Paying your dues is for suckers.
Sitting back waiting on your boss to notice that you deserve a raise is a fruitless tactic. If you want a raise, you need to show what you’ve done to earn it.
You need to build a solid case for why the company should pay you more. These five strategies supply the type of evidence you need to demonstrate your worth to your boss and the company.
Think Like the Boss
Focus on solving the boss’ problems first. It’s important that you identify what her problems are; not a list of issues you want resolved. Solving her problems wins you credibility and personal loyalty. Then when you have the conversation about a raise, she knows exactly what you’ve done for her.
Consider all layers of input around her – professional responsibilities (center), boss’ priorities (up) and team goals (down). Both the center and down hinge on your boss’ ability to produce results. At the end of the year, how does she know she’s successful? Get involved in the work she is responsible for ASAP!
Then, look at the list of her objectives and compare it to her boss’ priorities (up). Support these in a way that makes your boss shine, and you’ll gain buy-in and recognition for your contribution. Then when you ask for a raise, show how your work directly influenced the accomplishment of the company’s current goals.
Show, Don’t Tell
Now, it’s time to figure out how to insert yourself into projects most valuable to management. Before taking on any additional work, make sure it solves the boss’ problem and doesn’t make extra work for you or the boss.
Here are a few ideas:
Join a project – Talk to the project manager about your interests and how you can apply your strengths to the project. Volunteer to unburden the team by picking up the slack or leading a component where you’re sure to show strength.
Explore new projects with customers –Talk offline with the project lead and ask how you could support the customer – but don’t make any promises. Simply gather information and return to your boss with a well thought out proposal. Include the work you’d take on, the time it’d take, and what’s in it for your boss.
Take on something extra – Think about a project the team always sets out to accomplish at the beginning of the year but doesn’t quite get to. If that matches your strengths, go for it. Obviously, the work needs to be done; it shows initiative when you just do it. You can tell your boss,
I’ve been working on that nagging project and it’s all buttoned up. Just wanted to let you know you can cross it off your list.
Get to know the people in your office, outside your immediate team. Use the projects you tackle in the show, don’t tell strategy to meet new employees and managers. You can also join company affiliate groups like toastmasters, associate-led committees, or the military association if your company has one.
The goal is to be better connected to the people and the work inside the office. By anticipating company needs and readily understanding the requirements of your internal counterparts (i.e. sales, IT, HR), you can provide higher quality products that get attention without adding work on your end! You also have insight into the people and skills available outside your team. When special projects pop up, you know who to approach to share your interest in participating. Even better, you can bring someone on the team who might have otherwise been overlooked.
Relationships are the currency of building a successful career. Start by building a reputation for your unique skill set inside your company. Plus – the work you do is visible to others and can earn serious bonus points toward your value quotient.
When a customer gives you kudos, find a way to tell your boss about it. If you’ve worked with a customer for a long time, consider this strategy: Provide the customer a written account of the success you’ve had together, highlighting how you brought home the win. Share that you’re working hard to prove your value at the company and ask if she might pass along the success you’ve had together with your boss. Provide the email address and phone number so the customer can contact your boss directly.
If your customer isn’t willing to make a direct statement to the boss, no worries. You can create a testimonial of the project highlighting the success of the job and how it affected the goals of the company. Kudos from customers go a long way to making a pitch for a raise.
Have the Conversation
By completing the strategies above, you are positioning yourself to have a meaningful conversation about your value at the company. You:
1. Targeted projects that are important to your boss and the VPs
2. Met new office mates from various departments that know your value, and
3. Prepared your customer kudos to show how you successfully satisfied the client and accomplished the company’s initiatives.
Now it’s time for the conversation. Come to the meeting prepared to present a case for why you should receive a raise. You need hard evidence of the assignments you’ve completed and why that work was above and beyond what’s expected. Nobody gets a raise for just doing their job!
Be smart. Use the accomplishment bullets from your resume and LinkedIn profile to bring home the point, like:
Saved the company $10M in cost avoidance by installing new digital data collection method
Brought in $100K in follow-on work from client (see client testimonial)
Provide examples of the projects you’ve supported and how your specific skills made those initiatives a greater success. Share client testimonials that provide a direct line of sight from your work to the company’s objectives, and when possible, the almighty bottom-line. Make it clear that your technical expertise and interpersonal skills are valuable.
Didn’t Get the Raise
If your request for a raise is denied, don’t leave defeated. Create a follow-up plan. Ask to set a meeting in six months to revisit the conversation. Use that time to collect salary data for your industry and come back with more solid evidence that your value deserves to be rewarded.
Work on your resume and LinkedIn profile, increase time spent networking, and passively job search. Get to know the job market. Investigate companies you would like to work for and set up informational interviews.
If, at the next meeting, you again are not rewarded with a raise, you will be perfectly positioned to start actively searching for a company that can see your worth.
Paying dues is overrated. When you’re ready to ask for a raise, make a convincing argument with these five strategies. Develop a portfolio of work that clearly shows your worth and focuses on supporting the larger goals of the company – not just your team. Show the boss how those skills add up to time and cost savings. Create an air tight case for why you should receive a raise, then confidently ask to be paid for the value you bring to the table.
Amber Beam is a career strategist who teaches women to fall in love with their career without losing their minds, taking a sabbatical, or going broke. Read more professional development posts at AmberBeam.com