Tag Archives: career advancement

4 Secrets to Getting a Pay Raise

Are you underpaid? Ready for a change?

SaveMoney_June2014_webAsking for a raise isn’t easy and preparing to ask can be nerve-racking. When should you ask for one? How much should you ask for? What do you even say?

The most important thing to remember when asking for a raise is that the only reason for asking can’t be because you need a raise. It should be because you deserve one. But, it’s on you to prove that your actions have led to success, and will continue to do so in the future. An employee doesn’t get a significant increase in pay just for doing the minimum—he or she must go above and beyond.

On that note, here are our top four tips for negotiating a raise.

1.       Start Preparing on Day One

To begin with, figure out why you deserve a pay raise. If that question is difficult to answer, negotiations aren’t going to go very well. You start figuring that out the first day on the job.

Many people only think about raises at the end of the year, or after a certain amount of time has passed. However, if you start thinking about a future raise on that first day, you can start collecting accomplishments early on. Create goals and an actionable plan to meet those goals. While traveling on your career journey, keep a journal of all professional successes, preferably with metrics and details regarding how each met goal furthered the company as a whole.

Remember, your manager isn’t giving a raise expressly for your benefit—a raise is given to keep an employee as an asset to help the company in the long run. So, if you can connect your performance to achieved business goals, a raise may just be in the cards.

2.       Timing is Everything

In order to really succeed with a request like this, you need to ask at the right time. If you work in oil, for example, and the market suffers a setback, don’t ask for a raise. The same thing applies to a company that’s going through financial or PR difficulties.

If it’s the company’s busiest time of the year, that’s another bad time to ask. Same goes for just after you’ve been on vacation or taken time off. And try not to bring this up after making some sort of mistake, no matter how minor.

3.       Know the Market for Your Position

This ties in with asking yourself whether you deserve the raise or not. Read the papers and research online to find out what your competitive rate is at similar companies. Are you already earning that same rate? If so, you may be working at the cap for your position.

In that case, see if anything major really makes you stand out from the competition. Are you expendable? If so, become an asset. Losing you should not be an option. Raises are given to retain top talent. If the company isn’t the right fit or you aren’t actually top talent, a raise may not be in the cards.

But being top talent in and of itself doesn’t mean a raise is certain. You have to be on time, an excellent employee, and using that talent to further the company every minute you’re on the job.

4.       Bring a Plan and Be Confident

What do you plan on bringing to the negotiating table? If you answered nothing but a smile and a well-worded speech, think again. Prepare an actual presentation. Know your worth and properly articulate any strengths, as well as details regarding tasks that were not only completed, but elevated to the next level. In other words, be confident.

Avoid being arrogant. Tie all accomplishments back to how they helped the company, not you. Don’t walk in assuming a pay hike is a given. Be confident in past successes, and let that lead where it may.

As a bonus, try to include some sort of physical, tangible element to the presentation, whether it’s a printed summary or printed charts and graphs. Include information about how you have saved the company money, or how your actions led to an increase in revenue or production.

Although the goal is for your manager to read these materials, even if they don’t, they’ll still see them on their desk and remember your request. Conduct the entire meeting in a calm manner, and, once it’s over, let your manager know that this is a two-way conversation by asking them for feedback on future projects.

If your manager declines to give a raise, don’t be afraid to ask why. If the reason has anything to do with factors you can control, make those changes so you will be a prime candidate in the future.

Reasons You May Not Get the Raise

Even if you follow all of these tips, it is important to note that you may not get a raise due to external factors that have nothing to do with performance. These include:

  • A slow market
  • A recent downturn in the economy
  • A different raise structure (your company may have a rigid raise structure in place that does not allow for deviation)
  • Downsizing in your department
  • You are a relatively recent hire

Have any more questions about the salary negotiation process? Let us know about it in the comments below!

Poll Results: What’s Your Workplace Superpower

Faster than a speeding copier? More powerful than an industrial strength forklift?  Able to leap heaps of paperwork in a single bound?

achieverAlthough generally peaceful, the workplace can sometimes be a scary place, with looming deadlines, frustrated clients, and surprise project attacks lurking behind every corner. Your to-do list can seem overwhelming. Who could possibly save us from these sundry evils of working life? Our incredible Movin’ On Up readers, of course!  At the end of February we asked you what your workplace superpowers were. Here’s how you responded:

Daringly Dependable flew into first with 27.72% of the vote, with Heroically Hardworking teleporting in second at 24.75%, and Multitask Mastermind speeding past in third with 21.78%.

