MONEY Workplace

9 Ways to Make More Money at Work

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Jamie Kripke—Corbis

Career strategies for every stage.

Even if you’re not among the super-savers who are on their way to becoming 401(k) millionaires, there are plenty of ways to build wealth on the job. Whether you’re just starting out, in your peak earning years, or planning a career second act, here are 9 ways to fatten your paycheck.

1. Begin your career in a wealth-building city. To maximize your earning potential, minimize the amount you spend on housing—for most people the largest chunk of their monthly budget. According to Zillow.com, three metro areas where job growth exceeds the median 1.3% and housing costs are below the typical 2.9 times income are Dallas (job growth 3.3%, housing costs 2.5x income); Atlanta (job growth 2.4%, housing cost: 2.7x income), and Indianapolis (job growth 2%, housing costs 2.4x income). Plus, these are great places to live: Dallas suburb McKinney and metro Indianapolis both made it onto MONEY’s annual list of the best places to live, while Atlanta is home to the headquarters of Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola and UPS.

2. Don’t wait for a performance review to ask for a raise. Most companies do performance reviews in February or March—but set budgets before the end of the prior year. If you can make the case for a raise, start the conversation no later than December.

3. Lead with the dollars. You are more likely to get a raise, and a higher one at that, when you say what you want first and explain why you deserve it second. “It sounds like a trivial difference, but it produces a significantly different outcome,” says negotiations expert Robin Pinkley of Southern Methodist University. You’ll also do better if you couch your request in a range. Asking for an extra $5,000 to $7,000 a year beats plain old $5,000. You’ll seem cooperative and flexible—and make it harder for the boss to return with a lowball counteroffer, according to a new study by Daniel Ames and Malia Mason of Columbia University.

4. Become a free agent. Workers may get 3% raises in 2015, but execs who jump ship can expect 15%, says the executive search firm Salveson-Stetson Group. A raise like that at the age of 40 can boost lifetime income by 9%.

5. Repackage yourself. When you were starting out, you may have played up your full work history. As you advance in your career, tailor your résumé to experiences that speak to a specific job—for instance, how you boosted sales at your last position, says Marcelle Yeager, president of Career Valet. Also, put education credentials at the bottom, says professional résumé writer Dawn Bugni. That you got a bachelor’s degree 20 years ago doesn’t mean that much now.

6. Automate your job search. There are simple ways you can help prospective employers find you with little effort. For starters, make it easy for hiring managers to spot you by filling your LinkedIn profile with keywords associated with the type of job you want. The service will make suggestions for you, but look at job listings posted on the site by companies you want to work for to see what keywords they use as well. Also, sign up for the anonymous job site Poachable, and download the app Poacht.

7. Climb one more rung. After 45, only the top 2% of earners see real continued wage growth, on average. So it’s time to gun for one more big promotion. For example, while the median salary for a software engineer is $76,000, senior engineers can expect $101,000, according to payScale.com.

8. Switch ladders. Didn’t snag the pay you deserve? With the economy adding 266,000 jobs a month, you have options. After giving notice, arrange a friendly exit interview with the boss—her endorsement will be valuable in the next switch.

9. Have a Plan B. Your middle years are crucial savings years, but perilous careerwise. On average, unemployed Americans 55 to 64 have been jobless for 11 months. so lay the groundwork for a backup plan—whether it’s a short-term project, freelancing, or a business idea.

Adapted from “101 Ways to Build Wealth,” by Daniel Bortz, Kara Brandeisky, Paul J. Lim, and Taylor Tepper, which originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of MONEY magazine.

MONEY Workplace

Why It Pays to Make Your Boss Your BFF

Illustration by Mikey Burton

Get the person into the corner office in your corner, then watch your career take off.

Buddying up with the boss can pay off, literally. In a study of executives done at Georgetown University, nine in 10 acknowledged that favoritism occurs in larger organizations, and 23% of them said they had personally practiced favoritism in making promotion decisions. Read: Getting more familiar with the person who signs off on your raises can help you make sure they’re bigger. Follow these tips to cozy up without crossing the line.

Break the Ice

Start by trying to engage the boss in small talk when riding the elevator or meeting at the water cooler. And if you know he is going to happy hour, be there. “Take advantage of any opportunity to rub shoulders outside work,” says career consultant Donald Asher, author of Who Gets Promoted, Who Doesn’t, and Why.

