Salary and Promotions

Recession Checkup: How’s Your Career?

Well over a year into one of the steepest recessions in decades, reports say things are beginning to look up for the economy. But, as the economy struggled, so did the workforce with rising unemployment rates, rocking the world of work from the inside out. Everyone has a different career story, and situations impact people differently, depending on personal motivations and financial situations. So, we want to know what this recession has meant to your career. Has it been a time of struggle or of success?

Your career may have been affected by several factors, but which has had the greatest influence on you – not just on your current job or financial situation, but on your whole career story? Let us know by voting in our online poll, and share your recession career stories in the comments below.

Poll Says Degrees Still Valuable, but Readers Share Frustrations

In our July monthly poll, we asked readers if they thought that this year, with high unemployment rates and a highly competitive job market, higher education is still worth the cost.

The results were mixed, but 50.3% of readers said that yes, they did think higher education is still valuable in this economy. At the same time, 32.9% of readers said that they did not think higher education is worth the cost, and 16.8% responded that they were not sure.

Comments on the poll illustrated that mixed feelings run deep when it comes to the value of higher education, especially in this economy. Some shared frustration, bitterness, and even anger about attaining college and advanced degrees but still struggling in a difficult job market.

Others offered insight into the value of work experience. One shared, “I just wouldn't recommend going from undergraduate to graduate school without any real work experience. It will be even harder in my opinion when you graduate.”

Another said, “A degree doesn't provide anyone with a guarantee. It does tend to open more doors than those who don't have a degree, but that is about it.”

So, as the summer wraps up and universities prep to welcome a new wave of students, will you be joining them? If so, are you planning to work to gain experience while you go to school? Are you looking for a different way to learn about your industry? Share your higher education plans for this upcoming semester in our comments section.

Earning a Promotion: 3 Things You Can Learn from Your Boss

Your boss was given the responsibility and the corner office for a reason, so if you’re looking for a promotion, look no further than them for guidance. Observing your boss and following their lead will give you a leg up when you’re ready to seek a promotion. Here are three things you can focus on and learn from, so start paying attention.

Management Style – Every leader has a different way of leading their team, including your boss. So, watch how your boss interacts with your co-workers, delegates projects, and recognizes accomplishments. Also, notice how your co-workers react to their behavior to learn what works and what doesn’t. You’ll realize that different personality types require different types of leadership styles. For example, your boss will most likely allow high performers to self manage more than new employees. Demonstrate this knowledge when you interview for a promotion by talking about specific management scenarios that you would use in each situation.

Professionalism – Observe your boss interacting with their peers, supervisor, and other company executives. Pay attention to how they handle situations – both good and bad. A world-class leader respects their co-workers and superiors and earns their respect in return. Also, take note of when your boss is praised for their work and what they did to earn that praise. By emulating their behaviors, treating others with respect, and acting and reacting professionally, you can build your leadership ability and presence within the company.

Wardrobe Choices – You might not consider how you dress to be important to your career, but it does matter when you want to get ahead at work. You don’t have to wear $1,000 suits to receive a promotion, but you do need to dress professionally. Observe what your boss wears to the office every day. Are you wearing something comparable? If not, you’re not helping your professional image. So, follow your boss’s lead and wear similar clothing styles. That doesn’t mean you have to copy their wardrobe shirt for shirt or shoe for shoe, but if your boss is wearing a suit every day and you’re wearing khakis and a polo shirt, it’s time to step it up a notch.

Earning a promotion takes more than just being well-versed in your subject area, industry, and company. Companies want to develop well-rounded individuals into leaders who can represent their company professionally. That’s why people who know how to manage others, act professionally, and dress the part have a great shot at moving up the career ladder. And, who better to learn from than the individuals your company already trusts and respects as leaders?

What have you learned from a manager that helped you develop your career? As a manager, what advice would you give others to help them move up the corporate ladder? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!

How Not to Ask for a Raise: Part 4 of 4

Peanuts_1 Never approach your supervisor asking for a raise with a cavalier attitude or a sense of entitlement. As a manager, nothing frustrates me more than when employees feel they deserve a raise just because they lasted another year.

If your significant accomplishments include being on time and meeting deadlines, you might think twice about asking for a raise because those are examples of just doing the bare minimum.

Raises – especially significant raises – are earned by being a top performer and demonstrating your value to the company. You have to be able to demonstrate how your company is better off because of your efforts or you aren’t likely to get a raise.

Prove why you deserve one – not that you need one because of poor financial choices or a bad economy.

