How to get ahead at work in three steps

Rear close-up of a businesswoman's pump-laden heels as she ascends and escalator.

She's ascending the career escalator (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/mirimcfly/Flickr)

Everyone can use more income these days, with the approach of inflation and increased prices on real goods and services hovering like dark clouds. However, don’t expect your employer to simply hand you the money. Learn how to get ahead at work in just three simple steps.

Don’t wait for them to give you a raise

While it pays to know the specific ins and outs of your company, fall is generally budget season, when employers make arrangements for compensation for the upcoming year. Plan your raise discussions accordingly. Various experts predict that the average raise in 2012 will be larger than those distributed this year. HR association WorldatWork has analyzed the data and come to predict that the average raise in 2012 will be 2.9 percent and 4 percent for cream-of-the-crop employees.

If a promotion is warranted, the average pay raise is 10 percent, which is 2.3 percent better than it was in 2010, according to market analyst company Culpepper & Associates.

Always strive to monetize yourself in the eyes of your employer. Discuss how you’ve helped advance the company’s bottom line by meeting key goals. Stick to the facts and be specific; don’t go in for puffery. Building a strong brand without shallow hype is vital, whether there’s a recession on or not.

“Cost cutting and doing more with less were big a few years ago. Now branding and digital initiatives are the huge priority,” says WorldatWork’s Jeff Chambers.

Hone your razor’s edge of job skills

Being a generalist jack-of-all-trades isn’t as valuable as it once was. Today, specialization in key areas of your targeted career can pay off, at your own company or a better one higher up on the career ladder. Be willing to learn new things and your career can grow by leaps and bounds, provided the new skills are closely related to things your company needs to succeed.

If you aren’t sure what knowledge is most valuable within your chosen field, there are tools to help break the puzzle down. LinkedIn offers a Skills tool to pinpoint sought-after skill sets. In some cases, your company may even pay for business training courses. If so, take advantage.

Assess your prospects

While the corporate budgeting season is the time for hiring, it’s also the time for firing. Thankfully, Business Roundtable projects that only 11 percent of companies expect to execute layoffs. Unfortunately, hiring will likely remain slow.

That being the case, how can you get ahead at your business? Seek higher profile assignments within your business and ratchet up the gentle networking pressure, suggests Mark Anderson of ExecuNet. Online social networking tools like give you the power to comb through Twitter for targeted job contacts and even find job openings in your area. In addition, LinkedIn is a solid resource for the career-minded professional who wants to tap into a fountain of career information and contacts. Search employee names, by company and even by profession. Also, join alumni and similar union groups to expand your contact base.

A raise: Because you’re awesome


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