Curious about how to survive a job you hate and actually make more money from your cubicle job? The first thing you need to do when starting in the job hunt is to negotiate your salary. Kind of a no-brainer. That means not showing your cards during the screening process. If asked, give a wide range (such as, “Somewhere in the range of 90K to 120K would be ideal.”)
Negotiations shouldn’t be too difficult. Remember, by this stage, the hiring company has exhausted the interview process and has gone out of its way to pick YOU. This is the point where you hold the most leverage, so use it!
You’ll get offered an initial salary figure, and now it’s your turn to tell them you want more. Go ahead and ask for 15% more than what you’re being offered. Nine times out of ten, they’ll come back with at least 7% more.
The reason you want to negotiate coming in is obvious. But the long-term implications are worth your attention. If you start low, your percentage raises will be lower in real dollars. E.g., Say you make 80K and get a whopping 2% raise, you’ll be taking home $1,600 more per year (before taxes of course.)
If you negotiated your way to 90K, that 2% raise earns you $1,800. Making an extra two hundred bucks is better than a stick in your eye. But look at what happens after ten years on the job:
How to Survive a Job You Hate and Make More Money
Those 10% raises, and even 5’ers look pretty good in the exhibit above, don’t they? The way you get bigger raises comes down to three factors: Company Financial Health, Your Performance, and Your Boss’s Awareness that you want to be paid more.
It’s very important to start with a solid foundation. If you’re at a company in a struggling industry, or the company itself is circling the bowl, forget raises. You might want to pry yourself out of there before you get unceremoniously dumped.
Sectors are performing quite well that are worth looking into, and healthcare almost always is a sure bet. Understanding your sector of employment is key. The retail sector, for example, is in a constant struggle to maintain margins and beat out the competition, including the online giants like Amazon.com.
Multinationals can be lucrative (e.g., large firms that pilfer natural resources to produce some value-added products like fuel or food or other manufactured goods.) Banking is typically solid as well. Look no further than the Wall Street bonuses paid-out to hedge fund managers and big bank execs.
Once you’ve landed in a healthy company in a healthy sector, you can focus on delivering results. Job performance is the second key ingredient and you need to polish those turds like no other.
My mantra is to deliver on the objective no matter what. But in doing so, taking care not to piss anyone off in the process. If you do, make sure you use those “bullets” sparingly. There are future projects with many the same people and you don’t get to choose your cohorts (in most cases.)
Wondering how to make more money at your job? Be the following:
- a good communicator. You pick up the phone when there’s a disagreement on something. Long email chains annoy the hell out of managers. Be empathetic and be a good LISTENER. Don’t try to impress with name dropping and buzz words. That’s equally annoying as hell.
- presentable. Show up looking like you give a rat’s ass. If everyone else is dressed up nice, then you need to as well. Show up. And show up in clothes that fit, in shoes that are polished, and socks that match.
- willing to go the extra mile. Occasionally, if not often, put in extra hours, even a few weekend hours WHEN NECESSARY. DO NOT stick around for face-time to impress your managers. We want you to have a work-life balance, and we know when the fires are burning and projects need the extra support. Don’t be slinging worthless emails at 10 PM to make a statement when no deadlines are imminent.
- open to change. The worst thing you can do is put up resistance when a new process or other new change is foisted upon you or your team. Suck it up. Deal with it internally. But don’t openly gripe, bitch and moan about it. Your attitude is the single most important factor in whether your leaders like you or not. Mess that up by being a pessimistic, Negative Nancy, and you might as well kiss any raises or promotions good-bye.
Finally, Show Me the Money!
You’ll never know if you never ask. Ever heard that one before? Well, it’s true. I finally got wise to this halfway into my current gig, maybe a half-dozen years ago. If you know you’ve been performing well, and you’re low in your pay-band, why not have a little chat with your boss?
As a manager, I appreciate it when my direct reports bring this topic to my attention. I can’t snap my fingers and makeup raises on the spot, but come review time, if they’ve hit their targets, I’ll look at equity across the team and guess what?
If you put it in my mind that your salary is a priority, I will consciously look to bump your raise. Sometimes it may not be more than a percent or two, but every bit counts.
I have gone out of my way to let each of my last three managers know that I expected to be paid more. I made sure to perform up to and exceeding expectations. Come review time, boom, good raises followed. Had I not asked or respectfully asked for more, I doubt I’d have gotten as much.
All I did was share at least once during the year my concern about my pay. That kind of thing sticks in a manager’s head come review time.
Overcome a Failing Career By Becoming a Home Run Hitter
This concept is all about finding the right work assignments within your company. You want to be attached to the bigger, more important projects, if at all possible.
I’ve been pretty fortunate throughout my most recent stint to have been attached to some highly visible projects. There are trade-offs of course. Those extra hours and weekends can be taxing, especially if you’ve just started a family. Heck, that very scenario is why I began pursuing early retirement.
Nevertheless, if you want the big bucks, you have to put your neck on the line, so to speak. Resilience is important to see the job through. Get that project “across the line” and your managers and customers will take notice.
If you are okay with small projects and delivering well as a singles hitter, there’s nothing wrong with that. But the pay and rewards will reflect the level of intensity and visibility of the assignment.
Conclusion: How to Survive a Job You Hate? Jump Ship!
The environment today is pretty good for finding a decent paying job. Innovation is on (almost) everyone’s mind in the corporate boardroom. Many of the few smart execs have been reading up on Elon Musk and looking to implement their lean way of delivering innovative solutions.
Which leads me to the final tip: If all else fails, and you are simply not getting what you need, jump ship. Switching companies is often the single most effective way to boost your pay. But be careful – too much movement can backfire in the long-term. Recent studies have shown that tenure is often a better indicator of high compensation.
And finally, the corporate / business tax cut recently passed in Washington is substantial and should drive better pay and bonuses. It’s not a guarantee, but your odds of finding healthier companies willing and able to pay more have just improved a notch.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. What tips or tricks have you used to make more money from your cubicle gig?