4 Weekly Work Habits to Start Now — So You Can Land that Raise Later

published Oct 1, 2021
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As a career coach, I have clients who book time with me for various reasons. A common goal I hear time and time again? That they want to make more money at work. I’ve witnessed a recent tide change in the workforce; employees understand they have options and should be demanding more from their employers. As a result, people are gearing up to ask for more money, whether they’ve been at their company for a year or a decade.

Though it’s refreshing to see more professionals advocate for their worth, I’ve noticed the timing can be slightly off. “My performance review is next week; how do I get a raise?” clients often ask. While developing your strategy on asking for a raise can be done in under a week, the strategy toward earning your increase should go into order long before your performance review. 

Landing a raise is all about timing and preparation. It’s never too early to cultivate beneficial habits, and it’s never too late to pivot where you need to. Here are four habits to start now, so that you’re set up for landing that raise when the time comes.

Keep a career journal.

Most people, no matter the industry that they work in, can stand to benefit from keeping a career journal. It’s as simple as the name suggests: It’s a notebook (or digital-analog, if you’re like me) filled with your professional updates, thoughts, and goals for the future. Think of it like a grown-up diary dedicated to your 9-to-5 (or whatever hours you keep). 

The subject matters of your career journal will be your decision, but I use mine to talk about feelings of failure, projects I’m inspired by, and the management styles that don’t work for me. It’s been powerful to glance at old ideas and see what has come to fruition. My career journal is also a record keeper of what is important to me, and serves as something I could return to should I re-enter the workforce and plan my negotiation strategy.

Your career journal can be a guide to remind you of what you truly want from your current employer. That might be as simple as a higher base salary, but the pages of your career journal may show that you want more equity or a higher commission as well. Take note of what matters to you, and remember to work that into your negotiations.

Credit: Bev Wilson

Write down your wins.

One of the biggest obstacles between you and that raise you want is a sense of self-advocacy and confidence. You’re not alone: Most people struggle with imposter syndrome, or feeling like a fraud at work. Even now, it creeps in for me more than I’d like to admit — and I’m a career coach! Several years ago, I stumbled across a video on defeating imposter syndrome, and one of the actionable pieces of advice changed how I approached self-advocacy. 

The video hosts, Chelsea and Lauren, explained how writing down your wins or highlights could help with your self-esteem. This tip ultimately helps you secure a compensation increase in two ways. First, on a more tactical level, you’re set up for success when you can identify your recent successes and justify the extra money the company will spend. Second, writing down your wins beyond a sound strategy fosters a stronger sense of self, something you’ll need when advocating for yourself.

Ask your manager for actionable feedback.

Perhaps you’ve heard that a performance review “should never be a surprise.” Translation: You and your manager should be fostering a relationship of trust, transparency, and open communication. A good manager will be coming to you with actionable feedback and be instrumental toward your professional development. You’ll know what you’re good at and what you should be working on — with the tools to help you succeed. 

Regardless if you have a stellar manager or not, you still have some agency over your success. Ask for regular, meaningful feedback from your manager — perhaps not during every meeting, but aiming to make this a monthly conversation is a good start. “Hey NAME, I would like to speak with you about my professional development. What actionable feedback can you share with me to ensure I’m not only meeting expectations but also preparing myself for the next step in my career at COMPANY NAME?” is a good way to frame this ask.

Bonus points: Write down what your manager tells you in your career journal. Set a reminder for about six weeks later, and ask if they see the kind of progress they need to justify a promotion, compensation increase, or increased responsibilities in the future.

Speak up in meetings.

I recently worked with a client, and together we were able to secure her a 75 percent pay increase when she landed a job at a mission-driven company she admired. In our last meeting, we talked about how she can set herself up for success in her new role and learn from her previous shortcomings at her previous employer. She expressed a desire to be seen as an expert in her field, not a wallflower in the office. Together we developed a benchmark of speaking at least once in every meeting. 

Now, that’s not to encourage you to fill the room up with hot air or ramble for the sake of rambling. Instead, you can contribute to a meeting by touching on one of the following points:

  • Illustrate how an update will impact — positively or negatively — your team’s KPIs
  • Ask about how a project will impact the ROI or company mission 
  • Offer a solution to a problem that your team can help with 
  • Offer encouragement to someone during a meeting; let them know you think their idea is innovative and efficient 

To avoid using filler or repeating what someone else has said, it’s important to be engaged and actively listen throughout the meeting. Before speaking up, ask yourself if your comment will help, inform, or clarify aspects of a campaign, project, or problem. “As an update, our team will be wrapping up X on your proposed due date. Can we push your directive to next week?” is far more substantial than“You know, I’ve always loved getting to coordinate [directive],” which isn’t harmful, but it’s not very helpful. Showcase your attention-to-detail as well as your ability to think proactively, and you’ll be on your way to landing a raise in no time.