7 Ways to Raise Your First Salary with Melissa Jean-Baptiste from Millennial in Debt

Hey everyone, and welcome! Today, we’re diving into a super important topic: how to negotiate for a higher salary in your very first job right out of high school. You might think you have nothing to negotiate with, but think again.

We have a special guest today, Melissa from Millennial in Debt, who’s here to share seven surefire strategies that can help you secure a higher starting salary.

The Importance of Raising Your Income

When we think about financial independence, the equation is straightforward: raise your income, decrease your expenses, and invest the difference in smart, creative ways to build wealth. However, raising your income can be particularly challenging, especially for high schoolers just about to start their first job.

So, what makes that first job more challenging?

Melissa noted that the first job is always tough because you're unfamiliar with the workforce's "playground." Mentorship can make a huge difference, guiding you through the intricacies of the employment world.

"That first job is always really difficult and it's super important to find some sort of mentor to help show you the ropes," Melissa advised.

Strategy 1: Find a Mentor

Finding a mentor can be a game-changer. Mentors can offer invaluable insights into how to negotiate and what strategies to employ.

Where to find a mentor?

  • LinkedIn: Begin by looking for professionals in your industry.

  • Networking platforms like Fishbowl: These can also be good for finding industry veterans.

  • Social networks: Be open with friends and family about what you're trying to achieve. They might know someone who can help.

“A mentor can be your work mom or dad, someone who has been in the industry longer and understands it better,” Melissa explained.

Strategy 2: Do Your Research

Before negotiating, you need to have a specific number backed up by research. Use websites like Glassdoor and Indeed to see what people in similar roles are making.

  • Glassdoor: Check salary reports and reviews from employees.

  • Indeed: Get an overview of what different roles pay in your state or remotely.

“Without proper research, you won’t have a strong argument to negotiate your salary. Knowledge equips you to ask for what you're worth.”

Strategy 3: Know When to Talk Numbers

You don’t want to lead with numbers. Wait until an offer is made, then discuss what you bring to the table and how your skills align with a higher salary.

Brag Book

Melissa suggests creating a "brag book" to outline your accomplishments and how they have benefited previous roles or school projects.

“Have metrics ready. If you've improved productivity by 14% or led a successful project, bring that up!”

Strategy 4: Be Adaptable

Being adaptable is crucial. Employers value the ability to learn and grow. This is often more important than technical skills alone.

"Jobs evolve, and companies want employees who can evolve with them," Melissa highlighted.

Strategy 5: Negotiate Beyond Salary

There are other aspects of a job offer that you can negotiate:

Financial Benefits

  • Equity and Stocks: These can be lucrative in the long run.

  • HSA/FSA Contributions: These are tax-advantaged accounts that can save you money on healthcare and other expenses.

  • Student Loan Reimbursement: Some companies offer to pay off some of your student loans.

Non-Financial Benefits

  • Paid Time Off (PTO): Negotiate for more vacation or sick days.

  • Flexible Work Hours: Ask for a flexible schedule.

  • Remote Work Options: Especially valuable in today's job market.

  • Professional Development: Request funds for further education or certifications.

Strategy 6: Focus on Future Output

Employers appreciate employees who have a vision for the future and how they can contribute to company goals.

Future Goals

  • Look into annual or semi-annual reports of the company.

  • Align your skills with the company's future projects.

“I always break it down into three points or strategies that I can implement to help the company achieve its goals,” Melissa said.

Strategy 7: Practice Negotiation Skills

Practice makes perfect. Run through mock interviews with friends, mentors, and even record yourself to refine your pitch.

Practice Tips

  • Friends and Family: Great for initial feedback.

  • Industry Professionals: They can offer more specific advice.

  • Self-Recordings: Notice filler words and body language.

“Even if you’re not looking for a new job, consider going on interviews to keep your skills sharp,” Melissa suggested.

Bonus Tips for Non-Profit and Low-Paying Roles

For roles where salary negotiation room is minimal, suggest solutions to bring in more revenue or minimize costs. Offering to take additional responsibilities can also be an effective strategy.

"In such cases, present a plan for how your initiatives will benefit the company financially, and negotiate for a share of that success," Melissa advised.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, negotiating for a higher salary isn’t just about money. It’s about knowing your worth, doing your homework, and approaching the conversation as a win-win scenario.

As Melissa aptly put it, "Understand that building wealth is a long-term game and that every small step you take today will benefit you in the future."

Follow Melissa for More Tips

To learn more from Melissa, you can follow her on social media platforms as Millennial in Debt or visit her website at MillennialInDebt.com.

Feel free to practice these strategies even with your part-time jobs to build your negotiation skills. Who knows, you might get that salary bump sooner than you think!


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