How To Immediately Increase Your Salary

Earning more income is one of the top New Year’s resolutions, but with half of January now in the history books, hopes for higher pay are already fading for many who vowed to beef up their paychecks in 2024.

Some of them might begrudgingly accept the status quo from 2023 because they don’t want to launch a side hustle. Others may not know how to make their employer cough up more than they’re already getting.

GOBankingRates spoke with three career experts who outlined why you shouldn’t give up until you try. Many people can add at least 10% — and even up to 20% — to their pay by using these suggestions for taking action.

Want More Money? Start by Asking for It

The fastest and most likely path to a double-digit-percentage pay increase is to do what your boss is probably expecting you to do anyway — ask for more money.

“The easiest and best way to increase your salary by a minimum of 10% is to negotiate,” said Harvard Business School-trained master executive coach Adriana L. Cowdin, founder of Be Bold Coaching. “70% of employers expect candidates to negotiate their salary, whereas a staggering 78% of candidates do not negotiate. This means you are losing out on tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your career. Go after what you want and what you’re worth.”

But is it truly realistic to expect to get 10% or more just by asking?

Leigh James, head of human resources at Page One Formula, said that’s precisely the range you should pursue and expect — if you can make a case that you’re worth it.

“Regularly assessing and articulating your worth to your employer might result in wage raises ranging from 10%-15%,” she said. “Understanding the skill of negotiating is essential.”

The Inflation Estimation Strategy

Career counselor and recruitment consultant Mike Jacobsen, founder of Career Building Jobs, agrees that “the quickest and easiest way to immediately increase your salary is to approach your line manager and ask for a pay rise.”

The trick in the post-pandemic era, he suggested, is to go into a raise-request meeting armed with the facts about how inflation has eroded your salary’s purchasing power since it was last adjusted. “Tell them that since your last pay review inflation has been X% and the salary given to you at the time is now worth much less in real terms.”

Jacobsen said to estimate the appropriate raise by dividing your salary by the inflation rate in your area. “For example, someone without a pay rise for three years earning $50,000, with inflation rates of 7%, 6.5% and 3.4% — the U.S. inflation rates for the past three years — should have a salary of $58,915,” he said. “Any less than that and they have taken a pay cut in real terms.”

Change Companies

Some career experts feel that it’s gotten much harder to climb the pay scale ladder internally compared to previous years. In the case of a boss who won’t budge, consider taking your skills to a new employer, then repeat the process as soon as you outgrow your pay once again.

“It might be time to make the leap to a new company,” said Cowdin. “Unfortunately, the majority of companies are not set up to reward loyalty, as evidenced by the fact that an internal promotion increase is a dismal 3% on average. Contrast that with changing companies and you can easily increase your salary by 10%, 15% or 20% when you start a new company.”

Data from Zippia roughly backs those numbers up, showing the average salary increase when changing jobs is 14.8% compared to the average wage growth of 5.8%.

“The one caveat here is that no one wants a job hopper,” said Cowdin. “So avoid doing this every 12, 18, or 24 months.”

Pursue New Skills and Certifications

Enhancing your skills and credentials will take more time and effort than asking for a raise or even changing employers, but nothing else has the potential to make you a permanently more valuable professional.

“Individuals should actively pursue professional growth possibilities,” said James. “Continuous learning, whether through formal schooling or industry-specific certifications, can prepare you for positions with greater responsibility and, as a result, higher income.”

According to Fortune, a new certification or other credential commonly boosts pay by up to 20%. While you might have to pay for coursework and credentialing, Fortune recommends offsetting or eliminating those costs by:

  • Researching free online offerings through platforms like Coursera and Alison, which offer free certificates and courses in fields like health care, IT, marketing, sales, business and language.
  • Applying for grants or private scholarships.
  • Checking with your employer’s HR department to see if your company will contribute to tuition, exams or courses, or if they offer learning and development stipends.

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