Author: Mary Ambrose, CPA/MBA
It may sound like a daunting task to double your salary in just a few years, but this is something I achieved myself as well as many others.
In this article, I’ll layout the key steps you should consider taking in order to make that jump in compensation level in the foreseeable future.
Bear in mind that this blog post only focuses on salary income. For additional income sources that could boost your earning potential, please check out “step-by-step guide to creating a blog and make money from it” and “how to be a financially independent woman”.
Know where you stand today
For various reasons, you may be unsatisfied with your current wage.
But before jumping to conclusions, it’s necessary to check relevant data bases to see how you compare with your peers.
On the other hand, we need to remember that we all bring different skills and credentials to the table. Not two individuals are alike.
Even though you may have the same title as your peers, it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve more pay because of your unique experiences and perspectives that will be beneficial for your current or future employer.
For example, if you are an auditor with various hands-on experiences dealing with regulators and associated guidelines, you definitely have great bargaining chips for higher pay in a position calling for regulatory experience and exposure.
Set specific goals and expectations
Now that you have a pretty good idea about where you stand, next step is to be specific about where you want to be when it comes to compensation.
If you want to double your salary, maybe you just need to move to a major metropolitan area first and get at least a cost-of-living adjustment, and move up from there.
If you already are in an expensive region, relocating to a much more affordable city with good job market is actually getting a huge pay increase by just maintaining the old compensation level. And of course, if you can even get a bump in pay, that’s a big win-win!
If you want to double your salary, sometimes you may have to think outside the box. And at times, changing career entirely may just be what you have to do.
Being stuck in a profession you hate or being underpaid is not worth it.
Things won’t change for the better unless you deliberately make them happen.
So how much are you willing to do? It all depends on you.
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Understand action steps you need to take
Depending on how much effort you want to put in, let’s look at various strategies and actions you can take to make a significant difference.
1. Improve salary negotiation skills
You may be a top talent, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get top dollars if you don’t know how to sell yourself.
First step in improving your compensation level is to ask for a good increase at your current job.
You may be thinking: “how much more money can I ask if my job descriptions and responsibilities are about the same?” Well yes, in most cases that would be true, unless there’s a good reason to justify the increase. You won’t see too much of a change if you stay at your current role.
Remember, you have to think outside the box.
A former colleague of mine told me a real story where she talked to her manager, in tears, protesting that it’s not fair for her to make significantly less than her teammate who’s essentially doing the same kind of work.
Don’t ask me how she found out how much the other teammate is making, and I’m not saying it’s right or wrong to know what each other is making, but she did manage to get a big pay increase as a result of this discussion and negotiation with her boss.
This kind of deal rarely happens. But it could happen.
Regardless, you should equip yourself with effective salary negotiation skills that will serve you well in various situations. Download my free salary negotiation cheat sheet below to have a good start on that journey!
2. Negotiate a promotion at your current job
Getting a promotion doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a huge pay increase.
In fact, I know quite a few companies actually don’t offer any or just as little as 1% increase in base pay following a promotion.
However, majority of corporations do provide a reasonable percentage of increase due to an internal upward movement in the corporate ladder.
Not only will a promotion bump your pay, it will also make your next career move more financially rewarding and open more doors for you. Think about it, you can already show to potential employers that you have what it takes to perform well and advance in your career.
3. Move to another team inside your organization
If getting a promotion isn’t in the cards at your current position, then it would be in your best interest to move to another team within your company, even if it’s just a lateral move:
- There might be upward movement potential at the new team.
- There’s a very good chance you can ask for and get decent pay increase through this internal transition.
- You can obtain new skills and experiences at the new team that will further strengthen your resume and professional background.
These are all big pluses for your career.
4. Find a better-paying job at another company
Sometimes you may do better with a change of corporate culture elsewhere.
And don’t forget, this is when you have the biggest opportunity to land a better job with significant pay increase and enhancement in job responsibilities.
Although most companies prefer to see you promoted at your current job first before extending you an offer that’s a step-up from your current level, I know plenty of employers that trusted qualified applicants enough that extended a de facto job promotion to people from outside.
So, you have every reason to explore other opportunities if you don’t think your current company is going to serve your career development goal properly at the moment.
Don’t forget to get your resume in top-notch shape while steering clear of any exaggeration or dishonest statements about your past experiences.
If you feel that you need professional help on that, try ResumeWriters. For a small fee, you might be able to open more doors through a professional looking resume that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to produce yourself.
5. Get necessary certification and licenses
If you’re in an industry where professional licensing and certification is a big plus or requirement, you’ll definitely want to devote undivided attention to obtaining these.
Yes, I am a CPA and I know from first-hand experience that holding an active certificate like that could open a lot of doors for you.
Accounting, Finance, Legal, engineering, medicine, nursing, teaching…..these are among the many professions in the U.S. that require active licensure before you can legally practice publicly in the U.S.
You may not be able to watch as much TV or attend as many parties if you have to study for an exam, but trust me, it’ll be well worth it in the long run.
6. Obtain additional or continuing education
If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree yet, then by all means, get that first if you’re serious about improving your earnings potential.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average American college graduates make well over 50% more than their high school counterparts. And this gap has been steadily widening in recent years.
That is not the kind of income gap you want to live with. Unless you start your own business and be a successful entrepreneur, you’ll lose a great deal of potential wages in your lifetime.
In a competitive job market, an advanced degree such as an MBA may be one of the prizes that you’ll need under your belt to get to the next level.
Even continuing education and training on the job will equip you with skills in demand that could help propel you to the next income bucket.
Need help getting certified for various professions including real estate, appraisal, mortgage, insurance education and many others? Try 360training, an online learning and certification institution trusted by thousands of well-known employers.
7. Switch professions
Ever thought of changing professions entirely if you happen to be in a field that lacks sufficient well-paid employment opportunities?
It sounds intimidating and full of uncertainties, but if you don’t make sacrifices and take drastic measures to improve situations, you’ll never see big changes in life.
But at the end of the day, we shouldn’t live for money.
Instead, find a profession that you can develop passion for while having job satisfactions and marvelous earning potential.
8. Move to a bigger city with higher pay
You should only take this step if benefits outweigh the costs.
When I say “costs”, that include concerns related to family and friends as well as personal preferences about climate, demographics, cost of living, etc.
Not surprisingly, there are multiple benefits of working in a major metropolitan area. Just to name a few: higher average salaries, more employment opportunities, dynamic and diverse networking events.
Sounds interesting? Go for it if you’re up for adventure!
When you are truly committed, doubling your salary isn’t a dream. If I can do it, you can do it.
See if any of the above suggested approaches would work in your situation, if it does, then roll up your sleeves and go get it!
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