You do not deserve a raise just because you have been doing your job well for x amount of months. It is your job to do your job well. That’s why you were hired.

Also, do not complain about your salary not being at market rate six months after you take your job. Because if you are underpaid it’s your own fault for accepting the job six months ago. Do the salary research before you take the job.

Here is a situation where you do deserve a raise: You are doing more work now than when your salary was set. Caution: This does not mean that you are doing more work within the job description you were hired for. Because then you are just doing what you were hired to do. You need to show you are doing more than you were hired to do.

So if you want a raise in six months, get really good at your job immediately so that you can take on more responsibility in another job, in another capacity. Look around for something more to do, and figure out how to do it. Then tell your boss you are doing more than one job and you want to be paid extra for doing the other job you have already been doing. That’s how to ask for a raise.

What if things are moving too slowly for you? David Christiansen at Information Technology Dark Side gives sound advice for those who are both feisty and mobile — put pressure on your boss relentlessly, and if that fails, job hop.

But hold on. Surely there are more important things you can get from your boss than a little bit more money or a better title. Your career will go further faster if you negotiate for things that really matter.

Here’s one of the hottest topics in management training: How to manage the current crop of twentysomethings. Really. Baby boomers are sitting in seminars for hours and hours trying to demystify the alien ways of the new work force.

But what about the opposite situation? One of the most classic pieces of career advice is to manage up: Manage what your boss thinks of you; steer your boss’s plans for you; get your boss to supervise in a way that works well for you. Younger workers need to know how to manage their baby-boomer bosses.

Managing up will not be easy. You’re dealing with someone so different from you that he or she sits through PowerPoint presentations about your emoticons. But there’s hope for you because managing up has always been a generational challenge. Lynn Lancaster, one of the aforementioned consultants on generation Y told me, “All generations are angered that the next generation is not like them.”

Once you’ve established you can reliably meet your boss’s weekly and monthly goals, you can let your boss know about your own goals. When I spoke with Gen-X demographer Laura Shelton, she reminded me that to a boomer, meaningful goals might be a reserved parking space and a new title. So you need to make sure your boss understands that you want shorter-term goals and that you care most about issues like being challenged, learning new skills, and preserving your personal life.

Make your priorities clear to your boss so you don’t get sidetracked in areas that are irrelevant to you. For Francois DeCosterd , a management consultant turned art teacher, problems arose in his consulting job when he found himself working among people so obsessed with rank that he could not focus on the work that interested him. “It is very difficult to find your own voice when you away have to deal with hierarchy and power politics, which are very draining.”

Understand what you can get from your boss, so you can make reasonable, actionable requests for mentoring. When a baby boomer says, “Do you realize how many years of experience I have?” The baby boomer means, “Do you realize how long I’ve paid my dues? Why do you think you can do challenging, interesting, work immediately?”

Don’t be put off by this exchange. Instead, recognize what those years of experience mean for you right now: A lot of experience doesn’t mean someone is clever, likeable or talented. But when you are dealing with people who have worked many, many years, “you can assume they have learned to deal with many different situations” says Fran Pomerantz, executive recruiter at Korn/Ferry International.

So use this person to help you with project management and prioritization because they’ve seen it all before. Your seasoned boss can identify deals that are going to blow up, policies that will derail you, and perks waiting to be claimed.

Investigate which other skills your boss has picked up over the course of his or her long career. Make a list of skills and knowledge you want to accumulate in the next two years. Bring the list to your boss and ask which your boss can help you with. For the others, ask what sort of projects or teams you can get to aquire the skills out of your boss’s reach.

You’re going to get the best results from your boss if you use your boss’s language: The language of diplomacy, says Dianne Durkin, president of Loyalty Factor. You might want to say, “Stop talking to me about my career at this company. I’m leaving in two years to start my own.” But you will get a better response if you say, “It would be a big help to me if we could focus on what I’m doing this quarter.”

The other language barrier you have with your boss is IM. It’s like a poorly spoken second language to boomers, if they know how to use it at all. So effective management of your boss means using email. And take the time to type full words and use a spellchecker; two small concessions to get what you want from your manager.

