Every Tuesday, ESSENCE Magazine’s Senior Editor of Personal Finance & Careers answers burning questions from readers…
Q: Help! I have a government job that only allows me to make so much. How can I get a promotion?
A: So my dad recently retired from a government position after working for more than 40 years. And even though he could only be paid according to his level, he made quite a nice livin’ (in my humble opinion). How did he do it? Well, as I recall, he did a number of things that perhaps his colleagues were too tired, too lazy, or too uninterested to do. For starters, he went back to school and got his bachelor’s degree and later his master’s in business. In between that, he made it known that he knew how to give a good speech or two (is that where I get those oratory skillz?), developed great relationships with clients, led projects that no one else wanted, mastered top-notch skills as a negotiator, and became not only his boss’ No. 1 ally, but also his friend.
I tell you this story because by doing all of that, my dad become known as the go-to guy for his division — so when it came time for a promotion, he would negotiate by reminding his boss all of the work that he had done on behalf of the company. The boss might say, “Well, I can’t go over the very top of the rung in terms of money in your current level… but hey, here’s some extra time off, here’s a new title (which guarantees you more money), here’s a bonus, and here are some additional perks.”
All this is to say that you can get more money, but you’ve got to ask yourself: What am I willing to do to get it? And don’t take NO for an answer. Just because your boss says “I can’t give you that” doesn’t mean you can’t get anything. Ask him or her: “If you can’t do that, can you do this?” Or, “When will you be able to do that?” Or, “What do I need to do to get it?” If you solve your boss’ problems, I can guarantee you that a promotion is not far behind. Good luck!
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