No matter your industry, your title or your time on the job, it’s only natural to want to bring home more money. A bigger paycheck means your budget can more easily cover your monthly bills, more quickly build your emergency fund and more readily add to your retirement savings. While your employer ultimately decides your salary, your actions can positively influence their decisions.
Follow these tips for making yourself more marketable, and it will be easier to convince your boss that you’re worth a bigger raise or persuade a prospective employer to make a sweeter job offer.
1. Be the best at your job.
Companies have budgets, too, so most managers have a finite pool of money to cover annual raises for everyone on their team. If you want a bigger share of that pool, you need to exceed expectations rather than just meet them. Here’s how:
- Review your job description to make sure you understand what your employer defines as exceeding expectations for each job responsibility.
- Re-read your last performance review to see how and where you could improve.
- Honestly assess your current effort and commit to ramping it up as suggested in your review.
- Make yourself indispensable by becoming the go-to person for colleagues and customers alike.
2. Volunteer for special projects.
The next time your manager asks for a volunteer to participate in a department- or company-wide project, don’t duck behind a teammate or ignore the call altogether. That may be tempting given the size of your current workload and the extra time and effort that the project will require. But for your salary’s sake, look at volunteer solicitations as an opportunity instead of a burden. Such projects often expose you to company leaders who can help further your career and introduce you to new skills and people that help you gain valuable experience.
3. Help train new employees.
New employees inevitably need an experienced teammate to show them the ropes and answer the questions that naturally come up in the first few weeks on the job. When you volunteer to be the on-the-job trainer for your team’s newest members, you gain coveted leadership skills to add to your resume.
Plus, when you train new employees the right way to do the job, it increases the chance of your team meeting its goals. This is often a prerequisite for anyone on the team, including you, earning a bonus.
4. Lead a charity committee.
Many companies like to show their community support by participating in charity events. Volunteering to take charge of your team or department’s annual giving campaign helps you build fundraising skills—a valuable talent that managers love to have at their disposal. And organizing a company team to participate in a race for the cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s or another disease, provides yet another leadership experience that you can talk up at your annual review or during a job interview.
5. Further your education.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that men and women with bachelor’s degrees earn $900,000 and $630,000 more in lifetime income, respectively, than those with high school diplomas. This income difference jumps even higher for those with graduate degrees to $1.5 million more for men and $1.1 million more for women.
If you’re a course or two away from completing your undergraduate degree, finishing up can potentially make you eligible for an internal promotion or a closer match to a dream external job posting. Likewise, taking advantage of the many affordable online undergraduate and graduate programs available today can help you earn more money in the long run.
For a quicker boost to your marketability, certification programs related to your field help you acquire new skills or perfect existing ones that can increase your earning power. For example, if you’re a paralegal, becoming a certified notary public makes you more marketable than if you don’t.
6. Seek out a mentor.
Taking on a mentor is another longer-term strategy for climbing the ranks of your profession and commanding a progressively higher salary. Not only can you learn from a mentor’s valuable experience, but they can widen your professional network.
NPR’s Life Kit shares these tips for finding a mentor and benefitting from the relationship:
- Choose someone with the expertise you want to acquire.
- Be clear about your goals when suggesting they mentor you.
- Start with an informal meeting to make sure you’re a good match.
- Make it easy on the mentor by handling the legwork of the relationship.
- Stay committed when your mentor challenges you beyond your comfort zone.
7. Communicate your marketability.
Last but not least, don’t be shy about sharing your accomplishments when asking your boss for a raise, updating your resume or interviewing for a new job. You put in the extra work to get more experience under your belt. Now’s the time to champion your own effort.