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So you want a raise in a tough job market?: 5 Tips for Making Your Case

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You Get A Raise

1. Get to the point. Always find ways to say what needs to be said “simpler, better, faster.” This does a few things: it shows you are able to digest information and make sense of it quickly; it shows you are listening; and it shows that you are efficiency minded. The boss will think of your agile, crisp reports as your signature style and brand; and as Martha Stewart would say “that is a very good thing.”

2. Be innovative. Make sure you come to work with a clear head. If you have less distractions than others, you have more capacity to think abou the issues at hand as well as the issues that could plague the company in the future. Those that help companies stave off issues in the future — and particularly if you can codify that in terms of cost savings, ROI, or a reduction in COGS — you pay for yourself as a resource a few times over.

3. Predict the future. Take some time to think about what your boss needs done and do it. Of course, do this within reason. Take care of extraneous tasks quickly. However, for bigger initiatives or strategy, scope out your ideas and show your boss a strawman outline. Even if she says “David, I don’t have time to address that right now but good on you for taking the lead on this. I appreciate your initiative.” You will likely be congratulated for being forward-leaning at a minimum and in the best case scenario, you will likely be given the lead on the initiative and will be able to receive a big portion of the credit for the outcome.

4. Do more with less. With such an emphasis on overhead and cost reduction initiatives, employers are looking for people that are resourceful. Over and above just saving the company money, it is similarly as helpful to find ways to make the most of the resources a company currently has. This is where being and thinking “green,” for example, comes into the fore and becomes more than a machination of political wonks and academics. Being green saves green.

5. Spell it out. As a leadership coach, my job at the end of an engagement often consists of putting together a summary of targets met and overall achievements (also known as a “brag book”). What did you do to warrant merit? So, if you have done the aforementioned steps 1-4, you should have a record of all of the cogs, efficiency measures, KPIs that show increases in sales, velocity, churn, etc. Data is king in this instance. If you have substantive proof of how you created value, particularly if this exceeds average output; you will have more than made the case for your employer. Some perceptive employers may even say “Natalie, looks like someone deserves a raise.” If they don’t, and you feel some good will in the air, it may be worth brokering the conversation without the prompting of your boss.

In short, know your worth. Know what value-add you are bringing. Be able to tell the story clearly with data and a strong narrative. If you think you can do this yourself but want to increase your chances of getting what you want, a good coach can help you in your efforts. I have personally supported my clients in this regard, and we secured not only a raise but a promotion in many cases. So there you have it; 5 tips for making your case for a raise. Go for it! Good luck in your efforts !


For more information on compiling your brag sheet and other offerings that could help give you that extra edge, contact Patrick Parks at


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