Commander of Communication was zapped at 8.91%, while Organization Overlord and Killer Conversationalist met their match at 6.93%.

Other responses included Flexible Gap Filler and Eagle Eye. One dastardly villain thought to respond with Sleeping on the Job — most certainly a foe disguised as a faithful reader.

Even with all of these incredible superpowers, there are still going to be days where it’s tough to be a crusader of office justice. But when you’re lost and feeling down, remember that you’re part of a team. And teamwork is the most powerful superpower of all.

Any more workplace superpowers you want us to know about? Let us know in the comments below!

3 Things That Could Hold Your Career Back

Professional CrossroadsAt some point in time, you may feel stuck in your career or job search, and you’re not alone. While many experience this in their professional lives, knowing what’s holding your career back is key to helping you move forward on your desired career path. Below, you’ll find three common things that could be holding your career back and how to work through them.

1. Out-of-date skills
One thing that may be holding back your career is your skills—or lack thereof. If you’ve been stuck in the same position for too long, it might be time to evaluate your skill set and see if there’s room for improvement. Ask your employer if they know of any training or professional development opportunities. When your skills are up to date, your chances of landing a new or different job increase.

2. Fear of change
The thought of a new job can cause anyone anxiety, but it shouldn’t keep you from advancing your career. Remember the words of hockey great, Wayne Gretzky, who once said, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Getting out of your comfort zone can open new doors, allow you to see new opportunities, and help you move forward when you feel stuck. A fear of change can hold your career back, but often, change can be positive if you only take the chance. It’s all about perspective.

3. Waiting for your dream job
According to an article on TheMuse.com, “studies have shown that in the realm of jobs, people who spent too much time imagining their dream jobs were actually shooting themselves in the foot.” The thought behind this is that these people focused too much of their time imagining the big picture of their future without focusing on what it would take to get there. And, while you shouldn’t give up on your dream job, it’s important to have a real-world plan to achieve it.

How do you make sure you don’t get stuck in a career rut? Let us know in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Poll: What’s Holding Your Career Back?

MOV_POLL-ICONAt some point in your professional life, you may feel like you’re stuck in a rut, held back by something that keeps you from advancing or moving on to a new role. While many people experience this, these career path obstacles are different for everyone, and we want to know your thoughts! Tell us what’s holding your career back by voting in our poll.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Why Volunteering Is Good for Your Health and Your Career

Helping sort canned goods at a local food pantry or building a wheelchair ramp for a house can leave you with a sense of accomplishment, but volunteering actually has many other long-term benefits, including better overall health and improved teamwork skills.

In fact, about a quarter of people who have volunteered in the past year say that volunteering helped them manage a chronic illness, while almost 50% of people new to volunteering say that volunteering helped with their career.

Check out this infographic to see more health and work-related benefits to volunteering:
Volunteering infographic

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Touch Down! 4 Game-Changing Career Moves

touchdown_career_moves_webWith fall comes one of the most beloved American pastimes – football!

Beyond the joys of tailgating, catching up on your Fantasy Football team, or getting together for chilly games, football can also teach us a lot about business success. What we learn from one of America’s favorite sports demonstrates that serious training, making plays in overtime, and judging strategy are as easily applied to your career as it is on the 50-yard line.

So suit up, put your game face on, and check out these tips on how to apply football strategies to your career advancement.

1. Change Strategies Mid-Game

In 1940, the Chicago Bears were the underdogs in American football. They faced the superior Washington Redskins, and much to everyone’s shock and awe, beat them 73-0.

That game was one of the biggest upsets in football history. So how did a team with no shot of winning absolutely crush the more talented team? Did they cheat? Were they just lucky?

Neither. The Bears realized their current strategy wasn’t working, and they made adjustments. The team created the now-famous “T formation,” representing the first time a team created a new strategic formation in the middle of a game.

Like the Bears, if your strategy isn’t working in your favor, consider trying something new. Feel like you’ve earned a raise, but just putting in the hours and doing a job isn’t getting it for you? Re-strategize, collect supporting materials, and consider openly asking your boss for a raise.