You might not be able to receive a raise now, but look at where you can be in a year. Set your goals high and persevere, then this time next year you’ll be able to negotiate a well-deserved raise without making any mistakes.

Managers, please share your successes or tales of disastrous raise requests by commenting below.

What Do You Mean “No Raise”?: Part 3 of 4

Corporate You’ve done your homework, written out your case for a raise and presented it to your boss, only to be met with a resounding “No.” Where do you go from here? Well, you can take the rejection and curl up in your cube or hide in your locker, or you could do something about it.

Be flexible. If money is tight, you should consider asking for additional paid time off, stock options, or tuition reimbursement. These are alternative benefits that don’t require permanent salary commitments.

Be persistent. Ask your boss what you have to do to be considered for a raise. It might be nothing, or it might be something substantial. Now that your request is on the radar, you can keep the topic front and center by committing to a deadline. Tell your supervisor that you want to revisit the request in six months. This puts pressure on you to perform but shows initiative on your part. By scheduling regular one-on-one progress meetings with your boss, you may have the raise sooner than you planned.

Get promoted. Your company may have hiring and salary freezes in place, but that doesn’t rule out promoting people. Rather than a raise, you might be considered for a promotion, especially if people are leaving your company. Set your sights on the promotion instead of a raise and the financial windfall could be significantly better a few months down the line. If you think of yourself as promotion-worthy, the same rules apply – prove you’re a top performer by documenting your value to the company.

Everyone wants to be properly compensated for the job they do. If your company is operating in the red and there have been significant layoffs, now is probably not the best time to ask for a raise. But if you have a plan in place, you’ll be way ahead of your co-workers when the economy turns around.

Check out part four of this series to find out how not to ask for a raise.

Did your persistence pay off? Did you get the promotion you wanted? Share your successes with us.

Plan for Your Raise by Proving Your Value: Part 2 of 4

Running_man Most people go into a performance review thinking about the raise they’ll get. But, if you’re a top performer, you might not have to wait until your next scheduled review. When it comes to asking for a raise, it’s vital to strike while the iron’s hot and your performance is top-of-mind.

When is the moment right? Have you recently closed a big sale, finished a big project, or received accolades from co-workers and the bosses? When you’re being praised for your actions, that’s the perfect time to discuss the value you bring to the company. State your case in a one-page memo that highlights why you should be rewarded.

How valuable are you? Companies reward top performers who can demonstrate their return on investment. How did you contribute to the company’s bottom line last year? What are your plans for this year? When you look at your value in terms of what you’re saving the company or making the company, you can make a strong case for a raise. For instance, if you saved $80,000 by reducing printing waste, a raise might seem in order.

Leave with an answer and a plan. Don’t expect an immediate yes or no. More than likely, your supervisor will want to get back with you. But, don’t fall for the brush off line, “I’ll have to get back to you.” Don’t leave until you have a follow up plan in place. Schedule the next meeting immediately.

How have you demonstrated your value? Have you been successful? Are you still waiting for your supervisor to get back with you? In part three of this series, you’ll learn how to overcome objections.

Asking for a Raise in a Recession: Part 1 of 4

Up_and_down The current economic landscape means that things aren’t pretty when it comes to the workforce these days. Budgets are being slashed, layoffs are increasing, and hiring and salary freezes are now commonplace.

You might think in this economy that it’s the worst time to ask for a raise.

But then again, it might be just the right time to ask for one – if you can justify it to your boss. To improve your chances of success, it’s important to assess your past, present, and future value to the company before asking for more money in these budget-conscious times. This four-part series on raises will help you traverse the obstacles that stand in your way.

Start by thinking about these two questions. And if you’re a supervisor – these questions can help you evaluate a request for a raise.

What have you done for me lately? Performance reviews can be a challenging task for managers because not only are you evaluating performance, you’re also determining if they’re deserving of a pay raise. If it’s time for your review, approach it seriously and remember that there’s a difference between performing your job duties and going above and beyond. Provide specific examples of how you exceeded expectations. Be sure to document, in writing, your benefits to the company, especially if your actions saved or made the company money.

How much are you worth? Everyone wants to get paid what they’re worth, so it’s important to research comparative salaries. Resources such as salary.com, payscale.com and salaryexpert.com can provide guidelines to help you identify a range for your position based on your job responsibilities and geography. The more knowledgeable you are about your position, the more comfortable you’ll be making your case.

In part two of this series, you’ll learn about timing your request.