Category Archives: Promotions

How to become an expert and get paid like one

Getting a raise or getting promoted is hard if no one notices what you do. Guerilla tactics for quick advancements have to get you noticed in a nice way. First a story, then the tactics.

Bill was one of the original guerilla advertisers. Decades ago, he had a product that no one had in a PC. Now every PC has one. His company went from obscurity to a major buyout. A lot of that happened because Bill and his partner figured out how to take the spotlight and become the talk of the town. They also had very good technology. 

We have been in contact for several years now. His fortunes changed dramatically. The buyout is over. The money went into investments that didn’t work out. He spent the last couple few years learning new skills. He started over at entry level and rose to team lead quickly. Now he has broken into the big time. Again. When he was broke. Again.

It is easy to break into the big time if you have a lot of money. People come to you. Bill wasn’t in that position. So what could he do?

We ended up talking about his original guerilla marketing. At that time they had no budget for marketing. He had to get the spotlight to shine on their product without paying for it. So they did talk shows, magazine articles, press releases, trade association presentations, and keynote addresses. They even put together almost complete reviews of their products so that magazine writers wouldn’t have to work hard.

Bill did that same type of thing again. He attracts the change he wants to see in his life. He isn’t chasing change, he puts on pheromones and lets change chase him.

All successful employers are stalking men who will do the unusual, men who think, men who attract attention by performing more than is expected of them. (Charles M. Schwab)

You can do the same type of guerilla self-promotion. You can attract change. Here’s how:

  1. Write your own reviews
  2. Become an expert
  3. Become KNOWN as an expert
  4. Get published

First off, be sure and write your own reviews for your boss. On a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis you need to give your boss a glowing review. A simple report stating the wonderful things you did each week will help him. He can’t pay attention to everything you do. That weekly report and more summaries will make sure that he knows how much you are worth. Write your own reviews.

You can become an expert. Start studying the area you want to be an expert in. One hour a day will make you a reference source in a month. In 3 months you will be an expert. 

Find out how you can become known as the expert. Offer to teach a class, write a memo or attend a planning meeting. Brief the managers above you in your area of expertise. You can do it informally. Talk to them before a meeting starts. The others coming to the meeting will hear some of it. Catch him in the hall and give him a one minute tidbit. 

You can also write articles about what you have learned. Offer them to the office newsletter editor. Don’t be afraid, offer them to the local newspaper, online magazines and trade magazines. Publishers desperately need interesting articles. When you get published make sure and give all your bosses a copy of the article.

My son was published in online programming magazines before he left for college. They needed good articles and didn’t care about his youth and lack of experience.

Figure out how to become an expert and you will be surprised how quickly your prospects change. You can become a technical consultant or a manager. 

Put on the pheromones of knowledge and the aura of expertise. Attract change in your career. 

Something to do today

Figure out what is worth becoming an expert about. Ask your bosses and other experts in your field where they see it going. You’ll be surprised how many people you are in awe of will talk with you about where they see the brightest future.

Are you underpaid?

I got a call from three business analysts from one international company in the same month. Each of them wanted to leave. The first thing cited was their low salary. When I said, “You can get a different job, but you will have to take at least a $10,000 per year pay cut,” they backed off. It was the awful truth. Each one of them had golden handcuffs. They were earning at least 15% more than any other local business would pay them. Of course the problem wasn’t their low pay, the problem was the unpaid overtime they were putting in. At least they thought it was unpaid overtime until they found out the pay cut they would have to take to move elsewhere.

Contract employees often tell me, “I want a salaried job, but I’m not going to accept less than I’m earning now.” They want to stop traveling, have health insurance, a generous training allowance, and get into a secure job with a future in one company. Yet, they want to be paid the same as when they had none of those things. Contract employees often earn twice what a salaried employee earns. It is for the simple fact that contractors have to take care of themselves.