To find common ground, Asher suggests posing open-ended questions like “How about them Spurs?” Use the person’s response to gauge his level of interest. Does he talk at length about the season? Depending on your relative positions, you might ask the boss to lunch to discuss your ideas on a particular project—and who will make the playoffs.

Keep Up on Facebook

“Friending” the boss on Facebook can help you cement the relationship, says Nancy Rothbard, a Wharton School professor who studies social media in the workplace. But first make sure your boss is willing to connect with subordinates—you’re good if other direct reports are in her circle.

Once you’re in, occasionally “like” and comment on posts about shared interests. “It authentically reinforces your offline interactions,” Rothbard says. Just save communication for off-work hours so you don’t look as though you’re slacking off.

Leverage Your Friendship

When the relationship is established, your boss may be naturally more inclined to advance your causes. But be strategic in your asks. “You don’t want your boss to think you’re a user,” says Asher. Chatting about weekend plans? You might slip in a mention of your desire to attend a senior staff meeting. “If you have a good relationship, your boss will go out of his way to get you in,” says Richard Klimoski, a management and psych professor at George Mason University.

Don’t Let Your Nose Get Brown

Your peers may grow jealous of your rapport with the boss. Keep them on your good side by continuing to collaborate well and publicly praising peers for achievements, says Jennifer McClure, president of leadership strategy firm Unbridled Talent. “Befriend your boss,” she says, “but don’t put a target on your back.”

Read next: Why You Should Friend Your Boss on Facebook

MONEY Workplace

Target, Gap and Other Major Retailers Face Staffing Probe

New York's attorney general has told 13 major retailers that it has received reports of illegal “on-call” scheduling.

(ALBANY, N.Y.)—New York’s attorney general has launched an inquiry into 13 major retailers, questioning the practice of keeping workers on call for shifts on short notice and possible violations of the state requirement to pay hourly staff for at least four hours when they report for work.

Letters were sent to Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew Group Inc., L. Brands, Burlington Coat Factory, TJX Companies, Urban Outfitters, Target Corp., Sears Holding Corp., Williams-Sonoma Inc., Crocs, Ann Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. Inc.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has targeted New York employers who cheat or underpay low-wage workers, getting more than $17 million in restitution for about 14,000 workers from fast food franchise owners, construction contractors and others. His office is now examining retailers and whether reporting in to an employer also triggers the pay requirement under New York law.

“We have been informed that a number of companies in New York State utilize on-call shifts and require employees to report in some manner, whether by phone, text message or email, before the designated shift in order to learn whether their services are ultimately needed on site that day,” Labor Bureau Chief Terri Gerstein wrote to the retailers. “We are examining this practice.”

The attorney general’s office said it has received reports of more employers setting shifts the night before or even just a few hours in advance, including these 13.

“Workers who must be ‘on call’ have difficulty making reliable childcare and elder-care arrangements, encounter obstacles in pursuing their education and in general experience higher incidences of adverse health effects, overall stress and strain on family life than workers who enjoy the stability and certainty of knowing their schedules reasonable in advance of having to appear for work,” Gerstein wrote.

In the letters, she requested by May 4 the companies’ written policies requiring staff be available for work with no guaranteed hours and that they report in some manner before showing up. She asked for sample schedules from each calendar quarter in 2013-2014 with on-call shifts and any computerized reports tracking them.

She also requested all time and payroll records where any employee worked in New York and was paid for less than four hours.

Gap Inc., whose retail brands include Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, said it is “committed to establishing sustainable scheduling practices that will improve stability for our employees, while helping to effectively manage our business.”

The company last year began a pilot project examining workplace scheduling and productivity “to create solutions that will be sustainable and can be implemented across our company’s entire footprint and fleet,” spokeswoman Laura Wilkinson said. They expect data results this fall, she said.

TJX Companies, whose stores include T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, said it has always taken into consideration what’s best for its staff and the company, and that managers work to develop schedules that serve the needs of both.

Sears Holdings said it doesn’t do on-call scheduling for store associates and will cooperate with the information requests.

