Get creative when looking for ways to grow your paycheck

By | August 18, 2019

When Kim Roberts (name changed for professional reasons) began working for a hospitality group in Tribeca eight years ago, she realized she would need to think up a way to increase he income. Her salary growth trajectory, per industry standards, was limited in its upward trend, and asking for a raise was not an option.

So, having shown her value to the organization during her first few months, Roberts negotiated the health-insurance costs with her boss. Her employer’s policy initially paid half of her total premium, so she struck a deal to increase their portion of the costs. This resulted in an increase of $ 150 in each paycheck.

“I said, ‘I understand this is my total gross salary. My rent is this amount, and I need to bring in more money,’ ” says Roberts.

After a few years, she spoke to her boss again with the mindset: “I’m a rock star. What can we do to raise my pay?”

‘Although it is important to satisfy your financial needs, it is equally important to optimize your time.’

Roberts, who was pregnant at the time, told her boss: “ ‘I’m going to be gone for three months. How should I handle it?’ ”

He told her to enjoy her maternity leave with her newborn — and kept her on full-time payroll for three months. “That was one-fourth of my annual salary!” she says. “I was thrilled.”

Despite a labor shortage and low unemployment rate of 3.7 percent as of June, wage increases aren’t in sync with the sizzling demand for qualified workers. According to the World at Work 2019-2020 Salary Budget Survey released in July, budgets are projected to rise by an average of only 3.3 percent in 2020. So, to increase the Benjamins without landing an external job offer, you’ll need to get your New York hustle on.

Elisee Joseph, part-time faculty member at Columbia University and Queens College, says that “many adjunct professors do not get paid much,” often less than $ 25,000 a year in New York City.

“The pay is non-negotiable at Columbia,” he says. “I receive whatever they pay in the pay band per course.”

So, last December, along with his mother, he launched Meditech Examining Services, a paramedical company, and receives compensation as a medical technician and as a consultant conducting research projects. While earning extra cash, he simultaneously gains full autonomy over his work schedule to continue his teaching work.

“Although it is important to satisfy your financial needs, it is equally important to optimize your time,” says Joseph.

Beverly Friedmann of Park Slope landed a paying side gig courtesy of leads from an unexpected source: her boss. The content manager and copywriter for product review site ReviewingThis expressed interest in earning extra money freelancing for the site. Although that didn’t pan out, her boss introduced her to colleagues and potential clients from other sites. “I communicated interest,” she says. “He sensed I needed a higher salary and found other opportunities and contacts.”

She’s now working at both ReviewingThis and MyFoodSubscriptions.com, a site reviewing meal kits, boosting her pay by 40 percent.

That bump is what experts say can result from simply initiating a discussion. Jason Guggisberg, vice president at Adecco USA, provider of recruitment and staffing services in Hell’s Kitchen, says that “even though it’s the most uncomfortable thing to do, to sit across from a superior and have a conversation around compensation, it’s important.”

He suggests speaking during a mid-year or year-end review or after a life change.

“Schedule time outside the office to have a coffee on an even playing ground,” he says. He also advises avoiding a busy season when things are hectic and stressful. Instead, schedule a meeting on the calendar (or video call if long distance) and prepare ahead of time.

Bring evidence to show your worth such as accolades from clients and accomplishments. Also, decide what you want.

“Don’t just ask for something and not need or want it,” says Guggisberg. “Make sure you really want it, because it might not be an easy negotiation. Go after something that might be of value.”

Before the meeting, practice with friends or family. Write things down, bullet-point it and talk about why you deserve more money. Begin the conversation by saying you like working for the company and you want to see yourself there long term.

Guggisberg suggests lines such as: Here’s fact-based evidence of things I’ve been doing that align with corporate goals. I’d like to see if I can get x. “This can mean working from home an additional day a week to save on child care,” he says. “Or ask your company to pay child care directly, so it’s tax-free, or get free lunch daily. Be creative, because not everyone can offer unlimited paid time off or more money from a salary perspective.”

Considering companies want to see a return on their investment, continuing education is another perk you might ask for.

Macia Batista, manager of outcomes partnerships and career coaching at General Assembly in the Flatiron district, says her firm has a formula to help students advocate for tuition reimbursement.

“Develop a specific narrative around what you’re doing now and what the employer can expect once their course is completed,” she says. “The next step is determining a clear way to showcase a return on investment.”

Demonstrating value is key, but if the employer still rejects your ask, inquire further.

“Don’t give up on the first no,” says Guggisberg. “Ask: ‘Do you think, in the future, we might be able to get to this if I’m able to do x?’ Let the employer give it back to you. The last thing your employer wants you to do is leave.”

Once they commit, loyalty can move mountains.

“I’m a lifer,” says Roberts. “I’m very lucky to be in a job that I love, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. The worst they can do is say no. Nobody else is going to advocate for you. You’ve got to be your No. 1 supporter.”

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