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TT&S Weekly

TT&S Weekly (9/26/11)

Topic of the Week  Higher Ground: Getting a Raise in a Tough Economy

  •  DO make the company money.
  •  DO save the company money.
  •  DO a job no one else can do.
  •  DON'T overlook the power of a job offer.

A raise? In this economy? Are you kidding me? No, people get raises all the time, but the key is to build a case for why you've earned a bigger paycheck. Which reminds me of two U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employees in Murfreesboro, TN, Joseph Haymond and Natalie Coker, charged with taking kickbacks on the purchase of 100,000 rolls of red tape. Red security tape used on packages of VA medications.

That's a lot of red tape, but it's nothing compared to what you'll hear when you ask for a raise at work. Chances are that you'll be covered in all the bureaucratic reasons why a raise is impossible. That's why I've included three Do's and one Don't for getting a raise no matter what's happening with the economy. For more, check out "Salary Tutor" by Jim Hopkinson (Hachette, 2011).

DO make the company money. I've met a number of people in my career who have come up with creative ideas that made their company a substantial amount of money but then never took the time to document their accomplishment. Making money is the holy grail of business. If your fingerprints are all over new cash that has been brought into the company, you will have a much stronger case for why some of the cash should come your way.

DO save the company money. Remember saving the company money also adds to the bottom line. I'll never forget a story that I heard about for years of flying American Airlines, when they took an olive off the salad plate and saved the company thousands of dollars. These kinds of cost savings stories also have currency, read cash that should be in your pocket, but only when you track the savings and can show how you made it all happen. Again documentation, documentation, documentation.

DO a job no one else can do. Many organizations are famous for getting rid of the older employees, read more expensive, in exchange of younger and cheaper employees. One way to fight this is to have a unique and vital set of skills that your company really needs. Now I've heard from many people who thought they were irreplaceable, so you've got to be sure that your company really does need what you can do and will have trouble replacing you. If that's the case, your value doesn't have to be argued, they'll get it.

DON'T overlook the power of a job offer. The best way to get a raise? Have a competing job offer in your hand for a bigger salary than you currently are making. This is the major reason why you should never get too comfortable in a job, you've really got to always have your eyes on the horizon for new possibilities. Just remember, you may have to take the new job because some companies will view this as disloyalty. But even if this happens, you'll have more cash in your pocket.

Follow these tips and you'll be seeing green not red.


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

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