Certainly some are vastly underpaid. I had one friend, Joe, who went from $35,000 per year to $50,000 per year in one salary jump because he was underpaid. Yes, it happens. More often employees are within 5% of the market rate for their job. If an employer pays less, they start losing people. Either they raise salaries or I come in and steal all of their best people. Then they are left with a bunch of really poor employees and maybe one great person who hasn’t found out yet. When that great employee leaves, the company may go out of business. 

To find out if you are really underpaid, first look at your performance. Only superstars get superstar salaries. If you are just average, you should expect average wages. If you are below average, your wages will be lower. 

Now do what Joe did, ask your coworkers how much they are paid, if you can. Joe didn’t do it for 5 years. When he finally asked, he asked workers he knew were lower rated than he was. When he found they were all earning more than he was, he had a right to get mad and get it fixed.

You can also look in the employment ads. Just remember that ads lie. A range of $50,000 to $60,000 does not mean you magically qualify for the high end. It means if you are a superstar you may hit the high end. It means an average worker will get the bottom number. A poor worker will not get hired.

Next, put together your resume and send it to a recruiter who specializes in placing folks like you. Ask for an honest opinion, “Can I expect a raise going to my next job?” Follow that up with, “How is my current pay compared to others doing the same job?” If the recruiter gasps and says, “I will have you three interviews tomorrow,” you are drastically underpaid. If he says, “It will take a while, but I may be able to find you a job,” your pay is within 5% of the norm or possibly high.

The ways to find out if you REALLY are underpaid are:

  • Ask coworkers rated lower than you are, “What do they pay you?”
  • Look at job ads.
  • Get a great resume to a recruiter and see how he reacts.

Find out where you stand, but be prepared for the “bad news” that you are paid about what you should be paid. If you get the “bad news”, fix it. Do the better work that will get you a raise, or get a job with a brighter future.

Folks who never do any more than they are paid for, never get paid more than they do. (Elbert Hubbard)

Something to do today

Do you have the guts to find out if you are being paid fairly? Then do it.

How to make sure you are picked for a promotion

Julie called my office. She wants a promotion. I’m a recruiter, it’s my job to help her find that promotion in a new company. I hate to have someone turn down a job because their boss makes them a counter offer they can’t refuse. I asked her, “How often do you tell your boss you want a promotion?” 

“I told him at my last performance review.”

“How long ago was that?”

“It has been over a year. We’re so busy the managers just can’t find time to do them.”

She’s a superstar performer going nowhere. When the office is jumping with activity for months at a time, no one counts her performance as exceptional. They just know she isn’t any trouble.

So, I suggested she declare her candidacy in a way that makes her an obvious choice for that promotion. It will also make it easier to find a new job with a promotion. First Julie needs to invite a few of her bosses out to lunch. She needs to let them know she wants the promotion. She needs to find a mentor. Then she needs to get a plan put together with her mentor’s help. She needs to prepare for a promotion. 

Deciding who to promote in an office of heads-down hard workers is tough. There is no standout leader. No one has already taken the helm. However, in an office with a bunch of hard workers, one of whom has been working with the boss to develop leadership skills for a year, which will get promoted? Obviously the boss’s protégé. The person who has declared themselves for the job. 

Julie may need to take a bookkeeping course, sales training, management classes and take the lead in 5 or 10 projects. What she needs can be determined with her mentor. As she does these things, she will be seen as the obvious choice for a promotion. Her bosses and her coworkers will both see she is the obvious choice for promotion.

If you want to be promoted, ask one of your bosses to help you prepare now. Find a mentor.

Something to do today

Invite your boss or his boss to lunch. Ask him to mentor you and help you get ready for a promotion.

How to get a promotion in the next year

The new year will be starting soon. This is a great time to start preparing for the next step in your career.

Is there a promotion, or position you want to have by the end of the year? What you need to do to get that promotion or position is start working towards it now. Not in a few weeks or next month. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Tree, Park, Autumn, Fall, Foliage, Nature, Countryside

One of the most common ways people don’t get to be where they want to be in their career is by getting comfortable. Sometimes they get comfortable in their position, sometimes they get too comfortable with their current limitations instead of trying to push past them.

