How to negotiate a higher salary and level up wealth creation

Early in our lives, when we don’t have a significant amount of wealth to draw on for investing, the majority of our investing resources come from our salary. On top of this, early in our lives we are in entry level positions which generally are the lowest paying jobs out there. So how does one accelerate growth of earned income? Find out how in this article.

Be the best at what you do

Whether or not you intend to stay in your current organization long term or not, the first thing you can do to get yourself noticed is to be the best at what you do. This means paying close attention to the work product you are producing. Is it on time? Is it to the absolute best quality you can create? Is it exceeding the expectations of your manager? Does it look good? Seriously – the formatting, fonts and colours of a deliverable can make a difference in the perceived quality of your work. As a baseline to growth, you need to create a level of credibility for yourself so that your manager begins to trust you with more and more responsibility. Your manager is never going to increase the volume or complexity of your workload if you produce work product that isn’t exceeding their expectations of you. The best path to earning the right to work on more challenging and meaningful work is to just crush it on the base level work for your role.

Create Value for the company

Companies exist to make money. Even not-for-profit organizations have financial goals that need to be met to avoid going into the red on their budgets. The more you can do to ensure the continued profitability of your company, and it’s growth, the better. You may be thinking “I’m too junior to make a difference”. Don’t! Anyone in a company can make a meaningful effort to help make the company more successful. Even a custodian who is responsible for keeping the building clean can do so by looking for ways to procure more cost effective cleaning products, checking on vendor contracts for supplies to negotiate better prices or do their work faster to open up opportunities to do other things. Even if you don’t have a chance to improve upon the top line revenue of your company, think about how you can reduce it’s costs. Managers are far more likely to promote someone who has the financial well being of the company top of mind as they conduct their duties.

I remember when I was working in public practice accounting, and each year we would have to perform a financial statement audit for our clients. A lot of people looked at last year’s file and just did the same things again. I took it one step further and spent the time to challenge what was done and try to accomplish the same or better quality of work in accordance with the auditing standards, but using more effective techniques. The result is less hours spent by the team on the work and higher profitability of the engagement, and better quality for the clients. It’s not the easy way, but it’s the way that catches the attention of managers.

People who focus on growing the company’s value through increased revenues or decreased expenses become “worth it” to promote and pay more, because they are constantly paying for themselves with their efforts. Make yourself so valueable to the company that they don’t even think twice about increasing your salary. In fact, keep track of the specific dollar amounts of value you have created to objectively prove to your manager the value you have created for the company. When you do this, a raise becomes an objective financial investment decision for the manager. If someone is creating $100,000 of value for a company each year on top of their regular duties, paying them $20,000 more seems pretty fair!

Align with the personal objectives of your manager

This is a lesson I learned in a wonderful class I took in university called “Development of Accounting Thought”. The class taught students about the biases that exist within executives of companies, and how that might result in the selection of accounting policies to meet those goals. For example, if a CFO earns a bonus based on profit of the company for the year, and they have to make a policy decision about amortizing a new equipment purchase, they are likely to chose the amortization policy which results in the least current amortization expense.

This got me thinking that everyone has personal objectives to meet which may or may not align with those of the organization – whether financial or not. For example, maybe your manager has kids and is struggling to find a good babysitter. If you know one, make an introduction. Gestures like these that align with your manager’s personal aspirations or goals will do wonders to grow their trust in you and your value to them. Of course, the best way is to find ways to help your manager make more money. I don’t think there’s a better way to make yourself worth more!

Bring new ideas

Instead of spending your commute time listening to music or watching TV on your phone, spend it learning. Listen to an audiobook or a podcast relevant to your role or your industry. Maybe there is a leading mind out there talking about a new concept or idea that could really help your business that no one in your organization has raised yet. Bring these ideas to your manager with a plan on how to implement into your company and how they make sense financially. Even if the idea isn’t adopted, you’ve proven that you really care about the company’s continued success and that has huge value. Most people couldn’t care less how the company does as long as they get their paycheque!

These focus areas are going to prove to your manager that you are more than worthy of a growing level of responsibility and therefore pay rate. If you do these things and you don’t see career growth, you should move on from your current organization. Work for a company that values your work and the value you create for them.


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