It may feel like a weird time to be thinking about increasing your salary, given the state of the world, but as career experts remind us, it takes strategy and thought to rise in your field. One sizeable, yet achievable goal is to make 10 percent more in income by the end of the year.
As Joy Altimare, the chief marketing officer of EHE Health, shares, data suggests compensation rose by 1.9 percent pre-pandemic and will hopefully return upwards as the economy recovers in 2021. That being said, your take-home pay doesn’t have to be linear since many avenues put more zeroes in your account. This could be through a promotion and salary shift, the addition of a new side hustle, or switching jobs and/or industries. Here, a guide to making it happen effectively and strategically:
1. Decide if it’s time to switch jobs
There are many reasons people decide to hand in their two-week notice and try their luck at a new company. Sometimes, it’s burnout and a toxic working environment; other times, it’s stagnation and the inability to exceed further. If you find yourself consistently browsing through job boards, it could be a clear sign it’s time to get serious about applying.
For an added motivation, remember, research shows the most significant gains in salary come from switching jobs, according to Steven Starks, the senior manager of career advising programs and operations at The University of Phoenix. As with any major decision, roll up your sleeves and investigate. “Before switching jobs, make sure to research the market to understand which companies are experiencing growth and align with the kind of company culture you prefer,” he suggests. “Talk to people at companies of interest and learn what it’s really like to work there instead of relying solely on internet research.”
2. Take a critical look at your performance
As you have likely experienced in your current gig, the pandemic forced many of us to think about and contribute to the organization differently. And, as Altimare says, most of us transitioned into more visible roles where our achievements were highlighted. If you haven’t taken the time to quantify and catalog your performance, now is the time to do so, so you can use this information to set your intentions and goals for 2021.
Then, Altimare says to set up a meeting to discuss these with your supervisor. “Now is the time to take the good work you’ve done, illustrate it for your leadership team and leverage it for an increase in salary today – and set yourself up for an increase in 12-months,” she continues. “The 10 percent range may be aggressive depending on furloughs, lay-offs, or salary increases that you’re company may be experiencing, so come with a range that makes sense for you and the organization.”
3. Pick up a side gig
With more hours spent at home, you may be ingesting far more Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Disney+ than you care to admit. Those idle hours could be put to better use when you pick up a side hustle that brings in the dough. As defined by Jenay Sellers, the director of marketing for GigSmart.com, a side gig is a flexible, temporary job that you can do, in addition to your full-time employment to increase your salary potential. “It is a quick and easy way to boost your income by leveraging skill sets you already have to help fill needs for other companies — or you can test out a new passion or industry,” she continues. “Gig work is becoming increasingly more popular with both workers and employers.”
Think about what types of tasks and skills that you can do easily that others may struggle to complete. This could be web development, simple marketing campaigns, accounting services, and so on.
4. Build a network outside of your department
If you are attempting to get a raise and promotion within your organization, you need to be well-known, liked, and trusted. Your team colleagues and manager may witness your excellence, but it’s crucial to extend your network beyond your department, according to Lucy Garcia, a client advocate for G&A Partners.
“By talking to people other than your team, you gain a broader understanding of what is going on in the company and how you could help contribute to your company’s larger mission,” she continues. “The more you know, the more you can contribute. And the more you contribute, the stronger business case you have to present to your manager when asking for a raise and explaining why you deserve it.”
Plus, with Slack, Zoom and other digital communication methods, it’s easier than ever to set up a coffee date from your home.
5. Never assume that your work speaks for itself
You are the first to arrive on a Zoom, the first to volunteer to take on extra works, you come to the rescue when a coworker feels overworked, and you never miss a deadline. With all of your attention to detail and enthusiasm, you know your manager notices.
In reality, though, Garcia says, unfortunately, leaders are just as busy, if not more engaged, than you are. “Since most employers base their pay decisions at least partly on individual performance, this is an important variable when being considered for a pay increase or promotion,” she explains. So, to illustrate your dedication and worthiness, you need to have evidence to back up your ask.
That’s why career expert Joe Mullings recommends talking to your manager about what needs to be completed quarter-by-quarter to warrant your salary increase. Or, if you feel as if you’ve already done the legwork and deserve a bump now, bring performance data to back it up. “Keep a rolling 30-day record over the next year of what you have accomplished and how your direct supervisor and the company benefited from what you had delivered,” he shares. “Evidence in the hands of your supervisor will allow them to take it to the powers to be who decide on merit increases.”
6. Pick the right time to bring it up
Being tone-deaf regarding timing isn’t ideal when discussing an increase in salary, warns Altimare. This requires a sense of self-awareness, as well as taking time to study and understand your manager’s ticks and triggers. “If you’ve worked at the organization for a year, you know how your she or he likes to be approached,” Altimare continues. “If your boss is straightforward, set up a meeting with a clear objective: ‘I’d like to set up a time for us to revisit my salary.’” However, if your manager prefers a more nuanced approach, maybe add it to your next one-on-one agenda. And if your organization just went through a significant exodus and laid off staff, it’s probably to wait a few months before bringing up the topic.
7. Learn in-demand skills
Another way to see an increase in your income is by learning an in-demand skill that allows you to market yourself in a competitive landscape. Currently, Starks says skills like blockchain, cloud computing, and analytical reasoning round out the top three for 2020. Also, Starks says labor market insights company Burning Glass has also published research that shows uncommon skills in common roles can have a salary premium in the market. “The key is to understand which skills can set you apart from the competition,” he shares. “Speak with hiring managers and HR leaders to understand better their talent needs and which skills are on their wish list.”
You can then sign up for classes or courses via Coursera, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, or a single course at a local college or university.