Salary Advancement Strategies

By Diane Turner

People often make the mistake of waiting until they are resentful about their salary to request a raise. This frame of mind can make it difficult to negotiate well, making it difficult to get what you want out of the situation. People who walk into a salary negotiation emotionally charged often fail to make a logical argument about why they deserve a raise or give their employer an ultimatum. Not only will this usually fail to get people the raise they want, it can result in you getting fired. Instead of waiting until you are this upset, plan a logical time to ask for an increase in your salary and do the research so you can adequately prove your case.

Know what Your Position is Worth

If you feel you are being underpaid for your work, you need to provide figures that will back up this argument. Look up the average salary for someone working in your position, making sure you select a salary for someone with similar duties to yours rather than a similar title. Because salaries can vary so widely from state to state, make sure you provide sufficient data about similar positions in your region. You can also ask your human resources representative if they have information about what others in your department might be earning to help back up your argument. Only enter negotiations if you can prove that you are not earning what you should. Provide copies of these documents that you can offer during your negotiation as proof of your claims.

Plan what You will Say

Never walk into your employer’s office thinking you will “wing it” when you ask for your salary advancement. Think of your salary proposal as a business project that you would do for your job. If it is obvious you have cut corners, no one is going to be impressed by your work. Make it clear that you have thought about your offer and based your requests on solid data. You want to show that you add value to the company and are worth paying more.

Consider practicing your negotiations with friends or family before speaking to your boss. This is particularly helpful if someone in your social circle works in a position that regularly hears these types of requests. They can provide valuable feedback on items you should bring up or avoid when making your negotiation at your job.

Prove You Deserve What You Ask For

You may have proof that it would be fair to offer you more money, but this alone is not going to be enough to secure your funding. You need to prove that you deserve to be paid more than what you are now. This means showing that you have been going above and beyond the call of duty while on the job. From the day you start working on a job, make note of specific things you do that increase your value as an employee, particularly if these accomplishments have gone unnoticed by your employer.

  • Times you have developed a better process for getting work done
  • Completing your work ahead of schedule or helping your coworkers do the same
  • Discovering ways your company could save money
  • Creating a new way your business could generate revenue
  • Getting solid reviews from customers or clients

Think of how you would display these accomplishments on your resume if you were trying to gain employment elsewhere and organize this list in a similar fashion for your employer. Keeping this list handy will help you determine when the timing is right to ask for a raise. It will also help you keep your resume updated in case a more valuable offer comes up from a different company.

Logical Times to Plan for Salary Advancement

When the nature of your job changes, your salary should increase to reflect your new responsibilities. It is more than reasonable to ask for a pay raise if:

  • You have been promoted within the workplace
  • You took over a leadership role that you had not worked in previously
  • You were willing to take on a substantial increase in your responsibilities (though it may not be appropriate to ask for more money if your increase in responsibility was due to layoffs or other financial difficulties)
  • You have been asked to supervise a larger amount of employees

If you are hoping to advance your salary on the job, you can use these types of circumstances to help ensure that you can earn one. Consider asking for additional responsibility around the office, making your employer more dependent on you. Make a point of documenting your success in taking on these additional tasks so you can prove that your value has increased over time.

Reminding People of Your Value

You may have a great deal of documentation that shows that you have been working hard, but if it appears that all you have is your word to back these claims up it can be difficult to negotiate an advance in your salary. Changing the way you communicated with people can help you show that you deserve an increase in pay. Be vocal about work that you have done or about tasks you are willing to take on. Never assume that people notice what you are doing. Make a point of being seen taking part in tasks around the workplace. Be attentive in meetings and sit where it is easy for you to be seen. Avoid skipping optional tasks, particularly those that would help you get more done around the office.

While it’s important to make sure your accomplishments are visible, it is never acceptable to do this in a way that is condescending to your fellow employees. Only bring up your accomplishments in a setting where others are talking about a similar subject, and never do so in a way that makes light of the work others have done. Most salary increases within a firm are tied to leadership positions within the company. Your employer will avoid moving someone into one of these more valuable positions if it is clear the rest of their staff resents you for your poor attitude.