Look for opportunities that you do not qualify for on paper.

Side hustles are a popular topic for people on a financial freedom journey. I’ve written that financial success is possible without a side hustle previously. Still, earning more is a key factor in the financial independence formula. Today we discuss tips to make more money in your day job.

I started my career in Information Technology 30 years ago as an airman in the United States Air Force. I took on many roles and worked to increase my earnings until I decided to walk away and take on a new mini-retirement adventure. I was a director, leading a large dedicated team on a $25M/year account when I left. Along the way, I learned a thing or two about career advancement, and I’m happy to share the lessons I learned.

Be the driver in your career journey.

You might be great in your job and have aspirations of a promotion, but if you wait for a manager to offer you an opportunity, you will likely be sitting in the same role for a long time.

If you want a promotion, speak up. In general, managers love to help their employees achieve career goals. However, the employees who vocalize their goals are the ones most likely to receive help. Talk to your manager about your goals. Your manager should be meeting with you regularly. Talk about your goals during these meetings and ask for guidance and support. If your manager isn’t meeting with you, ask for recurring meetings to discuss your daily work progress and career goals.

So many people sit idly working their job, wishing that leadership would recognize their potential. It can be scary to step up and vocalize your career wishes, but leaders are always looking for employees with the courage to take that step.

I was pretty good at my job and going nowhere because I was afraid to speak with leaders about my goals. Fortunately, I received this bit of advice from a vice president during an informal conversation, and I took it to heart. From that day on, I made sure that I was driving my career journey and my leaders always knew where I stood. They also provided lots of support as I strove to reach my goals.

Seek out a mentor.

Many companies have formal mentor programs, and even if your company doesn’t have one, you can still find a mentor to work with you. If you don’t know if a program exists, ask your manager and HR.

A relationship with a mentor benefits both the mentee and the mentor. I’ve been on both sides of this type of relationship, and I found great value regardless of my role. Ideally, the mentor is several levels above you in the org chart and preferably not in your direct chain of command.

A mentor can help you understand what actions you can take to achieve your goals. That person has walked the path you are trying to navigate, and it’s so much easier to succeed when you are not breaking the trail on your own.

Join an employee resource group.

My former employer had nine sponsored employee resource groups created to cultivate a diverse and inclusive culture. These groups were built to support protected groups and were open to all. As long as you were an ally of the group, you were welcome.

I was a member of the veteran’s group. I supported the women’s association by working with several leaders that reported to me who had been accepted into the Women of the World program.

Employee resource groups are a great place to build relationships with leaders and often are an excellent place to find a mentor. If you want to boost your earning potential, you need leaders to know who you are and be aware that you have career ambitions.

Take on new roles.

If you sit in the same job, you will get an annual cost of living salary increase, and you will not be significantly increasing your earnings to bolster your finances. You have to move into new roles to advance your career.

You can do this by changing roles within the same company or moving to a new company. Early in my career, people that swapped companies were referred to as job hoppers. That was a negative context. I feel that the practice is broadly accepted these days.

Whether you are changing roles within a company or changing companies, you are gaining experience. Experience is important to hiring managers and leaders. With every new role, you add to the value you can bring to your new team.

Apply for jobs you do not qualify for.

A job posting can be very intimidating. Often it can seem that the hiring manager is looking for a miracle worker with mastery in every skill. The simple fact is that almost no one has all the skills listed in a job posting. And if they did, they wouldn’t apply for the job.

A new role is an opportunity for growth. You will not have all the skills listed in the job posting, and the hiring manager expects that. Be brave and apply for roles you are not a match for on paper.

I helped one of my leaders in her career journey, and she was often so intimidated by the requirements in job postings that she wouldn’t apply. She wanted to grow her career but felt underqualified. Ultimately, she built up the courage to apply to roles she was not qualified for. And guess what. She got a fantastic promotion into a very challenging position and excelled.


If you want to boost your earnings in your day job, you need to take control of your journey. No one else is going to look out for your best interest. Vocalize your career goals with your leaders. Most managers are happy to help you along the way, but you have to be the driving force.

Find a mentor and network using employee resource groups. You significantly increase your odds of success when leaders know who you are, and having a mentor to help navigate your journey is always a plus.

Don’t be afraid of change. A new role in your current company or outside will help round out your experience. New roles are the key to increasing earnings. If you sit idle in one job, you will go nowhere fast.

Look for opportunities that you do not qualify for on paper. A role like this will be a challenge and provide the best opportunity for your career advancement. You will not be the only applicant that doesn’t have all of the skills listed in the job description.

Building your earnings in your day job is tough work, like creating a side hustle. No matter the path you choose, more earnings will not come easy. It takes drive and dedication to succeed. I hope these tips will help you on your journey.

This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered Financial or Legal Advice. Not all information will be accurate. Consult a financial professional before making any major financial decisions.