This is an incredible opportunity to advance like a rocket in your career.

One in six C-level Executives will leave their position in the next year. Starting now would be the best time so that when they leave YOU can take their place.

Planning, thinking, dreaming, and creating is critical now. Now is the time to prepare.

If you don’t prepare you’ll run into a glass ceiling. It’s there, but you can’t always see it or reach anything beyond it. Most jobs require a certain degree or certification to get into higher positions. If you don’t have these skill levels you’ll never reach those positions and be stuck under that glass ceiling until you do.

Now is the time to start getting that certification, MBA, college education or Vo-tech class out of the way. 

Do you want to get lucky? Prepare! Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Something to do today

Take time to think about where you want to be this year and where you want to be in the next five. Write down everything you can get to where you want to be in the next year.

Work towards your next goal whether you need a new degree, certification, or experience. For where you want to be in five years, what would you expect to see on a resume for that position? Make a list, and start towards that now. 

Persistence Gets Promotions

People wait in lines. We get upset when someone cuts in front. So we wait back until it is our turn. We don’t want to be greedy.

Tim was competing with three others for a promotion at EDS. He was prepared. He was a good choice. He told his boss, “I do want this promotion. It is the next step I need to take in my career. But I don’t want you to choose me for the job if the other guys should have it. I know it is important to them too. I don’t want you to feel any pressure to give it to me even though I want it.” 

Tim did NOT get the promotion.

Tim also waited a full year to get half of the bonus he was promised for putting in a lot of overtime on a project. During that year he reminded his boss twice of the bonus. Then Tim waited patiently with a smile. Tim was a nice guy. He was getting beaten up because he was afraid that being insistent that he was the correct choice was uncouth. Tim was politely waiting in line.

Let’s compare that to me. Same area at EDS, different job. I wanted to move to a special technical team. There were 4 openings. I asked my team leader and manager to help me get in. I reminded them every few days. I visited the manager who was leading the new group every other day. I brought a word of cheer or another accomplishment. He had no doubt how much I wanted the job. He got an email after every contact. I got the job with 3 years of experience. The other technicians were 5 to 20 years my senior. They were well known and earned twice what I did. I was nobody in comparison. And I know I beat out a whole bunch of other folks who had way better credentials than me.

I waited, but I was persistent while I waited. I made sure my references were checked. I offered more proof of my accomplishments. I never let the manager forget I wanted that job. Towards the end he would see me in his doorway and grin, “Bryan, I haven’t made that decision yet, but I’m going to. Don’t worry. I know you want the job.” But I kept coming for 3 weeks anyway. I wanted the job more than I wanted to be polite. I was willing to out work any of the more senior guys he could hire. This was my only way to prove it.

There were a lot of very surprised people when I got the job. They were obviously better than me. But I was persistent. I made it a big deal. I got the job. Unfortunately there was nothing left for the others waiting in line.

Something to do today

If you are job hunting or looking for a promotion, be persistent. The job seeker who offers contagious enthusiasm often gets hired over the guy with experience. For the job that is a quantum leap forward in your career, refuse to wait in line.

How to get your boss’s job

You have to kill your boss, or the senior technician to get a promotion. They have the job you want and are not leaving. They don’t want a promotion. They are fat and happy. They are like a big wad of hair and grease in the sink trap. They clog up the career track for everyone else. So, where is the Drano? How do you get them out of your way?

First be sure they are the biggest problem. It is embarrassing when you have complained for 5 years about your boss preventing you from getting a promotion, only to have him leave and a coworker is promoted in his place. 

You need to have a list of standout accomplishments that prove you are perfect for the job you want. That way you can get the job in your current company OR the next one. 

Become the obvious candidate. Ask your boss to help you get promoted. Also ask HR (Human Resources) and your boss’s boss. Find someone who will champion your cause and be your mentor. A mentor helps you prepare to advance and gives you visibility outside your team. Your mentor will help you to find high visibility assignments where you can prove your worth.