If you do all this and you don’t get what you want, you should leave. “Don’t sit in a job with a baby boomer boss who doesn’t get it. Vote with your feet,” advises Shelton. “It costs companies so much to replace a worker that they will eventually change. And this will be a better workplace for all generations.”

DeCosterd also advises to leave your job if you don’t feel valued. When he talks about his transition from consulting to teaching art he says, “It’s been remarkable to meet so many people who are excited and supportive about my ideas.”

Understanding your boss is the key to managing up. But what’s the best way to understand your boss? The Myers Briggs survey is a psychological system designed for understanding other people, and it’s a test used by nearly 100% of the Fortune 500 to help senior executives succeed at work. If you understand the test now, earlier in your career, you’ll be able to manage up in a way that will put you on the fast-track to success. Learn how to use this tool in the course from Quistic: Fast Track Your Career with Meyers-Briggs


The Wall Street Journal gives terrible advice this week on “going from maternity leave to permanent resignation.”

Columnist Sue Shellenbarger writes, “Once a mother is absolutely sure she isn’t going to return to work after maternity leave, I believe she’s obligated to reveal her intentions to her employer.”

WHY? There is no description in the column about the genesis of this obligation. Is it a moral obligation to protect corporate America from having to support families?

Listen to me: Take that leave, and don’t feel guilty. The United States is the only country in the developed world that does not provide national, paid maternity leave. So the few women in the US who can actually take maternity leave have EARNED it. The law gives these women the RIGHT to take that maternity leave regardless of what happens afterwards.

Shellenbarger also warns that you will “burn your bridges” by taking maternity leave and then quitting. She writes this as if it’s a national trend to rehire women after they take extended leave for children. In fact, it’s just the opposite: Most companies do not take you back after leave. And companies that do are notable exceptions. (Anyway, I would not even want to go back to a boss if he were the bitter-about-maternity-leave type, so why bother appeasing him?)

Here’s the advice the Wall Street Journal should have given: Don’t tell anyone at work that you’re not coming back after the baby. Collect all your maternity leave money and do not feel guilty. Call at the end of leave and say you’re not coming back. Tell your boss you’re sorry to put him in a difficult position, but everything feels different once the baby is there. That is true. It is not lying.

Please, do not feel guilty. That women take maternity leave and then quit is a result of the system being totally flawed. It is absurd to presume that women know if they want to continue working before they know what it’s like to be home all day with a baby. And it is unreasonable that the workplace cannot provide a decent number of baby-friendly jobs so that women who want to continue working can without compromising their own health (exhaustion) or their baby’s (too much separation).

In fact, quitting right after maternity leave is not so uncommon, says Laura Shelton, who has done extensive research about Gen X women at the office. She suggests that advice like the Wall Street Journal’s is a result of a generation gap — boomers like Shellenbarger just don’t get it: Boomers fought to get women into he workplace but boomers ignored maternity benefits.

Maybe your boss will take some advice from Shellenbarger’s source, Don Sutaria, who gives companies some good advice: Hire a temporary worker who could stay on as permanent if the maternity leave turns into full leave.

And while you’re pregnant, train the temp well. This will make you feel better if you decide not to return to work, and it’ll even make you feel better if you do return because someone will have kept your work in order.

Blogging is good for your career. A well-executed blog sets you apart as an expert in your field.

Ben Day blogged his way into a career as a high-earning software consultant while maintaining the freedom to schedule frequent jam sessions and performances as a keyboard player. Blogging gave him the opportunity to stand out enough to support the life he envisioned for himself.

Phil van Allen, a faculty member of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, said to me in an interview, “For your career, a blog is essential. It’s the new public relations and it’s the new home page. Instead of a static home page, you have your blog.” It’s a way to let people know what you are thinking about the field that interests you.

Employers regularly Google prospective employees to learn more about them. Blogging gives you a way to control what employers see, because Google’s system works in such a way that blogs that are heavily networked with others come up high in Google searches.

And coming up high is good: “People who are more visible and have a reputation and stand for something do better than people who are invisible,” branding consultant Catherine Kaputa told me.

But pick your topics carefully and have a purpose. “The most interesting blogs are focused and have a certain attitude,” says van Allen. “You need to have a guiding philosophy that you stick to. You cannot one minute pontificate on large issues of the world and the next minute be like, ‘My dog died.'”

