How to get more money in your job

Some people need a new job to get more money. Others just need a new attitude. For more money, often you just have to ask.

I get calls from people with golden handcuffs occasionally. They are paid so well or have such great bonuses that all they can get by switching jobs is a drop in pay. Often they don’t appreciate it. I have to honestly tell them what the job market is like and ask them if they want to earn less at a new job. Only one in twenty says, “Yes, I’ll take a drop in pay.” The others get a quick lesson on either growing where they are at or being content at being overpaid.

Others are underpaid or paid their market value and want to earn more. Changing jobs for a 3% raise usually makes no sense. You could easily get that in the next year just by being patient. Often you could get a raise like that in a few weeks by presenting your case to your boss and their boss. So try that first. Present your accomplishments and a list of things you have done in the last few years. Prove you are worth more and give them 3 months to react.

If you really can get a 10% raise or more by leaving the job, the problem is different. You still need to present your case to your bosses. They may give you the raise and solve the problem. Give them 3 months to work on it after you present an air tight case that includes your specific contributions, not just your responsibilities.

During those 3 months keep your eyes open for a new job. Check out what the market really is like. After 3 months go back to your bosses and ask if you are going to get a raise. This is an important step so that they know you are serious. If they say, “No,” then start looking for a new job.

Some people really do need a new job to get more money.

Something to do today

Thinking about getting a new job? Call a recruiter who specializes in your field or in your geographical area. Ask them what the going rates for someone like you are.

Negotiating salary and perks at a new job

Negotiating is the art of getting what you want while giving away what you want less. 

A good recruiter can help you negotiate. He can find out all the details before the offer is given to you and get important problems fixed. He can give away the things you care less about. He can negotiate for you before the final offer is put on the table. A good recruiter can put pressure on a company that you will never see. If you have a recruiter, be blunt and honest with him. Don’t lie and say I need $80,000 when you are hoping for $60,000. Tell the recruiter the truth. Then accept or reject an offer based on its merits, not on your greed for more.

Shaking Hands, Handshake, Skyline, City, Hands, Welcome

If you don’t have a recruiter, you have to do exactly the same thing, only directly with someone at the company. 

  • Find out all the details 
  • Talk about details before a final offer is on the table
  • Give away the things you care about less for the things you want the most
  • Pressure. Let them know your priorities and what will make you walk away
  • Be blunt and honest
  • Tell them what you really want
  • Accept or reject an offer on its merits, not greed

Every one of those points is about communication. Negotiating a salary is about communicating. Go at it with the desire to understand and inform and you will come out ahead. If you go in with a desire to pillage, you will lose.

Something to do today
Get the book, How To Win Friends And Influence People. It may be the best practical book on communicating that was ever written. If you’re feeling a bit short on time, get it as an audiobook to listen to on your commute.

Negotiating a salary at a new job – first interview

“Will you work for minimum wage?”

Not a winning question when negotiating salary with an engineer.

“Give me all your money!”

Probably not a wise gambit for any job interview.

At some point in your job exploration the question of money has to come up.  Asking a recruiter what the job pays is fine.  Asking what your pay will be in a phone or first interview is a mistake.  They may have been given strict instructions to only mention $50,000, but have been told that they can go to $60,000 for the right candidate.  That happens all the time.

Timing is critical. Don’t negotiate salary, vacation or perks until they love you and are sure they want to hire you. You have no leverage for negotiations until you are the final candidate.

Money, Profit, Finance, Business, Return, Yield

When THEY ask you how much you must make to switch jobs, THEY are nervous.  So are you.  Here is an answer that works.  It doesn’t get you eliminated for asking for too much.  You won’t get paid too little for being too meek.  It leaves room for negotiating.  It gives them the information they need to make you a good offer.

The answer has 3 steps:

  1. the compliment
  2. the money
  3. the rules.

First the compliment.  This job and your company interest me.  I’d like to go to work for you.

Now the money.  Last year I earned a total of $70,000 and just had a raise to $73,000.

