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How to Get a Raise or Job Promotion at Work


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In this tough economy, everyone could use a raise at work. But getting your boss to add extra money to your paycheck isn’t an easy feat – you have to position yourself as an invaluable asset to the company for the raise to make sense for management. This is business after all, and the investment must pay off.

Simply showing up on time each day and doing your job isn’t always enough, however. You need to go above and beyond the call of duty, and exhibit the qualities that make the raise worthwhile from the company’s point of view. Make your boss see you as an invaluable commodity, and you’ll be one step closer to that raise you’ve been dreaming of.

Tips for Getting a Raise or Promotion

1. Tap Into Your Boss’s Mind

Anticipating what your bosses want before they tell you allows you to stay ahead of the curve and makes their job easier. You also appear to be extremely competent when you take this extra initiative – it demonstrates that you don’t need to be watched and can manage yourself, which makes the office run more efficiently and frees up management’s time. Plus, it will make your direct bosses look good to their own superiors – and that’s always a good thing.

2. Have a Positive Outlook

I previously worked for a large agency where I was keen to be friendly to everyone with whom I worked. People like to be acknowledged, and frankly, if I have to be someplace every day of my life, I want it to be a pleasant experience.

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By being outgoing and genuinely nice, you create allies – and you never know when you’re going to need them. At the agency I worked for, the board (comprised of managers from various departments) had to collectively sign off on any raise that was suggested. Because I had a great professional relationship with each board member and made a positive impression on a daily basis, the decision to approve to my raise may have been easier than for the employees who scowled all day long.

3. Be Eager to Learn

As the business evolves, so must you – there are no ifs, ands, or buts. It’s in your best interest to take advantage of each presented opportunity that has the potential to make you better at what you do.

Attending seminars and conferences, taking online classes, reading books, and shadowing superiors are all ways you can improve your professional abilities. Plus, if it’s related to your job, your company is likely to be receptive about paying for the expense – especially if your newfound knowledge helps increase the bottom line. In fact, some companies even offer employer tuition reimbursement programs.

Getting Promotion Tips4. Prove Your Worth

If you want a raise, you must convince your boss that you are worth the extra investment. How do you do that? Of course, doing the best job you possibly can is a great starting point – but even that often does little to differentiate you from the other employees.

What matters most are those unexpected efforts. For instance, you may be able to demonstrate your expertise by writing an article in your industry’s trade publication. When I worked as a direct-mail copywriter, I often wrote pieces that included insider tips or case studies. Not only did those pieces help me gain valuable contacts within the professional community, but it was also viewed by my agency as free, positive PR. My boss took note.

5. Set Career Goals

Why are you working if you’re not working toward a goal? Unless you want to stay in the same position for the rest of your life, you need to set your sights on something big. Once your goal is established, you can start taking the appropriate steps to reach it.

For example, as a small business owner, I have a revenue goal each year that is higher than the last. To reach that main goal, I set “mini goals,” such as securing free press in a certain number of publications, and adding new clients. By having a predetermined path, I know what I want to achieve and, subsequently, work as hard as possible to see success.

Do you yearn for a promotion? Do you have your eye on that corner office? Whatever your goal is, hone in on it and take the initiative needed to get there. This will certainly set you in the right place to earn a larger paycheck.

6. Do Your Research

When working toward earning a raise, be sure to set reasonable expectations. Research how much employees in similar positions in your industry are paid – the salary index on Glassdoor and the salary search on Indeed are good places to look. Be aware, however, that those salaries may be dated or relative to areas of higher or lower standards of living. For a more accurate measure, talk to friends in the same industry about your expectations.

By having a realistic grasp on what others are paid, you’ll be able to negotiate a practical pay increase. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you also don’t want to shoot for a salary level that you have no chance of reaching.

7. Be Straightforward

If you feel like you’ve been busting your hump on a consistent basis with no acknowledgement, schedule a discussion with your boss. Let him or her know exactly how you feel, and explain the hard work you’ve been putting in. Sometimes, bosses get consumed as well, so don’t take too much offense if they haven’t monitored your progress as closely as you’d like. A gentle reminder that you’re working toward a pay increase is all it takes to get the ball rolling.

Be smart in your approach, however. Do not go into a meeting demanding a raise after three months on the job. Most raises are considered in one-and-a-half to two-year increments when you have your employee job performance review.

Final Word

If a raise isn’t realistic, find out if bonuses are available. Some companies reward their employees with periodic bonuses, which are usually awarded around the holidays. Bonuses are typically based on performance, so remember that performing at a high level will increase your chances of getting the big payday you want.

You may also have to be honest with yourself. Perhaps that raise just isn’t coming, no matter how hard you work. If you feel like your contribution to the company isn’t valued, look for a new job. It’s as simple as that. When interviewing for a new position, be sure to clearly express your expectations so you don’t make the same mistake twice.

Whatever you do, don’t threaten your current boss with quitting in hopes that he or she will throw more money at you. You don’t want to ruin relationships and risk losing one job without having another lined up.

What other tips do you have for earning a raise at work?

Mikey Rox is an award-winning blogger and journalist whose work has appeared in more than 100 print and digital publications in North America and Europe, including CNN, The Advocate, The Baltimore Sun, and The Examiner Newspapers, among many others. He lives in New York City with his husband and their two dogs.