It's an unfortunate fact of life at most companies that the people who labour in silence, far from the eyes of their boss, are often the ones passed over for promotions and merit raises. If you really want your pay to match your drive and the amount of work you do, you need to focus on the most visible projects — the ones that everyone sees — and you need to be happy doing it.
Photo by 401k.
Appearances count for a lot, and you don't have to be jaded with your job to realise it. But don't just take our word for it. Former recruiter and contractor Dominic Connor tells The Register that all too often people spend all of their energy working on things that no one will ever see and then wonder why their boss has no idea what they do or how hard they work at it. It's uncomfortable, and even I bristle at the notion that you have to play up hard work that should speak for itself to get the attention you deserve, but sometimes you have to or else someone else will snag the spotlight.
Connor suggests you display "continuous visible productivity", or put plainly, work on the things that everyone sees. Make sure your boss knows you're working on priorities that are also his or her priorities. Be enthusiastic, say upbeat and positive things in meetings with colleagues, and make sure everyone knows you're happy to be there. As my former CIO used to say, a smile goes a long way, even if you're not feeling it — both towards improving your own mood and in the eyes of your colleagues.
He correctly notes that your pay is a careful balance on the part of your employer between how much they know you need to stay with the company and how little they can get away with paying you. If you're looking for a raise, you need to be able to sell yourself as offering something to your employer that they don't already have — or should be afraid they'll lose if you leave.
If all of this sounds like a contentious game, it should — Connor doesn't pull any punches and says you're worth as much as you're paid — if you don't feel that's the case, the problem is that you haven't proven it yet. Most of his suggestions assume you're not working in a job you love, where the pay is less important than the work, but if you're like many people who feel overworked and underpaid, his tips are worth a read. Do you play hardball when it's time for a raise, or does your employer offer them every year without fail? Let us know how you get bigger bucks in the comments below.