Don’t Ask for Raise, Ask for Education

Is it time for you to start looking for higher wages in exchange for your duties? Asking for a raise can be a daunting task, often resulting in second guessing yourself about whether you should be having the conversation of higher pay and what the rate should be.

Demonstrating interest in education communicates that you value being skilled to the highest extent, and that translates into endless value to your executive. Any executive worth their salt will recognize that you can teach skill, but you can’t teach the willingness to learn and keep learning. A person who sees the value in education is a person who will continue to evolve and produce valuable results faster and better each time. 

The truth is, gaining new skills or strengthening existing qualities can be a fast track to career advancement. Even a single online course can lead to a promotion and improve your confidence at work. For employers, tuition reimbursement can also be an extraordinary retention tool.

Sound like a plan? Then let’s talk about the steps to convincing your employer to pay for your education. 

  • Emphasize that Career Education is a Priority 

Be sure your manager knows that career growth is important to you. Some employees are motivated by direct incentives such as money, stock options or simply praise – others seek education as an indicator that they strive to do well in their role. 

It’s reasonable to ask your boss what it will take to get promoted. Once you know the skills and experience you need, you can look for training opportunities or educational programs to help you get there.

  • Do Your Research

Find out if your company offers tuition assistance or reimbursement. Just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Many companies allocate a certain amount of money toward professional development. Managers may earmark that budget for industry conferences and might not have considered applying it toward continuing education.

You can also check with your HR department about educational assistance and ask around to find out if others have taken a course and gotten reimbursed. Once you know if there’s a precedent, you’ll be better equipped to approach your boss.

  • Develop a Pitch

There are legitimate reasons why an employee would seek education and why it would provide value to the company. Putting this information together in an organized and professional manner will help your Executive to see that you take this seriously. It shows that you took time and put in the effort, because it really means something to you to advance in your role.

Then, approach asking for tuition assistance like you would a formal negotiation. Go into the discussion with clearly outlined and rehearsed messages about what you hope to gain and how it will benefit your boss and organization. 

Anticipate objections and be prepared to address them. Some managers may be concerned that a course or program will take your time and attention away from work. Point out that most online programs are flexible and can be done on your schedule, and that you are willing to make it work. 

  • Do the Math

Executives are more likely to pay attention when you can calculate the ROI – what they will get out of the deal. Outline how the class would help you be more effective in your role. If you can determine an estimated dollar return, even better, but simply stating the new or enhanced skills you’re likely to gain and how they can be applied to your work should suffice.

  • Choose the Perfect Time

You may be tempted to do this as soon as possible, but there is magic in finding the right timing – especially during the holidays when focus is on End of Year. Consider the best time of the week, day, or even year to ask your Executive about your continued education. 

Do you have an annual performance review coming up? If so, that is a natural opportunity to present your pitch to your Executive. If your employer approves the request, make sure you understand everything that entails, such as: will you be required to stay at your company for a defined period after completing the program; will you need to pay upfront and get compensated later; do you need to earn a certain minimum grade point average to be reimbursed?

Emphasize that investing in you and your career can pay dividends for your employer. Like most things, approaching it with a plan will more likely bring you that positive outcome. Best of luck!

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer