Being an employee sucks sometimes. As I’ve been thinking about the joy hatred I have for being an employee, the best solution I can come up with for it is self-employment. I’ve thought about different jobs in different fields, but none of that seems appealing at all. But since working for myself will take me a little while longer to achieve, the next best thing is to get paid more.
I’ve received a few raises and promotions in my day, dating back to when I worked at a Boy Scout camp and got a 400% raise from one summer to the next. Okay, that doesn’t sound as sexy when I tell you it was going from $20/week under the table to $100/week and actually being on payroll, but at least I was moving up! As I’ve looked back on the different jobs I’ve had and what I’ve seen in my own experiences and with other people, I’ve thought about some things you should do/not do to get your next raise or promotion. Enjoy!
Don’t act entitled
For a boss, nothing is more annoying than having an employee think he is the coolest thing since Pokémon cards (Hey, when I was in middle school, they were cool). He doesn’t do his work well because he deserves better. And you want to know the funny thing about these guys? Most of them talk big, but have nothing to back it up. They feel entitled to something better, but they don’t have the skills or work ethic to earn it. I used to work with someone like that. There was something new every day. There was some new pitch to get his name out there. Or I would hear him talk about what he’d do when he got promoted. And do you want to know what happened to him? He got promoted! He got fired, and it was hilarious.
Ask for extra responsibility
This is probably going to cut down on your Facebook time, but one of the things that has helped me out the most in previous jobs is to ask my boss if there was a project that needed to be done or if there was something else I could work on. There were a lot of times where I relieved my boss of some stress by lightening his load a little, and that paid dividends down the road when he promoted me to be his right-hand man so to speak. The downside to this is that once you open the gate, even just a little, you better be prepared for the flood, because you’ll be the new go-to guy. So if you’d rather just sit back and enjoy your Facebook and water cooler convos, bless your heart. That’s about as good as it gets.
Be the best at what you do
I just spent the last 10 minutes at work mesmerized by the window washers that come into our branch to wash the inside office windows. You’d think that would be a sucky job, but man that guy has pizzazz! He’s all whippin’ his squeegee back and forth, twirling it around to keep the water from getting on the ground. It’s amazing! That guy should get a raise. The other guy? Meh, he’s okay. He’s twirling his squeegee around too, but you can tell he’s thinking, “I would rather take a bullet to the head than be here.” The windows are getting clean, but he’s not going anywhere in this industry.
But really, when most bosses are looking to promote, they’re going to go with the guy or gal who knows their stuff the best. So become an expert in what you do, even if it’s just window washing. Learn some new skillz to add to your marketability and add value to your company. Your boss will notice and you may soon get your ticket to ride the gravy train.
Ask for one
My first job in college was a customer service job. After about 3 months, they took me off the phones and had me do all the refunds and credit card disputes globally. Originally, they had a group of people working on it in addition to their duties, but they wanted to try to consolidate it all into one person. It was a relatively small company, but I was so busy with my new responsibilities that I rarely got to all my emails every day and often worked through lunch. So a few weeks later, I walked into my boss’ office and had a little convo that went something like this:
“Hey man, these new responsibilities are kind of weighing on me. I’m getting three times as many emails as before and I’m barely able to finish all my work every day. Can I get a raise for all this?”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Are you kidding me? I’m working through my lunch breaks trying to keep on top of things, and I’m actually getting paid less now than I was before because I don’t qualify for commissions anymore.”
“I’ll get it approved.”
Boom. It was that easy. If I had never asked, nothing would have happened. Of course, you have to be able to back up the request. Don’t just ask for a raise because your mommy thinks you deserve it. Do the work well and you might get the raise or the promotion you want. And it helps to actually have a relationship with your boss, so you can be candid without coming off as a prick 🙂
Some places just suck from a mobility standpoint. Politics and nepotism are alive and well in business. Take, for example, that same company I worked for. The CEO hired his mom as the HR Director, who once tried to fire me for taking a leave of absence to do some humanitarian work in Fiji (that I was previously given permission to take), but she was so inept that she filled out the wrong forms and the company was forced to take me back when I returned. As soon as I realized that there was a low ceiling when it came to upward mobility, that became one of the reasons I left the company a couple of years later.
If you can’t see yourself reaching your potential at the company you’re at, find a different company who will reward you for being a rockstar.