Many people believe that in order to make more money in your career, you need to change jobs. While that is often true, there are a number of ways that you can work within your current company to maximize your compensation. Regardless of which of these steps you choose to focus on, the most important thing is to focus on increasing the value you bring to the company.
1. Have consistent one-on-one sessions with your boss
If you aren’t having one-on-one’s with your boss, then you need to start. Consistent meetings with your boss at a frequency that works for him/her will help you stay in the know. It’s a great opportunity to help them understand that you are here to help both them and the company be successful.
It’s also a great opportunity to keep him/her up to date on the things you are doing so that when it is time for an employee review or a potential promotion, you have had a recent one-on-one meeting and they already know how you have been performing and contributing to the company’s goals. Make sure that you close each session by asking what else you can do to help your boss or the company.
2. Invest the time to grow professionally
Growth as a professional is very important for long term career satisfaction and performance. Investing in professional development is a great way to help increase your compensation. For example, if you have been working for a few years as a project manager but have never been formally trained, you should think about getting your PMP or some other type of certification. If you have been working in the finance department after graduating from college and have reached the top rung, you might want to consider getting an MBA to move up in the department or within another part of the organization.
Getting an MBA or any type of degree or certification is also a great way to figure out if there is something else you might want to do with the job skills you have acquired. I have had many friends over the years that have used certifications and going back to school as a way of advancing their career and increasing their income without having to leave their companies. Many switched jobs internally to increase their compensation after completing their degree or certification. When it comes time for your annual review, you want to make sure that any certifications or your MBA are documented in the review process. Many companies value these things, and it could be the difference between a 2-3% raise and 5-7% raise, if not more.
3. Invest the time to grow personally
I have seen and managed people over the years that don’t realize that they have hit a plateau because of personality challenges. Maybe they are not good listeners, or only focus on what’s good for them and not for the company or their boss. It’s very hard to acknowledge that your personality challenges are keeping you from making more money or advancing in your career.
Sometimes we just don’t self-reflect enough or ask for constructive feedback. Sometimes we just blame others for all of our problems. If you are having your consistent one-on-one’s with you manager, those are great opportunities for you to get feedback on how you are being perceived and how you can grow. You can also talk to coworkers that you have a good relationship with.
Just remember that if you are going to ask for feedback, you have to be comfortable receiving it and then doing something about it. This is especially important if the feedback is consistent - that you need to make a change like listening more or being less focused on your own needs. Once you understand what your challenges are, read about how to correct the behavior and be consistent so people know that you are serious about making a change. This will usually get your career moving again and put you in the best position to receive more compensation at the appropriate time.
4. Believe in yourself
When you believe in yourself, others tend to believe in you as well. Projecting confidence in your ability to do your job and the skills that you have without being arrogant is something you should focus on daily. Confidence typically gets noticed by the people that can influence your career and therefore help you increase your income.
5. Find out what you’re really worth
There are plenty of ways to find out what the compensation range is for your position. The first step is to ask your boss or go to HR at your current employer to understand what the compensation range is for your position. During this conversation, you may also be able to find out what additional job skills, certifications, and education are necessary to be at the top of the compensation range. If you are already at the top of the range for your role/title, find out what is necessary to move to the next level.
You can also search sites like salary.com and look at job postings in your area for titles similar to yours to find out salary ranges. Another great way to find out what you are truly worth is to interview with other companies, however this is a bit risky since your current employer might find out. If you are not sure about leaving if a better offer comes along, then you can always have a conversation with your boss and let him/her know that you have a better offer and see how they respond. Many times, your current employer will try and match the offer or give you some other perks that are important to you.
6. What if you don’t want to leave your company and there are no additional compensation opportunities?
Maybe your company can’t pay you any more money, but you love your job and leaving won’t get you more income either. Your research and getting out there and interviewing reinforced this. There might be other job benefits that might be available to you if a salary increase or bonus is not in the cards. If your company has a pension plan, they could possibly contribute to that. You could also see if you could have a more flexible work week by working from home. You should also look into increasing your 401k contribution, especially if you are not maximizing the full company match. Even if you have the full company match, increasing your 401K contribution is a great way to shield compensation from taxes.
7. Look for opportunities for part time income outside the office
If you have exhausted your opportunities for increasing your income at the office, then think about starting your own small business. The internet has opened up a whole wealth of opportunities for those looking to start a part time business from home. If the internet isn’t your thing, then see if there is a way to leverage your skills by doing part time work. If you are in accounting for example, there are lots of small businesses that need someone to keep their books part time and many of the tax services offer seasonal opportunities to work during tax season. Just make sure it’s ok with your company before making any moves - some company contracts restrict additional work if it conflicts with company business.
John Vicidomino is a highly successful internet and software industry veteran. He has hired, interviewed and coached 1000's of people during his career resulting in award winning organizations that have the most talented people in positions that are rewarding to them and the customers they serve. His accomplishments include the launch, management, and sale of several software technology and services companies along with key management and consulting positions in established companies. John is now a successful career coach at Ace-up and has helped many clients succeed in their career goals.