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The Best Way to Grow Your Salary

There’s one way, by far, that gets you the largest salary increases. 

You can grow your salary in many ways but there is one way, by far, that gets you the largest salary increases.

SalaryMatters is, no doubt, all about helping corporate workers grow their salary without requiring them to get another degree or professional certification. But to take that another step, we only focus on the one, proven method that allows corporate workers to get very big salary increases—the external promotion. Later in this article we’ll explain what the external promotion is and why it’s so darn good at growing corporate workers’ salary. But before we get into the different methods for salary growth, lets lay down some ground rules.

What you won’t learn here:
First off, it’s important to know what side of the fence we stand. That being said, we’ll never teach you how to beg your boss for pay you deserve and should have already had by now. Never! We’ll leave the teaching of begging skills to all of the “expert career coaches” running around out there—that’s not our thing. Enough said on that topic…moving along.

Before we get too far down the road, as a quick gut-check, we’ll assume that you already understand that being loyal to your corporation is a loser’s game for you and the only real way to ensure that you have a fulfilling career with a good salary is to put your interests ahead of your boss’. I’ve seen it all too often where the corporations make false promises of “if you just stick it out with us, one day you’ll get the pay you deserve.” Which inevitably leads to the worker waking up one morning and realizing that they’ve been getting their chain pulled the entire time. Or, if they finally get the pay increase they’ve been hoping for, it comes after years of NOT getting paid what they deserved which equates to thousands of recoupable dollars that should have been in their bank account. I still cringe at the thought of all of the money I should have had stashed away in savings had I only awaken to smell the coffee sooner.

Four ways to increase your salary:
So now that you’ve had a gut-check, let’s walk through the different ways corporate workers can grow their salary starting with methods that yield the lowest pay increases to the one way to get BIG salary increases.

Merit Increases (or Cost of Living Increases): usually from 3% to 5%
If your employer is half-way humane, then you’ve likely gotten a Merit or Cost of Living salary increase. I use the “humane” reference because almost all corporations give their workers this increase on an annual basis, not because of actual merit, or because the corporation is actually “generous,” but merely as a means of keeping workers’ salary from being whittled away by the growing cost of living (GDP, inflation, etc.). Similar to a 401K match program, in today’s corporate world, Merit Increases are merely the cost corporations pay to ensure that they can be competitive in the talent for hire marketplace. The common range for this salary increase is between 3% and 5% and while it was at one point considered something that every worker gets by default, we’ve noticed it now being considered discretionary. I should know, there were a few years where I did not get a Merit Increase which of course, eroded my salary at the mercy of rising cost of living expenses.

Raises (or begging) in your current career: usually 5% to 10%
This is the increase where the phalanx of “career experts” advise you to beg your boss for a pay increase. The sickening thing about this method of salary growth is that most bosses expect you to put together a formal request, demonstrating to them in written form, why you deserve a raise. The research shows that, in almost all cases where a raise was given, the worker had already proven, over a significant amount of time, their worthiness of a raise based on their repeated exemplary performance. Most of these workers had either taken on the workload of a more senior coworker that left the organization or were asked to take on additional responsibilities. And yet corporations have the nerve to ask you to prove that you’re worthy of fair pay. And the career experts will “coach” you on the proper way to build a presentation that shows all of the contributions you’ve made and will even give you the exact script on how to muster up enough courage to finally make the big request. I’ve never done that and yet, compared to my peers, I’ve done quite well by growing my salary by over 245% with four promotions in just six years. Besides, that’s a heck of a lot of work for 5 to 10% more in salary. We can show you how to use your energy more efficiently to get a promotion that will pay you, on average, much more than a raise could ever get you.

Internal Promotions: usually 8% to 15%
An internal promotion is where you advance to a more senior role within your current organization usually yielding salary increases of about 8 to 15%. One thing that we must mention before moving too far along is that many corporations have a hidden internal policy of capping internal promotions to 10% regardless of how much the new position pays! Talk about sinister. However, internal promotions can be both deadly and extremely helpful to corporate workers—it just depends on how the worker leverages it. It can be detrimental to workers if they are of the mindset that they need to remain loyal to the corporation, despite having a below-market salary because “someday it’ll all work out” and they’ll get fair pay someday. The truth is, for most workers making this gamble, the day when all things are made right hardly ever comes. However, we teach corporate workers how to properly leverage internal promotions to eventually get an external promotion that will instantly give them a huge pay increase and a fresh new start!

External Promotions: 25%+
The external promotion is when you accept employment for a more senior role at a different organization. On average we’ve seen about a minimum 25% increase in salary from the worker’s current job to their new job. In short, this is the engine that will fuel your salary growth! Therefore, we focus all of our efforts on educating workers to get external promotions because again, if you’re going to exert any effort in growing your salary and your career, you might as well make it worth your while. Now that is not to say that we will never advise corporate workers to pursue an internal promotion. Because in many cases, an internal promotion is exactly what some workers need to set them up for the external promotion. Within the six-year period where I received four promotion, two of those promotions were internal promotions. But it was the external promotions that made up most of the 245% increase in salary with a 55% and 69% salary increase for both external promotions respectively—far beyond the conservative 25% I stated as the average minimum. But the benefits don’t stop there, in addition to offering the largest salary increases, external promotions often give workers a fresh career start, a new perspective, a clean slate, a chance to grow their professional network, and an opportunity to obtain diverse industry and/or organizational experience.

At SalaryMatters, we believe the workers have the power because at the end of the day, without workers, there are no corporations. That is why we encourage workers to maximize their salary earning potential. And never, absolutely never, render your power to an undeserving boss by begging her for a raise when in fact, she should be proactively offering you a pay increase for all of your contributions. Most corporations are spoiled brats—they expect workers to give their all and when it’s time to make their workers whole, they make them jump through hoops or worse, they string them along with little intention of leveling fulfilling the promise of higher wages.

But here at SalaryMatters, we believe in you, will fight for you and we will empower you to have the salary you deserve, a career that is fulfilling, and a life worth living.