I Tripled My Salary In 4 Years In the Most Millennial Way Possible

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Karen Schneider, PMP®, PMI-ACP®, CSM®27
Experienced Project/Program Manager
April 23, 2024 at 12:47AM UTC
Experts say that visualizing your success can reap many benefits, including actually achieving your goals and dreams.
I bet you filled your 2017 vision board, millennials, with goals you are hoping to keep — and maybe even surpass. Call this a long shot, but I'm guessing "make more money" might be on that list, whether you're working towards a promotion, starting a new side hustle, seeking a better job, or even just blindly hoping to figure out the details along the way. 

So what can you do to help add to your bottom line? Ask yourself — right now, are you earning what you're worth or what you want to be earning?  Remember, even if making more money wasn't on your list, a bump in salary can only help you accomplish your other goals and resolutions. 
Here are the steps I took that have resulted in me tripling my salary over the past four years:

1. I switched jobs.

According to Fast Company, you should be changing jobs at least every three years because "workers who stay with a company longer than two years are said to get paid 50% less."
Can you afford to get paid 50% less than what you should be earning? As a woman already fighting for my right to equal pay, I sure can't.
Of course, had this advice been given even two decades ago, it would've seemed crazy. Historically speaking, hopping around between companies was certainly seen as a huge no-no, and something you would've been warned against doing. However, millennials aren't satisfied with spending years in a job that doesn't help to build skills, advance our careers, or help us to earn a higher salary (or at least, one we deserve and could be earning elsewhere). I don’t suggest throwing caution to the wind and jumping ship every few months, but plan carefully and make good long-term career decisions. After all, this is your future and your livelihood. The negative stigma previously associated with job-hopping is quickly becoming a thing of the past, thanks in part to a younger and more risk-taking workforce, and those who switch jobs responsibly are actually likely to be labeled as more successful than those that don't.

2. I switched industries.

Not to be Captain Obvious, but different industries — just like different companies and job titles — have different pay scales. As my moves were unplanned, I cannot claim I carefully calculated decisions to switch industries, but the industries I switched into tended to have a higher salary for the position(s) I landed. Again, switching industries isn't something that so easily done not all too long ago, but for better or worse, millennials have seemingly endless options to exhaust. And we'd prefer to exhaust them in a financially lucrative way.
If you want to maximize your paycheck, check out the fastest-growing jobs and industries for 2017 here.

3. I leveraged my network.

Here's the part of the list that's less millennial-specific — not to say that non-millennials can't frequently change jobs and industries, but it isn't as lauded generationally.
It’s no secret that many people — including myself — dread networking events. Between my full-time job, side hustle, being a single mom and various classes I take to continue learning, I already have plenty going on (never mind trying to keep the semblance of a social life sprinkled in there). Sometimes, a girl just wants to Netflix and chill to catch up on her latest guilty pleasure. Well, Netflix can (and will) wait. Do you feel comfortable saying that about your career?
Yeah, didn’t think so.
According to Lou Adler, CEO, best-selling author and LinkedIn Influencer, roughly 85% of all jobs are filled via networking. Many open positions are never even posted or promoted, making it that much more difficult to land that coveted spot at your dream company.
Each time I switched jobs, I was fortunate to have been approached either by former colleagues or contacts I made from networking — all when I was not actively looking or even thinking about taking on a new role.
The ROI from networking can help land you your dream job — isn’t that worth your time and effort? 

4. I did my research and utilized my negotiation skills.

Each career move for me resulted in a sizable bump up in pay (and responsibilities, make no mistake). I had to showcase my knowledge and experience, proving to my would-be employer that adding me to their team solved their business pain. I did my research on the company and the position, then prepared to discuss salary upon receiving an offer. 
Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool helped show up prepared. I researched salary, benefits and industry standards to know where I stacked up — and where I had room to negotiate.
After you determine your market value, be sure to brush up on your negotiation skills/tactics to maximize how much this can work to your benefit.  
The most important pieces of advice I can offer to successfully negotiate the salary you deserve?
Try to avoid directly answering the question "what are you earning now/at your previous job?" Instead, redirect with "In my job search, I am currently seeking a salary in the range of $90-100k."
What you are currently earning or were earning two years ago is of no consequence to what you should/could be earning for a job for which you are qualified — and that they want to hire you for! This is simply part of the negotiating process that you must carefully navigate to achieve the desired results.
You cannot place a limit on your value, and you should not allow a recruiter or hiring manager to do so for you.
Now get to work, ladies, because it’s time for the kickass #girlboss within you to go out and get exactly what you’re worth.
A version of this article originally appeared on CareerContessa.com

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Karen Schneider works for bareMinerals in Global Packaging + Creative Services and has worked in a variety of industries over the span of her career, including digital media, fashion & apparel, and wine & spirits. She is currently a contributor to The Muse and Career Contessa and has been featured on Business Insider and Harvard Business Review for her career advice. She's obsessed with learning, life, and career/self-improvement. 

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