I don’t know about you, but when I get a pay raise at work I feel incredible. I get a giant smile across my face because I feel like my hard work has finally been validated. All the extra hours, emails, phone calls, presentations and the unwavering commitment to my company’s success has (literally) paid off.
But it’s not as easy as just showing up to work one day and your boss calling you into his office to say “Hey, you! You’re getting a raise! Let's party!” If only it were that easy, right?!
We have to work hard, put in the hours and follow the right steps.
I’ve only been working in the corporate world for 15 years so I know I still have a lot to learn. What I do know is what’s worked for me so far. Here are 7 important steps that have taken my career from 5-figures to 6-figures.
1. Establish Credibility
We need to understand that our reputation matters. If we promise to do something and we don’t do it one time, that’s forgivable. But if we promise to do something on multiple separate occasions and still don’t come through, then we’re showing who we “really are” in the eyes of our employer and our colleagues. We’re unreliable.
Let’s be people of integrity. When we say we’re going to do something, let’s do it.
Every day, we get a new opportunity to be our best selves. Let’s start today.
When we show our colleagues, clients, and employer that we’re reliable and trustworthy, we get more and more people vouching for us. We get more and more people saying “that’s a person I want on my team.”
2. Go Above and Beyond Your Job Description
When I’ve been given recognition, raises, and bonuses in my career, it’s always been tied to my ability to “exceed expectations”. I understand what my goals are and I aim to exceed them. Perhaps I’m a goal-oriented person, but I love the challenge … especially if there’s a monetary reward tied to it.
Perhaps you don’t know what your goals are. That is a perfect place to start.
Take some time to meet with your supervisor and ask if the two of you can clearly chart out your annual goals. Tell her you want to exceed expectations in your role but you want to be very clear on what those expectations are.
This meeting will do three things:
- Show your supervisor that you’re invested in the company’s success
- You’ll come away with an understanding of how you can be successful in your role
- AND you will have clear, measurable metrics to show to your supervisor in the future when you ask for a raise (I promise we’ll get to that step soon!)
Senior management LOVES when their employees make their lives easier. This is a great place to start.
Related Article: How One Pay Raise Can Lead to Debt Freedom
3. Grow Your Network
Although I love talking about the importance of tracking your net worth, I truly believe that your network is more powerful and more crucial to your long-term success.
As you’ve established yourself as a reliable colleague, invest some time into growing your professional relationships in the office. This doesn’t mean you need to go out to lunch every day or do happy hours every week.
Instead, take the time to have one-on-one meetings with your colleagues to let them know your career goals and objectives. Have them do the same with you. You’d be surprised how the power of teamwork and networking (even inside of the four walls of your office) can help you grow your career and salary.
Other areas to grow your network of allies and partners are in person and online. Grab lunches or meetings with new friends who work in your field and ask them their best practices for success. Become active on LinkedIn and grow your social network. My current job came from a recruiter finding me on LinkedIn!
4. Continuously Educate Yourself
It’s important to never stop learning. This keeps your mind fresh and your supervisor will take notice.
When you’re consistently coming with new ideas, different approaches and alternative routes for the company to make (or save) money, you are quickly becoming an indispensable asset.
Of course, education can come in many forms. There are higher education routes like Masters or Doctorate programs. It is debatable whether degrees like an MBA are worth it lately, but more certified education can’t hurt especially if your employer financially supports your efforts through tuition reimbursement.
There are definitely some other less expensive and less time-consuming routes to consider.
Here are some of my favorite inexpensive education routes:
- Listening to a podcast about your field of work on your way to work
- Reading industry articles and blogs that give you different perspectives
- Attending a local seminar or conference focused on enhancing your abilities
- Taking a mentor out for coffee or lunch and picking their brain on their success
- Checking out a book at the local library centered around your business
Related Article: These 5 Books Will Skyrocket Your Net Worth
Having a spirit of curiosity and a will to improve will help you get to that next level much faster.
5. Ask for a Raise
(Finally, he gets to the juicy part!)
Well, it’s purposeful really. You need to put in the work first before you ask for the green. Proving your worth and making your employer feel like they just can’t do their business without you is the key.
Let’s say it’s time … you clearly understand your goals, you exceeded expectations, you have a great reputation, your colleagues think you’re rock solid and you’re expanding your mind with new ideas consistently. Where do you go from here?
Here’s what I’ve done when asking for a raise:
- Research the average salary for your position through sites like Glassdoor so you can see if you’re in the general range.
- Take a close friend out for lunch/coffee who works in the same field and ask them to share where they are salary-wise. This will help you get a gauge for what to ask for.
- Decide what you feel is fair based on your research. 3-5% is average for staying in the same position. If we’re talking promotion, 8-10% is solid.
- Prepare a short synopsis of your accomplishments to back up your request for a raise
- Craft a letter (like this one) and print it out to present to your supervisor
- Set a meeting notice with your supervisor in the near future
- When in the meeting, state what your request is confidently (Remember, you’ve earned this. Act like it.)
- Start by sharing your accomplishments and your commitment to the company then share your request
- Then stop talking … wait for their feedback. Sometimes we talk too much. Silence can be powerful in negotiation.
- Give them time to think and review it with upper management. If too much time passes by, you can definitely set up another in-person meeting to follow up.
6. Jump at New Opportunities
Perhaps this process has gotten you fired up now though and you’re looking grow your salary even more. This is when you keep your ear to the street (not literally, cars would hit you) and learn about opportunities for advancement. The bigger the role … the bigger the pay.
I went from a $48,000 to a $100,000 salary early in my career by stating my genuine interest to upper management about a new (and highly coveted) position that was opening up. Luckily, I had been exceeding expectations up to that point so I quickly became the favorite candidate and was accepted into the role quickly.
Yes, I was making a LOT more money, but I had a LOT more responsibility. Make sure you’re ready for the responsibilities that come with the role.
7. Take a New Position Outside the Company
If you’re exceeding expectations, documenting your success and your supervisors are still not giving you the monetary recognition you feel you deserve, there is no shame in pursuing other opportunities.
Taking a career jump to a completely new employer can be an excellent opportunity to quickly increase your salary and reboot your frustrated brain. Moves like this can also help you receive a fast promotion if you are being passed over at your current employer and potentially a 10-30% salary increase if you play your cards right.
Before making such an important decision, make sure you factor in other non-salary specific aspects like:
- Retirement Options
- Flexibility with your schedule
- Who your supervisor is going to be
- Work environment
- Financial stability of your new employer
Good things happen to smart, goal-oriented and determined people. I’ve had the opportunity to interview over 100 of them on my weekly podcast.
These self-made millionaires, financially independent rock stars and debt free parents all carry a similar trait … they don’t give up when things get difficult. They believe in themselves and they know that if they keep at it, their hard work will pay dividends down the road.
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