Dr Bev Smallwood

Asking For A Promotion And/Or Raise

Dear Dr. Bev,

I have recently completed my Master’s Degree in Social Work and will continue with the same place of employment. How do I approach the subject of promotion and salary increase? My supervisors are very familiar with the fact that I’m getting this degree, as they allowed me to do my final block placement at a different office. However, no mention has been made of promotion or increase. What would be the most professional means of communicating to my Executive Director (phone, written, etc.), as the main office is 80 miles away?

Dr. Bev’s Response:

Congratulations on your achievement!

One problem in responding is that I don’t know about the policies in your workplace. Is there an automatic salary differential between a social worker with a Bachelor’s vs. a Master’s Degree? If so, you simply make an appointment and go sit down with your supervisor. With all respect and no “attitude of entitlement”, say something like, “As you know, I’ve just completed my Master’s in Social Work. I appreciate the support the agency has given me over the past two years of working on my degree. It’s my understanding that the company policy is, employees with the graduate degree receive a pay increase. Is that right? (If yes...) In which pay period will that begin?”

However, in most companies the advanced degree does not automatically entitle you to a pay increase. It certainly doesn’t usually entitle you to a promotion. You are going to have to sell yourself with more than your academic achievement.

Schedule an appointment with your supervisor. Prepare to show how you deserve a raise by answering these questions for yourself:

  • What examples can you give of your exceptional performance...going beyond just “doing your job”?
  • How have you contributed to the success of your teammates?
  • How do you exemplify the mission and values of the organization in working with your clients?
  • How have you been applying what you’ve learned in your graduate program in your job so that you’re making a greater difference to your clients, your co-workers, your boss, and the entire organization?

As you describe these things later in your meeting with your boss, remember to be specific, describing specific incidents that are not isolated, but which represent a pattern for you.

Then say something like, “Based on my contributions over time, I believe that I have earned your consideration of a promotion (be specific here) and pay increase for me. That’s why I scheduled this meeting. I want to ask you think about authorizing. What are your thoughts on that?”

If the answer is positive...great!

If the answer is “No”, you might follow by saying, “Help me understand the reasons. Are there aspects of my performance that you feel I need to improve in order to qualify for a (promotion, raise)?” Be open to hear honest feedback.

However, there may also be organizational limitations that prevent your getting what you are asking for. These may be temporary or permanent. If you find yourself in a dead-end situation, you may have some decisions to make. Armed with new credentials, you may want to seek other opportunities.

I wish you the best as you approach this often delicate situation.

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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