By Perminus Wainaina
Last week, I was interviewing professionals for an HR role. Lorna was the last interviewee. At the end of the interview, I asked her if she had any questions she wanted to ask.
“I just wanted to know, why the salary being offered is quite low. I had expected it to be much higher for this position,” she said.
I took her through how the employer had made that decision. After my explanation, she had one more question, “If this is the figure many employers are willing to pay, how do I ensure that I get a job with a higher salary still within my profession?”
Have you applied for a job where the salary offered was too low for you? How did you go about it?
As a professional, what is your ideal salary? Does your employer pay you enough?
When you are looking for a job, how do you make sure that you get your desired salary? If you have been working at the company for a while, how do you ensure your request for a salary increase is successful?
Truth is, as you grow in your career, you need a job that pays you well. However, this is not always the reality. Although this is not always the case, here are reasons why you should not give up on looking for high paying jobs:
- Your next employer will consider paying you based on your previous salary – Most employers will pay you what you were previously earning, or slightly higher.
- It’s a measure of value – Your pay should be equal to the value you bring to an organization.
- Higher pay increases your self-esteem – When you have a high salary, you’ll feel your effort and work do amount to the general output of the company. This, in turn, can raise your self-esteem and confidence levels.
Do your reasons for wanting a well-paying job match any of these?
Is there anything that some of the best paid Kenyan professionals have that you don’t? What can you do to get to the same level and become equally successful as them?
Here is how you can get a high salary:
1. Gain relevant professional skills
Professional skills can be divided into two; hard skills and soft skills.
Hard skills are the technical skills each field possesses. Each industry has its own technical skills you need. For example, the technical skills of an engineer are different from those of a procurement officer.
Soft skills, on the other hand, are personal habits that will enable you to interact with others effectively.
An example of a soft skill is communication. Whether you’re a salesperson or an accountant, effective communication skills will help you in the workplace and even in life.
When you grow your soft skills, you’ll be able to relate with your colleagues, bosses, and customers better. Already, this will put you ahead for better pay –and possibly a promotion.
Examine yourself to see the soft skills you lack, and then look at ways to grow them. For instance, if you struggle with communication and presentation skills, you can read a book on how to improve the skill, ask for help from someone with great public speaking skills, or even take a short course on learning how to speak with confidence.
If your promotion did not come with a much higher salary, take up a leadership skills course and with the certification, ask for a higher salary.
Though all soft skills are important, there are some that you should give key attention to.
Here are some of the soft skills that will help you through your career;
- Communication skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Leadership skills
- Influencing skills
- Time and priority management skills
2. Have a proven track record
Oftentimes, you’ll see a professional ask for a higher salary. When you ask them why they feel the salary needs to be increased, they do not have a concrete reason.
If you want to get a job with a higher salary, you’ll have to show you’re worth it.
For an employer, the bottom line is what value you’re adding. If you’re in sales, for example, you can look at the numbers.
If you can show an employer your involvement in the company adds tangible value, they’ll be in a better position to give you higher pay.
Before approaching the employer asking for better pay, ensure you have the facts and figures correct.
The same goes for a job seeker. If you can prove your value, you’ll never be out of a job.
When you look at some of the highest-paid professionals such as Polycarp Igathe for example, you’ll see they have a track record of success. Even when they leave a job, companies are already approaching them with lucrative deals.
3. Get a job you’re passionate about
In one of my recent interviews, one of the interviewees had experience in three different sectors. He had barely worked for two years in any of the industries.
When I probed further, he told me he was looking for a place that could pay him well. However, after he got a job, he’d eventually get bored and leave –despite the pay.
His story is not unique. There are professionals who follow the money only to be dissatisfied and disappointed.
When you follow a job you’re passionate about, you’ll give it your all –put in extra effort, work past what is expected, and look for ways to be better. In turn, this will give you success in your position, which will then translate to recognition from your superiors and that could increase your salary and professional status.
If you have to make a choice between a job you’re passionate about and another that is paying well, go for the one you’re passionate about. Eventually, the money will follow your passion.
In the end,
It all comes down to what you are willing to do to ensure that you get a higher salary. Are there skills you are willing to learn? What value do you have to show you bring? Are there specific areas you are passionate about?
Once you are able to answer these questions, you will be on your way to getting a higher salary.
Start by taking up short courses that will further boost your chances.
All the best!
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through career mentorship programs, he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing.