In recent years the big raise or promotion has been hard to come by. You may have been happy to simply ride out the slow recovery. That’s fine, but it’s the career bump that helps you get to $1 million. If you make $100,000 and can wangle a 15% bigger paycheck, that reset will keep paying off, even if you go back to 3% annual cost-of-living raises. Bank the extra pay every year, and in a decade you could have another $200,000 saved. Now is the time to act. Hiring is up, and one in four companies are looking to add new executives in the next six months, according to the recruitment network ExecuNet.
What to Do
Be a moneymaker. If the prospects for a promotion are dim, aim for a lateral move into a department that generates revenues, says Dana Manciagli, a career coach in Bellevue, Wash. “In some fields staff roles are held to a lower cap than those closer to the customers,” she says. “The nearer you get to sales and marketing, the more chance you typically have to move up.”
Look, then leap. Senior executives who switched employers in 2013 averaged a 16% salary increase, according to Salveson Stetson Group in Philadelphia. To put yourself in position for a change, get out of the office. Volunteer to represent your company at industry panels. And steal a trick that many senior execs use: Attend events in other fields, where you can gather valuable market intel and make connections.
Make your case. “You’re only valued the highest once, when you get into your company,” says Manciagli. When you’re crafting your résumé and online profile, interviewing for jobs, and negotiating an offer, play up the results you’ve delivered. “Focus on the skills that put you in the top 5% of the population,” says New York City executive consultant Stefanie Smith, author of The Power of Professional Presence. Spell out how you moved the needle financially or the specific ways you contributed to a successful product. “Don’t think of dollars as your only metric,” says Manciagli.
Get paid to wait. If a raise or promotion will be hard to come by, try for a one-time reward. Use of retention bonuses has hit an all-time high, according to a 2014 WorldatWork survey. “A 20% performance bonus for accomplishing a compelling project is more viable to achieve than a 20% raise,” says Smith. Your best bet: Offer to meet a key strategic or operational goal that you have the skills to deliver.