My career started in sales. I majored in business with a minor in management. At the time I thought I was going to be a nurse and worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant to get myself through college. I graduated with a phenomenal college experience and a fantastic semester abroad in Edinburgh Scotland; but with debt, no internship, and no job.
I now have a shiny business degree with no experience. It didn’t take long to realize I’d want to make more money at my job and I’d have to build up experience to get it.
Life after Graduation
After I graduated I moved home with my parents and started working in advertising sales, selling small classified ads in the back of a trade publication serving airports. I worked my way up to a National Account Manager, but after nearly 7 years with the company was let go. Telesales never really felt like it was for me, but after being with the company that long, it stung.
Now is a good time with a fresh slate to move on from sales to pursue marketing. Eventually, I got a job as a marketing associate at a large office products wholesaler. I was really excited about getting out of sales and to learn something new and challenging. After working there for about 4 weeks, my boss, the marketing manager, left the company.
For the next 3+ years, I worked seemingly her job and my job without really thinking about it. I had been there about 3-1/2 years when I began looking at other jobs internally.
I hadn’t been promoted (although I hadn’t firmly asked) and felt in a rut. Upon telling my boss I had an interest in another marketing job in another department, he tried to convince me to stay where I was. I was given a new title and a small promotion; the promotion was not publicly announced and in my opinion not big enough to be called a promotion. It felt like a merit increase.
Only a month or two after getting a promotion I was contacted by a recruiter about a new marketing opportunity. I ultimately interviewed, got a job offer and moved on to this new opportunity in the dental market. And that is where I am today. Check out below my tips to make more money at work. If you’re worth more, ask for it!
Discover 3 ways to make more money in your current role
1) Ask for it
This may be easier said than done, but if you want to make more money at work find the courage and ask for it!
Over my career, I’ve learned a lot. I credit each job I’ve had and the colleagues I’ve been blessed to work with for teaching me and molding me into who I am today. In the past, I have not had the courage to stand up for myself and ask for what I’m worth. Until now.
I’ve been in my current role for 2-1/2 years as a marketing manager. I work for a company owned by an investment firm. While we run a very lean organization, I have been able to broaden my skill set by being an active part of some acquisitions.
I was hired to do product management and marketing for one brand at the company. Today I manage six brands (two internal brands were handed over to me as well as three through acquisitions) with more likely on the way.
I also have my very first direct report who’s been with me for about a year. I have received a small merit increase each year I’ve been with the company but nothing more.
More and more responsibility. No more pay. Something doesn’t seem right to me. I do believe you need to work the job you want and aspire to have, and at the first onset of additional responsibility, you don’t automatically receive more money. However, I’ve never felt more strongly about the contribution I’m making and value I’m bringing to this company intersecting with a pay increase. So I asked for it.
I swallowed the frog and asked my boss. I put time on his calendar the day before with the subject line of “Responsibility” and in the body of the meeting invitation I said, “I want to ask you about a salary adjustment.”
This is probably a fine line but I wasn’t actually asking for a promotion. For me, it isn’t about a title. I have a strong story to tell on my resume with increases in responsibility. What I am asking for was not a title change, I want more money.
I want the company to show me how much value they think I bring to the organization (or not). I really feel l like I have nothing to lose.
This can play out in two ways: I get a salary adjustment or I don’t
If I get a salary adjustment, it’s either a dollar figure I have in my head or it’s not. If it’s close to the dollar figure I believe I am worth, I think it will help a lot with my overall morale. My boss/company sees the value I’ve been bringing the organization and wants to ensure I stay longer.
If the salary adjustment is an increase but not close the dollar figure I have in my head then I have some thinking to do. Do I really want to work for an organization the consistently puts more on employees without a plan for additional resources to help, or salary increase?
If the answer is “no” to the salary adjustment question, and it may be no, then I have a clear understanding of where I stand with this employer and will be looking for an exit strategy ASAP.
So if you are on the fence of asking for more money, and truly believe you deserve it, ask for it! I feel so empowered coming out of my boss’ office not even knowing the outcome. I am going to find out the result during an upcoming performance review scheduled at the end of May. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.
