7 Steps to Landing the Perennial Raises You Deserve

Jun 11, 2013 - Joe Matar

“Hey, Taylor,” says your boss as he interrupts your workflow. “Would you mind if I gave you $2,640 more this year than I did last year?” (That’s a six percent raise on a $44,000 salary.)

Not a likely scenario, is it? As much as we would all love to believe that every company out there is working proactively to identify its best employees and reward them accordingly, the reality is that they’re not. The average business owner or manager simply does not go out of his way to make sure you get the raises and promotions you deserve. To make matters worse, many of us make common mistakes that prevent us from earning those increases.

If you’re looking for recognition for your accomplishments, you’re going to have to put in the hard work to take control of your career. That means understanding the strategic priorities of your employer, aligning your goals with that strategy, pushing yourself outside of your job description and reminding your boss just how valuable you really are.

Here are seven things every aspiring mover and shaker should do to get that annual raise and promotion:

1. Learn about your employer’s strategy

Every employer should have some kind of plan that outlines their high-level priorities and goals for the year. Knowing the details of that strategy will allow you to position yourself as someone who is helping the business reach its goals.

2. Find out what your boss expects

Have a nice little sit-down with your boss to understand exactly what she expects of you in the year ahead. Learn about the baseline performance you need to show in order to keep your current job and salary, and set goals related to this performance.

3. Ask what would raise the bar

You need to know what your boss wants to see in order to give you that raise you’re looking for. If you can agree on certain “stretch” goals that challenge you and push you outside of your job description, you’ll know exactly what you have to accomplish to earn the extra cash.

4. Create at least three specific “overachiever” goals, and keep these to yourself

These goals will be the icing on the cake and will make your argument for a raise difficult to resist at the end of the year. They should directly help the business accomplish its strategic priorities and surpass its targets.

5. Record all of your goals (baseline, stretch and overachiever) in one document, then track your progress

It’s easy for your boss to overlook some of your accomplishments, especially when she’s neck-deep in her own work. Your job is to make it easy for her to justify a raise or promotion at the end of the year. As you finish projects that add up to reaching your goals, record them on your goals document. Every little thing. (Yes, really.)

6. Create a concise, convincing proposal

At the end of the year, take your goals document and polish it up into a beautiful summary of your accomplishments. By reviewing the year based on each of your goals, including the overachiever goals your boss never saw, you’re showing that you can stick to your word and highlighting your value to the company. Adding a few initial goals for the year ahead will demonstrate that giving you a raise or promotion is an investment in the continued growth of the business—not just a couple extra beers in your fridge.

7. Know what you want

Before you submit your proposal, be sure to research what you’re worth using a tool like Salary.com or Glassdoor. Know what kind of raise or promotion is reasonable to expect given your industry and background. Then, use your negotiation skills to ask for and land the raise you’re looking for.

If you can make a habit of setting outstanding goals that are aligned with your company’s strategy from your first day on the job, you’ll set yourself up to be a top performer. You’ll also continue to drive the business to ever greater heights. Business owners and employers know how valuable an employee like that can be and will recognize your contributions with the raises and promotions you want—and deserve.

Barrett Brooks is on a mission to change the way the world thinks about work at @LivingforMonday. If you enjoyed this post, then you’ll love the free year in review template he’s put together for you at Living for Monday—snag your free Year in Review Template now.