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Here's the Salary Millennials Need to Be Happy

By Maurie Backman - Aug 14, 2018 at 7:28AM

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And how to get closer to it.

Many workers don't reach their peak earning potential till their 40s or 50s, or even beyond. But that doesn't mean younger workers can't think big. In a recent TD Ameritrade survey, millennial employees aged 21 to 37 said that an average salary of $80,000 would make them happy. That's $30,000 more than what they said back in 2016. But seeing as how the typical employed millennial earns just $35,592 per year on a national level, that $80,000 may not be so easy to come by.

Still, there's nothing wrong with trying to boost your earnings, regardless of whether your target salary is $80,000 or another number. Here's how to go about it.

Younger workers in an office gathered around laptops and looking at papers on a table


1. Get yourself promoted

A good way to snag an instant salary bump at your current job is to get yourself a promotion. Of course, that's easier said than done, but you can improve your odds by taking steps to stand out to your employer, like volunteering for new projects, jumping in on evenings and weekends to address emergencies, and having a positive attitude about work in general. Getting to know people in different areas of the company will also go a long way.

2. Job-hop strategically

Sometimes, moving to another company is the key to boosting your salary, which might explain why job-hopping has become such a common practice in today's workforce. While switching employers can benefit workers of all ages, younger workers tend to see the most financial upside in the form of an 11% gain on average, according to payroll company ADP.

Of course, you'll want to job-hop strategically to avoid losing out on money. For example, if you have another year until you're fully vested in your current employer's 401(k), it might pay to hold off on leaving and ensure you get the matching dollars you've been waiting on. Similarly, if you typically get a performance bonus at the end of the year, you might delay your job search until that pile of cash comes in. But if these factors don't apply, then jumping ship sooner could be your ticket to bigger bucks.

3. Keep boosting your skills

The more adept you are at your job, the greater your chances of commanding top dollar for whatever it is you do. But don't just focus on skills that are specific to your role. Rather, work on building your soft skills -- the universal ones that apply to a host of jobs. These include things like communication, organization, and customer service -- and they could go a long way toward getting you more money, whether at your current job or another company.

4. Negotiate each job offer you get

One of the easiest ways to get a higher salary is to come out and ask for one. Yet 56% of workers don't negotiate their salaries upon receiving job offers, according to data from CareerBuilder. And that's a shame, because 26% of employers say their initial offer is typically $5,000 or more less than what they're actually willing to pay.

The next time a prospective employer makes you an offer, don't be afraid to push for a better number. If that company truly wants you, it won't rescind its offer because you had the guts to speak up for yourself. You should feel especially confident negotiating a job offer if you're already employed and therefore have a job to fall back on in case those conversations do take a turn for the ugly.

Is $80,000 within your reach? It could be, if you play your cards right. But even if you're worlds away from hitting the $80,000 mark, remember that more money is better than less money, so it pays to take steps to boost your salary, regardless of what it happens to be.

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