In Career, Money

How I got a $13,000 raise each year

In my experience, most salary raises are a $2000 or less a year, if that!

No one really gets any more unless you are saddled with more responsibilities by moving up a level, or after years of hounding them.

I was an employee once..  a long time ago.

I started in my career at $65,000 a year at one job, and 5 years later, I was offered $130,000 to do the same job with more experience.

That’s a doubled salary of $65,000 in 5 years, or $13,000 a year.

HOW DID I DO IT?

The open secret is as an employee, you have to switch companies to make more money.

Start somewhere.

Leave for another company.

Come back to the company (or go to another one entirely).

Leave for another company.


….Wash, Rinse and Repeat.

Why?

Whenever you start at a new company, you will always be offered more money than what you are making, it’s just a question of how much more money at that point!

Your goal when you leave and come back to different companies (or not), is to make the most of it by negotiating the HIGHEST base salary you can snag when you join the company.

Companies tend to value outsiders more than their own employees.

Unless employees can prove that they (as in, their SKILLS) are in demand and able to leave, companies won’t really see their value.

This is not always true, but it’s a safe assumption to make.

woman-golddigger-money-cash-bills-rich

WHAT IF I DIDN’T LEAVE AT ALL?

If I had stayed at a company, I could have reasonably expected a 2% raise each year or $1300/year. In some years, I probably wouldn’t get a raise at all!

So with that in mind, 5 years later, if I had stayed at my old job, I would have been at around $70,358 for my base salary.

Instead, I doubled my salary just by leaving and joining another company 5 years later.

I understand that my industry is unusual in the sense that most companies wouldn’t double your salary with 5 years of experience, but I also made sure of the following:

  • I worked really hard to make myself marketable
  • I went on amazing projects and proved I was a leader
  • I never once let my CV get old and dusty
  • I constantly updated my skills at every chance I got
  • I kept in touch with people I knew to learn about opportunities

BUT HOW DO YOU JUST LEAVE A COMPANY?

I’ve always told myself:

If you can’t leave a company and join another one for a similar job or at the equal amount of pay, you’re not valued by the market.

Therefore you you weren’t meant for that job to begin with (as in, you got lucky).

As a result, keeping up on the industry changes to understand what is coming up, is just making sure that my long-term career plans will veer into the right direction so I can make the most of it.

Otherwise, you just leave.

If you are valued, you will be snapped up in no time.

If you think that is too harsh, I suggest reading this post to give yourself a reality check.

If you feel like you can’t leave because you aren’t marketable, then do your research and make yourself marketable.

  1. What do companies want?
  2. What are companies paying for?
  3. What is the future of this job/role/industry?

Target what you’re interested in, and what makes the most money.

THERE WILL NEVER BE A GOOD TIME TO QUIT

Quitting is not a stress-free endeavour, especially if you have debt (like I did), or if you don’t have anything lined up before quitting (like I did).

So I suggest that you get something lined up before quitting.


Otherwise, you better have a healthy emergency fund!


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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3 Comments

  1. J
    J.Joy

    Hi Sherry,

    I usually look through your website for inspiration, and I was wondering if you have any words that can be directed at me. I recently got terminated at a call-center job–in my write-up, the corporation told me that I was losing them money because I was giving out too many good will adjustments for customers. I think that although that’s a great learning experience for me to stop being a push over and feeling sorry for other people, I’m pretty upset that I lost a job and that the ax came down so abruptly. I’m actually an electrical engineer and am finishing up my degree this semester. How can I make myself more marketable for engineering firms? I have never had a previous engineering job (just random call-center jobs) but I’ve worked as a researcher for my professor and have some coding skills, as well as reputable academic publications.
    Would going to engineering firms in person be a good idea (vs. sending a resume via the website) or would that be considered a nuisance? Should I ask for skills-based volunteering opportunities?

    Reply
    1. save. spend. splurge.

      Hi! I have not forgotten you. I am formulating a post with answers from various folks on this 🙂

      Reply
  2. SarahN

    I think your first paragraph said: most salaries are a $2000 or less a year but you meant to include the word RAISES!

    Sadly I’m in a regulated industry, so salary raises are all very transparent. I have more money than I know what to do with, honestly.

    Reply

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