If you’ve ever been part of a behind-the-scenes discussion about the salaries of your coworkers and felt your stomach drop when you realized you could be getting paid a lot more, don’t despair. While not all companies have fair and square practices when it comes to having benchmarks and displaying transparency around salary ranges for similar positions, there is one factor you can control: Yourself.
Here’s why that can be an empowering realization: The interesting insight to gather from organizations where salary ranges vary greatly for similar roles and compensation tends to be a hush-hush topic lies in noticing the habits of those who earn more than others. Are they more assertive? Quick to jump on the opportunity? Fierce negotiators? Amazing at building relationships? All of the above? Pay attention and learn so you can join the club.
To help you feel empowered about your own earning potential, here are seven things people who get paid more than others do differently. Adopt their methods and mindset and watch your income increase — regardless of external circumstances.
1. They feel worthy of getting paid
Do you feel worthy of success? Do you believe in your capabilities? Do you struggle with impostor syndrome? Your income is directly tied to your self-worth. If you don’t feel good enough, it will show in your energy. It will translate into the actions you take. It will be reflected in the salary you ask for or accept. People who get paid more than others deeply believe in their professional value, which often starts with a solid sense of self-esteem.
2. They ask for raises and negotiate
You will very rarely catch a high earner accepting an offer without negotiating. And they certainly don’t shy away from asking for raises and promotions on a regular basis. Yes, these conversations can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable. But highly paid pros focus on the fact that open lines of communication and compensation discussions are expected in a professional exchange of value. They also know that missing out on an opportunity is a way worse scenario than getting a simple “no.”
3. They take career risks
No guts, no glory. Successful people who get paid the big bucks understand that you sometimes have to take extraordinary actions to get extraordinary results. That can mean leaving an organization where they’ve reached a ceiling in favor of an opportunity that presents lots of earning potential but also unknown factors. Or pulling a really bold move to get on the radar of a decision-maker. Either way, they are not afraid to take calculated risks.
4. They don’t trade time for money
The richest professionals don’t think about money as something they trade their time for. Instead, they believe in exchanging value for value. They approach opportunities thinking about the outcomes and results of their contributions — and what that should mean in terms of monetary compensation.
5. They make decisions based on where they want to be
People who get paid more than others tend to think long-term. They weigh the pros and cons based on where they want to be in the long run. They might even take a temporary salary cut knowing that they’ll triple their income later. On the other hand, unsuccessful people make decisions based on current circumstances alone. That shortsightedness can lead them to miss out on life-changing career opportunities.
6. They focus on value and impact
“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages,” said Henry Ford. Those words of wisdom still ring true today — and top earners understand their weight. It might be a harsh truth, but employers don’t exist to pay your mortgage. You are getting paid for the value you bring to the table. People who earn more than others lead with providing value knowing the money will follow. They continuously expand their skills and look for opportunities to learn. They aim to produce impactful work.
7. They build and nurture relationships
Professionals who get paid more than others prioritize relationships. And that doesn’t mean networking in a disingenuous way just to get something out of people. It’s about nurturing authentic connections with everyone around them and being pleasant to work with. That attitude is essential to accessing promotions and other income-increasing opportunities. And it makes others genuinely want to support their career development.