In a job journal write a weekly list of your accomplishments and projects. Use that list in your annual reviews. Also submit a weekly, monthly and quarterly list of accomplishments to your boss. Make sure he knows how much you contribute.

You can also look for a new job. If you have a list of undeniable accomplishments you will be a good hire for another company. 

The same things that prepare you for a promotion in your company will make you a better job candidate.

Something to do today

Write down your career goals. It doesn’t matter if they change tomorrow. Know where you want to go today.

Get a promotion by stacking the odds in your favor

In The Millionaire Mind the success of many German aces is credited to a flyer who had a weak arm, “Paule” Rossmann. In the days before modern airplanes, brute strength often determined whether fighter pilots stayed in the air or were shot down. Rossmann had a weak arm and decided he preferred life to a glorious death. He decided to carefully pick his targets and opportunities instead of going into testosterone charged death matches. That pilot had over 80 kills because he only attacked when all the odds were in his favor. 

The plan is simple. Study things out. Get above your target. Make sure the odds are in your favor. Wait a little bit if you have to. Then commit everything you have to win the day. 

You need to do the same thing as Rossman. Become a student of success in your field. If you want to be a great technician, salesman, manager or CEO you need to study people who are performing better than you. Why were they given opportunities or promoted? 

I am often told, “I can’t get promoted because I refuse to play politics.” 

If that is how you feel, you are welcome to your injured pride. You may NOT be able to succeed where you are. So quit and get a new job. If you have had 3 or 4 jobs and you always have the same problem, look at yourself. In all likelihood you are the problem in that situation.

Take some time to honestly evaluate why you don’t succeed. Are you playing to a weakness? Do other people REALLY outperform you? Are you guilty of taking on yourself ALL the jobs no one else wants? Have you positioned yourself to lose?

If you are not sure what the problem is, time to swallow your pride. Call up some of your old bosses. Now that time has passed, ask for their help. Tell them you have come to realize that you have some problems. Humbly ask them, “You were my boss. What keeps me from succeeding the way I could?” Then just listen. Take notes. Swallow your pride. 

Asking your old bosses for help even works for wildly successful people.

The idea is simple. Study things out. Get above your problems. Make sure you know what you do well and compensate for what you do poorly. Wait a little bit as you get prepared. Then re-commit everything you have to win the day.

 Something to do today

Only do this if you recover quickly from sharp criticism!

Do you have a boss that hated you years ago? How about one that loved you? Call them both and humbly ask for their help. Tell them you need perspective. Write down what they say. Meekly say thank you at the end of the conversation. 

How to get more money in your job

Some people need a new job to get more money. Others just need a new attitude. For more money, often you just have to ask.

I get calls from people with golden handcuffs occasionally. They are paid so well or have such great bonuses that all they can get by switching jobs is a drop in pay. Often they don’t appreciate it. I have to honestly tell them what the job market is like and ask them if they want to earn less at a new job. Only one in twenty says, “Yes, I’ll take a drop in pay.” The others get a quick lesson on either growing where they are at or being content at being overpaid.

Others are underpaid or paid their market value and want to earn more. Changing jobs for a 3% raise usually makes no sense. You could easily get that in the next year just by being patient. Often you could get a raise like that in a few weeks by presenting your case to your boss and their boss. So try that first. Present your accomplishments and a list of things you have done in the last few years. Prove you are worth more and give them 3 months to react.

If you really can get a 10% raise or more by leaving the job, the problem is different. You still need to present your case to your bosses. They may give you the raise and solve the problem. Give them 3 months to work on it after you present an air tight case that includes your specific contributions, not just your responsibilities.

During those 3 months keep your eyes open for a new job. Check out what the market really is like. After 3 months go back to your bosses and ask if you are going to get a raise. This is an important step so that they know you are serious. If they say, “No,” then start looking for a new job.

Some people really do need a new job to get more money.

Something to do today

Thinking about getting a new job? Call a recruiter who specializes in your field or in your geographical area. Ask them what the going rates for someone like you are.

