1. Bring it. If you've been at your job a long time, it's likely you're not making an effort to exceed expectations. It's human to get comfortable and start to phone it in. The problem with a lackadaisical attitude is that you're less likely to be tapped for promotions, and no one is going to want to go to bat for a raise for you if you're just getting by.
2. Be better at what you do. Your attitude and effort are important, but what you actually know trumps everything else when it comes to earning power. Before you complain that your company would rather hire younger, inexpensive labor, ask yourself, "What do they know that I don't?" If your manager isn't making the effort to suggest professional development opportunities, it's up to you to figure out how to make yourself less disposable and more marketable.
3. Dress the part. There's a reason for the advice to "dress for the job you want to have." You don't need to go to extremes to change your appearance (plastic surgery is unlikely to be the panacea for your money woes). But, it doesn't hurt to take a long look in the mirror. If you still have the same hairstyle popular in 1975, it's time for a change. Treat yourself to a makeover. Ask for a consult at your local department store, or invite a fashion-forward friend to go shopping. You'd be surprised by how a new look may propel your career and earning potential.
Ask for a raise. Maybe it's not that easy -- your organization is under a pay freeze, and no one has had a raise in three years. However, there are plenty of companies where people are getting raises -- or bonuses -- and you may be surprised to learn that the squeaky wheel sometimes does get the grease.
Before you make a beeline for the boss' office -- make sure you've taken care of numbers 1 and 2, first. No one is going to give you a raise if you're just marking time. If you haven't done anything "raise worthy," it's time to ramp it up. Make a point to take on a challenging project and to suggest answers for your company's biggest problems. Ask for your raise immediately following a big success and it will be harder to ignore your request.
5. Get a new job. If it's clear you aren't moving up in the pay scale at your current job, no matter what you do, it's up to you to take action. If earning more is a priority for you, start thinking about how you can land a new job.
6. Grow your network to make more money. If you're thinking about a new job in the near future, you need to start thinking about whom you know. Why? If someone refers you for an opportunity, you are much more likely to earn an interview – and the job – than if you simply apply to an online ad. You're busy, but if you're too busy to network and demonstrate your expertise, you'll face obstacles in your job search you could otherwise overcome. Re-join that professional organization you dropped years ago. Sign up for committees and start meeting influential people.
Find online networks and identify people who may be willing to become your allies and job search champions and it will be easier to land a job. Don't join and start asking for help – contribute to the conversations and prove you have what it takes to be a leader in your field.
identify issues that may face your organization or industry. If your head is in the sand, you won't realize that there's technology coming down the pike that will replace your job. Make a point to know what's going on in your field, and do everything you can to stay ahead of the curve. You'll make more money in the long run and be less likely to get caught in an unexpected layoff.
One example? Automated checkouts in the grocery store. How can you stand out from the crowd and make more money? Start thinking of ways to make the human cashier invaluable. Run the fastest lane, provide the best customer service. Suggest ideas to improve the store's services and reputation. In the long run, you will earn the raises and be more likely to keep your job.
8. Specialize. Have you noticed that people who seem to earn more money are the ones with very specific skills? There's a reason for that -- it's a shifting trend away from hiring generalists who know a little about everything to valuing people who are very skilled in a particular area. Keep your eye on the trends, identify your niche and move quickly to be the go-to person in that crucial area.
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