If your management style isn’t inspiring your employees, change tactics and research different management techniques to get the results you want. If your resume and cover letter aren’t getting the responses you need, rewrite and reword it to highlight your abilities.

Today, coaches constantly look at which strategies work for their team and which are no longer effective. As an employee, you should do the same.

2. Never Stop Training

Every team from the little leagues to the NFL knows that consistent training is vital to the success of an organization. So, identify your key strengths and find ways to regularly improve them.

If your company offers training seminars or opportunities to cross-learn, take advantage of that offer. If you can take a night class to better your chances for a promotion or raise, invest in that education. If you have a weakness, work with coaches or teachers to increase your skill in those areas. In a team setting, you must also learn to trust co-workers and management to do their jobs in order to allow for the win.

By focusing on training and skills, you can create the best opportunity for team success and personal achievement both on and off the field.

3. Pick the Right Team, Play the Right Spot

In football, the right players have passion and drive. In business, passion and drive are just as important, but you need to find the right team for your skills.

What sets top performers apart from other team players? They’re excited, passionate, and invested in what they’re doing every day. You can’t fake passion, so if you have a career you love, you’ll help bring in the win for the organization. But, if you aren’t in a position that allows you to make the big run or go for the down, find out what you need to learn or accomplish in order to move up.

Your management team wants you in the right position too, but they won’t know where to put you if you don’t speak up.

4. Make the Big Play On the Fourth Down

Going for it on the fourth down is a gamble in football games. According to some analysts, being more aggressive on the fourth improves a team’s chance of winning, but coaches rarely make that call.

If you’re in a situation where you can make a big move, especially with a lot on the line, you might want to take the chance. Sure, you may be guaranteed a few points by playing it safe and taking the easy route, but working hard and having faith that a big move may win the game could pay off.

For instance, say you aren’t going to meet your sales quota this month. You have enough sales to slide by, so should you run the risk of making a big push on cold calls to gain a few more?

Absolutely. Of the 10 or so calls you make to companies, you might just score that touchdown and land your biggest client.

You’ll never know if you don’t go for it on fourth down.

What are some business lessons you’ve learned from football? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Are You a Job Hopper or a Job Shopper?

Job-shopper-1 Job hopping and job shopping – there is a debate on what these two things mean and if one is more significant than the other.

As the economy continues to show improvement, many people are either looking for first-time employment, wanting to get back into the job market, or looking to change careers. There’s no denying that the job market has changed over the years, and it’s definitely not the same one where loyalty reigned supreme or many employees spent their entire career at one company. Today it has become more acceptable to switch jobs – even several times – during one’s career.

With more employers now looking to hire top candidates, it’s a great time to know the difference between a job hopper and a job shopper, and the impressions that could be associated with each. 

A Job Hopper.
A job hopper is usually someone who doesn’t stay at job for a long time before they are on to something new and exciting. This individual has had many different jobs that aren’t necessarily related to the same field. Once considered to be something that only younger generations would do, job hopping has become a more widespread practice among all workers. After experiencing a recession where jobs were lost or where employees saw friends get let go, many have changed their mind on loyalty to an employer.

From an employee’s perspective, job hopping can have its benefits. It can allow you to gain new skills and invaluable experience in a variety of areas. It can also allow you to identify what jobs you do and do not like to do, helping you find your true career calling.

From a potential employer’s perspective, they might wonder why you’ve job hopped so much. If you’ve had several jobs in a short amount of time, an employer might be concerned about your commitment level. Also, they will probably want an explanation for all of your hopping.

So, before your next leap, take time to think about whether or not you can make your current job more challenging. And if it does turn out that you need something new, what might be a better option than a job hopper?

A Job Shopper.
According to an article on Yahoo! Finance, job shopping differs from job hopping because it is more structured and planned. Whereas a job hopper might just blindly jump into a new career without doing any research, a job shopper does the necessary homework before making a decision.

In addition, a job shopper has a direct goal in mind for what they want in a career and only transitions to new jobs that will help them achieve that goal. If you are planning to change careers, think about how a change can add to your skill set and improve the work-history story, better known as your résumé. And remember, it’s important to do your homework on your personal time rather than on your employer’s time.  

When it comes to your job search, you want to make sure that you stand out from other applicants for all the right reasons. Take time to think through what you want to do for a job and a career, and what it’s going to require to get there. Be strategic with your search. The sky’s the limit in what you can achieve.