Increase Your Salary Without Increasing Your Work

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-05-1427

Can you really double your salary without having to work more? What a premise!

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want to get paid more for the job they were doing. I’ve heard it described time and again that the best job out there, is one that offers you the most money for the least amount of work that you need to do. If you’re delivering the goods day in and day out, I don’t see why you shouldn’t feel that you deserve just a bit more.

Conventional wisdom tells us that if we work harder, we’ll end up making more money. Although reward is certainly very often tied to more effort and more contributions, effort and reward don’t always go hand-in-hand. Just ask the guy who’s been sitting at the back cubicle for the last 5 years, pulling all those all nighters. Do you even remember his name? ;)

Anyway, enough snark. There are things we can all do to increase our employment income without necessarily having to do any more work or having to change our job description. Some ideas are easy to implement, while others may sound a bit more radical but may float your boat anyway:

Want More Salary? Work Smarter, Not Harder

So you’d like to get paid a bit more for your time, effort and services. Well, if you use a little bit of strategy, be a little more scrupulous and do a little more planning in advance of getting a job, you may just snag a better paying position.

increase your salary without increasing your work

Know the market rates for your job.

Knowing the market rates and the going salary ranges for the job and career you are interested in is key. It’ll help set your expectations and also give you a goal to try to reach or surpass when you negotiate your pay. If you’re not equipped with any idea of expected salary information, you’ll just be flying blind.

Know your strengths.

Everything begins with knowing yourself. In order to make a convincing argument for better pay for the kind of job position you’re interested in, then you’ll need to know what it is you excel at. By “selling” this expertise to someone else, whether or not you’re actually going to need it at your job, you can still command quite a premium above perceived market rates. Know what you can do well and try to sell it.

Make a good first impression and market your degree!

You’ve probably heard that saying that you make your money upon the purchase of an investment (and not on the sale). Your price point at the time of purchase sets a floor on how much profit you’ll make on your investment. By the same token, you set your price point when you walk in for your job interview. As you talk up your education and experience, the hiring manager will be sizing you up. That first impression can make quite an impact on your salary offer. Make the hiring manager like you all the more by presenting yourself in the best light possible: bring your assets to the table, including your educational background and any degrees that you hold. Doing so may help you get a bump on your market rate.

Make yourself invaluable.

Do you need to do more work to make yourself more invaluable? Not necessarily. Again, this falls under the “work smarter” recommendation. Employees are measured according to many factors, including how their managers may perceive them. If you’re able to work smarter and you’re contributing to the bottom line, then you’ve got some leverage at work and may be rewarded accordingly — even if you’re not actually working any harder. Interestingly, perceptions and impressions hang around for a while, so to give yourself an edge and to make yourself valuable to the company, perhaps some thinking outside of the box will help to boost your reputation.

Rub the “right” elbows.

Building those great relationships with your colleagues and bosses will add to the goodwill you’re building at your company. Goodwill can translate to extra bucks the next time your performance evaluation comes along. Something as simple as being a pleasant, good-natured and cooperative employee can go a long way to influence your boss’ perceptions and ultimately his or her gauge of how much you and your work is worth to the team and to the company.

Become a “consultant”.

Working for a company offers you stability, a steady career path with potential for growth in your chosen field, perks and many other side benefits. For some though — including myself, at one point in my life — I traded all of those positives for more money, as I took a chance at being a “consultant” or “independent contractor”. Consultants who perform similar jobs as full time employees tend to get paid more, and fetch a premium for a variety of reasons: they don’t command the same overhead as a real employee, don’t get paid benefits by a client, and are usually paid by the project, so they can afford to charge more money, usually on an hourly basis.

As a consultant, your tradeoff is between income stability (e.g. a steady paycheck) and flexibility / freedom. You could be earning a higher income but it’s also to compensate for the risk of working as an independent contractor. So if you’re after more money but would like to keep the same job, you can quit your 9-to-5 post then turn around and sell your services as an expert consultant — just be aware of the risks and tradeoffs involved.

Follow the money.

