If you have a job and you want to make more money, I’ve got a plan to help you get there. (Just figure out how much you want first.)
I’ve spent lots of time talking about the problems around the word “more”.
You say you want more money? Okay, how much? Be specific, otherwise you’ll never be satisfied.
In my experience, most people don’t have the answers to this question.
The same thing is true with salaries. You want to make more money? (Sure, we all do.) How much more would you like to make?
But okay, at some point, you could argue that I’m weaseling out of answering this question. Because what if you have your number in mind? What then? How do you earn that income?
There are some things you can’t control. You can’t change your height. You can’t eliminate the pay gaps that exist in the workplace. So what can you do?
Turns out, quite a lot.
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Find out if it’s possible
Let’s be honest. If you’re a school teacher, and you want to make $800,000 a year, I’ve got some bad news for you.
So you first want to see if the number you have in mind is possible in the job (or type of job) you’re in.
Sites like Glassdoor do a reasonably good job of posting salary ranges for certain positions, and you can even see salaries for your specific company if enough information is available.
If you find that your target income isn’t available in your position at your company, you can check to see if it’s available at another company.
Or perhaps, you’re going to need to pivot and move to a different position.
But this information is your first step to see what is possible. Yes, you can be the first person to make a certain amount of money where you are, but it’s easier if someone else has come before you.
You may feel like you deserve more than than you get. And you’re probably right.
But the single most important thing to not do is to sulk about it.
If you feel unfairly treated, there is a certain tendency to slack off because of it.
I had this experience, not in a job, but in my higher education. I had transferred to a community college after going to a rather prestigious school and, to be totally honest, I didn’t feel like I belonged there. I felt “better” than it.
But what I should have done was to work like mad and ace absolutely every single course I took there, thereby saying to myself and to prospective colleges that I needed a bigger challenge.
Instead, I slacked off, getting B- grades in my major. Do you think that helped me when I went to transfer out of there?
Fast-forwarding twenty years later, I was in a job where I didn’t feel like I was getting paid enough.
So what did I do? I took on extra challenges, I took massive initiatives, and I basically blew everyone (boss included) away.
Did I make more money after that? You’re damn right I did.
And that’s what you want to do.
Ask for it
But just being amazing, as much as we’d like it, isn’t enough to make more money.
You have to ask for it too.
After you get some unassailable wins under your belt, you can go to the people who are responsible for signing your checks, and show them what is right in front of them.
That you are amazing.
Have bullet points. Make a presentation. Show some specifics. Make them see how your work affected their bottom line. Show how you are a force multiplier for the business.
Don’t just say you’re amazing; show it.
In my situation above, that’s exactly what I did. And in my specific case, I ended up with a 14% raise when all was said and done. Take that, cost-of-living increases.
Go somewhere else (and maybe come back)
Sometimes, it’s just easier to get more money at another job than to get more money staying at the same place.
I’m not exactly sure why that is. I think maybe it’s because there are more likely to be systems in place that restrict raises, while initial salary discussions have fewer such restrictions.
Point being, that you may need to bail on your company.
But if you like where you are, you can come back. It’s not actually uncommon to move to a different company, and then move back to the original place of work, but at a higher salary and/or job title.
I’ve seen it happen. And I think that speaks to what I said above, about how incomes are more flexible in new jobs than in existing ones.
There are other paths forward too:
- You can start your own business
- You can get a second job or a side hustle
- You could even buy a rental property and earn income that way
But whichever way you choose, know that the path to the money you want isn’t paved with wanting and wishing; it’s action. You are not going to get where you want to go unless you make clear, concrete, consistent steps forward.
Once you have that, the sky is the limit.
Just don’t forget to still have a number in mind. Don’t just chase “more”. Trust me on this.