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What you can do to earn the next raise or promotion

June 11, 2014

Are you in a situation where you were passed up for a raise or a promotion, or just looking to build your career and feeling stuck? Assuming you are meeting expectations in your job, my guess is the reason you’ve been overlooked is because you haven’t contributed to the bottom line. It’s as simple as this: People who make money for the company see the rewards. Even though it’s sometimes difficult for IT professionals to come to terms with what I’m about to say, in most businesses, the name of the game is SALES. This doesn't mean you have to be a salesperson to make some more dough. What is does mean is that you need to find a way to provide value to areas that drive revenue. How do you do that?

Understand your business and industry

I can’t tell you how many times I've heard people tell me they want to make more money. One of the first questions I always ask is, “What do you know about your industry?” This question gets them thinking more about the high-level implications of their work beyond their particular department. Knowing how an office or system operates is not enough. It’s imperative to understand how organizations in your industry make money, serve customers, anticipate obstacles and manage risk. More specifically, it’s critical that you understand your company’s or client’s plan to increase market share by positioning themselves better in these areas. Understanding these things can lead you to have more valuable conversations with your managers and with the business units of your organization. By knowing why your system, network, application, etc. is important to driving revenue or solving problems, you can understand the urgency of why you, your manager and the business want to make it awesome. This provides you with an advantage over other IT professionals who are there to only focus on development and networking. When it comes to review time, you’ll be seen as someone who deserves a salary increase because you exceeded expectations.

Find a way to identify gaps that impact how your organization makes money

Now that you know all about what your organization needs to do to compete, it’s time you put your knowledge to good use. Does your company have a sales system that doesn't do a good job supporting the cross-selling of products? Do you have salespeople who need to access information from their smartphones during customer meetings, but the current set-up does not allow for that functionality? If your organization is working on projects that do not support fixing these issues that drive revenue, that there may be an opportunity for you to have some high-level discussions about solving business problems. Identify the gaps and start having some pertinent discussions. You don’t need to solve all the world’s problems prior to engaging the right people to share your thoughts but you do need to understand how improving the issues will drive ROI. Now it’s important that these discussions occur with a leader who trusts and values your opinion; otherwise, you’re just another guy or gal trying to point out everything that’s wrong. When you discuss opportunity with a leader who trusts you, you position yourself as a true partner … and true partners earn raises!

Get involved in projects that have influential leadership stakeholders

Visibility within an organization is key to positioning yourself for a salary increase or promotion. When leaders identify you as a valued resource, positive things happen! If given the opportunity to volunteer for projects or decide which projects to align yourself to, be cognizant of not only whether the project impacts the bottom line, but if the project involves leaders who have a lot of pull within the company. People with high levels of influential and persuasive power can advocate for you when it comes time for the next promotion. Your job is to ensure that, in closed-door meetings, leaders will recommend you for more responsibility or speak highly of you as an invaluable team member. Having the backing of such critical people is essential to locking up a raise or a promotion.


One of the first steps to growing your career is letting other people know that you are interested in doing more. So often, the people I coach assume that hard work and dedication will get them noticed enough to be offered the “next” job. I’ve had enough experience to know that if you don’t raise your hand, you won’t be selected. Thought leadership in a variety of industries strongly supports this (for more information, check out my favorite books that address the topic Break Your Own Rules or Lean In—both can be found at Amazon). Most of the time, the people who get promoted are the ones who say, “I want that job,” or, “How do I go about being considered for that opportunity?” Doing this automatically alerts leadership that someone with drive and an interest in learning is available to take on another challenge. Too many times I see the hard workers get passed up for promotions. I can tell you for certain, it’s because they didn’t raise their hands. What’s the worst that can happen … you get told no but receive some insight into what you need to do to be considered in the future? Does that sound so scary? I’d like to think not!

Following the tips listed above is a great start to expanding your career. Now that you know what needs to be done to lock up that raise or promotion, go out there and get it!

To learn more about how to manage your professional image in preparation for a promotion, visit our recent Career Hacker post on finding out what your coworkers think of you!

Melissa McFall has spent over nine years in the IT staffing and services industry, including six years as an IT recruiter. She is an expert in recruiter/client relations and service delivery.

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