Certain professionals are in higher demand in certain parts of the country. Location can play a part in determining just how much you get paid based on the demand for the type of work that you do in that particular neighborhood. Though cost of living expenses can neutralize the effects of higher salaries somewhat, it’s not entirely a wash in many locales. Why? Because the demand can pretty much outstrip all other factors. Cases in point? Tech jobs and software developers in Silicon Valley, country singers in Nashville ;) and investment bankers in the heart of Wall Street. If you’re after more money for the same job, consider moving cross country if need be — where the demand exists.

Work in a well-paying industry.

As in the case of “location”, you may find that the same job commands different salaries depending on which industry carries this job. An IT engineer working for the financial industry may be paid differently from one that works in the retail industry or one in the high tech industry. Again, particular growth industries may be more apt to offer better compensation packages to employees due to better profit margins.

Work for a top company.

It shouldn’t be unexpected for a small company to have less to offer its employees than do larger companies with deeper pockets. I had worked for a variety of companies of various sizes in Silicon Valley, and though the market rate for my job role was pegged within a given range, I found discrepancies in the salary offers I received across the board. Smaller companies I worked for tended to underpay but would offer a nifty equity / options package to more than make up for lower salaries (or so I thought). The larger and more successful the company, the better the salary, perks and benefits, as you’d expect. So it may be worth knocking on the doors of those companies listed in the Fortune’s Best Companies List before trying your luck elsewhere ;) .

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

The Financial Blogger May 15, 2008 at 2:35 am

I would also mention to fully use any other benefit the company is offering. For example, banks are offering preferred rates to its employees. By taking my mortgage with them, I increase my overall income without working more. Same thing can be done with the stock option plan or medical insurance.

Working hard will only lead you to burn out. Working smart will only lead you to prosperity :-D

andy May 15, 2008 at 8:48 am

Great post and some truly useful tips. When I started my job search a couple of years ago I looked at the Fortune lists. Apart from best companies to work for, look for fastest growing companies as they can offer the most professional opportunities. I got a job at a Fortune 100 company, but due its size, it does not offer the same challegenes and scope for growth as a smaller, faster growing company.

Mike May 15, 2008 at 6:46 pm

When I worked a desk job, I used to do freelance work during idle time. Everybody who works in an office knows that there’s downtime – and it’s understood that when you have downtime, you have to continue to look busy. In my opinion, this is a good way to do it.

The Car Buyer May 16, 2008 at 6:28 am

Your point about rubbing the right elbows kind of rubs me the wrong way. I agree that connections are important for success, but I think too many people abuse this and play the game too much. That’s why office politics are so rampant.

As far as I’m concerned, increased salary can be self-generated if you’re in the right industry and you really do become an expert. The right elbows will take notice, regardless of how you rub them.

Goran Website Design May 17, 2008 at 6:01 am

I believe that the key is to be the best at what you do. See what the company requires of you and then do better. We all get paid relative to our worth.

The Shark Investor May 19, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Excellent post one again, mate. I would add build some value (business, product etc) in the “work smarter” options.

Writer's Coin May 22, 2008 at 4:27 am

I think these are all good tips. They all make sense and it’s good to put them into practice. But one essential thing that’s missing is knowing how to handle difficult bosses. Otherwise all your hard work and crafty maneuverings will go unnoticed and unrewarded. If the right people never see what a great job you’re doing or how bright you are, then none of it matters.

And that can get a little tricky.

Earn More, Spend Less Roundup May 25, 2008 at 2:27 pm

“…In the theme of spending less than you earn, sometimes we need to look at our financial situation in reverse — by earning more than we spend. My favorite post this week over at Digerati Life has some brilliant ideas to increase your salary…”

debt consolidation unsecured June 3, 2008 at 10:30 pm

Really inspiring article. I spent several years working 18 hours a day and watching my finances drop in proportion with my effort to work harder. Things have changed as of now, but with your advice they will improve, no doubt. Thank you :)

The Best Money Blog June 15, 2010 at 3:34 pm

All good tips, but the other side of it is learning to make money while NOT working. That’s the real trick. ;)

David Wilson August 26, 2010 at 8:34 am

Thanks for the post, great information. People forget that making small changes can make a huge difference in their overall financial status.

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