In today's economy, financial worries are a growing source of frustration to millions. Money may not be everything, but most of us feel we'd be a lot happier if we had a little more of it. This article discusses one way to move ahead on the financial treadmill: Get a raise.
Joe Farmington was worried. "I don't know what we're going to do." he confided to his wife Jeanie. "If we don't get more money coming in, we're going to have trouble meeting our house payments. Our car insurance has gone through the roof, and I really can't see how we can afford any new clothes for the kids this year." For millions of middle-class citizens, such financial concerns are an increasing source of anguish. It seems almost everybody is struggling to earn more, just to keep his standard of living on par with what he had the previous year. Especially if you have a growing family, staying even with last year's life-style can only be done by significantly increasing this year's paycheck. It's a game of survival of the fittest, and the ever present wage-price spiral is an unmerciful antagonist. To ward off the voracious wolf of inflation, several strategies may be effective: learn to manage your finances more wisely, live on less money, begin putting principles of success into practice, etc. Such techniques may be temporarily helpful, but many reach a stage where the only thing that will solve their financial dilemma is more money. How can they get it? They might begin training for a higher-paying profession or pursue an advanced degree. But this requires time — and money. Actually, one of the fastest ways to bolster your earnings — other than by robbing a bank or inheriting money from Howard Hughes — is to obtain a raise.
Going After a Raise
What can you do to get a raise? Some have attempted everything from offering sexual favors to their boss to blackmail, making threats, or initiating a work slowdown. These techniques, however, have a low batting average of success in the long run, and if you attempt some of these techniques and fail, it could mean absolute disaster for your career or future. When you get right down to it, raises are won by those who have sized up the complete situation and then handled it with finesse and patience, rather than with guile or dishonesty. When plotting to get a raise, too many think solely of their needs, why they must have more money, and how they can get it. But often the best approach is to climb into your boss' size twelve shoes and look at things from his perspective. Ask yourself. "Why should he want to give me a raise? What have I done to further his business or department's goals? Am I actually an asset to him, or just an expendable liability?" Then do an objective self-analysis of your performance on the job. Financial advancement is not so much hitting the boss for a salary hike at the right time as it is influencing him to give you high marks for performance. Companies pay you for essentially two things: the importance or your job and how well you do it. Companies have various systems designed to determine when to give you a pay boost and the approximate amount to give you. They are constantly evaluating your work in what could be classified as three categories: personal traits, job skills, and job performance. Make an honest self-appraisal in each or the following categories and see if you are falling short in any areas:
I. Personal Traits
One of the first things an employer looks for in an employee is reliability. An unreliable employee is about as useful to an employer as a car that won't start. An employer wants someone who will be on the job day after day, enthusiastically churning out commendable work, rather than someone who perennially has an excuse why he was absent or couldn't perform his duties. Absenteeism raises havoc with production, threatens quality, and creates unrest and friction among the other workers. Anyone who thinks he can create havoc for a boss by being absent continually and still expect a raise is living in a fantasy land. Another highly prized trait is loyalty. It goes hand in hand with reliability. Employers take notice of loyal employees: those who can be trusted with company funds, who can be depended on to get the job done properly without constant supervision, and who are responsible. They literally can't "afford" to lose this kind of employee, and a good salary and accompanying pay boosts will usually follow. One employee, Mary Kass, thought her age, expertise, and friendly disposition would make up for her disloyalty. She was one of the best liked clerks in the dry goods store where she worked. To enhance her image with customers, she secretly gave away samples of her store's merchandise — at the store's expense. When the boss discovered what was happening, she begged for mercy and got it, but she almost got fired instead of receiving the wage boost she had coming. Employers love cooperative employees. There's nothing more irritating than an employee who stubbornly balks at every directive from his boss, who is regularly offending fellow workers, and who argues disrespectfully with his boss. That was Kay Mandel's problem. She had a good job at a nutrition store. She displayed intelligence and resourcefulness, but she almost never did anything the way her supervisor instructed her to. She continually went over her manager's head to the owner concerning picky problems and ended up angering both of them. She tried to pit one employee against another by gossiping about them, but it all backfired on her. She not only didn't get the raises she could have, but she also alienated everyone in the store. You should not only strive to get along well with your boss and fellow workers, but also with your firm's customers. If you neglect this seemingly obvious point, you're about as useful to your boss as an air conditioner that conks out every time it gets hot outside, and you will soon
Raises are won by those who have sized up the complete situation and then handled it with finesse and patience, rather than with guile or dishonesty.
find yourself standing in a long unemployment line, rather than getting a raise. In short, if you are diligently practicing the Golden Rule on the job, you should have no trouble pleasing your boss, your fellow workers, and your firm's customers.
II. Job Skills
You can be the most reliable, loyal, cooperative person a live, but if you don't possess all the technical skills required to perform your job properly, you'd better do something fast. You certainly can't expect a raise when you aren't even performing up to par or you aren't staying a breast of new developments in your field. Jack Dixon thought otherwise. He was a budding writer on a growing publication. He continually turned in boring, repetitive, poorly researched articles. The few that were published were heavily rewritten by the editors. What do you suppose he did to better his performance? He took night classes on selling insurance. And to top that off, he asked several associates why the boss was so stingy about raises. Instead of studying insurance and complaining about his salary, Jack should have immediately begun to develop and carry out a program to stimulate his professional growth. Such a program should be based on a sober and realistic appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses. When formulating it, you should discuss with your boss the areas in which he feels you need to grow and develop. Exhibiting a willingness to learn and a desire to improve your job skills is the best approach to take to insure that you get the salary hikes you need.