Finally the rules.  I certainly wouldn’t want to earn less.  I would like to be able to entertain your best offer.

This works for minimum wage jobs and CEO salaries.  If they ask a second time, tell them the same thing.  Let them know that you feel it is the company’s job to make an offer, not yours.  You just tell them the facts about what you are earning.  That’s all.  You can negotiate AFTER they have decided to make you an offer.  Then you will have some leverage.

How to think about salary – do this.

Write down three numbers.

First, what are you earning now?  Obviously you would take your current job for that much money.  You did.

Second, what do you really think you would be paid in a good but realistic situation if you switched jobs next month?  It should be a raise.

Third, if the ideal job came along, with you doing, learning and being exactly what you really want, with a great company and future, what is the least you would take to go there?  Is it a drop in pay?

You now have three different numbers you would work for.  So why should you demand to know what a job will pay before you find out which of the three possibilities it is?

You’ll only get what you ask for

I was working in the oilfield for a year and a half and was laid off. I talked with a co-worker who was also laid off. He started the same time I did and was earning over twice as much. I was flabbergasted. I was better educated and had worked just as hard. He confided his secret, “Every time I saw my supervisor I asked when I was going to get my next raise.” We only saw our supervisor every month or three. He got the raises. I didn’t.

I didn’t learn.

My next job at EDS they told us that we weren’t allowed to share salary information with others. I was intimidated. Luckily they did give me some nice raises. After a few years those raises slowed down. I waited for my annual reviews and hoped for a raise. Once, I got ready to quit. The boss found out and gave me a raise. Hmmm. I still didn’t learn.

I am now paid based on how well AGI does. My wife owns the company. If I were going back to an hourly or salaried job, I’d talk to my boss about a raise every 3 months. 

Every 3 months is often enough that you can set goals and meet them between reminders. It is often enough to get some more education and finish some more projects. You have time to turn in 13 good weekly reports to your boss, even if they don’t ask for them.

I would NOT be upset about NOT getting a raise. I would expect to get a better raise than if I kept quiet. Think about it. If I discuss my job performance and a raise every 3 months with my boss, I will be much more likely to focus on what will get me a raise. Also, at the end of the year my boss really knows how much I deserve. 

Something to do today

Want a raise? A promotion? Time to start reviewing your desires with your boss often. More often.

Create your own luck

IQ experts say that Thomas Jefferson was one of the smartest men ever born. I don’t doubt he was brilliant. However he once said “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” He harnessed his brilliance to the ox of hard work. Without his hard work, that incredible brain would have been wasted. 

I am sure there have been many others born who were smarter than Jefferson, no matter what the experts say. Those who were smarter were never recognized because they either worked in obscurity or didn’t work much at all. They used their brilliance to just get by.

Even the best poker players need luck. However, they also spend time practicing and perfecting their art. Learning to be the best at what you do and figuring out what the right moves are will be your best chances of having that luck with you. 

Two things you can do to be doing better than just getting by:

  1. You have to work hard
  2. You have to be recognized

I constantly talk to job seekers who have managed to get themselves into a great position. They work hard, have a great attitude and are willing to take chances. Interestingly, they commit with all their heart even though they may change jobs or positions frequently. They commit, work hard and make sure their accomplishments are recognized.

These superstars often hit bumps in the road. I know one that went from COO, to $24,000 per year junior associate, then back up to senior associate at $70,000 per year in 24 months. A year later he was CTO. He makes commitments, works hard and gets recognized.

Something to do today

It is time to look at your habits. Are you performing at the level you want to be recognized at? In other words, work hard and get recognized. 

Safety and job ethics

I made a 2 year commitment to the first company that hired me out of college. I said I would do that job and not quit. I had a safe job. I was over-educated and working hard. “Safety first,” I thought. I was happy to make that commitment. A year into it I got a sweet job offer. A huge promotion into another company. I was torn. I couldn’t take the new job. 3 months later I was laid off. I had made a commitment to my company, but they could not keep their commitment to me. 