Day realized the value of focus after a misguided mashup of his politics and business. “I used to have liberal politics on my website as well, but my mentor said, ‘Dude, you gotta trim that off.’ Which was fine because in the world of liberal politics I was just another piece of noise.” Now his blog is all about software development with an emphasis on technologies such as NHibernate and C#.

Once you zero in on your topic, here are eight reasons blogging helps your career:

1. Blogging creates a network.
A blogger puts himself out in the world as someone who is interesting and engaging — just the type of person everyone wants to meet. “A blog increases your network because a blog is about introducing yourself and sharing information,” says Kaputa.

2. Blogging can get you a job.
Dervala Hanley writes a quirky literary blog that got her a job is at Stone Yamashita Partners, a consulting firm that “tries to bring humanity to business.” Hanley told me that the firm was attracted to her ability to put her business experience into personal terms on the blog.

3. Blogging is great training.
To really get attention for your blog, you’re going to have to have daily entries for a while. At least a few months to get rolling, and then three or four times a week after that. So you will really get to know your topic well.

4. Blogging helps you move up quickly.
To escape the entry-level grind, you can either pay your dues, working up a ladder forever, or you can establish yourself as an expert in the world by launching a blog. High-level jobs are for people who specialize, and hiring managers look for specialists online. “Decision-makers respect Google-karma,” writes Tim Bray, director of Web technologies for Sun Microsystemson his own blog, of course.

5. Blogging makes self-employment easier.
You can’t make it on your own unless you’re good at selling yourself. One of the most cost-effective and efficient ways of marketing yourself is with a blog. When someone searches for your product or service, make sure your blog comes up first.

Curt Rosengren, a career coach, periodically Googles “career passion” — words he thinks are most important to his business — just to make sure his blog, Occupational Adventure, comes up high on the list. He estimates that his blog generates at least half of his coaching business.

6. Blogging provides more opportunities.
Building brands, changing careers, launching a business — these endeavors are much easier once you’ve established yourself online. Rosengren told me, “My blog is a foundation. I’m building an awareness that I can leverage to do other fun things with my future, such as product development, or public speaking.”

A blog gives you a leg up when you meet someone new. Dylan Tweney, a freelance writer, told me his blog, the Tweney Review, gives him instant legitimacy with clients.

7. Blogging could be your big break.
Visually creative types can blog beyond just text. Mark Fearing has a cartoon blog. “Cartooning and illustration are very crowded fields,” he says. “My blog has gotten me more notice than any other publicity tool I’ve used. Plus, the blog gives me a way to have a new conversation with potential clients about other work.”

8. Blogging makes the world a better place.
“Blogging is about giving stuff away to a community,” says Day. “For years, as a junior developer, I would go to the Internet for solutions and I would always take, take, take. Now I am happy to be a contributor and give something back.”

Article sponsored by YouSayToo – a bloggers community where you can make money blogging by uploading your existing blogs.

I get a lot of email, and the biggest whiners are the people who refuse to kiss up to their boss and therefore have stalled careers.

Newsflash: You have to brown nose, but the professional phrase for this act is “manage up”. This is such a basic pre-requisite for career success that I am shocked when people have to be convinced to do it.

Almost every workplace problem that I’ve heard can be boiled down to three pieces of advice:

1. Get to know yourself better.

2. Get to know your boss better.

3. Make sure you are making both of you happy.

Jared Sandberg’s column this week is a good overview of the culture of managing one’s boss, “Why Mr. Kiss-up Keeps Getting Ahead”. Sandberg is one of my favorite career columnists, maybe because usually he doesn’t even pretend to give advice; the only advice is from his headline writer.

I have a feeling Sandberg’s situation is actually a good example of managing up: He doesn’t want to give advice, he wants to do reporting. But his boss knows that career advice sells. So Sandberg writes the column he wants and lets his boss hire someone to slap advice on the top. A good example of how compromising a little can align your own goals with those of your boss.

Ever since I bought a pair of MBT shoes I have been waiting for the media to jump all over them.

