Besides spending less, earning more money is the best way to increase your savings and investments. This is obviously easier said than done, however. We all have some sort of income stream that is hopefully growing over time, but the rate of increase often feels out of our hands. If you're working in a traditional job with an hourly or salary position, you might get an annual raise of around 5%. Maybe even as large as 10% if you're really busting your ass and making yourself an invaluable asset to the company. But when was the last time you had a say in the discussion? Or better yet, a say in the percentage increase?
The problem with raises is that they increase compensation without inherently increasing the value for the employer. If you get a 5% raise over the holidays, are you giving 5% more value to the company? I would wager not. No offense or anything, but there's no reason for you to work that extra 5% harder if there were no defined goals that went along with the raise.
Build Your Promotion
This is where the promotion comes into play. "Promotion" is such a strong word, though; let's think of it more as a "big raise with added responsibilities." This sounds more manageable. So how do we achieve this? There are a few steps you need to take before using the email template below.
First, you need to assess your own role at your company. Think about all your skills and responsibilities. Are you really good at a few specific things? Write them down on a sheet of paper. Are there some things you could get better at? Jot those down too. You want to build a comprehensive self evaluation to use in the coming months.
Also look for things your company might be missing. Are there skills you could pick up that would benefit the company? These will be crucial in negotiating your custom-built promotion.
Now you should have three categories of skills and responsibilities:
- Skills you already master
- Skills you're getting better at
- Skills you would like to take on
Be Your Best
Writing these skills down isn't enough; now you have to put them into action. Over the next weeks and months, you want to work a little harder and a lot smarter. This doesn't necessarily mean putting in crazy hours at work to prove to your boss that you're a hard worker. Instead, you should be working on yourself. Depending on your field of work, you might practice skills in your free time, research ways to do things better, or reach out to experts in those skills. When you eventually come to your boss, you want to offer skills that you're currently developing, not skills that you "are thinking of picking up." This way, you not only appear to be a stronger employee, but you have actual added value to offer.
After you've been mastering old skills and developing new skills for awhile, your boss will probably start to notice little things you're doing. This is good. Ideally, you would be the unnamed 'employee of the month' in your boss's mind. When you feel you have reached this point, it's time to take action!
Below, I have written an example email that would be sent to your boss. This email is fictional, but based on skills that I would actually be writing about. You would take the structure and ideas behind this email to craft your own.
Hey <boss's first name>,
I'm writing you this evening to give an update on the skills I've been developing as well as some new responsibilities I would like to take on/establish at <company>.
Social Media (New!)
In creating my blog, I have also become experienced in using social media to encourage user engagement and interest. I would like to use this experience to boost <company's> life online. We currently don't post on any social networks regularly. With this new position, I would post 2-3 articles, images, videos or messages every week. Additionally, I would reply to comments and interact with followers. This would also include me shooting photos of office culture on a regular basis.
Information Technology (Ongoing)
My pursuit of technical knowledge has assumed me the unofficial role of IT at <company>. I actually don't mind at all helping people with IT issues, so long as it isn't days and days of installing software and troubleshooting. But regardless, I have put in a lot of time becoming well-versed in Windows, Mac, Windows Server, and so on. Additionally, I am constantly researching workflow optimizations that can help save <company> a lot of time.
The reason I wrote this email is to summarize the recent skillsets I have been developing while introducing new potential responsibilities at <company> (social media, IT support, etc). If you agree with the ideas I've presented, I would like to discuss a formal agreement (with increased compensation) wherein we lay out these specific tasks with specific goals for me to follow. This will require minimal work from you once we establish things, as I will take charge and send you consolidated summaries of my findings and progress. I figured this time around I would propose to offer more value rather than just expecting more money from a raise. If you're available early this week, I would love to chat about all of this in person.
The Template Breakdown
The structure and flow of the email is very intentional. In the first paragraph, you should state that you've been working on skills that could benefit the company. In the following paragraphs, explain each skill in moderate detail. This email should reaffirm what your boss already knows about your while also introducing your new relevant skills. Then, at the end of the email, explain that you would like to add these new skills to your pool of responsibility in exchange for increased compensation. Make the offer firm, but not demanding. You want to make your boss feel like they're getting a good deal. The more you have to offer, the more leverage you have.
This whole process won't happen overnight, but once you get the ball rolling, you will become a better and better employee while hopefully justifying higher wages.