How I landed a 40% increase in salary

There’s a job shortage now. Some of my friends have got retrenched and been unemployed for more than 6 months. Yet, I’m moving jobs to an entirely different field doing something I’ve never done before with a 40% increase in salary. How did I do it? And how can you do the same thing in your field?

There’s a 3 step process I like to follow:

First of all, kick ass at your current job

Everyone, especially in Asia seems to think that putting in the “hours” by coming extra early and staying really late while taking like 5 tea breaks in a day is the way to get promoted. For a lot of people, promotions seem to be a mystery. The popular myth is that you need to come earlier and leave later than your boss. I have no idea where this came from. There seem to be always people working longer hours than me.

If you want a raise or a promotion pay attention:

  1. Find out what is important to your boss and focus on delivering those priorities.
  2. Be pro-active in asking for reviews to ensure you’re on the right track to delivering those priorities
  3. Look at ways to improve on current ways of delivering on those priorities, grab his attention

Bottom line, getting promoted is like marketing, you gotta improve the mindshare of your brand in your boss’s head. Maybe that’s why they call it a promotion?

For me, I scheduled a fortnightly 15 min update with my boss to show what I’ve done and suggested improvements on what the department could be doing better. For improvements which I could implement, I did and showed how it helped our department achieve our goals. One of the key things I introduced was an automated reporting system that consolidated numbers from several different sources and piped them all into a single dashboard. Hand-crafting those reports used to take 2 days. I shortened it to zero. This placed me front and centre with my boss.

Second, network with a purpose

Before you even start networking, take the time to seriously plot out what companies you want to work for and what positions you want.

Put yourself in a busy person’s shoes, you got 100 things on your mind but you’re giving this guy a chance at this coffee meeting. So the busy person is thinking, this guy seems to be a competent individual and you’re willing to introduce him to the right people. But he doesn’t seem to know what he wants in a job and I don’t have time to figure it out. So I’ll just brush him off for now.

You need to find out what jobs you want first before going out there. Don’t make the other person do your work for you. Once you’ve figured out what you want and which company you want to work for, then start looking for people working at those jobs.

I scheduled 2 to 3 coffee meetings every week for 3 months before I decided on the job I wanted. Not all of these meetings resulted in a job opportunity or interview obviously. Think of it like a funnel, not every meeting you go to will have a result. It’s all about the numbers. Don’t be discouraged by rejections. The only reason I got this new job in which I have absolutely no experience in and landed a 40% increase in salary, was because someone gave me a stellar recommendation.

Third, interview like a pro

I have no qualms about turning down an opportunity if I feel at any point during the interview process that it’s not the right one for me. The whole point of kicking ass at your current job is so that you can go into every interview knowing you’re indispensable, that you will only move for the absolute best opportunity. Trust me, this does wonders for your negotiating power and confidence.

Try going into an interview thinking you’re just another cog in the machine and tell me how that goes.

Show, don’t tell. Too many people go to interviews armed with nothing but themselves. Brave, but ultimately, I believe only 10% of what you’re saying.

I like to go to interviews with a series of materials that demonstrate why I’m the best for this position. Not something crass like testimonials, but actual concrete examples of your work. Have you seen an artist interview for a job? They always bring along examples of their work in a portfolio.  You can do the same thing whatever profession you’re in.

For every interview I go to, I spend the time to list out a potential list of problems they are trying to solve by hiring this position. Then I think of the appropriate materials to SHOW how I solved those problems before. This will probably include articles and code I’ve written along with metrics on how successful my solutions have been. People hire to solve a problem that they are having. It’s for you to figure what that is.

Bonus tip: Never reveal your salary until salary negotiations are due to start, be prepared to say no to the whole affair if they are insistent on knowing your salary before the final interview. The only reason people want to know your “salary range” is so they can low-ball you on the offer.

Stay tuned for the next update featuring how I negotiated my salary by joining my mailing list below.

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