Improve Your Image to Increase Your Income

by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Being unemployed, under-employed, or under-paid may happen at any time. Several strategies can be effective in increasing your income, regardless of how fully employed you may be. Savvy approaches to get your skills noticed aren’t just for the unemployed. If you are dissatisfied with your employment situation, try these methods to improve your bottom line!

1) Make your accomplishments visible.

Use the corporate structure in place at your organization to ensure that your contributions are recognized by the right people. For example, almost everyone serves on committees of one kind or another and the purpose of a committee is to accomplish certain goals deemed important by the company. Volunteer to take on additional responsibilities as part of a subcommittee and clarify everyone’s tasks for inclusion in the minutes. The documentation you have just created is typically circulated throughout the organization so you don’t have to highlight your own contributions. The corporate structure has taken care of announcing your accomplishments for you. Follow up after the task is completed to close the documentation loop with your contribution clearly recorded. This type of strategy works equally well with non-profit Boards and community groups.

2) Make yourself valuable.

Contributions outlined above will also make you valuable to the organization. Most companies offer many opportunities to extend your value, such as special projects, community involvement, or employee morale-boosting events. Being valuable doesn’t mean compromising yourself. Select an activity that is consistent with your own values or interests and your value will be multiplied by your enthusiasm for the project.

Be certain you are central to the corporate mission. It is easy to lose sight of your value if you have been under-valued in this serious economic downturn. Don’t allow a negative job climate to erode your confidence.

3) Make yourself viable (as a candidate).

Qualify for special projects and new positions within an organization as well as for an entirely new position by presenting yourself as a viable candidate. Basic credentials form the foundation of a solid applicant however key aspects include skills and characteristics that set you apart from the competition. Enthusiasm is one example but also consider areas of additional training. Broadcast the unique work history that qualifies you for the position, project, or negotiation.

4) Be a Team Player.

A “can-do” attitude and quiet acceptance of responsibility will be noticed. What is your work ethic? In other words, if your work is caught up, do you kick back or look for areas to jump in? The latter is highly valued in most organizations. Say, there’s a major direct-mail campaign that everyone is discussing, but it’s in another department. Walk over and offer to help out. Even if you feel the task is menial, the work has to be done – that is the sign of a hands-on manager, a role that is typically valued.

5) Learn a New Skill or Language

It is the time of year for Adult Education catalogs to start arriving in the mailbox. The programs offered are often not as trivial as one might think. Adult Education has progressed far beyond ballroom dancing and ethnic cuisine. Think critically for a moment about the competition – peers at your current job or other candidates. How many actually have second language skills or specialized technology training? These are two common offerings in most community education programs and just one place to begin using a few evenings to develop skills that set you apart from others.

6) Tune in to Market Perception of the Company.

Hear some less than positive reports from customers or the competition? Let the boss know. Granted he or she may already be clued in, but this behavior speaks volumes about your loyalty and business acumen. If the boss already knows of the bad news, you have still distinguished yourself by identifying trends and putting the well-being of the division and company first.

Build on this basic list to polish your image. Everyone has had experiences with poorly performing staff members, as peers or subordinates. At the other end of the spectrum, there are also examples of outstanding employees. Typical characteristics include ingenuity, good work ethic, and pleasant demeanor. Consider what is valued in your own industry, and project the image of the type of person you would like working for you! Highlighting unique qualities can increase your value, visibility, and personal bottom line.