Some job advertisements ask you to include your salary requirements on your cover letter, and if they ask for this, it usually means you can’t avoid doing so. Listing salary requirements is always tricky because it’s hard to “guess” what the employer will think about your preference. Asking for too much can rule out your chances right away because you might appear unrealistic, but asking for too little can signal a red flag and tell the hiring manager you don’t value your skills and experience. So the question is – what do you say in your cover letter? My advice is to always include a range because you give yourself a little bit of breathing room. A range not only eliminates you from this potential scrutiny, but it could also tell the hiring manager you need a little more information before you give them a definite answer. In other words, you leave yourself some option, and you also put yourself in a good position to negotiate. Chances are that full details of the job haven’t already been provided, so if you make it to the interview and hear more about the job’s requirements, you can then argue why you are qualified to receive the higher end of your salary range. So how do you determine this range?
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It's that golden moment, the one you always dream about. The moment your boss offers you a raise, and you didn't have to ask for it! It doesn't happen often unless you have something in your contract that stipulates your pay increases, or some other sort of mandated pay raise. However, for the majority, an impromptu raise is just a dream.
There are no promises to be made here. Many raises, even those you ask for, depend on a variety of factors. You have control over whether or not you deserve a raise, but not always over getting one.
Luckily, there are some things you can do that will push you closer to getting a raise, whether you ask for one or not:
1. Bring In New Business
It doesn't matter if you're in sales or not. If the company you work for isn't able to bring in new business, they aren't going to grow, and they won't be able to afford to give you a raise.
In today's business world, everyone is in sales. You are a business-of-one. You have to sell yourself, your company, your skills, and your products. If you aren't a salesperson, you may not have the know-how to follow a sale through to the end, but you can still bring in business.
For example, just because I was an accountant at Dr. Snooze mattress company doesn't mean I had less of a chance to get a raise than the people on the sales floor. I'd still get leads and find new accounts. I used excellent customer service to ensure other companies kept coming back to do business with us.
Start looking for ways to bring in new business and you'll be amazed at what you can learn.
2. Become An Expert (On Something)
This "something" should be related to your field, obviously. There's no point in learning everything there is to know about QuickBooks if you work as an account supervisor. Sure, it might occasionally come in handy, but the goal is to become a go-to person on a topic.
If someone has questions about an account, they should be coming to you, and you need to be able to answer them. It's even more impressive if you can reach out before they even realize there's an issue. Not only does that mean that you increase your customer retention, but your clients will remember that and recommend you.
3. Find A Mentor
Not just any mentor. Do what you can to ensure that the mentor you choose is someone you would like to model your career after.
In today's marketplace, having a mentor that's a little bit old-fashioned (or at least respected in the industry) might be a great way to distinguish yourself. After all, careers now last about 4-5 years, instead of 40-50. You need to be on-call 24/7, but that doesn't leave you any time for a life. A mentor can help you work through the kinks and can help you to pave a path that others want to follow.
With guidance from a mentor, you'll stand out from other employees on the job, and could be next in line to get a raise.
4. Make Your Boss Look Good
There is nothing that will make your boss love you more than if you make them look good. After all, they'd probably like a raise just as much as you would, so it makes sense that they need you on their team. Stepping on their toes and making them look like they don't know what their doing isn't going to win you any favors.
When I was working at McElroy Metal, this tactic worked perfectly for me. I gave my supervisor all the credit for a huge sale I made, and he quickly became a favorite with the owner. When it was time for him to give promotions, I was the first one to be recommended.
5. Become Irreplaceable
The thing is, once you've made yourself irreplaceable, you can ask for pretty much whatever you want (within reason, of course). Becoming an indispensable employee involves doing what you're supposed to, plus everything listed, and then a little bit more.
After all, people who make themselves exceptional stand out for a reason. Having the perception that losing you would decrease productivity around the office and cost them money means that job security is locked in tight, and your boss will want to fight to keep you.
There is no way to promise that you'll get a raise. Much of it has to do with things you have no control over—the company's current standing, when a promotion becomes available, or the overall economics of the country.
Even if that can't be guaranteed, however, you can drastically increase your chances of getting a raise—whether you ask for one or not.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.