Have you ever thought about getting a big promotion or raise, but weren’t quite sure how to approach your boss? You have thought about your many years of service, that you have been a dedicated and loyal employee, yet you are uncertain about your worth, how much to ask for or how to position your request. Maybe it is because you have not maximized your talents and skills. Often in the workplace, individuals become stagnant. After college, there seems to be little time to read, to study or to do anything to continue the learning process that began in school. For many, the only new things they learn are job-related. And if you are in a narrow field performing a limited task, this can mean that your learning is also constricted.
None of this is an issue if you are content where you are. However, the reality is that most people are not. Most women want more out of their careers—more money, more responsibility and more respect. But getting it becomes the challenge. Women can transform their occupations and position themselves to earn more in their existing or future jobs by committing to improving their skills and becoming a recognized expert in their area.
Every company appreciates someone who masters a particular area and uses their knowledge and expertise to add value to the organization. By developing a specific body of knowledge, you can make yourself indispensable to an organization and increase the opportunity for promotion to more senior positions and raises.
Becoming an expert is different from getting a certificate from an adult program or even completing a prestigious degree program offered by a university or college. Companies are full of employees with college, masters and other degrees. Yet, they continue to experience voids in key functional areas. Although completing college is accepted as essential in our global economy, it is simply the first step in developing what it takes to position yourself for promotions and to increase your worth. Even the best college programs can’t prepare you for all of the rigors of the workplace and most of what is learned after college is soon forgotten if not built upon consistently.
The process of becoming a more significant asset to your organization begins with your identifying a niche. By defining a specialty, you can narrow a segment of knowledge that you can realistically hope to master. The more refined your niche, the greater your chances of becoming pre-eminent in your field. Think of what will make you the go-to-person in your organization. If your goal is to position yourself for a pay increase within a particular company or industry, you have to identify industry needs and insure that you are aligning your expertise with them.
By becoming an expert, you can make yourself the single source of information for your superiors and others in your organization or industry. As an expert, you don’t have to know more than everyone else in the organization or industry, you need to be able to better organize and access the information. You need to develop a mastery of existing information that is valuable to your company, be capable of presenting it in a clear and convincing manner and assist others to use the information to meet the organization’s objectives.
You can develop this mastery by combining your experiences and education with self-study and research. I advise you begin this process by doing a number of things, including writing articles. Becoming an expert doesn’t require you to be an exceptional thinker or to be extraordinarily creative. It does require you to make a commitment to continuing your learning process and thinking differently about the information you acquire. Begin to see yourself as a problem solver.
This will allow you to think more practically about the knowledge you acquire. Most of us learn by repetition. By concentrating on a particular area of expertise, you will begin to see the same information and problems over and over again. Eventually, you will develop a repertoire of facts that will allow you to answer the majority of the questions presented to you in any given situation.
As you gain a reputation in your organization for being a problem solver and a go-to-person, your worth will soar. Consequently, you will be in the optimal position to not only ask for, but to demand, an increase in salary and benefits.
Areva Martin is an attorney, advocate, television host, legal and social issues commentator, and author. Her next book, Make It Rain! — a new perspective on branding, building a career, and creating advantage — will be published by Hachette in 2018. @ArevaMartin.