December 01, 2014 Articles

Demonstrating Your Value

Is there a "right" way to ask for a raise?

By C. Matt Alva

Life within a firm can be busy and chaotic. In this environment, the value of your work can be overshadowed by the mere day-to-day survival. The people in charge of your workplace may sometimes need a reminder of what you bring to the table. Here are a few tips on how to approach the delicate proposition of seeking a raise or promotion.

Track Record
It goes without saying that in order to get a raise or promotion, you will need to earn it. Time, effort, and achievement will make the decision to give you what you want easier. In addition to putting in the time and work, be sure to put in the effort to establish trust between you and your superiors. This trust will facilitate your growth and advancement. Not only should you cultivate your relationship with your direct superior, but you should also be mindful of how you interact with those whom might influence your superiors. Specifically, consider support staff and junior partners with whom your boss interacts with on a daily basis. If these people do not have positive things to say about you, that may complicate how you are perceived by those in positions to grant promotions or raises.

Grow Your Responsibilities—Become Irreplaceable
Take on the tasks no one wants to do. Be the person willing to go the extra mile. Become irreplaceable and you will advance. To be relied upon is to be valuable. Being the "go to person" for the tough issues ensures that you will be viewed in a light favorable to promotions and raises.

Demonstrate Value
Outside of being successful in your day-to-day tasks, how can you further demonstrate value? Consider seeking out very specific projects that will help demonstrate to their superiors how important they are to the office. Having this visible, specific project as a success story can serve as a focal point in your upcoming negotiations—a clear example of your value. With these types of successes, your employer will be aware of your work and will be more receptive to a promotion request.

Practice Your Pitch
You have built a solid list of accomplishments, put in the time, and cultivated the relationships—now what do you do? Rather than storming into your boss’s office with a list of demands, think through how you can be most successful in making your pitch. Would your boss want a detailed email or would he or she prefer to meet in person? Once you figure out the format of the presentation, be sure to organize your thoughts. Similar to an interview, you need to be ready to detail the basis for your raise or promotion. Being organized and prepared to present a thoughtful basis for your raise or promotion will go a long way towards achieving that goal.

Be Ready for the Results
Finally, I would strongly advise you to be ready for both a good and bad result. Think about whether you would push the issue further or let it go. Consider whether a possible rejection means you should begin considering new employment. Also, be ready for success—remember to be thankful and gracious.

Approaching your superior to ask for a raise or promotion is not an easy prospect. A solid track record of professional success, cordial relations with co-workers, and being prepared to justify your request will go a long way to ensure you come away with the raise or promotion you seek. Also, remember that if you are prepared and make a solid pitch for a raise or promotion, the mere request itself is likely to impress your employers. Showing initiative and boldness are fantastic qualities, the type of qualities that will lead to raises and promotions throughout your legal career.

C. Matt Alva – December 1, 2014