Outcome: I just left a discussion with my boss regarding my ask for a salary adjustment that coincided with my 2017 annual performance review. I had asked for a salary adjustment weeks ago and found out the outcome today.
Based on my 2017 performance I will receive a 3% annual salary increase for 2018 (today is June 1st, so the increase will be retroactive to March 12th). I will receive an additional 2% as essentially a show of good faith, or, for lack of a better term a “down payment” on more salary in the future.
What does that mean? My boss says that together we will come up with a plan of actionable items that would take me to the next level in my career here, primarily focusing on strategic marketing, better understanding the voice of our customers, etc. So he can give me a 5% increase today with a commitment to working together to outline a plan to actually promote me in the future.
So all in I’m at a 5% increase in salary which also affects my overall bonus structure as my annual bonus is structured off base salary.
I’m not happy but I’m not upset. We are all entitled to our opinions on our performance and what we think we are worth. I feel encouraged that he can give me more than the minimum, and I feel a sense of empowerment that I asked for more, and did receive more, even if it wasn’t the number I had in my head. I got 2% more out of it which is better than nothing.
2) Change jobs
I received a small promotion a few years ago after I had put my boss on notice that I was looking at a job elsewhere in the company. So while I was not changing employers altogether, interviewing for another job internally was, in my mind, the straw that broke the camels’ back of my boss and pushed a small promotion through.
The promotion wasn’t big, it wasn’t acclaimed or announced, but it was technically a promotion with a raise and a new title. So I felt satisfied.
Fast forward two months and a recruiter reached out to me with a new opportunity. Not one to shy away from keeping my options open, I did an interview – and was given the job! I had a great experience with this recruiter who helped me negotiate more money.
The recruiter indicated that it is common to ask for 10-20% over your base salary when you are changing roles. The recruiter knew the salary bands for this role and we decided to go big or go home. I asked, and received, a 22% increase over my base salary at the time, with the annual bonus structure moving from 5% to 10%; so overall a 27% increase in pay. I’ll take it! (Oh, and a much shorter commute so it was the icing on the cake).
I don’t expect that I’ll consistently be able to command such a high percentage increase in salary as I move further along in my career. While I know I have a lot of experience and believe I would be an asset to any company, I don’t want to out-earn my competence.
So I successfully received more by putting my boss on notice that I was interested in another job internally. And I leveraged the experience of a recruiter and received a 27% increase in total compensation by changing companies.
3) Focus on transferable skills
I was once given advice that the best thing you can do for yourself is to invest in yourself. It’s very easy to get caught up in your job and the way your organization does business. Day in and day out the days fly by and you are just doing your job.
But what skills have you learned, or are you honing that can be transferable to your next role? Are you an excel wiz? If you’re not, do you have an opportunity to learn? Are there opportunities you’ve been asked to do that you’ve shied away from because it’s not in your comfort zone?
One of the skills I’m most proud of honing over the last few years is public speaking/presenting. I have had to do very little public speaking over my career so I was pretty green at it. In my current role, as we have made acquisitions, I’ve been tasked with training our sales team on them.
For example, we acquired a company that had over 2500+ products in the orthodontic market. Seriously, how can I learn, train, and then present to a sales team on 2500+ products? There is no way.
But I challenged myself and produced a kick-ass product overview that reviewed the steps orthodontists take to put on braces, and showcased at a high level the different products we now carry that support an entire orthodontic case. I created it myself. Learned the products. Practiced. And nailed it!
It had been a while since I had felt so proud of myself. Pushing myself outside my comfort zone was actually a great feeling. I’ve had to do many subsequent trainings, both big and small. And each one challenges me to refine public speaking and simplify complex products that the sales team can digest. This is a skill that’s mine and I can take anywhere.
I’ve worked in numerous roles in my career so far and I’m sure there are many more coming. I’ve learned that if you think you deserve more ask for it. You’ll become stronger, feel empowered, and regardless of the answer, you’ll learn where you stand with your company.
I’ve learned that changing jobs can make you more money. I’ve also learned that investing in yourself and focusing on transferable skills is something no one can take away from you. Own it!
What steps have you taken to increase your market value?
Take one small step today – to help your finances tomorrow, Steph