Easiest Way to Get a Raise and Promotion

Last Updated Mar 9, 2011 12:37 PM EST

If, for some reason, you need any urging to become more aggressive about your career and financial future, a new study from Accenture should provide it. The study was designed to figure out how satisfied men and women are at their jobs, and what they plan to do about it. But buried within the results are some eye-opening statistics about who gets a raise or promotion--and why.

Accenture surveyed 3,400 professionals at medium and large-sized companies in 29 countries. Some 500 of those people were in the U.S. Respondents were split evenly between men and women and between three age groups: Generation Y, Generation X, and Baby Boomers.

Ask Already!
According to the survey, only 43% of people are satisfied with their jobs. Why are the rest so glum? The leading reason, cited by 45 percent of people overall but by 52 percent of those in Generation Y, is that they're underpaid. That's not completely shocking, given that the survey also found that in the U.S., only 44% of women and 48% of men say they have ever asked for or negotiated a pay increase.

What happens when people do ask for a raise? In the overwhelming majority of cases, people who ask for a raise are at least thrown a bone. And in a significant number of cases, folks who ask for a raise actually get more money than they were expecting.

Here's how it breaks out:
  • Some 25% of people said they got more money than they were expecting
  • An additional 38% said they got the raise they were expecting
  • 17% got more money, but not as much as they were hoping for
  • 5% did not get a raise, but they did get some other type of incentive
  • Only 15% got nothing
That's right: Of those who asked for a raise, 85% at least got something. Some 63% got at least as much as they asked for.

So why don't more people ask?

Promote Me
Another big reason people said they were dissatisfied with their jobs was lack of opportunity for growth, mentioned by 34% of people. (Another 25% said they were tired or burned out, which should be its own wake-up call to employers.)

Yet only 28% of U.S. women say they have ever asked for a promotion, and only 39% of men have tried it either. Of course, there are cases where employees badger for a well-deserved promotion for years and never get anything. But perhaps more often, people who believe they are underappreciated or stuck in their jobs should just ask for the job they want.

Here's what happened to those folks who did ask for a promotion:
  • 17% got a new role, and it was a better one than they'd hoped to land
  • 42% got the role they asked for.
In other words, 59% of people who asked for a promotion got one. Things didn't go badly for the other 41%, either:
  • 10% got a new role, but not the one they asked for, and not one that was a clear promotion
  • 10% of the time, nothing happened.
  • 5% of those who asked for a promotion got new responsibilities instead. Even that's not so bad. While it may sound like these people just got more work dumped on them, among U.S. survey respondents, 47% of people said that taking on new responsibilities had helped move their career forward.
When you asked for a raise or a promotion, what response did you get? And if you've never asked, why not?

RELATED Photo courtesy of flickr user Unhindered by Talent
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and consultant. Follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/weisul.
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    Kimberly Weisul is the co-founder of One Thing New, the free email newsletter for smart, busy women. She was previously Senior Editor at BusinessWeek, responsible for all coverage of entrepreneurship and for launching BusinessWeek SmallBiz, a bimonthly magazine. She is also a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant.

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