JCPenney has a policy against on-call scheduling and fully complies with New York law requiring compensation when an employee is not required to work a full shift, spokeswoman Daphne Avila said. It will comply with the information request, she said.

Ann Inc. said its staffing guidelines don’t include the practice of on-call shifts.

The other companies did not immediately reply Monday to queries from The Associated Press.

MONEY salary

How to Get the Raise You Deserve

Two-thirds of people asking for a raise get at least some of the money they request. MONEY's Donna Rosato has tips on how to ask for more pay.

MONEY Workplace

Why Checking Email After Work Is Bad for Your Career—and Your Health

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Should I check work email outside of normal business hours?

A: The availability of smartphones and tablets has made it easy and common to check email anytime, anywhere: 59% of American workers say they use their mobile devices to do work after normal business hours, according to a recent Workplace Options survey.

But that convenience comes at a price. Checking email constantly can lead to burnout and health problems, says Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options, which provides employees with work-life balance support services.

Whether you should check work email regularly depends on your personal preference as well as your company culture, Debnam says. For many, the ability to field email anytime, anywhere is a good thing. It can free you from long hours in the office and enable you to respond quickly to important or urgent issues. You may feel better not having a full inbox when you log on in the a.m. About 80% of workers say using a smart phone, tablet, or laptop to work outside of typical business hours is positive, according to a 2014 Gallup poll.

For some professions, it is just part of the job. Maybe you work with people across different time zones. Or you’re a consultant, lawyer, or salesperson who needs to be available to clients all the time. (A prestigious law firm had to apologize to employees recently when its announcement of a new policy eliminating email overnight and on weekends turned out to be an April Fool’s prank.)

On the downside, constantly being available online translates into more work hours. Though just 36% of workers say they frequently check in outside of regular office hours, those who do log an additional 10 hours of work a week—twice as many hours as those who rarely or only occasionally check email remotely, according to the Gallup survey.

Younger workers and men are more likely to be in constant contact. About 40% of Gen-X and Gen-Y workers check email frequently outside of work vs. one-third of Baby Boomers, and 40% of men vs. 31% of women, according to the Gallup poll.

The more money you make and more education you have, the more likely you are to be among those frequently connected. Employees with a college degree or higher and people who earn more than $120,000 a year are twice as likely to constantly check email than those with lower education levels and salaries below $48,000 a year. That’s a reflection of how prevalent email communication is for higher education and income groups in white collar jobs—or the pressure many workers feel to respond immediately.

There’s lots of evidence that that kind of connectivity is bad for your health, your psyche, and your productivity.

First, it can seriously intrude on your personal life. A survey of 1,000 workers by Good Technology, a mobile-software firm, found that 68% of people checked work email before 8 a.m., 50% checked it while in bed, 57% do it on family outings, and 38% regularly do at the dinner table.

And your communication might not be as sharp or thoughtful when you’re doing it off-hours. It is hard to be at your best when you’re responding to a work issue late at night or in a non-work setting. “If you check in during a family dinner or with your kids running around in the background, you’re going to be distracted,” says Debnam.

Working around the clock can cause serious health problems too. A piece in Medical Daily cited a recent study in the journal Chronobiology International that found that checking your work email at home, or taking a call from the boss on weekends, could lead to psychological, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular problems

If you don’t want to be constantly connected, set expectations up front by not getting into the habit of monitoring and responding to email after hours unless there’s an important reason to do so. And if it’s just part of your company culture? Well, then you have to decide whether that’s a company you want to work for, says Debnam.

 

MONEY income

CEOs’ Hourly Pay Is Staggering

Minimum wage may have jumped slightly for some workers, but CEOs' salaries, measured by the hour, leave low-wage workers' pay in the dust.

MONEY Workplace

Law Firm’s April Fool’s Joke About Work-Life Balance Backfires

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Getty Images—(c) Image Source

There are some things bosses just shouldn't joke about.

Add this to the list of April Fool’s Day stunts from Wednesday that failed spectacularly: A big New York-based law firm told employees it was instituting a new policy eliminating work emails during night and weekend hours… and then revealed the whole thing was a joke.

Hilarious, right? All you suckers must keep tabs on work no matter if it’s midnight on a Tuesday or a Sunday morning and you’re on vacation. Ha!

