A young friend of mine approached me a few months back to ask an interesting question. This was the question he asked:

“How do I double my salary?”

It is a straightforward question and I was happier with this question than if he would have asked me which stocks to invest in or where the stock market was going. Your salary increase is far more in your control than trying to get the stock market right.

I looked back at my own career to answer my friend’s question. There were four things I did that had an impact on my salary growth.

#1. You should have a deep desire rather than mere hope

Throughout my career I have seen individuals who lived on hopes of a raise rather than actually work towards it. If you really want to increase your salary, you have to be proactive. Don’t expect the management to read your mind. You have to work hard and add significant value to your company’s growth and future success. You also have to make sure that your manager and the management know as well as see your efforts. 

Just like increasing your wealth through investment is an active goal so should be your goal of increasing your salary.

#2. Choose your functional area carefully or change it (if possible)

While it may sound harsh, but not all functional areas are created equal. Even in your current organization, do all departments have an equal pay structure? There are some areas which are high growth whereas others simply aren’t.

Find out which functional areas are more in demand. Where are the promotions and pay scales better? More importantly can you make the shift and will it be something you can see yourself doing for a significant period of time?

One caveat though; choosing or changing your functional area is far more feasible at an early stage in your career than later on. 

#3. Skill Up

Remember your school days? How you moved from one grade to another with each annual exam? You were constantly learning and up-skilling yourself. You kept doing that right up till graduation or post-graduation. Why did you stop?

Generally, you can’t expect to have the same skills and get paid more for them each year. This is the reason why most companies have in-house training.

Even if your company doesn’t have in house training programs, there are a wide range of tools available online that can teach you various skills related to your work. The most easily available are websites dedicated to teaching programming. Programmers swear by them. 

Newer skills such as digital marketing are now often being taught by learning sites such as Coursera or Lynda.com as these skills are evolving faster than traditional teaching institutions can keep up with.

The wider your range of skills and the more you upgrade them the better will be your chances of getting that raise.

#4. If nothing else works, take charge of your career and move

You have the deep desire, your choice of functional area is not the problem, and you train yourself constantly. You did everything and you still don’t get the raise. This normally means either of two things.

A) Your company doesn’t have the capacity to pay you more

B) Your company doesn’t want to pay you more

In either of the cases, the best option is to change your organization. Do not take this option lightly or too often. Changing your job can be tough depending on market conditions and the demand for your role.

If you feel that you are not recognized in your organization, be it through promotions and raises or even acknowledgement from your bosses, then eventually you will end up hating your job. If you hate your job, chances are you will find it hard to rise or make more money in it.