Four Key Steps You Should Be Taking If a Pay Increase Isn’t an Option

Implement them now to advance your career in tough times

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Covid 19 brought huge changes to organisations and their employees. We are still trying to work out the financial implications of the pandemic. It seems certain that not every company will be in a position to grant pay increases the way they did in the past.

Even if your company has introduced a pay freeze or worse, a pay cut, there are still ways to improve your financial prospects. The four steps below can advance your career while you wait for the company to return to a more stable position.

I have used them myself and seen others successfully negotiate them with their manager and they can help ensure you are first in line when salary increases restart.

Ideally you should try to implement all four steps and the roadmap in the takeaway covers how to do this.

1 Convince your company to pay for training

If the company is not in a position to give you a salary increase they may be able to support you through paying for a specific career development programme, or at least making a contribution to your future education plans. Never discount this option. Look at it as no salary increase now, but a great chance to earn a higher salary in the future.

High quality courses can be expensive. From personal experience if you had to fund this yourself from your after tax salary remember, it could take a sizeable portion of any salary increase. Securing support for additional education is one of the best ways to increase your chances for career development and promotion down the line.

Another point that often gets overlooked is that it can sometimes be easier for managers to access funding from a training budget as opposed to a payroll budget. It might be a more realistic option for your boss to approve a one off payment from her training budget. This is really useful if the company has an embargo on any pay increases.

You have the opportunity to benefit from a company funded education plan that will help you grow and develop. Your manager can ensure you stay motivated at your current salary and has the chance to impress her boss by being seen to be investing in succession planning and staff development. Win/Win.

2 Participate in high impact high profile projects

Now is the time to make your pitch to be involved in any upcoming cross company projects that are likely to help your career and set you up for future promotions.

Do your research as it’s important to have a specific project in mind. The ideal projects are the ones that provide exposure to senior management.Any opportunity that increases your visibility to senior executives is beyond price. It can ensure that your name is one of the first to be mentioned when future opportunities come up. High impact projects can offer chances for real, and in some case quite rapid, career development.

It’s also worth remembering that a highly motivated, capable employee, who has demonstrated their ability to deliver results, is someone that a number of departments in an organisation will prize highly. It’s where I found many future stars for my department. Expanding your profile in the company by impressing on a high profile project sets you up for future success.

3 Change of title and no it is not just a vanity exercise

It can be worth having a chat with your manager about your current job title. This is not an ego thing, titles matter, and can impact both your current status and potential future opportunities. Your job title can impact the way your co-workers and potential clients perceive you. The way you are treated in cross company meetings can also be linked to your title.

A quick and useful check is to think how your title would look to a future employer. If they would struggle to understand the importance of your role from your title then it needs to change. This is especially important if you are thinking of changing jobs in the near future.

A change of title is needed if it no longer reflects the full level of responsibility you have taken on. For example, you may well have started our as Manger: Digital Marketing, but if you are now leading a small team and are responsible for the annual budget, Head of Digital Marketing or even Director: Digital Marketing may be more appropriate.

It won’t cost your manager anything and can stand to you down the line.

4 Secure an appropriate mentor to advance your career

Having an effective mentor can be one of the best ways to advance your career. Today’s business environment is complex and still adjusting to a post Covid world. As always, a combination of hard and soft skills will be needed and a good mentor is one of the best ways to help you learn. They understand what it takes to get to the top in their field and can provide insights that only come with experience.

You should actively seek to identify a mentor who is a good fit for you in the organisation. You need someone that you respect and would feel comfortable talking to. Both sides need to commit to a confidential process in order for it to succeed. Remember that your mentor can become a strong advocate for you in the company and is another key way for you to get visibility at the right level.

The company also has a lot to gain from supporting this. Your contribution to the company should improve and your level of job satisfaction is also likely to increase if you feel you are on a path to career progression and have built up a good relationship with your mentor.

Takeaway and roadmap

Managers are aware that not getting a pay increase is tough. Assuming you are a valued team member they will be anxious to compensate in other ways if they can. No one wants to risk losing a highly motivated employee. There is also a financial cost associated with replacing employees. This works in your favour and means that it’s worth discussing these steps with your manager to achieve a better outcome for you even if pay increase isn’t on the cards for this year.

Start the process by taking the initiative and looking for a meeting with your manager. Chose a suitable time to send the initial email.

  • Send an email seeking a meeting to discuss your career goals
  • Select a suitable course and be prepared to defend the benefit and cost to the company
  • Signal your interest in taking part in a cross company project to gain more experience. Have a project in mind and a plan to manage your own work.
  • Sound out the prospect of updating your job title and have examples of other titles in the company that help your case
  • Suggest the possibility of obtaining a mentor to help your career growth and have two or three people in mind if possible.

Corporate CFO, Entrepreneur, & Learner. Writing about business, personal finance, & personal growth and development.

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