coder who is often late with assigned tasks and on average only writes 10 lines of code a week in QBASIC, but that code is implemented into production.
I know it’s hard sometimes, but you need to be constantly marketing yourself to your manager. No good manager likes writing mediocre reviews. Give them the ammo they need to stuff your review full of specific concrete examples of how you’ve contributed directly to the company’s success. Make it easy for them by forwarding those congratulatory emails to them throughout the year so they can include them in the review, not printing them out after the review to prove how wrong they were about your performance. Discuss your job performance with them every week and connect the dots on how your specific actions are contributing to the company’s success. Write it up in a weekly or monthly email to them that they can go back and easily reference as it comes time for them to write your review. Basically, write your own review throughout the year (and send it to your boss) so when it comes time for them to write everything up, they can just go and copy and paste your review from all the performance update emails you’ve sent them throughout the year.
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