4 Affordable Ways to Boost Your Professional Value Before Asking for a Raise

If you want to get a pay raise in 2024, it’s important to go into the conversation well-equipped. Show your boss that you are a top performer who adds value for the organization, and you’ll be more likely to get a big pay raise. One good way to improve your personal finances is to increase your professional value.

Let’s look at a few ways to make yourself more valuable to employers — and get more money in your paycheck.

Before you look for a new job or ask for a promotion, don’t just update your resume. Create a slide deck or Google Doc that shows all the ways you’ve helped your team and made your boss’s life easier.

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Sometimes in the everyday rush of getting things done, it’s easy to lose track of just how productive and valuable you are to your current employer. Don’t wait for your annual performance review. Start now.

If you were going to pitch yourself to your boss to show why you deserve a raise, what would that “promotion presentation” look like? Here are a few ideas to include:

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  • Achieving “big wins” and success stories: How have you helped the organization save money, save time, or make more money?
  • Delivering key projects: Where have you made the biggest difference in the past year or two?
  • Changing roles and responsibilities: Has the scope of your job changed recently? Are you already taking on extra responsibilities without extra pay? Show how you’re already doing the (higher-paying) job that you want.
  • Leading better collaboration: Have you helped onboard new employees, build a bigger team, or improve the way your team works?
  • Driving creative solutions: Have you brought new ideas to your boss that have helped your team unlock value, build better processes, or serve customers in better ways?

Why this is a good way to boost your professional value: Bosses are busy, and they often lose track of just how much work you’re getting done, and all the important ways you’re making their lives easier. Take some time to put it all in writing.

How much it costs: $0 (you just have to spend some time)

2. Boost your career skills with LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn isn’t just for job-seekers, recruiters, and career networking. Even if you’re happily employed and have no intention of jumping ship to a new company, you can use LinkedIn Learning for affordable online courses. LinkedIn Learning offers over 22,000 online courses that you can access with an affordable monthly subscription.

LinkedIn Learning courses include a wide range of career skills, such as:

  • Spreadsheet skills
  • Leadership
  • Data analysis
  • Generative AI
  • DevOps foundations
  • Product and industrial design

Why this is a good way to boost your professional value: When you complete a LinkedIn course, you can get a certificate of completion badge that shows up on your LinkedIn profile. This can help show your boss (or future employers) that you have relevant skills and that you take initiative to keep learning.

How much it costs: LinkedIn offers a one-month free trial, and then the cost is $39.99 per month.

Especially if you’re at an early stage of your career, or if you want to make a big career change, going back to school to earn a degree can be a great way to boost your professional value. But not everyone has time (or money) to get a four-year college degree. Fortunately, there are local community colleges that offer affordable certificate programs. In just a few months or less, you can get trained, certified, and ready to get your foot in the door with a new career field that pays a good wage.

For example, in my home city, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) offers several certificate programs, such as:

  • IT/Helpdesk Fundamentals
  • Nurse Aide (CNA)
  • Advanced Nurse Aide
  • Phlebotomy
  • Commercial Vehicle Operator Training (Class A CDL)

Why this is a good way to boost your professional value: Taking initiative and upgrading your skills shows that you care about your career growth. Some companies might even pay for your training, or reimburse you for tuition.

How much it costs: Tuition depends on the college and the certificate program. But as an example, as of Jan. 31, 2024, DMACC certificate course costs ranged from $549 (plus books and supplies) for the Nurse Aide (CNA) certificate, to $947.50 for Phlebotomy, to $4,900 for Class A CDL.

4. Join a local networking group

Sometimes the best way to boost your professional value is with real-life interaction. Get out there and mingle. Go to networking events at your local Chamber of Commerce. Join a community organization like Rotary and meet local business leaders. Look for events at local co-working spaces or startup incubators — these places often host lunch and learns or after hours networking events where you can meet local entrepreneurs.

Why this is a good way to boost your professional value: Improving your career network is always a good idea. Find out what career skills are most in-demand where you live, and get informed about who’s hiring, who you might like to meet, and how you can find new opportunities.

How much it costs: Likely around $0-$50 per month. Many networking events are free, or require a modest monthly membership or per-event admission fee.

Bottom line: Boosting your professional value is often a matter of investing a bit of time, effort, and money into your career. Investing in your professional value is like buying stock in your own career. This can be the best investment of all.

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