Since then I have learned a few things about “Safety First” and job ethics.

Douglas Adams (Arthur Dent in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”)

“Safety” is important. Just remember, you are only safe if your company is making money and you are a significant part of that money making machine. By the way, all that safety goes out the door if someone buys your company.

Job ethics works just like a contract. A contract is of no effect unless both sides receive something of value. You should live up to your commitments. Absolutely. But, if your company is not living up to their commitments, your side of the commitment disappears too. 

Staying with the company was the right thing for me to do. Did it hurt? Absolutely. I could have gotten that promotion I was so eager for, but I would have had to break my own commitment. 

Yes, the company was sold a month before I was laid off, and 75% of the capacity of the whole industry was cut over the next month after the company was sold. They had to lay me off.

I learned to feel good about fulfilling my commitments. I also learned to be careful about what I commit to. I paid a steep price. I learned, and have used what I learned for the rest of my life. It was worth it. I made a 3 year commitment to EDS a little later. I fulfilled that commitment too. That also was worth it.

Something to do today

What commitments have you made? What are the commitments made back to you? 

Write down both sides of the agreement. Does it still make sense when you look at it today? 

Using every opportunity to network

When Bill Gates was trying to sell a PC operating system to IBM, his mother was on a charity board. The president of IBM was on the same board. Was there a possible connection? Maybe. I doubt Bill Gates’ mother got the deal for him, but I’m sure it helped.

An unemployed salesman asked me, “Can you help me find a job? You know I’ve been looking for months. What can I do?” 

I didn’t have a job for him, so I asked him about his job search. We talked about networking. It turns out he already was in touch with some very influential people. They even offered to introduce him to other leaders, but he was afraid to take their help.

This salesman had convinced himself that, despite what these leaders thought, he just wasn’t worth their time. He didn’t feel comfortable networking at that level. He couldn’t see a reason why they would help him. Here is why they would help him: That is what President’s do. They help people succeed. They are focused on it. They spend all day thinking about helping others succeed. I put that salesman in a verbal headlock and got him to promise he would use the help he had already been offered.

Remember Bill Gates? He sold a PC operating system to IBM that he did not create or own. Bill Gates had gotten the right to sell it from the creator. He outsold a guy who owned a demonstrably better operating system. Bill Gates did it by using every string, every avenue and every potential aid he could find. Lots of people wanted him to succeed, not just his mother. He got everyone’s help he could.

Don’t be afraid to use every bit of help you can find to get your new job. Others wouldn’t help you if they didn’t believe in you. Now, believe in yourself.

Something to do today

Make a list of the most powerful and influential people you know. Ask for help. If they are in your current company, ask for help growing where you are. If they are out of your company, ask for help finding a new job. Go to the most powerful and influential first. 

You are worth it.

Are you sowing seeds of success in your job?

The first winter in Plymouth Colony killed a third of the Pilgrims. During that winter one of my ancestors was caught eating the seed corn. He knew the whole colony would fail if the seed corn disappeared, but he talked himself into eating it anyway. I’m glad he was caught. I’m glad he learned.

Every job is the seed of your next job, even if you are changing fields entirely. Your future boss will be looking back at your accomplishments, drive, leadership and enthusiasm for your current job.

When you decide to sit back and relax at your job, you eat your seed corn. No one wants to hire an “average” person. They want to hire a superstar, or at least a hard worker.

Figure out how to make a difference. How can YOU make the company more profitable? Is there some way you can prove you are above average? 

When I was doing janitorial work at 4 a.m. every morning, I excelled. I only missed 2 days in a school year and I called in advance for those. I did my entire job no matter how tired I was. That work got me promoted to the afternoon shift. It was a lot nicer. The early morning job was the seed of my next job, and that was the seed of the next.

Don’t relax. Be at least above average. It will be the seed corn for your next job.

Invest some of the money you earn to get training. Use it as seed corn.

Something to do today

Be honest. Are you sliding by? 

