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8 Ways to Boost Your Salary

by Vicki Salemi

If you're looking to punch up that paycheck, there are eight simple yet effective ways to boost your salary. Our career experts and real-life stories will show you how to prosper by asking for what you really want and actually getting it.
  1. Ask for a raise. Do your homework by asking your HR compensation department for salary ranges within your position. Of course, you can't just trust their word on it. Check external sources as well such as www.salary.com. Sharon Winston, senior vice president and managing director of the San Jose office of Lee Hecht Harrison global career services firm notes you should be prepared for the talk with your boss. "Identify three of your strongest accomplishments within the organization or areas in which you took on extra responsibility," she says. "If you are still turned down, ask how you might improve in asking for a raise in the future."
  2. Pursue an online degree or certificate. According to Frank Mayadas, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a consortium of institutions and organizations committed to quality online education, higher education gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your skills or explore different professional paths, making you more marketable for higher paychecks in the future. "Furthering education helps people further their careers." The advantage of online degree opportunities? "You don't have to be in a traditional classroom setting. With time and geographic constraints of juggling work and family, you can receive a quality education on your own terms."
  3. Take advantage of tuition reimbursement. Instead of thinking of a pay increase as money in your pocket, think of the alternative: tuition money you're not putting out of pocket. For instance, Debra Wall-Czech made a breakthrough with her company's reimbursement policy by asking them to reimburse online classes. "The company paid for campus classes, but initially was not willing to pay for them online. It changed the policy to include online after realizing the real difference is whether or not the classes are from an accredited university -- not if they were online or on campus."
  4. Network. According to Deborah Brown-Volkman, president of Surpass Your Dreams, a career and mentor coaching company based in East Moriches, NY, and author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career: A Guide for Discovering Your Ultimate Profession" (iUniverse, 2003), networking is vital to increasing your intellectual capitol. The key to networking through associations, business groups, or your local Chamber of Commerce is having a plan. "Know your 30-second introduction well, speak passionately about what you do, and don't spend too much time talking with one person," she advises. The intent is to meet as many people as possible and initiate correspondence with them soon after the event.
  5. Move laterally. Alexandra Levit, author of "They Don't Teach Corporate in College"(Career Press, 2004) and founder of Inspiration@Work, a marketing communications consultancy firm based in Chicago, IL, experienced this firsthand. Early in her public relations career, she explored internal opportunities and moved into another department, resulting in a bigger paycheck. "If you're not moving up, it's probably in your best interest to leave." Alexandra also points out that even if your supervisor is supportive of a raise or increased responsibilities, there may be roadblocks. "Your boss might not have the power or authority even if he or she wants to."
  6. Inquire about flextime. Flexible work arrangements allow you time to explore other options, perfect for helping your career both professionally and financially. Alexandra recently transitioned from full-time public relations manager to strategic PR consultant and author, and said her amended work hours enabled her to push into a field that's made her much happier and thereby, more effective. "I managed to achieve the flexible schedule I required while still generating a substantial income." She needed to devote time and energy to focus on her new business and budding writing career, so she approached the PR firm about working 25 hours per week. They obliged.
  7. Think out of the box. When Jane Smith resigned from her job, she didn't expect her managing director to present a counteroffer and ask her to put something on the table, no matter how ridiculous it would seem. Jane came back with her request: "I would consider staying with the company if I can move to the London office with a UK salary for at least six months," she told her. Much to her surprise, leadership gave its blessing. Now she's ready to pack her bags. Lesson learned: Don't be afraid to ask for what you really want. As in Jane's case, you may very well get it.
  8. Demonstrate consistent performance. Alexandra and Jane both ended up getting what they wanted because they had demonstrated excellent performance at their companies. Jane indicates she was prepared to share examples of her work to gain leverage, essentially proving hard work is mutually beneficial to both the employee and employer. Her philosophy? It's in the company's best interests to keep good people. "No one wants to train someone new," she explains. "The knowledge base and ramping-up time take away from productivity."

Above all, before jumpstarting your negotiating power, you'll need to exude confidence to show you deserve what you're asking for in the first place. As per executive coach Dr. Ted Sun, professor at University of Phoenix and professional speaker who works with individual executives and corporations to educate them on developing a balanced leadership, "the first thing you have to do is believe in yourself and your worth before you can convince someone else to believe in you."