Everyone wants a bigger paycheck, but few people actually ask for it. Seventy-one percent of people didn’t negotiate their salary at their last or most-current job, according to a report by recruiting firm Jobvite.
But Marcus Garrett, an auditor, author, and co-host of the money podcast Paychecks and Balances, has managed to crack the code. Over the course of 10 years, he increased his salary by a whopping 400%— by negotiating, investing in his career, and making smart job moves.
“This doesn’t come in one raise or one job—this is over the span of 10 years of making informed decisions,” Garrett says.
Garrett started his career asking only for the bare minimum, but started asking for more with each job opportunity that came his way. After five job changes, some within a company he was already working at, he increased his salary from around $19,600 to $90,000 in ten years.
“It’s something you should make a priority; you should be paid what you feel you are owed,” Garrett says.
Here are his four tips for raising your salary throughout your career.
TIP 1: Always negotiate
Garrett says he missed out on making more money from the very beginning of his career because he didn’t negotiate.
“I took the first job that hired me. I graduated school at 22, but the first time I negotiated my salary was actually at 27,” he says. “That’s a five-year period where I’ve lost out on salary negotiations and I feel like most people go their entire career in doing so.”
Garrett says you need to know your worth because companies may not always share their offer first.
“This was a conversation that happened at one of my jobs: it wasn’t, ‘here’s an offer we’re going to make you.’ It was, ‘how much do you want,’” he says. “That’s a number you need to have and be well-informed about.”
Check websites like PayScale or Glassdoor to determine the average salaries within your field, or ask your colleagues or mentors. Having that information is key to asking—and getting—the amount you want.
TIP 2: Come prepared
Garrett says you’re the one in control of your negotiation: so come prepared and know your worth.
“Remember that you’re in the driver’s seat,” he says. “These are the conversations where you have to take charge of your career.”
Aside from having a number in mind, bring documentation and examples of your work that prove you can be an asset to the company, or if you’re already working there, why you deserve a raise, he says.
TIP 3: Invest in yourself
Garrett says you can’t wait for opportunities and salary bumps to come to you. Things like graduate school and career certifications can help improve your experience and move you ahead.
Talk to your boss or mentor about opportunities to learn or advance your career.
“I had a mentor that told me about a number of certifications that would guarantee my career success in this field, and I wasn’t thinking about them, I didn’t even really know they existed,” Garrett says.
These opportunities can help move your career forward and keep it from stagnating, he says.
TIP 4: Chase money (if you want it)
Garrett says many people feel money and salary is a taboo topic and avoid asking for more because it makes them uncomfortable. But if you want to make more money, swap your guilt for acceptance.
“I tell folks that if money is important to you, make peace with that part and then go after it,” Garrett says. “If you’re entitled to it if you earned it, you should be paid what you’re owed.”