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8 Ways To Boost Your Salary

Studies show that job satisfaction rises with an employee’s salary. It’s a simple equation: The more money you make, the more valued you’ll feel.

Money can’t buy happiness, but proof that you’re important at work can be very important both in and away from the office. A low salary could be the biggest reason why you’re unsatisfied at work, but there are a number of things you can do to increase your worth.

1. Watch Your Benefits
Many employees are still reeling from the layoff scares of the 1990s. However, some reasons behind layoffs and low pay health care insurance benefits, for example, have since changed. According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, “since 1995, the spread of managed care, plus other cost-containment measures, has freed up dough that otherwise would have been consumed by health care inflation.” Ask your HR department for the numbers on health care and pension plans from the past ten years. Sometimes, employers are willing to pass the savings on to their experienced employees.

Tell the Boss: “Since the new insurance plan raised my deductible, I need a dependable way to cover the difference.”
The Bottom Line: If your salary hasn’t changed since the Clinton administration, but your benefit package has, asking for a raise shouldn’t put your job in jeopardy.

2. Take On Responsibility
Even small tasks can make a difference in your value as an employee. If you’re the only one in the office who can operate the projection machine or maintain the company website, you’ll be a leader among your coworkers and an asset to your boss. Employers appreciate a willingness to volunteer, and a list of your unique abilities can be a benefit to you at a performance evaluation. Of course, the more training you have in the field, the more likely you’ll be able to handle new tasks and technology.

Tell the Boss: “We could organize this paperwork into an Excel file pretty easily. Do you want me to set up a template?”
The Bottom Line: If you have the time and knowledge, a new task can both challenge and benefit you.

3. Educate Yourself
There are real financial benefits to getting an education. In 2005, the U.S. Census reported that a college degree nearly doubles a worker’s salary, on average. Workers over 18 in the U.S. with a bachelor’s degree earn over $23,000 a year more than workers with a high school diploma, and any level of education can mean a permanent raise in your salary. Because employers often want their employees to be trained and educated, some companies offer tuition assistance for workers willing to go to school on their own time.

Tell the Boss: “If you invest in me, I’ll use my education and training to benefit the future of this company.”
The Bottom Line: Higher education can be a financial commitment, but the benefits could last a lifetime.

4. Shake Some Hands
From multinational corporations to the row of stores in a small-town block, success in business is all about who you know. A recent article in Black Enterprise illuminates the secrets of the casual network: “Lunchtime and coffee breaks provide an excellent opportunity for informal meetings, while workplace organizations such as affinity groups, softball teams, and voluntary committees offer more structured methods of getting to know people from all walks of the organization.” If you want to advance in your field, think of the tasks you complete at work as only half of your job–the other half is meeting people, expanding your circle, and getting your name out.

Tell the Boss: “Have you met our supplier’s new assistant? You should grab lunch with us today, I’ll introduce you.”
The Bottom Line: A powerful network can put you in touch with different people and skills, increasing your own value.

5. Use Your Experience
In the journal Training, Jeff Barbian reports that workers with 13 or more years’ experience can expect to earn 33% more than their coworkers with less than three years of experience. If you’ve been with one company for a while, you have a powerful bargaining chip towards a better paycheck. If you’re new to the company or the field, however, you can still use the experience you have to your advantage. A familiarity with machines or computer programs at work could make you an appealing trainer for new hires, earning you more respect and an argument for a raise.

Tell the Boss: “Let me give James the tour–I’ll show him how to un-jam that printer that’s giving you trouble.”
The Bottom Line: Experience can be measured in more ways than years.

6. Go Where You’re Needed
A recent survey in Network World found that employees often benefit from “job hopping,” or quitting one job in favor of one with more benefits or higher pay. IT professionals loyal to their company made an average of $74,010 a year, while job hoppers averaged $85,200. More employees are keeping their eyes on the classifieds even if they are somewhat satisfied with their jobs, and enjoying the rewards for doing the same work in a new office.

Tell the Boss: “I want to be on board with a company that values its employees, and I’ve heard great things about your team.”
The Bottom Line: If you’re ready to change your routine, a new job in the same field can be a challenge and a reward.

7. Change Your Scenery
Your location can mean a big difference in the money you bring home. According to Salary.com, human resources managers making $77,885 in Des Moines, Iowa, might average $80,967 in Syracuse, New York, or $83,477 in Portland, Oregon. You’ll need to take things like relocation cost and cost of living into account, but a change of scenery can revitalize your outlook on life, as well as your paycheck.

Tell the Boss: “I’ve always heard this part of the country was beautiful, but I had to see it for myself.”
The Bottom Line: A new location is a drastic change, but moving can mean more than a better salary.

8. Bargain Smart
When it’s time to negotiate a raise, you need to be prepared. Come to the table with your qualifications, and anticipate your employer’s concerns. In Business Week, management professor Deborah M. Kolb suggests coming up with rebuttals for an employer’s likely concerns. Among them: “I realize the budget is tight; it has been that way for some time, but we have some new hires,” and “I know the budget is tight, let’s see if we can work around it.” In both cases, empathy, or taking the time to understand your employer’s concerns, combines with your own plan to make the negotiation more of a cooperative effort.

Tell the Boss: “We both care about the future at this company. I want to feel confidant that I’ll be here for many years to come.”
The Bottom Line: Realizing that your employer has his or her own set of concerns can help you work together.

For every salary boosting strategy, confidence is the key. Once you realize that you’re worth a more lucrative day at work, make sure your boss knows, too.

Publish date: June 1, 2008