How to Get a Raise
6 personality traits that will impress your boss and increase your salary
by Sara Eckel, PayScale.com
You work hard--meeting deadlines, delivering results, and showing up on time. But each year you've been getting a raise in the measly 2 percent range (if that). Meanwhile, certain coworkers stroll out of their review meetings with big smiles on their faces.
Why do some people get a fat, juicy slab of the pie while others are offered crumbs? Experts say that, of course, diligence and talent play their part, but if you really want to increase your salary, you'll need these qualities:
1. An Owner's Mentality
Many people go into their annual review with a list of reasons that they need more money. But Joel Rudy, vice president of operations for Photographic Solutions, a supplier of digital-camera cleaning products, says that such pleas don't inspire employers to give raises. "I know that utilities have gone up," he says. He is more impressed with people who apply those inflationary concerns to the business--as if it were their own. For example, he was recently impressed with an employee who found a less expensive phone plan for the company. "Now, that's a raise-getter!" he says.
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While the people who get good raises definitely know how to highlight last year's achievements, Laura Browne, a corporate trainer and the author of "Raise Rules for Women: How to Make More Money at Work," says the highest earners don't dwell on the past. "Forget about last year. Find out the key initiatives that your company or your president wants to achieve this year," she says. For example, if the president said in the annual report that he wants to increase customer satisfaction by 15 percent, focus on that goal. "Your work needs to be connected with what the company cares about right now," says Browne.
If you stay cloistered in your cubicle, you'll probably be disappointed when raises are announced--no matter how hard you work. "Quiet, shy, or otherwise invisible types are often left behind when it's pay-raise time," says Jane Goldner, PhD., president of The Goldner Group, an Atlanta-based consulting firm. To ensure that you and your hard work are seen, request projects that will get you in front of others--working with colleagues from other departments, giving presentations, or even contributing to the company newsletter. This will make it easier for your boss to plead your case to any necessary approvers. "If your boss is in the meeting and says, 'I want to give a raise to Sally,' it's going to be hard if no one knows who Sally is. On the other hand, if you have been visibly helpful, they'll say, 'Oh Sally, She's terrific!'" says Browne.
Having great ideas and lofty goals is terrific. But if you want to see them executed, you also have to motivate others to rally around your initiatives. Executive coach Lisa Chenofsky Singer says these kind of interpersonal skills play a huge role when compensation is discussed. "Although someone may be competent from a technical-qualifications perspective, if their style doesn't flow well with others or they're not able to influence others, they tend to be the low-increased players," she says.
5. Tough Skin
No boss will ever say, "I love to give raises to self-promoters." So how do you draw attention to your achievements without looking like a braggart? Milan P. Yager, president and CEO of the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations, says that giving your boss a quarterly progress report and asking for feedback is a subtle way to get noticed. "It is a fine line, but if you can master the technique, it will pay rewards," he says. And letting your supervisors know that you want criticism will show them that you have the confidence to handle any negative comments, which makes the evaluation process a lot less stressful for them.
6. Empathy for the Boss
The highest-earning employees understand that their job is to make their boss's life easier. Think about the things that your boss doesn't like doing--running meetings, tracking numbers--and ask if you can help by taking over those tasks. It's also important to understand that your boss can't always give you what you want, no matter how great your work is. "Most people get keyed up to ask for a raise and when they hear 'no' they respond really negatively," says Browne. "If you instead say, 'I understand, but when raises are unfrozen I would like to be the first in line,' you'll have a much better chance of getting the raise when they can give it."