Are You Paid What You're Worth? | Ladders

6 steps to ask for a raise or negotiate a salary.

Are You Paid What You’re Worth?

6 steps to ask for a raise or negotiate a salary.

One of the most common complaints I hear from job seekers and employees is that they are not paid what they are worth. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard that complaint. I would be paid what I’m worth and I could retire rich.

Almost everyone, regardless of income, education, or position, believes that he or she should be earning more money. People at minimum wage obviously want to make more, but people at the highest levels also want more. A classic example is professional athletes, arguably the most overpaid people on the planet, who are forever whining that they are not paid enough. But are you really paid what you are worth? Let’s explore that topic.

On one hand, the belief that we are “entitled” to more compensation speaks well for us as individuals. We possess strong self-worth and self-esteem and believe we should be highly compensated for who we are. On the other hand, too often our expectations are not founded on the realities of the marketplace or on our ability to “earn” our income based on performance.

If you want to maximize your compensation, there are a number of tactics you can use to demonstrate your value. Let’s take a look at some of these tactics.

Document your accomplishments.
Here is an effective way to do that. Break your accomplishments into three parts. First, define the problem, situation, or challenge in about two or three sentences. Second, in a bulleted format, show step by step how you solved the problem or accomplished the task. Finally, in a results paragraph, describe how your accomplishment was a benefit to the organization. Use good quantitative results if possible. Otherwise, define it in strong qualitative terms. During your annual performance review, present your written accomplishments to your boss. Another strategy is to present your accomplishment summaries every 90 days, even if it is not time for your review. By showing ongoing performance, you will frequently get a raise before your review date. It is really tough to argue with well-documented performance. Odds are you will get your raise or promotion.

Find a mentor.
It is invaluable to have someone within your organization fighting for your success. It is not as difficult to find a mentor as some people think. It just takes the courage to ask. You might try a simple approach like the following:

“I have always admired and respected what you have done for the company and the success you have achieved. As I grow in this job and in my career, I was wondering if, on occasion, you would be willing to give me some advice and guidance on how I might achieve success as well?”

It is rare that anyone would say “No” to such a nice comment and question. Give it a try. The rewards will be immense.

Continue your education.
You can never have too much education, and you are never too old to learn. Invariably education leads to new job opportunities, promotions and pay raises. Get that college degree and then perhaps a graduate degree. But your education doesn’t have to be in college. Take trade courses, training seminars, or simply conduct independent research and study. You will never regret it. Invest in yourself through education. It will produce extraordinary returns.

Stay contemporary.
If you are “out of date” and “out of touch” with what is happening in the world, then your earning power will go “out the door.” From technology advances to world news to the latest business, cultural and fashion trends, they are all relevant. With the Internet at your fingertips, staying contemporary is easy. By being able to communicate about what is happening all around us, we enhance our value and we become more marketable.

Perform beyond expectations.
Always do more than you were asked to do. Take initiative to achieve superior results and make unexpected contributions. You will be recognized and rewarded for it.

Ask for the raise or promotion. If you have done your “homework,” meaning you have followed all the steps above and established your value through exceptional performance, prepare your case and present it to your boss. You will be amazed at how often your initiative will totally launch your career in a new direction.

The opportunities to earn “what you are worth” are out there, but it is up to you to seek them out. Your goals and expectations must be realistic and based on your value and contributions. If you are motivated and dedicated to achieving extraordinary performance, there is no limit to what you can earn.

Don Straits

Don Straits Don Straits, CEO and Dragon Slayer of Corporate Warriors, is recognized as a nationwide authority on contemporary job search strategies for senior-level executives. His organization provides world-class outplacement and individual job search marketing services. Corporate Warriors has earned industry acclaim for its high-impact multimedia resume portfolios. You are welcome to personally Contact Don, read his blog, and participate in his free career search webinars.

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