You’ll only get what you ask for

I was working in the oilfield for a year and a half and was laid off. I talked with a co-worker who was also laid off. He started the same time I did and was earning over twice as much. I was flabbergasted. I was better educated and had worked just as hard. He confided his secret, “Every time I saw my supervisor I asked when I was going to get my next raise.” We only saw our supervisor every month or three. He got the raises. I didn’t.

I didn’t learn.

My next job at EDS they told us that we weren’t allowed to share salary information with others. I was intimidated. Luckily they did give me some nice raises. After a few years those raises slowed down. I waited for my annual reviews and hoped for a raise. Once, I got ready to quit. The boss found out and gave me a raise. Hmmm. I still didn’t learn.

I am now paid based on how well AGI does. My wife owns the company. If I were going back to an hourly or salaried job, I’d talk to my boss about a raise every 3 months. 

Every 3 months is often enough that you can set goals and meet them between reminders. It is often enough to get some more education and finish some more projects. You have time to turn in 13 good weekly reports to your boss, even if they don’t ask for them.

I would NOT be upset about NOT getting a raise. I would expect to get a better raise than if I kept quiet. Think about it. If I discuss my job performance and a raise every 3 months with my boss, I will be much more likely to focus on what will get me a raise. Also, at the end of the year my boss really knows how much I deserve. 

Something to do today

Want a raise? A promotion? Time to start reviewing your desires with your boss often. More often.

How to know your company might be in danger

Some signs of trouble in your company are easy to ignore. They aren’t obvious signs of trouble. They can even look like progress.

In the great Indian Ocean tsunami some people survived because they knew the signs of a tidal wave of disaster waiting to happen. They learned, “When the sea retreats far past the beach, run for the high ground. It will soon come roaring back.” It is a natural occurrence before a tsunami.

Job disasters have signs of impending doom like the tsunami causing water to retreat from the shore. Think about it. What happens before a car plant closes down entirely? Work is cut back. Minor layoffs occur. Sales are obviously dropping. Cars stay on dealer lots for longer and longer. Rebates and special incentives are used to sell cars. Managers, supervisors and foreman are laid off. Finally the plant closing is announced.

An old Thai proverb says, 

At high tide fish eat ants. At low tide ants eat fish.

A healthy company succeeds by doing effectively what a dying company struggles to do over and over without success. 

Signs of doom I have seen where I worked included: 

  • A new quality program annually 
  • No more flowers sent to funerals of workers and their family members 
  • Business travel is cut back 
  • On-the-job training is cut back to “just in time” training 
  • Payments for outside tuition is cut back 
  • Technology innovation specialists moved back into production jobs 
  • Promised bonuses cut back or not paid 
  • Refusal to let employees transfer to other areas in the company 
  • Relocation expense reimbursement eliminated 
  • Sudden personal interest in the workers by the company president and chairman. 
  • Empowerment training during declining markets. 
  • Not replacing people who quit. 
  • Reorganizing more and more often. 
  • Stock price dropping. 
  • Replacement of salespeople at a quick clip. 
  • A frenzy of competitor acquisitions.
  • A sudden focus on getting “good press” or being in trade publications.

When you see the signs of impending problems, you may still have years to prepare. Or you may have days. The important thing is to start preparing without being part of the problem. Take positive steps in your own sphere of influence.

When the water retreats from the shoreline, it may look like a great time to go out and pick up the fish left behind. When your boss is sacked, it may seem like the perfect time to get into management. And it may be true. But be careful and look for signs that a tsunami is coming to wash your whole company away.

Later I will talk about how businessmen in India cope with far worse problems than Americans can even begin to understand, and do it with a smile.

Something to do today

Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. On the left side write signs of company strength, reasons for optimism. On the right put a list of troubling signs of decline. Now pick how you can help accentuate the positive or eliminate the negative. Not only will your actions help your company, they will insulate you from layoffs and prepare you for a new job if disaster strikes.