Who doesn't want to earn a little more for the hard work put in on the job? To increase your chances of your valuable contributions being recognized--monetarily and otherwise--use these seven tips.
1. Make yourself an expert
When you know more about your field than anyone else, and do your job better than anyone else could, you distinguish yourself from others through your expertise. Companies place high value on true experts. They obtain promotions and pay raises more easily, and set an important example for other employees.
2. Be enthusiastic
One of the most powerful attributes you can take to work is enthusiasm. Some days you may feel apathetic, but remember what Dale Carnegie said and repeat it over and over to yourself: "If you act enthusiastic, you will be enthusiastic." Stay positive and energetic, and cultivate your excitement for the tasks at hand. You'll turn dull days into bright ones, for yourself and those around you, and attract the attention and approval of leadership.
3. Make friends
To increase your earning power, expand your sphere of influence--up, down, and side to side within the organization. Take interest in the people around you, and learn to cooperate with everyone you come into contact with. When your relationships are strong, you're generally a more effective employee who holds more value in the eyes of leadership.
4. Pick the right company and the right position
It's amazing how many people take jobs and expect more pay than the job is worth. You'll never earn as much as you want if you're working in a field, in a role, or for a company that simply can't match your expectations. Before you worry about earning what you're worth, take an honest look at the pay ranges in the industry, whether there's room for advancement at the company, and how stable the company is. These other tips will go to waste if earning more where you are isn't realistic.
5. Capitalize on your strengths
Similarly, be honest with yourself about what you're good at and what you aren't, and which of your strengths are most likely to bring you a competitive salary. If you've never done more than boil water, it's going to take you ages to earn a comfortable living as a chef. Discovering which strengths you want to build and which are worth most to employers (in the short or long term) can take deep self-examination and some research, but doing that analysis will pay off in the end.
6. Work hard
Maybe this one seems obvious, but it bears repeating: There's no substitute for hard work. I've never known a successful person who didn't have the ability to put devoted effort into his or her job. The best way to work hard is to also work smart: to be ready to be industrious, and to allocate your energy to the right tasks without wasting time on busywork. When I was young, I asked my mentor what made happiness. His answer was simple: "Accomplishment." So, in addition to helping you make a case for a higher salary, hard, smart work will also give you a more lasting source of happiness: the satisfaction of a job well done.
7. Ask for a raise
The final tip is the one to use once you've deployed all the others: Simply ask for higher compensation. Be ready to back up your request with compelling evidence for why you deserve the raise. If you make a good case for how you benefit the organization, your request is likely to be taken seriously.
Money isn't everything in life, but smart professionals ensure that they make what they're worth--and they understand that it's no one's job but their own to make that happen.