Earning more money in your job isn’t as complicated as you might think. From my experience, it’s as much of a mental game as it is a reflection of your skills and experience.
In this article we’ll break down some proven tips both from my experience, and those of my close friends and colleagues, which I’ve applied successfully in my career to earn more money, and negotiate a higher salary.
#1: Ask for more money
I know this sounds pretty darn basic, but it’s the most powerful piece of advice I can give you. When I realised in many cases the only thing standing between me and making more money was simply coming to my manager and asking for it, the game changed forever.
Here’s the thing. Almost all companies want to pay as little as they can for your labour as they can. Makes sense, right? If you run a business, the lower your expenses the higher your profit. But they don’t have all the leverage. The more valuable you are to a company, or at least, the higher your perceived value, the more the company needs you, and will fight to keep you from taking a job with the competition.
For this reason, it’s in their best interests to give you a bit more money to both retain your talent, as well as acknowledge your market value and contributions to the company.
But if you don’t ask, you put yourself at risk of either delaying a pay increase, or never receiving it at all. I’ve had cases where I asked for an increase but didn’t receive it, only to receive it at a later stage because my manager knew that I was working towards it.
Also, it’s important to note that most businesses have scheduled times of the year when they review salaries. This is usually at the end of the financial year, when you have your performance review. Some companies perform these reviews more frequently, (such as every 3-6 months), but most traditional companies perform them once a year.
#2: Focus on value and contribution
Whenever you’re leveraging a higher salary or bonus, it’s critical to focus on value added. This needs to be tangible. What success lie in your track record, either at previous companies or in the company you currently work at, that demonstrate your value?
You can’t roll into the negotiation and simply, “I want more money, because I want it.” You need to come in saying, “This is what I’m worth to the market and other companies, because I have achieved X and X, which no-one else was able to previously.”
This is also your opportunity to position yourself as someone that the company simply cannot afford to lose. Focus on what big wins you’ve achieved for the company, including things such as:
- Acquiring new clients for the business
- Increasing operational efficiency
- Increasy new leads or sales for the business
- Cutting costs without sacrificing quality or quantity of products or deliverables
- Hiring new and successful staff or team members
#3: Attach a financial value to your work and portfolio
This point builds on the last. But if you can frame your success form either a specific amount of dollars saved or gained for the business, then you definitely want to include this in your negotiation. For example, if you can prove that you directly influenced the acquisition of a new client that was worth $100,000 for the business, then negotiating a $10,000 salary increase or bonus is definitely within your rights.
#4: Shop around
Think you’re worth more to the market? Simply start applying for jobs and seeing what kinds of salary packages are on offer. If you apply for a similar position at another company and they offer you $20,000 more than you’re currently being paid, then I highly suggest you include this in your negotiation.
Don’t be defensive about it. But if you can say, well, I’ve had outside offers to the tune of X, however I really like working here at this company, but I would like to see my market value reflected in my current salary package. They may not bump your salary the whole way up, but they may offer other incentives and benefits such as stock options (if the company is public), a better bonus structure, a company car, etc.
#5: Talk to others in your industry
Talking to other people in your industry, and even people who work in similar roles to you, and getting an idea of the kinds of salary ranges they would expect for a similar role can give you the confidence you need to gauge your market worth.
Your salary is often a very private number. But asking people who work in your field, including recruiters, what the average salary for your role is can give you a good indication of whether or not you’re being underpaid. If you discover the average salary for your role is actually much higher, then that could give you the much needed confidence to approach your manager or direct report, and begin a discussion about a salary increase.
What NOT to do when negotiating your salary
Here’s some things to avoid doing when you’re negotiating your salary, or considering negotiating your salary with your employer.
- Setting ultimatums: Saying “pay me by this date or I’m leaving” breaks the rapport, and actually positions you in a negative light. Think of the long game here. You don’t want to do anything that may boost your career in the short term, but punish you in the long term.
- Come from a place of entitlement: if you’re entitled to more money, you should ask for it, but coming from a place of entitlement means you’re asking for more money just because you feel entitled to it, without really being deserving of a pay increase. Wanting more money isn’t enough, you still need to be able to demonstrate your worth and value.
- Don’t become standoffish or defensive: Sometimes there are factors outside of your control that prevent you from getting the salary increase you’re after. Maybe the company had a bad year financially. Maybe you didn’t perform as well as you thought you did. Maybe the company is strict about only performing salary reviews at certain times of the year. “No” doesn’t mean “never.” I’ve been denied salary increases, only to receive that boost a few months down the line. Be patient.
Other things to think about when negotiating your salary
Without trying to make the idea of negotiating your salary more complicated than it needs to be, here’s a few more tips to set you up for success in your negotiation.
- Know your KPI’s and plan to exceed them
- Don’t be afraid to communicate your salary goals with your manager or direct report
- Be flexible with your number: for example I once asked for a $23,000 pay increase. Instead I got a $10,000 increase. I was still very happy with that.
- Ditch the “negotiation techniques” – trying to manipulate people into giving you more money is complete BS and beware of anyone who tells you otherwise. If you’re trying some new tactic on for size, it’ll come across as transparent and foolish, so always come from a place of genuine value
The final thought on all all negotiations, salary and otherwise
In your career you’re going to have to make tough decisions, and ask yourself hard but important questions. Such as what am I worth? Is there a future for me at this company? Is it more money that I’m seeking, or a better reason to stay at a company that is otherwise not fulfilling me?
Don’t use the lure of more cash each month as a reason to stay in a job that doesn’t satisfy you, and isn’t facilitating the kind of growth you need.
Sure, more money is awesome! Who doesn’t want more money? But don’t chase the cash as short term gain at the expense of your long term career prospects.
And always, always, always come from a place of value. Every time I’ve successfully negotiated more money, it was because I was able to demonstrate either the value I could add when joining a new company, or by demonstrating the value I had already brought to a company I was working in. Value is the name of the game. It’s proveable, and it’s positive, which is surefire combination for success.
Also, check out this video from one of my heroes, Anthony Robbins. I echo his thoughts 100%.
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Will Vaughan is the Founder & CEO of Your Career Mastery. He’s dedicated to helping young professionals discover and land the job of their dreams using a mix of proven strategies, tips, tools, and mindsets. He currently works as a Content & SEO manager for a 100 million dollar tech company in Melbourne, Australia.