7 Steps To Get What You're Worth
Updated: Feb 14
Have you looked at your paycheck lately and wondered why it isn't growing? You may say to yourself, "My company will take care of me" or "My boss will get me a raise, they know how hard I'm working." I don't like others controlling my destiny and neither should you.
In this article I'm going to teach you exactly how I increased my salary and garnered more respect in the process. As the Roman philosopher Seneca once said "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." What I'm about to share is going to help you both prepare for and create the opportunity.
Step 1 : Do your market research
While I do believe comparison is the thief of joy I also believe being grossly underpaid is a crime. Do you know the going rate for your job title in your geographical location? One of the easiest ways to find this is by going to Glassdoor and entering in your title and location. You can also check titles higher than yours to see what the salary progression could look like as well. This is an important step in level setting your own expectations for what is possible at your company and in your area.
Step 2: Compile your above and beyond moments
I had an employee once come to me asking for a raise for simply doing his job. I had to explain to him that a promotion comes when someone goes above and beyond their normal duties. Showing up for work on time and only meeting your job requirements isn't promotion material. Instead, think about times when you've gone above the call of duty. When instead of saying "that's not my job" you owned a situation and did the work of other departments and exceeded your job level without being asked.
Step 3: Look at the level above you
In the same vein, look at the level above you and ask yourself, are you already taking on the responsibilities of that job title? Then maybe you should be promoted to the role you are actually functioning in. Make a list of all job responsibilities required of the role one level above you and ways you are already fulfilling them. If you are unsure feel free to reach out to a mentor or even your HR department for a job description of the role itself. In the first step you already reviewed the salary for that role in your area and now have the bullet points to defend your promotion if this is the route you want to take.
You've prepared now let's create the opportunity for a negotiation to take place.
Step 4: Learn the art of the humble brag
This is where we begin laying the foundation for your promotion. Women especially struggle with self promotion, usually finding it offensive and something only used by brown nosing egomaniacs. That is why I believe this is an art.
You may think your boss is aware of your accomplishments and abilities but there's a good chance he/she is overworked and overwhelmed, leaving little time to career plan for his/her team. By mastering the art of the humble brag you easily give your boss soundbites that he/she can brag about to his/her boss. (you are making your boss look good) Humble bragging can be accomplished several ways.
Speaking up in meetings for clarification when others are in an argument.
(Entry level employees shouldn't try this unless it's between their peers) By asking for clarification from each party involved you defuse the situation and force each party to more clearly articulate their viewpoint. In my experience the conflict resolves itself with this simple clarification step. You also gain a reputation as someone with conflict resolution capabilities. This is a highly regarded skill as most run from it.
Streamlining processes for your team.
There's nothing more a manager wants then for a team member to see and solve a problem without his/her coaxing. Many employees talk about problems but few take a stab at solving them. You instantly become a hero in your manager's eyes when you even attempt this job. You also become a highly regarded team member by your peers, you just made their jobs easier!
Forwarding praise to your boss.
If you receive emails from clients or work groups praising your efforts make sure to forward those notes to your boss along with a backstory on the project and your ongoing efforts in the arena. This shows you now only did a good job but you understand the deeper needs of the client/project and the continued support needed to maintain it.
Step 5: Let your needs be known
I would recommend popping your head in your boss's office and nonchalantly ask for a few minutes of his/her time that week to talk. Make this as nonthreatening as possible. You may pique their curiosity by the very mention of a meeting. Because of this, be prepared to talk in case the meeting happens right then.
Start historically (I.E. I have worked here 5 years) and begin pulling from the steps above:
Times you've gone above and beyond
Next level duties you are already fulfilling
Humble brag items in the last 3 months
Only speak to the market research on your salary if you are grossly underpaid (a disparity greater than $10K is worth bringing up).
Step 6: Ask for a timeline
After your boss hears you out he/she may naturally come back with a timeline (I.E. Salaries aren't usually negotiated until May). Make sure a timeline is established to readdress the concern. If, for example, your boss asks for some time to work with HR or talk with his/her superiors give them the allotted time and ask for a followup conversation. Before leaving the meeting, schedule the followup on both of your calendars. This clearly conveys your intent and professionalism.
Step 7: Circumvent the blocker
I had an employee that was being grossly underpaid; I knew this as I managed others in the same job function making considerably more. I addressed this egregious error with my superior who promptly forgot about it. After inquiring numerous times over a six month period I took matters into my own hands and sent my employee to HR armed with market research, and the job requirements of her job and that of another job that she was simultaneously performing. My boss later came back to me and thanked me for handling the situation. This is a dangerous choice but when my own team was involved I felt it appropriate.
Remember, this is your worth. Be the class act you are and show you are worth every penny you are asking for.