I have been waiting for five months, and finally, there is one little tidbit in People magazine: In Grey’s Anatomy “Ellen Pompeo and Katherine Heigl have been wearing sneakers by MBT — whose unusual sole makes wearers mimic the way one walks barefoot on sand, working leg, butt and ab muscles.”

Not surprisingly, People magazine misses the best part of the shoes: They make you stand up taller. In fact, the shoes make it physically impossible to slouch. I wear the shoes about two hours a day and they have actually trained me to stand and walk differently — more upright, better posture. (This is probably why Pilates teachers love the shoes.)

You’re probably wondering how I am going to relate this to careers. Hold on.

When I was playing professional beach volleyball, one thing I noticed is that all the players had amazing posture. I used to think it was from using our abdominal muscles every time we hit the ball. But when I switched careers and started slouching I did a lot of sit-ups to no avail. Now, after wearing MBT shoes, I realize the great volleyball posture comes from walking in the sand all day.

Here’s why you need the shoes for your career: Because people who stand up straight look stronger and more confident, and those are traits people want in leaders. The shoes can actually improve your charisma.

Most jobs turn out to be very different than what you were told about in the interview. So your first task in your new job is to figure out what the job really is. Most people don’t do this which is why there is a whole cottage industry of people who coach for the first ninety days of a job (here’s a book and a web site for starters).

You must realize that each new hire has political motivations. It’s your job to uncover the politics behind your position so you can figure out what you should really be doing instead of relying on your official job description.

A good example of this situation came up in Fortune magazine this week. Garry Betty, CEO of EarthLink said, “Google only has three engineers working on Wi-Fi. [CEO] Eric Schmidt laughingly told me in a meeting that the best hires they ever did was when they hired those three Wi-Fi engineers and put out a press release. The market cap went up $10 billion.”

In fact it was never Google’s intention to be a huge Wi-Fi provider. But Wall St. Analysts loved the idea that Google hired some top Wi-Fi engineers. By hiring three people, the stock price went up significantly. Certainly enough to justify the three salaries. So in fact, these three engineers didn’t need to do anything. For these engineers to thrive at Google, they needed to understand this situation, and decide where to go from there.

So before you get giddy about your new job, don’t get too attached to the job you think you got. Spent the first ninety days figuring out what people really want from you but couldn’t tell you in the interview.

And then, instead of complaining about bait-and-switch, recognize that it’s part of corporate life – it is, in fact, very hard to predict exactly what someone might do once they get to an office. So just do the job that needs doing. If you do it well, you should be able to finesse your position into something you like in no time at all.

The new workplace currency is training. Title is not important if you’re not staying long term. Salary increases of 3 or 4 percent are ceremonial. So use the clout you earn to get training; it will make a difference in a way salary and title cannot because training can fundamentally change how you operate and what you have to offer.

This column shows you how.

Can we all just stop talking about promotions like they matter? A promotion has meaning when someone is moving up the corporate ladder at such a slow pace that every small step is grounds for celebration.

But there are no more ladders because no one stays long enough at a company to get up the whole ladder. And even if someone did try to climb, they’d probably be laid-off outsourced or off-shored before they got to the top.

So what is the point of a promotion? Titles do not matter because they are accoutrements of hierarchy in a nonhierarchical workforce. And no one cares about getting MORE responsibly that implicitly comes with a promotion, they want the RIGHT kind of responsibility — which means interesting work and a chance to expand one’s skills set.

So all that’s left to justify continuing to talk about promotions is getting a raise, which is hardly a notable event. Here is a headline from “Raise Outlook Better than Employees Expected”. The article goes on to say that the average raise was something just above three percent. Let’s say four percent. This means if you were making $100,000 a year, you’ll get $4,000 a year more. SO WHAT? After cost of living and tax adjustments you are looking at a little over a thousand dollars. That will not change your life in any significant way, that’s for sure.

When someone tries to give you a promotion or insult you with a $1000 a year raise, tell them you want someone that really matters. Here are some suggestions:

1. Growth opportunities

Learning new skills is worth a lot more to you than some ridiculous 4% raise. Ask to get on a team that will teach you how to do something you think is important. Ask to work with the clients who are doing the most innovative projects. Request a training budget and send yourself to a bunch of seminars. The best way to learn is to role-play, which everyone hates to do, so go to a seminar where someone is forces you to do it.

