Lay the Groundwork Before Asking for a Raise

Position Yourself for the Salary Bump You Deserve

Career Expert, "Vicky Oliver"

Do you feel overworked, undervalued — and underpaid? Do you feel it’s time to take charge and ask for a pay raise? Before you go barging in on your boss, you’ll first need to lay some groundwork.

First, assess your chances. Are you already considered a star player on your team, or do you need to put yourself more in the limelight? Is your boss really aware of the tangible ways you’ve contributed to the company? And, importantly, how critical are you to your department? Unless you have a well-established track record of success, you may appear to be over-reaching. Make sure you’ve already made a positive impression through your hard work and impressive results.

Before scheduling your big sit-down, embark on a campaign to make your case and sell yourself to your superior.

Employ these six self-promotion techniques to position yourself for the salary bump you deserve:

  1. Ride the elevator with an agenda. When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use your moment under the fluorescent spotlight to position yourself as indispensible: “I’m walking on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”
  1. Show initiative. Volunteer for a new project the nanosecond after another project ends. Stay up-to-the-minute about upcoming meetings, company initiatives and new procedures, and become your department’s go-to person. Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.
  1. Share your happy tidings. Have you closed a deal? Secured a contract? Signed on a new customer? Spread the good news in the hallways, at the vending machine, or in the men’s room if you’re a guy. (Women, take note: the ladies’ room is not an okay place to promote yourself. In this regard, the sexes are separate but not equal.)
  1. Align your successes with your boss’s objectives.When boasting of your own accomplishments, think of ways that your boss can take your success and promote it to her higher-ups. Be the bearer of good news. You might stop her at the water cooler and say, “A client just told me the new initiative was the best one he’s seen from our department yet.”
  1. Use eye contact to your advantage. Don’t look away or off to the side when promoting your achievements or your boss may conclude that you’re not particularly proud of your performance. After all your hard work, that would be disastrous.
  1. Adopt your boss’s modus operandi. Every boss has his or her own style of communication. To the extent you can, try to mime your boss’s style. Is he a heavy emailer? Why not email him your good news? Or, is she more of a people person? Leaving a chipper voicemail may help signal that you’re a people person, too.

Originally published at

Career Advice

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