It was big news when the U.S. average hourly wage posted the biggest increase in years in October 2015. News reports proclaimed that Americans were getting a raise — finally. The amount of that raise was just 2.5 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That increase reflected the growth in hourly earnings over the period of a year, from October 2014 to October 2015. However, since that 2.5 percent increase is an average, some workers have likely seen their wages grow at a faster rate, whereas some might not have seen any improvement lately.
Rather than wait for your wages to grow on their own, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. If you need more cash in 2016, there are plenty of ways to make more money.
ASK FOR A RAISE TO GET ONE
Nearly 60 percent of workers have never negotiated for a higher salary, according to a survey by PayScale, a compensation data and software firm. However, the survey also found that the higher your salary, the more likely you are to have asked for a raise and to have received it. So if you’re not asking for more, chances are you might not get more.
The key to asking for what you want is preparation. Start by creating a list of your work accomplishments over the past year and your goals for the next several years, said Harrine Freeman, CEO and owner of financial consulting service H.E. Freeman Enterprises. Focus, in particular, on how your achievements have helped and will continue to help the company reach its goals and improve its bottom line. Give the list to your supervisor, then schedule a meeting to discuss it and your salary, Freeman said.
Also prepare yourself before asking for a raise by knowing what you’re worth. Websites such as PayScale.com and Salary.com can help you see what others in similar positions are earning. However, you shouldn’t state a number when negotiating for higher pay, according to PayScale. Wait for the employer to suggest an amount, then ask for a little more, because the employer likely won’t offer the upper bound of what they’re authorized to pay.
CHANGE JOBS TO BOOST YOUR PAY
You might be able to get a bigger pay raise by leaving your company for another one that will pay you more. Employees who stick with the same company for more than two years earn 50 percent less, on average, over their lifetime, according to Forbes. That’s because the average pay raise is 3 percent, but the average salary increase employees get when switching jobs is between 10 percent and 20 percent.
You can use websites such as Hired.com, Monster.com or CareerBuilder.com to find positions, then cater your resume to each position, said Freeman. You can tap the network of people you know for job leads. You can also take steps to increase your network by joining organizations related to your field of interest, attending conferences and career events, as well as doing volunteer work.
PURSUE YOUR PASSION AS A SIDE BUSINESS
You might not like the idea of taking on a second job to earn more by working even longer hours. However, if you build a side business doing something you care about, you’ll likely have more motivation to put in the extra hours, said Tom Corley, author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”
For example, Corley said that the Wright brothers ran a bicycle business full time, but on the side they were conducting their famous experiments that eventually led to the invention of the airplane. “When you do what you love, you are somehow able to find the energy and the time to devote to your passion,” said Corley.