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Learn how to get a high-paying job

Follow these simple tips to earn money—lots of it—by strategically pursuing the highest paying jobs.

Want a bigger paycheck? Of course you do. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get a job where you can make money—lots of it. In fact, 63% of workers said compensation was “very important” to their overall job satisfaction, a recent Society for Human Resource Management survey found.

Unfortunately, the average raise is only 3%, according to WorldatWork's 2017 Salary Budget Survey. So how can you make money fast instead of waiting for your salary to grow over time? By revving up your job search to focus on jobs that pay well. Yeah, that sounds obvious, but there’s actually a science behind it.

Wharton management professor Matthew Bidwell found that external hires get paid, on average, 18% to 20% more than internal workers who get promoted to the same position. Translation: To see a big pay increase, switch companies.

But how exactly do you find the highest paying jobs in today’s competitive workplace? The answer is pretty straightforward.

Establish yourself as an expert in your field

To make yourself more attractive to prospective employers, you should focus on not only building your brand but also marketing yourself as an expert in your industry, says Thea Kelley, a job search and interview coach in San Francisco. Kelley says there are a number of ways you can do this:

  • Look for opportunities to speak at industry conferences
  • Find podcasts or online radio shows that will welcome you as a guest
  • Write about your field either on a blog or self-published eBook
  • Post regularly on social media
  • Create informative videos and a YouTube channel
  • Pick up part-time work as a consultant

Taking these steps (or a combination thereof) can also help you gain exposure to recruiters and headhunters.

Cross-train to expand your skill set

One of the best ways to strengthen your resume is to demonstrate you’ve pushed yourself to learn skills to boost your areas of expertise. But in order to achieve that, you’ll need to create cross-training opportunities for yourself, says Teri DePuy, a Colorado-based career coach at ICC Innovate Coach Consult. “You don’t just want to go to your boss and say, ‘I want to learn more about our marketing department,’” DePuy says.

A better tactic, says DePuy, is to ask for your boss’ permission to work on a specific project or task—and offer something in return. For instance, “Bob in IT is willing to let me shadow him for a day. Can I do that and then share with our team what I learned?”

Develop your leadership skills

No matter how much the job market shifts, one skill that’s always in demand is leadership. You have an advantage if you’re already in a management position, since you’re developing your leadership ability just by overseeing direct reports. But if you’re not a supervisor yet, there are other ways to develop leadership skills.

You can offer to mentor an entry-level employee, lead a training seminar, or develop a volunteer program to improve the company’s image. Craig Toedtman, an executive coach in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, says you can also sharpen your leadership skills outside your job by taking an executive position at a professional association or nonprofit.

Research companies' financial health

Before you begin applying to jobs, create a list of prospective employers that are hiring that you’d like to work for and do an analysis of each company’s financial health and stability. The better off they are financially, the more likely they are to pay employees well.

You can research this a few ways. If it’s a public company, look at its recent quarterly earnings reports to see profit margins and net sales. (Those are good indicators of financial growth.)

If it’s a private business, you may have to do a little more digging by looking at company reviews on kununu to see if the company is known for good compensation and career development.

Take smart risks

To make a big salary leap, you’ll likely have to push yourself outside your comfort zone and apply to high-paying jobs that might seem like a stretch.

“Disregard the barriers to entry,” Toedtman advises. “If you see a job you want, and you feel you can do it well, don’t hesitate to apply,” he says.

Remember to focus on what you bring to the table and how you can add value to the company’s bottom line. Give them examples that demonstrate you’re a problem solver who can take on challenges and turn them into accomplishments.

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