How to get what you want in the job you have

We’ve already agreed the gender pay gap is bullshit, and we’ve all committed to doing what we can to take matters into our own hands to help to close it. But how? If you’re already happy in your job and you’ve accepted your salary, what are you meant to do to take a step up without finding  new job? All you can do is work hard and be helpful and hope to impress your boss enough for them to give you a pay rise, right? Happily not – there are plenty of real thing that we can do, and should be doing, and I’m here to tell you about some of them.

We have to put ourselves out there, we need to tell people exactly what we’re worth and what we know we deserve. And we need to have the facts and figures to back it up.

We have to put ourselves out there, we need to tell people exactly what we’re worth and what we know we deserve. And we need to have the facts and figures to back it up.

There is no reason at all that these tips won’t work equally well for men as women. The only difference is that whilst women are, generally speaking, working away hoping someone notices all of their graft, men are (again, generally speaking) already making sure their bosses know about their achievements, and what they expect in return in terms of career progression. We need to catch up in terms of mindset, rather than in ability, in order to succeed on an equal playing field.

So, here are some practical steps that you can follow  to help yourself get to the next step in your career, whether that’s a promotion, a pay rise, or both.

1.Do your homework about your company 

In a lot of big companies  pay rises and promotions are only available at set times of the year, so schedule a time to speak to HR or your line manager to find out when that is in your company. Remember, if pay rises are given in May that’s just the end of a much longer process. You need to start having conversations with your boss about what you want way ahead of that – they need time to make your case to the decision makers, and they will only have that if you speak to them early. Usually there is a set amount of money to go around the whole company for pay rises, and more people who want it than it can stretch to, so make sure you’re part of the conversation early.

2. Be clear about what you want

What’s motivating you? We all want to succeed, and at different times in our lives success has different manifestations. What are you looking for at the moment – is it a new title, or a pay increase, or something else? Negotiations will be much easier if you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve, and why.

3. Do you deserve it?

Sure, we all want more – but, right now, do you honestly deserve it? Have you earned it? Think back over times you’ve gone above and beyond in your role, and make a note of them. You don’t necessarily need to sit your boss down and run through every time you’ve worked late nights or stepped in to help a colleague in need, but do make sure you’ve checked in with yourself and know that you’re confident that what you’re asking for is what you deserve. If you don’t feel like you deserve it yet, work with your line manager to set some goals to make sure you do in 6 months or a year.

4. Do your homework about the market 

How does your salary match up to other people in your industry? In advertising there are annual salary benchmark reports from companies like Major Players, Cogs and The Drum. If your industry has resources like this then use them – it will give you a much clearer idea of where you are in relation to your peers in the wider industry. If your sector doesn’t have this, you might need to get uncomfortable and speak to people who you know and trust in your personal network. The more we do this, the less embarrassing we find talking about money – the less embarrassing we find talking about money, the less secretive we can be, and the better idea we get of the landscape we’re trying to navigate.

You can also do this by speaking to recruiters. They have a very clear view of the market, and your skill sets, and can quickly give you a very clear idea of you’re being under valued in your current role.

Find a mentor. No one is going to be offended by you saying you admire them and asking if you can buy them a coffee so you can have a chat to pick their brain.

5. Look at you job description

Do you have a copy of your job description? If not that’s something I need you to sort out right away. As in, the very next time you set foot in your office. How are you meant to know if you’re over or under performing if you’ve got nothing to measure against? If you’re asking for a pay rise of promotion go through your job description, and the job description for the role one step up. Make a note of all of the things you’re already doing, and anything you’re neglecting. Make a personal plan to make sure you’re ticking all of the boxes for your level, and have started on a thing or two from the level above – showing your capable, and proactive is always impressive.

6. Set KPI’s and targets with your manager

When you’ve done your research on your own, schedule a time to sit down with your line manager, or HR – whoever is responsible for progression in the company. Let them know what you’re trying to achieve, and what you’ve done so far to help yourself get there. Work together to lay out some KPI’s and targets with timelines, and make sure to follow up regularly to track your progress.

7. Get a mentor

Someone older or more experienced in the company, or in the industry, can be incredibly useful. They can advocate for you, give you tips, and tell you the things they wish someone had told them. Find out if there’s an existing mentoring scheme in place in your company. If not, put yourself out there and ask someone you admire for a chat, or if you can take them for a coffee or lunch. No one is going to be offended by you saying you think they’re impressive and asking if ten minutes for a chat so you can pick their brain.

8. Don’t take no for an answer

When you ask for a pay rise or a promotion, sometimes the answer will be no. If we’re honest, the fear of it being ‘no’ is why we were so reluctant to ask in the first place – it feels like it would be so embarrassing and heartbreaking. The reality is, it’s so much less scary when we realise that ‘no’ isn’t the end of anything – it’s the start if another conversation. Find out why it’s a no, and what can happen to make it a ‘yes’. It may be that the conversation was started too late, you haven’t been in the company for long enough, or there’s something you need to improve on before the next step is possible. Be open and receptive to the conversation and make sure you know when you’re talking about it next, and what you can do before then.

9. Get training

Companies have budgets set aside to train their staff – it’s in their best interests to have industry leading people working for them. Be proactive, don’t want for someone to suggest training to you. Instead, think about any gaps or weaknesses you have and look into available training and speak to your manager about booking a place.

10. Do it all over again

Wether the answer was yes or no, you’re going to have to do it all over again many times during your career. The more you do it, the more comfortable it will become. It won’t be yes every time, but if you do your research and make sure you know what you’re worth, and that your company know that you know, it can only be onwards and upwards.

I hope this is helpful – let me know of any other tips you’ve tried and how they’ve worked out for you.



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