Being paid $58,000 a year may seem like a sweet salary to those starting out in the working world; however, it only stretches so far in today’s economy, even if you are a single person with no dependents. Many workers who could go after a higher salary, say 80K, stay stagnant for several reasons, most notably resentment at being paid so little, insecurity, ignorance about the going rate for their skills, inability to negotiate, and procrastination.
Think it’s impossible to get a substantial raise in today’s tight economy? A motivational true story from a worker who negotiated a 45% salary increase is detailed at Reddit and will show you proof that it can happen. Many wealthy folks have made millions in their minds before actually collecting it on paper; so you’re only as big as your dream. If you are in a position where you are underpaid, you have a few options: put up with being paid less than you are worth, seek a new position, or get the money you deserve. So how exactly can you get paid more? Here are some tips you should follow.
Look to the Future
Resentment about a real or perceived low salary can keep an employee stuck. Stuck wasting time fuming over what you don’t have can keep you going after what you want. Doing your job while secretly seething with anger at the boss who denied you a raise will only hurt you, the underpaid stiff. The boss will go off and play golf and not give you a second thought. Don’t let negative thoughts rent space in your head. Use your free moments to plan affirmative actions, not imaginary revenge. Negativity and obsessive thoughts are exhausting, no matter how unfair the situation. If you’re to blame for your predicament, ruminating over a past mistake or bad office politics move will not serve your best interest. Acknowledge where you went wrong in the past and get ready to move on by calming your “monkey mind”, as wise Buddhists recommend.
Face Your Fears
Insecurity is the next obstacle to tackle. Unless you believe that you deserve a place at the high salary table, you won’t get one. Stick with the winners and spend time with those above your salary grade to see what life is like in the VIP section. Offer the chance to do their job whenever possible to prove you have what it takes to operate on that level. It’s not enough to say you can do a job, you have to prove it. Odds are you will discover they are just like you and don’t have a magic talent that made their climb to the top easy. Being around people who take their job seriously and are paid what they are worth gives you an inside track on your industry and may lead to some unexpected opportunities.
Know the Market
First, get your data straight, What is the going rate for your skills? Go to reliable websites like Salary, Glass Door, and check out http://www.bls.gov/ooh/ to get an idea, but don’t take any one source for the final word. Understand that the same job in the public sector may pay much less than that in the private due to other perks like paid retirement plans and other benefits. Also look at jobs that are similar to your job description. If there is a dearth of jobs in your field, you need to reinvent your occupational title Do you have a job that is currently being outsourced? Perhaps you may need to parlay the same talents that make you a top notch from Programmer to Project Manager to land a new job. It’s never okay to lie on your resume but including all the extras you do that fit another job description at a higher salary is in your best interest. Are you totally up to date in your field? Today’s Technology and Business fields move at the speed of light, and you need to keep up. This doesn’t mean going back to school for four years, but taking a certification test that credentials what you already know may be your ticket to a higher salary.
Direct Negotiation is Key
Don’t expect to be automatically offered that higher salary, especially if your potential or present employer knows what you’ve been making. You need to be direct in your negotiation style and deal only in facts, not emotion. A company giving a guy that big raise because they are honest and have a family to support only happens on retro television shows. Be armed with specific examples of hard skills that make you their perfect fit. Nobody has time for long winded speeches about your “people skills”. Hiring managers do look for that, but they monitor it covertly, while you are selling your quantifiable, proven results and verifiable qualifications. If you look for a job while you are still employed, you will be bargaining from a position of strength. If you lose your job and must take a stop gap position to pay the bills do so. Hiring managers can smell the stink of desperation a mile away, and if you seem like you are bullying or groveling for more money, you’ll never get it. Don’t burn bridges with fellow colleagues, even that dunce in Marketing that got the promotion over you. His reference could make or break your campaign for more cash.
When they ask what salary you are seeking, start high, but not so high they will think you are asking for a free ride. Show them you know the going market for your skills. Asking for a 30-45% increase from your last position is not at all unreasonable if you are worth it. If you like your current employer, don’t keep it a secret that you are looking elsewhere, and make sure they know it’s not personal, it’s just the money that it driving your decision. During this process, don’t slack off at your present job and let them think about what they may be losing if they don’t take swift action to keep you. Keep it professional, and keep it classy. When asked in your interview why you were paid so little, you can explain that Company Z that you presently work for hasn’t made the most of their resources in the current market without giving any corporate secrets away. Let the new company, or your present employer if you are going for an internal job, what you can do for them to increase profit, or attract customers and be armed with data to support your point.
Sites like https://www.glassdoor.com/Interview/, have a sampling of interview questions asked by some companies. If you can’t find any data on the company you are pursuing, check their competitors. Commit your strongest points to memory so that you are not looking down when speaking during the interview, except for a few short glances to an open pad in your lap as you take notes.
It may take several interviews to get into the ballpark of the figure you are seeking. Once you do get your offer in the “zone”, you may want to quickly give your present employer the opportunity to match it. Don’t fall for a vague promise of future promotion or a sad story about decreased profits, if they want to keep you, they will find the money. If it’s no, then tell the new company you are available and happy to be on board. Get everything in writing before you jump ship, but don’t wait so long on the Titanic debating while your life boat fills up with other candidates. Today’s companies have people ready to knock you on the head in a minute to take your place. Say yes, pack your desk, and go off to your new life and salary.
Make no mistake, getting a significantly higher salary takes hard work, research and guts. It’s not for the faint of heart, as you will have to take a brutally honest look at your skills, the marketplace, and present yourself with the confidence you would have after earning the amount you want.