Higher education is not a reality for many Americans. College is expensive, and some people have other priorities to concern themselves with. It does limit your career options, but there are several ways to guarantee a higher wage. Many entry-level jobs in food service and retail pay at or near minimum wage, and a pay bump of even just a few dollars per hour can make a huge difference. It could translate to 100′s of dollars per month. Life is not all about the pursuit of money, but having a little more can increase your comfort level and allow you to pay for the things you need (and some of the things you want).
1.) Never be Complacent
It’s always good to show your immediate managers that you are not complacent with your current role, and that it’s your intention to move up within the organization. If a worker does a good job but shows no desire to advance, management will naturally keep them in that role long-term. Speak up and make your intentions known. The only way to make more money in a lower-paying job is to keep moving up the ladder. Step into an assistant manager role, and keep pressing until you become a manager. It will definitely take some time, but if you enjoy your job then you might as well earn a bigger paycheck. This can also set you up for management positions at other companies.
2.) Certifications, Training, and Education
Depending on the job, there may be outside opportunities to strengthen your resume. For example, in retail there are many different company paid certifications and training courses that are required to move into management positions. Ask about them or do your own research. If management is your ultimate goal, consider taking a management class at a local community college. The classes are affordable and the investment is worth it. If you focus on strengthening your resume and making yourself more marketable, it will be easier to find a higher-paying job. Managers want to see initiative, and this is a perfect way to do it.
3.) Apply Externally
Sometimes people work in the same role for their entire career. This makes it harder for younger, newer, and inexperienced workers to find a promotion. They need to wait until the position is available, which could take several years. This is why you should consider applying for jobs externally. If you have a few years of experience, you might qualify for assistant manager / manager positions at different locations. Sharpen your resume and optimize it for the keywords associated with the job description. This will guarantee that your documents will automatically reach the top of the resume pile on HR’s desk.
4.) Build Your Reputation
Never earn a reputation of being “flaky.” This is a surefire way to disqualify yourself from future promotions. This means being on time when you are scheduled to work, and only calling in sick if you are seriously ill. When people miss their scheduled shift it puts more pressure on the entire staff. The work needs to get done and there are less people to do it. You might think you got away with it, but your coworkers and managers will be seriously disappointed. Managers can’t call in sick regularly, because their presence is essential for a productive workday. If you have a reputation of being reliable and punctual, your name will surface in promotion discussions.