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Getting Promoted is Better than Getting a Raise

Getting PromotedWhen I was overseeing employees in my last role as a business unit leader, I would often get asked, how can I get promoted? But more often than not, getting promoted wasn’t really what the employee wanted. Instead, they really wanted to get a raise, but didn’t know how to ask for it.

It’s important to realize that getting promoted is not the same thing as getting a raise. Often a pay increase will accompany a promotion, but not always. And while getting a raise may be more satisfying in the short-term, getting promoted opens you to much greater opportunities down the road. As you get promoted, you become a more significant component of the company you work for. And the more valuable you become, the more you are worth to the company.

Getting promoted demonstrates that you can handle greater amounts of work and more responsibility. It’s also a more subtle way of asking for a raise and I have always felt that it was easier to ask for a promotion than a raise. You aren’t asking for something without giving something back. In other words, asking for a promotion is asking for more work and more responsibility. In exchange for doing more work, you add greater value to the company, and you can thereby justify getting paid more as well.

But what steps can you take to actually get yourself promoted?


How to Get Promoted

Going in and just asking to be promoted may work – if you’ve done enough to justify getting promoted. Instead, why not try a different approach? Start doing things that get you noticed in a favorable way. This may lead to the best case – getting a promotion without even having to ask.


Know what’s important to your supervisor

Like it or not, when you work in a company, you will have a boss. Maybe you’ll like your boss, maybe not. The best bosses look for ways to elevate their employees. They provide training and mentoring to help their employees get promoted. Bad bosses only think of themselves.

But whether you have a good boss or a bad boss, knowing what’s important to your boss will help you move forward or at least prevent you from getting fired.

Sometimes it may take a little effort to figure out what is important to your supervisor. Are they only interested in your production? Do they need help dealing with other employees in the group? Do they want someone to provide them with new ideas?

Figure out what is important to your boss and make sure you’re supporting those things.


Develop new skills – technology, people management, functional expertise

There are three paths most employees take in their development. And while any of these paths can help you move forward in your career, the most valuable employees are those that acquire skills in all three areas.

Technology skills – Technology skills are important not just for employees in IT roles, but across all departments of an organization. Every area in a company uses technology in some form. Whether it’s a CRM system, an ERP system, accounting systems, or operations systems embracing the relevant technology and becoming an expert is a sure way to increase your value.

People management – If you have ever managed people, you know how challenging it can be. Dealing with everything from personal issues to behavior problems to performance management takes considerable skill. Look to lead projects which provide you with opportunities to expand your people management skills.

Functional expertise – Lastly, look to become an expert in a specific functional area. Whether in finance, accounting, sales, human resources, or operational roles, distinguishing yourself as an expert will open new opportunities for advancement both within your company and within other companies in your industry.


Be supportive of your peers

The business world has a reputation of back-stabbing and everyone looking out for themselves. And while that reputation is probably well-founded, it doesn’t mean that you need to operate the same way.

Success in business is more about building relationships than anything else. And over the long-term, if you remain in the same industry or functional area, you may run into the same people over and over again. Developing a reputation as someone who supports and promotes their fellow employees will serve you well throughout your career.

Remember that a peer today may be a hiring manager tomorrow. Don’t burn bridges.


Getting Promoted Requires Proving Your Value

The key to getting promoted is putting yourself into a position to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. Proving your worth and making yourself more valuable to both your supervisor and to your company positions you to take advantage of these opportunities.

Focus less on getting a salary increase and more on building a solid foundation. The benefits will come.


Readers, do you think it is better to get promoted rather than get a raise?



Permanent link to this article: http://financialslacker.com/getting-promoted-better-getting-raise/


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  1. Route To Retire

    It’s funny you posted this… I’m in a pretty unique position at my job where I report only to the owner and none of the people that I manage are likely suitable replacements. Being in this position has definitely given me a clear advantage for yearly raises. In fact, I’ve been thinking recently that I am going to try to leverage this over the next year or so to increase my pay even more.

    So yes, I definitely agree with you that promotions make you more valuable to your company. And generally the pay will then follow and increase more than it would without the promotion.

    — Jim

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    1. Financial Slacker


      Sounds like you’re in a good spot. But I am interested to hear how it goes when you leverage for more money. I’ve found there’s always a fine line between acceptance and pushing for more. Unfortunately, you may not know where that line is until you cross it. In which case it’s too late. I have found this out the hard way.

      It does sound like you are going about it the right way – being subtle about your ask. That’s smart. I haven’t always played that subtle card too well.


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  2. The Green Swan

    Nicely written, Financial Slacker. That has always been modus operandi. To get the promotion you want, I’ve found I need to demonstrate in advance I can handle the role and responsibility. And that has always been my best way to get a raise, especially meaningful raises. I’m all for promotions, we all need to remember though that they need to be earned!

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    1. Financial Slacker

      Thanks, Green Swan.

      I’m right there with you that promotions need to be earned. Too often, there’s an expectation that I deserve a promotion. I’m entitled to it. It really comes down to value. You trade your time and effort for money. If you can increase your value, you can earn more money.

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  3. Robin (@financeclap)

    Really nice post which clearly says getting promoted is better than getting raise as the promotion can make you a better employee but getting raise actually meant only for hike in salary but your skills will be kept under a shade. I learned this when i received a letter quoting I’m promoted but my colleagues received hike in salary letter. Skills always plays major role in personality development than money. Thank you for the article.

    Have a good day!

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