List what makes you above average. Put it on your resume.

List what makes you below average. Eliminate it.

Using a mirror to find your problems

Most people have no clue what happened in a job interview. Did you do well?  Did they hate you? Is there a big mistake you keep making? You lose sleep, hope, talk to yourself, and relive the interview, praying to find a clue.

It is like when you want to see the back of your head or you want to see the middle of your back. It takes at least two mirrors and a lot of luck, twisting, and patience.

A friend’s eye is a good mirror.

Find a couple of job interview mirrors, like the ones you use to see the middle of your back. You need a friend who won’t just parrot back what you say. Someone who listens and will feel comfortable telling you what they really think is critical. They need to walk you through three questions. Not just ask them, but make you stay on track. They need to pull you back to reality and away from your emotional state. Have them explore these three questions:

  1. Walk me through the interview like a movie. What exactly happened without any emotional coloring?
  2. In the interview, what were their hiring priorities? What did they explore and worry about the most?
  3. In your gut, how do you really feel about it?

You can go through those questions yourself and it will help. But, there is something about having to answer to someone else that often clarifies the situation. That’s one reason that a recruiter earns his keep. He becomes a sounding board after an interview for both the candidate and the client, helping them stay in sync with each other.

Having someone who can point out your mistakes and help you find where you need to work on to get a job is important. A friend or a family member is helpful but only if they know saying the bad things not just the good things is good for you. A recruiter is a great choice too, because it’s their job to help you find a job.

Something to do today

Find that mirror. Who will be honest with you? Who will YOU be honest with?

Six things you can learn from South Africa that will improve your job search

have recently worked with someone from South Africa and they have told me how difficult business there can be. Basic utilities like electricity and water are very unreliable; they can go out for hours during the day. The legal system is subject to corruption. Government regulation depends on your relationship with the bureaucrats, not the rules. Business partners don’t want to offend you or lose face, so they agree to do things they can’t get done. Bringing you bad news is avoided at all cost. Labor costs are low, but people will switch jobs for the slightest increase in pay. The problem goes on and on depending on the city, industry, neighborhood, and your ancestors.

South African business people do incredibly well in the US because they have practice overcoming complex problems. You can learn how to prosper in your job search and job by applying the few basic principles they live by. 

These job security, success, and business principles are applicable to accountants, help desk techs, managers, and CEO’s. They especially matter if you are in a job search. They will give you an incredible advantage in every company you apply at.

  1. Trust others but make sure they are actually accomplishing what they say they will do. Even experienced partners occasionally screw up. Have an alternative plan in case things don’t get done on time. Get commitments from recruiters, managers, friends, and anyone you talk to. Follow up.
  2. Don’t rely on your relationship with one person, like the HR department. Establish relationships three or four people deep. If one leaves or fails, you need the others to keep going forward.
  3. Spend time cultivating people. Get to know them. Find out about them personally as well as from business. It is amazing how often this will give you the leverage you need to succeed. Some of our greatest success as recruiters comes from being friendly, open and honest with the receptionist, as well as with HR and the hiring manager.
  4. Help others constantly. Go out of your way to encourage, help, and promote others who are growing. That help will often come back to save you in a crisis. Helping someone else get a job will improve your abilities and give you a strong supporter on the inside of their new company.
  5. Constantly focus on doing things quicker, cheaper, better, and with less people. This alone is the greatest job security guarantor in the USA. When you prove you can do it in your resume, you will always be a hot commodity on the job market.
  6. Take time to read, plan, and think. Americans are terrible at this. Sit down with a sheet of paper and write for 15 minutes or an hour each day. Brainstorm things you can do for your job or job search.

In South Africa it is essential to have multiple layers of preparation. In America, we frequently get by without them. Americans also often wonder why they got laid off and how they will survive when laid off. Preparation, getting to know more people, and fearless execution will do more for your earning potential than anything else.

Something to do today

List where you only have one layer of protection. Then list how you can improve that.