For you, a raise means a bigger paycheck. Like this:
But the key to getting a raise is to consider how your manager thinks about raises. After all, they’re the closest to your work and you probably need their support to get a raise.
Why would a company pay you more money?
That question puts a finer point on things.
Your job is to help the company make money
This won’t induce warm and fuzzy feelings, but it’s true: Companies generally exist to make money, and they hire people to help them do that.
When your company hired you, they agreed to pay your salary in exchange for your expertise, which would help them make money. As long as you continue providing that expertise, your value to the company won’t change very much, so they have little reason to give you a raise.
Do more, make more
So why would your company pay you more money? Because your skillset and experience are more valuable to the company than when your current salary was set.
Ok! Now we’re getting somewhere! So a raise isn’t just “when you get paid more money at work”.
A raise is a way for the company to compensate you for additional value you are adding—additional responsibilities, skillset or market value—since your salary was last set.
Remember our picture from earlier? Let’s update it so it’s more accurate:
We could draw the same picture with “skillset” up top. When you improve your skillset by going back to school to get your MBA or some other degree that directly contributes to your job, or learning a new technology, you may be better equipped to help the company make money.
This is how your manager thinks about raises.
When you are in a position to make a greater contribution to the company’s goal of making money, then your value to the company is greater. And that means the company can pay you more to compensate you for that additional value.
So instead of just waiting for your manager to offer you a raise, you can proactively identify the additional value you add to the company and ask for a raise to compensate you for it.
How do you do that? In the next article, The three ingredients of a good raise request, I’ll tell you how to use this new definition of a raise to ask for one.