2. Mentor opportunities

Ask to be matched with a mentor in the company. This is not a revolutionary request. Human resource executives have been studying this process for more than a decade and they know how to pick someone good for you. They just need to spend a little time doing it.

3. Flex-time opportunities

If you are so great at your job that you have earned a promotion, suggest that you keep your current job but do it from home or do it four days a week. After all, you’ve already shown you perform well. Heck, ask to work from Tahiti; you should be able to do the job however you want as long as you maintain that stellar level of performance.

4. Entrepreneurial opportunities

Just say no. To the promotion, that is. Now that you have a sense of how much time and energy your current job requires, now that you’ve mastered the scope, you can try something on the side. The safest way to experiment with running your own business is to do it while you still have a regular paycheck. Who cares if it doesn’t include that 4% raise? Think of that paycheck as a research grant for your ideas for a side business.

Instead of letting last century’s carrots dictate your workplace rewards, think about what is right for you, right now. What do you really need? You don’t need a promotion. It’s something else. Think about what would really make a difference in your life and then make it happen. While the rest of your organization is focusing on titles and money you can slip under the radar and get something truly meaningful.

How to tell when you should leave your job is actually very simple: If your boss loves you, stay. If your boss does not love you, assess where you went wrong, and decide if you can fix it. If not, it’s quitting time.

The problem is that most people take very little responsibility for making their boss love them. Which, in turn complicates the decision about staying or leaving. Your number one task in a job is to get your boss to love you.

This means that you find out what your boss cares about, how your boss likes to communicate, what scares your boss, and how you can help. Of course, your career goal is not to help your boss. But if you boss loves you then he or she will help you to meet your career goals.

Here are common problems people have at work: Boring assignments, inflexible schedules, no recognition, too much red tape, no upward mobility. But these are all problems that disappear when your boss loves you. When your boss loves you she helps you figure out how to get around this stuff. When your boss loves you she’s like a teammate, trying to help you get what you want for your career.

But this should come as no surprise because the way to get your boss to love you is to worry about your boss’ career. See your boss’ roadblocks and get them out of the way. Understand your boss’ dreams and make it your job to facilitate them. Put aside your idea of your job description and just focus on what will help your boss.

How do you do this? Here are six steps:

1. Attend to detail. The details of your boss. You should be sure to learn something about your boss from every exchange you have. If you do not learn from the exchanges then there is probably little depth to your conversations, and that is the first step to a vacuous relationship.

2. Make each conversation meaningful. You can infuse meaning into your conversations with your boss by probing a little bit each time about what your boss cares about. Why is he or she rushed today? Or, by the way, what is the big deadline that consumed all of last week? Even something as basic as “How was your weekend?” is a fine way to learn something about the boss.

3. Listen to gossip. You can learn about your boss from watching him deal with other employees. Listen carefully to what co-workers say about your boss. Whether it’s true or not is secondary to how your boss is perceived in the ranks. The more you know about your boss the more you can cater to her.

4. Express gratitude. If you let your boss know what you appreciate about her, she’ll open up to you more because you will feel safe. For example, you can thank her for steering you away from a mine field in the marketing department. Or you can tell her you appreciate how well she did during a difficult moment in a meeting. Be specific and she will be flattered and touched. That will create a connection you need to understand your boss better.

5. Get over your shyness. Because if you are too timid to initiate conversation then you will not get to know your boss enough to make your boss love you. To get yourself talking, remind yourself that everyone wants to feel cared about. It’s hard to manage people because it means caring a lot about other people and it’s pretty one-sided. A manager will be thrilled to hear that a direct report cares about him.

6. Identify the culprit. Take a look at your track record. Have most of your bosses loved you but one doesn’t? Then it’s probably not all your fault. But most people who are not loved by their bosses were never loved by their bosses. And most people who are a pain are a pain in similar ways in all of their jobs.

So instead of focusing on why your boss is difficult, focus on what is keeping you from being loveable. It’ll be worth it. But you will find that the rewards of being loved by a boss are almost endless. Most importantly, you will like yourself better and you will love your job.