Personal Finance

How to improve your odds of earning higher salary in 2016


One of the easiest ways to earn a higher pay is by becoming very good at what you do. PHOTO | FILE

Would you like to earn more money this year? Do you think you are fairly compensated for your output? We are always looking to earn more, so the answer is probably a big yes.

In this article, I will highlight some of the steps you can take to earn a higher pay. You can implement some and start seeing results right away, but some may take a bit of time.

Some involve becoming very good at your job such that others can’t ignore you and thus ensuring you get promoted and salary increments or going back to school for further training.

Another step is by deciding to take additional duties. If all else fails or doesn’t work with current employer then looking elsewhere is another winning strategy. 

1. Determine your value in the job market

Before we discuss on what you need to do to earn a higher pay, have you considered your value in the job market?

As a product in the market there’s a price for what you have to offer. And the price is dependent on many factors. For example, years of experience and skills gained in that period.

A fresh graduate does not have a lot in bargaining power compared to someone with five years experience. It will also depend on how saturated your profession is.

If you are in a profession that has a lot of people, there’s stiff competition for jobs and this makes an employer have an upper hand.

A good example is administration, accounting, customer service, journalism and sometimes the sales profession. There are so many candidates chasing the few opportunities and employers take advantage by paying poorly.

The easiest way to find out how much people with your skills and education earn is to refer to job adverts.  If you don’t earn a salary equivalent to someone of your level then you need to identify the reasons.

Is it because you lack certain skills? Do you need to take a short course?  Is it because you are working for a small organisation that does not have the resources? If it’s because of the organisation, then it’s as simple as changing jobs.

However, if it’s a matter of qualification and experience you need to realise that it will take you time and resources to get the skills and only then will you be ready to earn more.

2. Your job is to be awesome

One of the easiest ways to earn a higher pay is by becoming very good at what you do.  Look at the roles listed on your job description and identify the most important.

After this, evaluate your level of competence. In essence ask yourself whether you are good at your job. Identify areas that you are struggling with.

Changing employers will not help if you are not good at what you do or if you face a similar job description. It might be easy for you to sell yourself in an interview but can you realistically deliver on the job?

And excelling at your job requires you to specialise and only handle those tasks that you are good at. An example is that of a finance and administration manager struggling with the latter function.

As long as management is not happy with what they are doing in administration, there’s a lesser probability the individual will be considered for a salary raise or a promotion.

The logical step is to ask them to hire someone to do admin duties and you concentrate on what you are good at. You can only shine at what you excel.  

In business it’s results that tell. I have met candidates who are highly qualified but underpaid. On the other hand I am sure you know candidates with no papers/certificates to show but are earning seemingly well. 

The difference is with the level of skills and experience. Employers and candidates alike are in the market place and looking for specific things.

And sometimes there’s a misunderstanding. Employers are interested with hiring someone who can get the job done well the first time and at an affordable cost.

And they will pay a premium regardless of your age, education and skills if you can demonstrate value beyond what is expected of you.

That is why I insist on professionals learning as much skills as possible. With enough skills and experience you will be at a position to negotiate for a better package. 

3. Job hopping: It’s not as bad as you think

Sometimes staying in one place can work against you. That’s why I recommend changing jobs after every three years.  If your current organisation is big enough, there should be room for growth and in three years you should be in a different grade.

However, if it’s a small organisation, three years should be the maximum time you give to the company. By the third year you should be ready to make a move.

Apart from the usual problem of familiarity where the employer thinks you don’t have much else to offer or you getting comfortable, staying in one place for long will only make potential employers wonder why others haven’t identified your great potential.

It’s also easy to lose track of what’s current in the job market and therefore rendering your skills obsolete.

In some sectors like banking, it’s normal for someone to quit, join a competitor and come back after two years with three times the pay. Job hopping has its advantages more so when done strategically.  

There you have it. You can earn a higher pay this year. Start by being very good at what you do as no sane employer can afford to lose a staff who adds value. 

If you are missing on some skills then going back to class is an option you need to consider.  You also need to focus on learning on the job and not getting more and more certificates.

Lastly, if you are not appreciated where you are then it’s time to start looking. I wish you a healthy bank balance this year.  

Wainaina is the managing partner & head of recruitment at Corporate Staffing Services.