How To Earn More Money (Without Negotiating Salary)

Man at a desk smiles while reading a letter.
•••

fizkes / Getty Images

 Everyone should negotiate salary. The research is clear: those who ask for more money are likely to get it, and those who don’t ask may lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their career.

But even if you know that you deserve to earn more money, you may feel reluctant to ask for it. That’s normal—in one Payscale survey, 28% of respondents who had never asked for higher pay said they’d held off because they were uncomfortable negotiating salary.

The good news is that salary negotiation is only one option for boosting your pay. Learn more about some others.

Get a New Job  

Changing jobs can be lucrative. Data from payroll processor ADP shows that job changers experienced a 6.6% wage increase year-over-year for the third quarter of 2021. Workers who stayed at the same job, however, had their pay rise by 4.8% year-over-year.

The type of employer also matters. Job changers who moved on to large firms (1,000+ employees) increased their pay by 7.5% year-over-year, according to ADP.

The best time to negotiate salary is when you start a new job. Most hiring managers expect new hires to counteroffer and budget accordingly. So, if you do change jobs to earn more money, consider negotiating your offer.

Transfer to Another Department

Love your employer but want more money? Ask about a transfer to a different department at the company. Look for signs that other teams at the organization have more room for growth—for example, people getting promoted, landing bonuses, or moving on to more lucrative jobs and employers when they do decide to leave the company.

Learn Hot Skills

Picking up in-demand skills can help you get a promotion, land a higher-paying job, or earn more money without changing a thing. The last option depends on your company placing a premium on a certain skill set—and recognizing the value of those skills in their compensation planning process. Be sure to ask your manager what skills are most valuable for your role.

O*NET OnLine keeps a running list of hot skills that turn up frequently in job postings.

Take Your Transferable Skills to a New Job

Do you feel like you’re at a professional dead end? You may be working in a career field that doesn’t have much room for growth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) publishes research on job growth in its Occupational Outlook Handbook. You can see its projections for your job by searching for your job title.

Transferable skills can be either hard skills (job-specific knowledge like coding languages) or soft skills (people skills like listening, communication, or emotional intelligence). These abilities can increase your hireability in more than one job role or industry.

For example, let’s say that your work experience is in hospitality or food service, but you want to move into sales. You can use your customer service skills and experience to impress hiring managers in your new field.

If your occupation does seem to be losing steam, don’t despair. Chances are that you can take many of the skills you’ve learned and apply them in a new field with a better outlook.

Look for Jobs at Pay-Transparent Companies

Have you ever been told to keep your salary a secret from your co-workers? If the person advising you to keep mum was your boss or another representative of the company, bad news for them: Their advice was probably illegal. Most of the time, your right to discuss your salary with your colleagues is protected under the National Labor Relations Act. This means that you can discuss how much you make without fear of repercussions (as far as the law is concerned).

There are good reasons why this right is protected. Increased salary transparency makes it harder for organizations to pay employees unfairly. Over time, being open about salary can help close the gender pay gap and resolve pay inequity, especially for BIPOC employees.

Of course, knowing you have the right to discuss your pay isn’t the same thing as feeling comfortable talking about salary at the lunch table. So, if pay transparency is important to you, look for an organization that shares your values.

In recent years, a few companies have adopted pay transparency, including Buffer, Whole Foods, and Starbucks. This means different things at different organizations—some, like Buffer, publish the exact dollar amount for every salary earned. Others provide salary ranges for each job title and insights into how employees can earn more.

But any amount of pay-scale information is better than what you’re likely to get at most employers, where salary is typically a black box. So, if you’re looking for work and you want to know exactly how your pay stacks up, look for pay-transparent employers.

Key Takeaways

  • If you ask for more money, the chances are good that you’ll get it.
  • You may be able to stay with your current employer and transfer to a higher-paying job.
  • When you’re working in an occupation with a poor job outlook, consider using your transferable skills to move to a better-paying field.