Q. What is the typical cycle of pay raises within agencies? I received my last raise when I was promoted to account executive 18 months ago. My last performance review was at that time, but supervisors tell me I’m doing a great job and never mention money. What do you suggest?
A. If your job performance isn’t an issue, you definitely are overdue for a raise. At the AE level, most agencies conduct performance reviews and give raises on an annual basis. It’s not unusual for 18-month review and salary adjustments for senior-level positions. Of course, business conditions also affect the ability of some agencies to increase salaries, but you should have been made aware of any delay in your performance review and salary increase.
The pace of client work in some agencies wreaks havoc on important things like HR-related administration of reviews and pay raises, so it sounds like you need to take the lead to spur action. You should approach your supervisor and/or human resources manager to determine what’s happening. While most agencies have salary bands for years of service and job levels, be sure to make the case for a satisfactory adjustment since you are a half-year overdue for an increase.
If you have any concerns about their willingness to give you a raise, do your homework. Prepare a list of projects on which you’ve been working and include any positive feedback you’ve received from supervisors and clients. In many cases, managers don’t always remember what all you’ve achieved over the past year or 18 months. If you feel your salary is below what is being paid to peers in other agencies, you can benchmark your salary with other AEs on glassdoor.com or payscale.com.
Always approach a salary inquiry discussion with a positive attitude. Such conversations are as uncomfortable for supervisors as they are for you, especially if they realize they goofed by not adjusting your salary when it should have taken place. Let your supervisor know how much you enjoy your job, smile and don’t get angry–even if you’re turned down.
If a raise isn’t possible now, determine when it might be possible and what you need to do to ensure that it happens. In many cases where raises are denied, the employee gets visibly angry and threatens to leave. Rarely does that result in reconsideration of a raise. Rather than get upset, count to 10, gather your wits and decide your next course of action. If you love the current job, you may need to suck it up. But you also should probably start looking for a job elsewhere.