Wednesday, April 9, 2008

How to get a better Raise and Advance your Career

You may have all of the tools and skills to do your job, but to get ahead sometimes you need to do more than just keep your head down and work harder. Below, I have listed some steps that should help get you going in the right direction to improve your future salary increases and start working on that next promotion.

1) Find out how the system works. First thing, ask around to learn about the process used to set raises at your employer. For instance, does only one person, your boss, set the raise amount or is it by a group of managers and senior leads. As simple as this sounds, you would be amazed at how many people do not know who has input to their raises. Just because you receive work assignments and provide status to one lead does not mean he/she is your spokesman at raise time. Find out who is involved in making those decisions.

2) Get the word out. Once you know who the key player(s) are, make sure they know what you are doing. Obviously, you do not want to go around or bypass any managers, but do look for ways to ensure those key players are aware of your work. For example, when you send out important e-mails and/or weekly status reports to your manager, you could also CC the other key player(s).

3) Two voices are ten times more powerful than one. Two people singing your praises to a group that is deciding your raise is much more credible than just one. Get to know as many of those key players as possible. Work multiple projects to get more exposure, attend company functions, seek leaders in the company and ask questions, get a mentor. All of these things will get your name out there. Even if a lot of these folks never see your work, they may remember you in a favorable light due to your friendliness, cooperativeness, and company spirit!

4) Get to know your manager. Some mangers are terrible about talking with their employees; some barely know their people and rarely take the steps to improve that relationship. Many times it is up to you. Take the initiative, find something in common with your manager that he or she likes to talk about. It takes effort but really it’s just the application of the golden rule – treat others like you would like to be treated.

5) Be accessible and responsive. Make sure your manager and supervisor can reach you at any time. The last thing you want is for them to be searching for you and calling around trying to locate you. And when you do get paged or e-mailed, make it a priority to answer as soon as possible. That seems pretty obvious, but I know of many co-workers who put off returning calls to the boss because of fear of the unknown or just not wanting additional work assignments!

6) Think like a manager. Try looking at the job situation from your manager’s point of view. For example, why do you think a manager gets upset if you are unresponsive to his/her calls or if the manager can not locate you? Perhaps, the manager needs a quick answer to give to their boss. Perhaps they need to locate you for a drug test, a security interview, etc. It can be embarrassing for the manager and you, if they can not quickly locate the employee. Besides, by informing your manager of your whereabouts, you convey that your presence is important. You are basically implying that you know you are a critical part of the organization and will be available, if needed.

7) Be at the right place at the right time. Good luck with this one, right? Some people just have a knack for being in line for the big promotion or to head up a new project, etc. They are always right there when the door opens for a new assignment or whatever. Maybe it seems that way because they are always ready. You can do the same. For instance when your lead is scheduled to give a presentation, make sure you know the material and could step in comfortably, if asked. Most people in the audience will be ready to give you a break in that situation, they will have low expectations, but if you have done your homework and are ready, you could knock their socks off with a great delivery.

8) And lastly, Dress the part. People are quick to judge others on first impressions and you never know when you might run into some high ranking mucky mucks at work. Some even go so far as to say that you should dress like your manager. Perhaps that can be interpreted as some sort of flattery? If that is not right for you, at least dress for the position that you desire. Whether it’s fair or not, people will have a hard time thinking of you as executive material if you are always wearing jeans and sneakers.

While there is no substitute for hard work, it can be beneficial to incorporate a few of these tips to get a boost up the career ladder.

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