I love sharing my thoughts and helping others, as I feel I have personal experiences and insight that others may not, or insight others just might not be willing to share. I’m going to focus some time on the subject of when it comes to getting raises or making more money in your career. I’ve had a number of friends and coworkers over the years ask me the best way to make more money in their career, my answer is almost always move out if you want to move up in your career.
Below, I will discuss my personal experiences over my career and how I was able to game the system to make more money professionally than most of my peers. In addition, I’m going to show you how often you should be doing this, and why it’s more acceptable to do so now than it was in the past. Moreover, I’ll provide some insight as to how to approach the subject of “why are are you moving companies” with prospective employers. After all, you can sit around and wait for a marginal raise, or you can take matters into your own hands and get a substantial raise, likely much larger than you would have ever gotten through hard work at your current job, with very little risk.
Early in my career I worked extremely hard (and I still do, I like to think), but my reward ended in being laid off due to business divestitures (sale of my company) and bankruptcies in my first couple of jobs. I watched people much more loyal than myself let go with little severance. It pissed me off too, I’d put in plenty of 12 hour days in hopes of getting a big raise or promotion, but it never came. At the end of the day I was left without a job, but I learned many valuable lessons that I took to heart and so should you.
Long gone are the days of employers being loyal to their employees, it’s time for you to lose your blind loyalty to them. It’s important however to keep good relationships with employers, give them proper notice etc, because chances are, one day you’ll be interviewing for a job at a company where someone knows you from the past.
Luckily, when I was being laid off I typically had a small amount of time to search for jobs while I still had a salary coming in. In my situation it didn’t make sense to wait a round for a severance, I simply went out and found something else. You should do this if you feel stagnant or worried you’re going to be losing your job. In fact, you should always be looking for new opportunities.
You can arrange interviews while you have a job without your employer knowing what you’re doing if you’re halfway smart about it. Prospective employers understand and will work around your schedule, don’t be afraid to ask them to do so. Once you get past the initial screening, and if it seems like something your interested in and somewhat confident you will get – you may have to take a half-day at work to complete a more thorough interview process.
Each new job I took I was able to jump my salary by leaps and bounds based upon the experience I had gained at the previous employer in short periods of time (typically around 1-2 years time). In addition, I was able to take dramatic increases in pay. Granted, I am in an industry where the pay is fairly well. At your current job, most promotions will only increase your pay from 3-5%, while with a move to another company, you can increase your pay upwards of 20%, simply based upon your newly built experience.
You can be a hustler and still be honest. I would never recommend lying to a prospective employer, but you should certainly know what the prospective employer can and cannot ask of your current or former employers. Prospective employers will not contact your current employers if you tell them not to for obvious reasons, so use this to your advantage. In addition, former employers usually only give time periods worked, and will not divulge salary information unless there is express written consent from you. It opens the employers to potential litigation and they won’t do it anymore. The same is true about your past performance. They won’t talk about you in fear of being sued.
Prospective employers will ask you what you currently make, and what you are expecting to make in a new job. It’s not smart to shoot yourself in the foot, be vague with your answers, your objective is to land a job and theirs is to weed out candidates. Early in my career I was making around 35k, when asked what I currently make, I told them in the upper 40’s (with benefits this is true-but I didn’t mention that). Stretch the truth, but be honest. It’s important to not allow them them to take advantage of you – but at the same time don’t shoot too high to where you remove yourself from consideration. Know the limits of what they’re going to pay. When asked how much you’re looking to make, the best answer is to subvert – and do not give them a number unless otherwise pressed to do so (If absolutely forced – give them a wide range – and say it really depends on what time commitments will be expected of you). Emphasize the importance of you finding a job that will help you grow your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Get the job first, worry about the money after they want you, it’s much easier to get what you want when they want you! When looking for a job, consider the experience you can gain and what that will mean to your next job.
You don’t have this experience or that experience, so what. Too many people won’t even apply for a job if they don’t have exactly the requirements listed, and that’s plain silly. Emphasize your ability to learn quickly, work with others to get answers, and your desires to constantly improve your skill set. Bring enthusiasm to the interview and smile. Be happy and confident and dress the role. Always be positive. If they ask you about things that you’ve done wrong, be honest, but also tell them how you learned from the experience and how it made you better.
Moving jobs too frequently can have equally negative consequences on your long term career prospects. So how often should you move companies? Early in your career it makes sense to do this every couple of years at minimum with a max of about 3-4 moves in 10 years. However, you must show a logical progression in your jobs. When pressed why you are moving jobs, you must convince them that your job has grown stagnant and your ability to move up within your current organization is limited. Eventually, you will get to a point where you need to stay at a place for several years because you’ve reached the pinnacle or top of pay in your area. You will know when you can’t make more money, at the time settle down and focus on being the best you can at what you do and learning other aspects of the business. If you’re jumping jobs every year, you’re going to be labeled a jumper and people won’t want to hire you, so make sure your moves are truly worth it.
I will write more about interviewing in upcoming career related posts, so check back often!