III. Job Performance
Probably the most important thing you can do on your job is be productive. After all, you were hired to produce. A company, being in the business to make a profit, eyes very closely two aspects of an employee's performance record: the quality and quantity of the work he produces. These two traits go hand in hand. One is often of little worth without the other. What good is a financial report filled with errors, even if it is compiled in record time? The person whose work is accurate and high-quality will generally have no problem earning his just due and collecting raises. Employers appreciate employees like Stan Ball who worked at a manufacturing company. He was a real dynamo all day, exuding enthusiasm and drive. Stan was usually the last to leave, and he was well-organized and met production schedules. In fact his work was so impressive that he received three raises in less than 12 months on the job. The employees who adopt Solomon's advice and do whatever their hand finds to do with all their might (Eccl. 9:12) will discover that, eventually, the diligent are always rewarded.
Go See Your Boss
Suppose, though, your diligence doesn't pay off as soon as you expect. Then you should consider discussing the matter with your boss. This is a big step and shouldn't be done hastily. Remember, the boss probably thinks he is paying you enough, and if you rush in madly and blurt out that you are being unjustly treated, he may want to throw you out the door headfirst. So before you sacrifice yourself on the altar needlessly, evaluate yourself. In some cases you might even check with outside firms who are hiring people in your field to determine how much they are being paid and whether or not you could be hired if you lost your present job. Once you've done this, determine what you wish to say to your boss, and then confidently go and present your case to your supervisor. You might emphasize your financial needs. You should certainly stress your value to the company and your work record. (Hopefully it's not below average!) You might even explain that others in industry are paid more for the same job — if that is the case. Don't threaten your boss or go over his head, but go to him directly, calmly, and respectfully. If you do this and you're still unable to get the raise you feel you deserve, perhaps you should strongly consider selling your services to someone more appreciative — but you'd better be sure you really are worth what you are asking, or you may find yourself working in a less attractive job for less than you're getting now.
Setting Your Priorities
Money should not be the only thing you work for. If it is, you ought to sit down and seriously consider what you really want out of life, for a person's life consists of much more than the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:15). On the other hand, money is a necessary commodity in today's world, and you can't just stand idly by and wait for the Creator to shower you with gold and silver coins from heaven. In fact the Creator's book teaches that a Christian is worse than an infidel if he doesn't provide for his household (I Tim. 5:8). And providing for your family takes work, sweat, and perseverance on your part — and often a boost in salary. In short, to be able to earn the proper salary and obtain the wage hikes you need for survival, you must do one main thing: Please your boss. You need a service-oriented attitude to some extent to accomplish this properly. If you are trying to give to your job as well as get from it, you'll be happier in the long run, and you'll find that you won't just be working solely for all the money you can squeeze out of your company. When your attitude is one of giving to your employer, you'll be rewarded many times over for your efforts — not only in satisfaction and fulfillment, but also in terms of financial security and advancement.
GETTING A JOB THAT WILL LEAD TO SUCCESS by Richard S. Linton
"Job hunting is tough," complained one frustrated bread-winner. "It's tough on my family. It's tough on my marriage. And right now, it's mighty tough on me." If that is your attitude, be assured that you are quite right. There are no magic formulas for finding a job. There is, however, an approach you can use that will increase your chances of finding a job that will truly be satisfying. Begin by asking yourself what you want from a job. Your answers will surely include money, security, and personal satisfaction. But in the final analysis, what you want from a job is the same thing you want from life — success. A job that will give you a chance to succeed will probably be one that gives you an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution. Apply this concept now to the process of job hunting. First, take a look at yourself. Determine your abilities and skills by making a list of the jobs and duties you've held and the kinds of training you've had. Then list those activities you've always found interesting and enjoyed doing. Some tests exist that may prove helpful to you in determining this. You may also desire to seek counsel on this matter. One place to check out is your State Unemployment Office, which will usually have good free advice and testing. Once you have completed your self inventory, you should have a pretty good idea about the kinds of jobs that would be suitable for you and hence the kind of contributions you could make. Perhaps further training may be necessary. This might involve more formal education, but many skills can be picked up while working on the job. Two books which may be of assistance in selecting the job that's best for you are the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and the Occupational Outlook Handbook, both published by the U.S. government. They should be available in most libraries. Two other books that provide good advice are What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles and How to Get the Job That's Right for You by Ben Greco. Many bookstores will carry them. One final step in preparation which may be helpful is the writing of a resume. A resume is a summary of those experiences and talents you possess that proves you are qualified for the particular job of interest. Again, most libraries have many books on the successful preparation of a resume. After making contacts with various companies, you come to the critical point of your job search, the job interview. Here you have a chance to sell yourself to your prospective employer. Having done your homework, this should not be too difficult. Since you are interested in making contributions to this company, you will be reasonably knowledgeable about the company and its needs. (You should be!) You then explain to your employer that you are sincerely interested in making some positive contributions, that this job offers such an opportunity, and that you are qualified for the job you are seeking. (Your resume should help here.) Who could resist a sales pitch like that? Once you have found suitable employment, you will find that the challenge of continually making positive contributions will strengthen your self-image as well as provide something good for others. As your contributions increase in quality and quantity, you will reap not only immense personal satisfaction but also pay raises and promotions. So start on your road to success. Stop looking for just a job, and start looking for a chance to make a meaningful contribution.