How to earn more money

How to earn more money: Top tips for landing greater salaries and pay raises

Peter Harris|

After several years of flat paycheques through the recession, Canadians are starting to hunger for greater increases in salary.

See also: The average Canadian wages right now

So how do you get the salary increase you’re after?

Negotiations whether for your starting salary or for an increase in compensation are not personal, they’re business transactions. So don’t talk about how much you need the money or how Bill one desk over makes more than you. Your personal needs are none of your employer’s business, and Bill’s salary is none of yours.

(Knowing coworkers salaries usually poisons the atmosphere at work, leaving someone feeling resentful.)

Also, don’t ask for a raise simply because you have been with the company a certain period of time – unless your contract specifies salary reviews at specific intervals. You need to make a business case for how the value you bring to the organization is worth more than it is currently being offered in return.

Negotiating your starting salary

Hopefully, your potential employer will be the first one to mention the salary range of the job you’re applying for. This is an indication that they are interested in you, and they want to ensure that you are on the same page money-wise.

What you should do:

  • Don’t mention your salary expectations until you are specifically asked. You want to convey your interest in the job and the company over your interest in the paycheque. Employers always favour candidates who are motivated by more than just money. 

  • When you are asked your salary expectations, name a wide range. For example, “I know that positions at this level usually pay between $50,000 and $70,000, and given my level of experience in the field, I would fall in the higher end of that range. However, this will depend upon numerous factors about the role itself. Can we discuss those more?”

  • Define why you should be higher up in that salary range. This is where you bring up your list of previous accomplishments and how they indicate the levels of success you can reach for your new employer. You need to show that you bring a greater value to the company than other candidates might, and that’s why you should receive greater pay for your contributions. Be confident about your skills and experience, but not arrogant or boastful.   

  • Pick your range based on factual information about what the job should pay. Find out what other companies are paying for similar roles. Workopolis has an online Salary Calculator that gives the average salaries for numerous positions regionally across Canada.Statistics Canada also publishes updates of average wages for industries nationally. (Bear in mind that salaries can vary widely depending upon which province and city you live in.)

    Ask across your social networks for pay ranges for the type of job you’re applying for in your region.


  • Ask for $5,000 more than you think you should receive as a fair base pay.Most companies will counter offer your initial salary request, so by aiming high you’re more likely to end up with the compensation you were after.

  • Think outside the paycheque. Remember that you are negotiating for a total compensation package, not just your base pay. Receiving perks such as increased vacation time, flexible scheduling, or the ability to telecommute can have a bigger impact on the quality of your working life than a few extra dollars.


Negotiating a pay raise  

When asking your current boss for greater compensation, you need to demonstrate how your work is driving increased value to the company.

What you should do:

  • Pick your timing to have the conversation carefully. Don’t ask for more money in the middle of a stressful period, a crisis situation or especially not if your company is experiencing layoffs. You don’t want to seem like you’re more concerned about your paycheque than whatever challenge the company is facing. Be a team player. Help solve that challenge first.  Then, after a successful project or during a period of growth, set up a time to speak with your boss.

  • Be prepared with a list of your most recent accomplishments and how they have led to greater success for the organization overall. Make your case for how your work is potentially undervalued and deserves greater remuneration. Stay confident and positive. Remember that this is a friendly, business conversation and not a confrontation.
  • Never threaten to quit or give ultimatums. These would only sour your relationship with your boss and limit your potential with that employer.

  • Anticipate what objections your boss may make ahead of time. This way you can prepare counter arguments for his or her hesitations. Again it would help to know the industry standard market value for similar jobs to yours, so do your research. Bear in mind that some salary decisions might legitimately be decided above the level of your boss, so their hands may be tied.

  • Negotiate for more than money. There are other things that your boss can give you that can increase your quality of work life or advance your career that don’t have to cost any money. Would being put in charge of a core project take your career to the next level? Would adding the word ‘Senior’ to your title show valuable career growth? Would working from home every Wednesday break up your work week, allow you to catch up on projects, and increase your work/life balance?

  • End on a positive note. Point out how much you enjoy your work regardless of the outcome of the negotiation, and thank your boss for his or her time.

  • You might have to job hop. If you have been with your company for a long time, and are only receiving minimal annual increases, you may have to leave in order to earn more cash. Most companies are willing to pay out considerably more to new talent that are trying to acquire than they will to long term staff.  (Do this strategically, some recruiters frown on too many ‘job hops’ on a resume, and this can hurt your future chances.)


Is there a best day of the week to ask for a raise?

In his book, Buy Ketchup in May and Fly at Noon: A Guide to the Best Time to Buy This, Do That and Go There, Mark di Vincenzo writes:

“Thursday or Friday. We’re most open to negotiation and compromise then because most of us want to finish our workweek with the least amount of conflict. This feeling at the end of the workweek may be preparation for the weekend, when we spend more time with family and friends, getting along with whom is a high priority.

The worst day? Wednesday. Unpleasantness and surliness tend to peak then, so try to avoid any situation that can lead to conflict.”

- Peter Harris - Peter Harris on Twitter

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Category: Life At Work,