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How to Obtain a Raise or Promotion

by Jennifer A. Grady, Esq.


Everyone wants a raise, but not everyone gets one.  Earning a promotion often coveted, but not always achieved.  In order to achieve a raise or promotion this year, you need to think about what sets you apart from the competition and puts you in good graces with your employer.


In order to obtain a raise or promotion, frame your thinking in terms of what value you bring to your employer.  Rather than tell your boss you want a raise because you need more money (and thus making your problem your employer’s problem), think back on what you have contributed to the company.  Revisit your prior performance reviews to determine whether you are meeting the mark or continue to fall short of what your boss asked of you. Dust off your job description to see whether you are completing all your tasks or going over and above the original scope of your position.


If you never had an annual review, you may want to request one and ask your boss what concrete steps you would need to take to earn a raise or promotion. Then talk about what steps you need to take to earn that position, and outline short-term, midterm, and long-term goals so that you can be sure to get there.  Keep track of all important tasks you did to reach those goals, and provide them in written form to your employer before your next review. That way, when it’s time for your employer to evaluate you, he or she will see the tangible steps you took towards earning a promotion.


Keep in mind, however that usually promotions require increased responsibility and skill sets. Think about this very carefully before taking on a position that you may not enjoy. For example, it is common that a promotion may change your job duties from your line of work to managerial tasks, which may require that you have people, time management, and delegation skills.   If such a drastic change is not palatable, think twice before vying for a promotion just because it has a bigger office or paycheck.


That being said, if it is your goal to take on more responsibility, be proactive in developing the skill sets that the new position will require.  This can be accomplished on your own time by reading industry publications, or by attending conferences, seminars, or in-house/outside training.  Find out if your company offers reimbursements for training, and attend as many as you can comfortably fit in your work schedule without detracting from your work assignments.  If you attend any relevant conferences, seminars, or classes on your own time, share this information with your employer when you prepare for your review.


Lastly, always put yourself in the employer’s shoes: what would you want from an employee to help make your job easier? Someone who is trustworthy, available, savvy, and a self-starter starter? Someone who is on time, and never complains about getting the job done?  Observe what traits your employer respects an employee, and figure out how to become that indispensable employee.


What If You Don’t Get What You Want?

Sometimes (i.e. during the last half decade), your boss may be unable to hand out raises due to the company’s financial position.  Or, maybe you were passed over for a promotion for someone else.  Take some private time to think about the outcome and to let our your anger in a healthy way.  (Kickboxing class, anyone?)

It’s best not to react immediately in front of your employer, for risk of saying something you may regret later.  Rather, take a day or two to think about why you did not get what you want.  For example, is the company unable to provide pay increases for a certain period of time due to circumstances that have nothing to do with you?  Is so, see if you can tactfully identify inefficiencies in the company that could save it money, and thus permit some of that savings to go to you instead.  Or perhaps you are not actually ready for a promotion?  Is there someone else who was chosen for the job from whom you can learn from and emulate?

If you are totally mystified as to the reason your hopes and dreams were denied, ask to set up a time to speak with your boss about it.  Find out if there are things you can do to improve your job performance, or if you need more training.  You may even want to ask if your boss or another supervisor within the company can act as a mentor so that you can continue to grow as an employee.  When all else fails, ask if you can revisit the subject in a shorter period of time, such as in 90 days or six months.  Make sure you are ready to show tangible work product results by the next time you are up for review.


Celebrate Success and Keep Up the Good Work

On the other hand, if you are fortunate enough to earn the raise of promotion you have been seeking, thank your employer for his or her confidence in you, and rise to the occasion.  There’s always next year to aspire to as you climb the ladder in your career.


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About the Grady Firm


The Grady Firm, P.C. attorneys specialize in helping businesses grow and succeed through employment, business, and immigration law advising for clients in California.  They help perform personnel audits, draft/revise Employee Handbooks, train employers on employment law compliance, provide on-demand legal analysis for hiring and firing questions, and provide leadership and sexual harassment training in English and Spanish.


To learn more about ensuring your business is compliant with state and local laws, schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation with The Grady Firm’s attorneys; call +1 (949) 798-6298; or fill out a Contact Request Form.


*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. This article does not make any guarantees as to the outcome of a particular matter, as each matter has its own set of circumstances and must be evaluated individually by a licensed attorney.


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