You’ve just reached a stride in your career where you feel confident enough to ask for a raise. However, just asking isn’t enough, especially in a tough economy. These tips will help you secure a raise and promotion, if you truly deserve it.
1. Define a clear career road map from day one. When you are hired, understand the performance review cycle. If aren’t pleased with your starting salary, request a six month evaluation and salary review based on your performance. If you haven’t set up this timeline from your start date, it is reasonable for a new employee to request a review at the six-month mark (although a raise isn’t likely until you’ve been there for a year).
2. Have a realistic perception of your strengths (and weaknesses). Soliciting frequent feedback and learning from constructive criticism is essential for you to have a clear view regarding your standing at the company and areas of improvement.
3. Be your own public relations agent. Don’t assume your bosses and clients know you are a star. Communicate your successes. Send a quick email when you surpass project goals to bosses and clients alike.
4. Keep a file of your kudos emails and letters, and copies of major successes and projects. It is important to document the quantifiable results of your work, such as site traffic, business/sales results, and so on.
5.Generate new ideas and show your value. Don’t limit yourself to your daily responsibilities. Think strategically about how you can make a report or project better. Track trends and news stories and frequently come up with ideas to drive business results for your company or clients. Always submit CEO-ready work, even on the most mundane assignments.
6. Schedule a formal appointment with your supervisor and key salary decision makers to discuss your performance and career path. Be sure you have cultivated an advocate and supporter at your company.
7. Use job descriptions to your advantage. You should be able to document that you are operating above your expected role before you seek a raise or promotion. In other words, you should be doing the job of the position to which you wish to be promoted, before you get a raise/promotion.
8. Write a formal request memo and bring copies with you to present at your meeting. This memo should outline your contributions, achievements, and plan for continued growth at the organization. Include praise for your mentors and colleagues and provide a clear argument regarding why you deserve the raise. Have a trusted colleague or mentor review this to ensure it is positive and that it provides specific examples of your successes.
9. Arm yourself with salary and benefit specifics. You can find typical salary ranges for your position and industry via a variety of online sources and through professional associations or headhunters. It is acceptable to ask what a typical percentage increase is when you are hired at a company. Know your market value and be ready to negotiate for other benefits (stock options, additional vacation time, etc.).
10. Be confident and positive in your meeting. Show your appreciation for the opportunities you’ve been given. Have sincere intentions about your future as an asset to the company. Follow up with a thank-you note and documentation regarding what was promised or discussed.
While many companies may cite “the economy” as a reason for saying no to a raise, if you are truly a star performer, the organization will likely reward you. Having a realistic view of your skills and performance is essential to making smart career decisions. If you are not the star you claim to be, or if you are a strong performer and don’t believe you are valued, perhaps it is time to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Lorra M. Brown is an assistant professor of public relations/professional communication at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Visit her blog www.lorrabrown.com or follow her on Twitter @LorraBrownPR.