How to Make More Money at Work: Negotiate a Raise, Vacation, Overtime, and Promotions

May is make more money month at Women’s Money. The first post in the series, Decide How You’ll Make More Money, is a must read before this post.

About This Week’s Action

If you completed the analysis of your current income as part of last week’s post, you most likely found that most (or possibly all) of your income comes from your current job. Based on the premise that when you have success in an area, you should do more of that, this week’s action is to make more money at your current job (before you go looking to make money on the side).

Why Make More Money at Your Work

It’s The Fastest Way to Earn More
If you currently have no other streams of income, you’ll find that the quickest way to earn more money is to make more by doing what you’re currently doing. It will take you a few weeks, if not months, to start earning more money any other way.

It Works
You already have an “in” with your current place of employment, so instead of working towards something new, work on what’s already working. I know from experience that figuring out how to earn more at your current job works – because the company knows you and trusts you.

How Long Does This Action Take?

Spending the time investigating how to earn more at your current job (be it through negotiating a raise, vacation, overtime, a promotion, or more) will take about a 1.5 hours. How long it actually takes to achieve that raise or promotion will vary.

How to Make More Money at Work

1. Investigate the Possibilities

The exact steps that you’ll need to take to earn more at your current job will depend on the place you work, your employment contract, your job duties, and more. But here are the most common ways to earn more at work:

  1. Negotiate a Raise
  2. Negotiate a Promotion
  3. Get More Overtime Work
  4. Earn a Bonus
  5. Negotiate More Vacation

You might read this list and think, “I can’t do that, my company doesn’t offer it.” Even if your office only employs 20 people, chances are that you can get any of the above. You just have to know to ask.

Really not convinced that these are available at your workplace? Here are a few places to check: (But remember, even if you can’t find anything about these, your co-workers are getting these things.)

  • Read Your Employee Handbook: Employee handbooks are a goldmine of information. If you’ve let yours collect dust or have worked at the company for awhile, ask for the most recent copy. It may contain anything from overtime policies to payscales to exact criteria you need to get a promotion.
  • Read Any HR Documents Accessible to You: If your company has an intranet site, browse through the human resources documents that are available to you. Sometimes these are just about explaining your options for health care, but there might be some helpful information.
  • Ask Around: In the breakroom at lunch ask “Has anyone here worked overtime before?” No one will tell you about their own situation, but they’ll happily gossip about someone else’s.

You will be shocked to learn about an inner system that you probably didn’t think existed. There are bonuses you’ll find weren’t publicized, people getting vacation beyond what “the handbook says,” and promotions happening that weren’t announced.

2. Figure Out What’s Right for You

If you have several options available to you, determine the order of priority of the options. You don’t ever want to go into a situation with only one option — “I want a $10,000 raise.” Instead, you want something in your back pocket — “If a raise isn’t doable for the company right now, can I get an extra 7 days of vacation this year?”

Think also about what you want for your future – perhaps a promotion makes more sense than a raise right now. Or maybe just a few hours of overtime a week would help pay extra bills.

3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

To successfully earn more money at your current job, you need to do A TON of preparation. You need to figure out what you’re asking for, determine how to ask for it, prepare supporting documents, and practice making the ask. Instead of providing detailed instructions, I’ve linked to my favorite resources for each of these below:

General Negotiation (for Vacation, Overtime, and Bonuses)

Apply tips in these posts to all of your negotiations.

How to Negotiate a Raise at Your Job

How to Negotiate More Vacation

How to Earn Overtime

Department of Labor Information about Overtime: These pages don’t tell you how to negotiate overtime, but it provides the law you need to know to check if you’re entitled to overtime.

How to Negotiate a Promotion

  • The Guardian: The Secret to Getting a Promotion This article has some great insights: “Look, you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t ask. According to Gill, men spend 20% of their work time plotting strategies for achieving the next rung, whereas women keep their heads down and do the job to hand.”
  • The Psyche Guides: How to Get Promoted as a Woman. This is one of the best guides out there for women – tips include: “talk about your potential” and “focus on work that adds value.”

Once you’ve read these posts take the time to implement their strategies. Make a personal plan for getting your raise, vacation, or promotion.

No matter what your goal you must take the time to research, prepare supporting material, and practice. Then practice your ask again with a friend or love one pretending to be your boss.

4. Go For It

When you’ve done all the preparation you can do, it’s time to make the ask. Set up a time with your boss – and let us know how it all turned out!

Start Making More Money at Work

Negotiating with your workplace for more of anything usually takes several weeks. And in the comments tell us: Would you rather have a raise, more vacation, more overtime, a promotion, or a bonus? Which do you plan on asking for?

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