I Quadrupled My Salary in 6 Months

In honor of #BlackWomensEqualPayDay, let’s talk salaries!

Is it just me or do you wonder how much money other people make? Miss me with the “I run my own race and how much the next person makes is none of my business” and other unbothered Instagram memes. Dammit, I’m curious. Am I being shorted? Maybe I need to change careers if resume writers are making THAT much. Omg, my cube mate makes how much more than me?!

Most people don’t talk actual numbers when it comes to salary, so we will continue to use www.glassdoor.com and other sites to gauge averages. At a point in my career about four years ago, I decided to take matters into my own hands and not double or triple, but quadruple my salary….and you can to! (Well that sounds nice so I didn’t want to delete it. HOWEVER, quadrupling my salary wasn’t my intent, hell, I didn’t even know that was a ‘thing’. I just wanted to make more money.) Anyway, here are the 3 steps that I took:

1. Become an expert in your field. 

In your current role, learn as much as you can! Ask for stretch assignments, earn certifications, volunteer, find shadowing opportunities, seek a mentor…you get it. Use this experience to become a consultant (or contractor). Register with staffing agencies to find short term contract roles across different industries. The key here is to diversify your portfolio. As a consultant/contractor, I’ve had the opportunity to work as a Learning & Development Consultant in financial services, corporate retail, mortgage and manufacturing. The diversity in my experiences allows me to negotiate higher rates as I bring a global perspective to each role. As an example, I’ve recommended a learning approach to a bank that I used in corporate retail. Most industries work in silos so having a broad range of experience will increase your value to the organization….and increase your paycheck!

If you are not in a position to leave a full time role for the (sometimes) unstable journey as a contractor, no worries! You can gain valuable experience by working in different departments or companies. If you are a project manager, think of the value you will add if you have managed projects in the supply chain, consumer lending and health care fields. If you are a loan processor, you will be able to command a higher salary if you have worked with both consumer and commercial loans for both global organizations and smaller companies…it’s the same principle…DIVERSIFY YOUR PORTFOLIO. 

2. Build a Portfolio.

You don’t have to be a photographer or graphic designer to create a portfolio. To set myself apart during the selection process, I’ve always provided a portfolio of my work. To gain experience, I facilitated training for non-profit organizations, developed professional development workshops for employee resource groups and created content for stretch assignments. I add those templates to my portfolio as well as videos of presentations, webinars and workshops that I’ve facilitated. Give yourself a leg up when negotiating your compensation by positioning yourself to not only say “I can do XYZ for your company/team” but to say “Here are examples of my work, let’s talk about how I can improve/increase XYZ for your company/team”. (Don’t worry, I’ll share major keys for negotiating in an upcoming blog post.)

3. Keep the Past in the Past.

Recruiters have asked me to provide my current or most recent past salary. Clutches fake pearls.  “Absolutely not, that’s none of your business, ma’am or sir” is what I say in my head. Instead, I provide my salary requirements for the current role and ask if those numbers align with what is being offered. Think about it…if the current $75k on the table, does it matter if you made $5k or $150k in your last role? Absolutely. If you made $5k, the company will most likely offer you less of the $75k than they would a person who made more. I don’t allow companies to ‘judge’ me based on my previous salaries, especially back when I didn’t negotiate. I leverage my experience (refer to #1) and work (refer to #2) to determine my future compensation, not my past salaries! 

Within six months of deciding that I wanted to increase my salary, I was able to secure a contract role that paid four times the salary of the full time role that I left…and I haven’t looked back since! 

Let’s talk! Which of these three tips do you need the most work on? Leave a comment below…(I may have templates to help you…)