Get a Raise- Without Dying Trying. Learning how to accumulate value in your work life.

Dear Tribe,

Today we open the can of worms – Dolla, Dolla bills ya’ll! Some have it, we all want it and need it to survive. So how do you advocate for a raise, when you work at an institution that expects you to pay for your student loans and your bills with hard-earned smiles?

As a young millennial, the two most important lessons that I have learned thus far are as follows:

  1. Institutions are not here for you. As an individual, YOU have to find methods of maximizing the institutions for your benefit, the same way that they use you to optimize their bottom-lines.
  2.  Exercising your fear muscles, does not produce more value in your work life. Instead, Fear keeps you from seizing the moments that will help make you invaluable.

Here are 6 Quick Tips that I use to insure that I am maximizing value in my work-life and that I am paid my worth by institutions that pay me a salary.

  •  RESEARCH will be your saving grace! Learn how to advocate for your Skill-set.
    • Conduct research on the salaries of your peers (with similar titles or job responsibilities) both within and beyond your company. Do not limit your research to people in the same professional field. For a well-rounded picture of what your individual skills are worth, research other professions that utilize comparable skills. Create a monetary baseline for your total worth based on an estimated summation of how much you could be paid individually for your soft and hard skills.
      • Talk to your friends about their salaries and skills they use on the job. Ask them to estimate the percentage of time they use different types of skills in their profession. This will help you to set a baseline for the monetary value of your skills. See this Muse article on why it is important to talk to your friends about salary.
      • The Money Taboo, why it exists and who it benefits
    • My clients and friends often say to me, “Kris, my job description as “Fill in job here ”  does not accurately portray what it is that I do, and so my company refuses to pay me for it.”

    • First, I usually assure them that their feelings are valid. Afterwards, I ask them to explain their jobs to me, specifically to describe the skills or assignments that they do that they are not being rightfully compensated for. Oftentimes, they have a hard time describing them to me.
    • TRIBE, LEARN HOW TO TALK ABOUT YOUR JOB AND SKILL-SETS.  Why should I, an administrator, pay you more money for arbitrary skills, when you are unsure what the skill is called outside of your industry, or how much other people make for putting that skill to use? 
    • Instead, read position descriptions from diverse professional fields and see if what you do in your job matches up with a defined skill. Do you make decent posters?…hmmm, graphic design. Do you update the social media/ blogspace for your organization? hmmm… communications coordination.
    • Note: You do not have to have gotten a degree in something or it to be written into your job description for it to be a skill-set.strategize
  •  Be Strategic– Make yourself valuable to the organization but also determine what will make this job more valuable to you.
    • Be strategic about the future; what skills will the company need a few years from now?  Find ways to acquire those skills earlier rather than later. Can you take a free Coursera class? Can you volunteer to take minutes on a task force or subcommittee?(It’s sort of like being a spy skill-ninja on the wall-soaking up the knowledge but not adding too much to your workload).
  • Five Second Rule: When an opportunity arises. Jump at it! You never know how taking on a new responsibility or a challenge might help you meet the right people, provide you opportunities to showcase skills you do not get to use everyday at work, or learn new skills for future opportunities.
  • Keep track of your tasks and your time: When I requested my first raise, I had spent three months keeping track of all of my tasks, time, meetings, and administrative work that I usually do. I created a huge color coded spreadsheet of how I was spending my days and the resulting completed daily deliverables. I printed my original position description and presented the spreadsheet and the position description to the administration. I asked to be compensated based on the work that I was currently doing, not the arbitrary description they had drawn up. Guess what Tribe….They said No.
  • Be Annoying! It’s Ok! They turned down my first request but I never gave up. I was vocal about my disappointment, but I never let that affect my work ethic or the quality of my work. Every day, I continued adding to my spreadsheet and being amazing at my job. After a few weeks, I went back to the administration and presented new “value-adding” compromise requests, and data about other similar positions in and out of state. In the end, I got the bump in salary that I wanted and added value to my employment package. Not all of the extra was monetary, instead I examined what was valuable to me, MY TIME!!! I requested more flexibility in my schedule and complete control over my time. The negotiations, took some back and forth but in the end, after a lot of patience and self-advocacy, I got the value I was looking for.
  • Self-care- Know when to call it Quits: 
    • Learn how to say No to additional tasks that add to your workload but not to your skill-set.
    • Become the delegating master!
    • Never pledge your loyalty to an institution over your own well-being. Fully commit to yourself and your development. If they refuse to meet your reasonable requests, that’s alright, bide your time, hone your skills and then move on if need be. Use those skills to negotiate a higher salary elsewhere.


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