The way the prank played out is that Weil, Gotshal & Manges sent out a company-wide email claiming the firm was banning all work-related emails between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., as well as on Saturdays, Sundays, and employee vacation days. According to messages obtained by legal industry blog Above the Law, associates were elated to learn of the new policy, supposedly inspired by similar practices currently catching on in Europe, until it was revealed to just be a goof.

Since employees generally don’t like it when their bosses see their work-life balance as—literally—a joke, Weil received enough backlash to send out a firm-wide mea culpa in the afternoon. The email, from executive partner Barry Wolf, reads: “We obviously got this wrong and we sincerely apologize. We know and appreciate the hard work that all of you do. We have and continue to take work-life balance seriously and are always evaluating ways to improve the quality of life here, given the intensity and demands of the profession.”

It makes sense that this joke didn’t go over well, considering how notoriously bad lawyers’ hours tend to be and how modern technology makes it hard for employees across all industries to ever fully unplug—even while on vacation.

Though American workplaces generally tend to be slow to embrace policies that make it easier for staff to have a life outside the office, it’s a good sign that Weil was quickly shamed for its tone-deaf prank. It seems even lawyers want to join the movement toward workplace flexibility and family-friendly policies.

MONEY Fast Food

Most McDonald’s Workers Still Won’t Get a Pay Raise

The fast-food chain announced a raise for some of its workers, joining other large retailers in raising pay without a federal push.

MONEY Millennials

5 Big Myths About What Millennials Truly Want

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Jamie Grill—Getty Images

We've heard a ton about millennials—where they want to live, what they love to eat, what's most important to them in the workplace, and so on. It's time to set the record straight.

In some ways, it’s foolish to make broad generalizations about any generation, each of which numbers into the tens of millions of people. Nonetheless, demographers, marketers, and we in the media can’t help but want to draw conclusions about their motivations and desires. That’s especially true when it comes to the young people who conveniently came of age with the Internet and smartphones, making it possible for their preferences and personal data to be tracked from birth.

Naturally, everyone focuses on what makes each generation different. Sometimes those differences, however slight, come to be viewed as hugely significant breaks from the past when in fact they’re pretty minor. There’s a tendency to oversimplify and paint with an exceptionally broad brush for the sake of catchy headlines and easily digestible info nuggets. (Again, we’re as guilty of this as anyone, admittedly.) The result is that widely accepted truisms are actually myths—or at least only tell part of the story. Upon closer inspection, there’s good reason to call these five generalizations about millennials into question.

1. Millennials Don’t Like Fast Food
One of the most accepted truisms about millennials—easily the most overexamined generation in history—is that they are foodies who love going out to eat. And when they eat, they want it to be special, with fresh, high-quality ingredients that can be mixed and matched according to their whims, not some stale, processed cookie-cutter package served to the masses.

In other words, millennials are huge fans of Chipotle and fast-casual restaurants, while they wouldn’t be caught dead in McDonald’s. In fact, the disdain of millennials for McDonald’s is frequently noted as a prime reason the fast food giant has struggled mightily of late.

But guess what? Even though survey data shows that millennials prefer fast-casual over fast food, and even though some stats indicate millennial visits to fast food establishments are falling, younger consumers are far more likely to dine at McDonald’s than at Chipotle, Panera Bread, and other fast-casual restaurants.

Last summer, a Wall Street Journal article pointed out that millennials are increasingly turning away from McDonald’s in favor of fast casual. Yet a chart in the story shows that roughly 75% of millennials said they go to McDonald’s at least once a month, while only 20% to 25% of millennials visit a fast-casual restaurant of any kind that frequently. Similarly, data collected by Morgan Stanley cited in a recent Business Insider post shows that millennials not only eat at McDonald’s more than at any other restaurant chain, but that they’re just as likely to go to McDonald’s as Gen Xers and more likely to dine there than Boomers.

At the same time, McDonald’s was the restaurant brand that millennials would least likely recommend publicly to others, with Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, and Jack in the Box also coming in toward the bottom in the spectrum of what millennials find worthy of their endorsements. What it looks like, then, is that millennials are fast food regulars, but they’re ashamed about it.

2. Millennials Want to Live in Cities, Not Suburbs
Another broad generalization about millennials is that they prefer urban settings, where they can walk or take the bus, subway, or Uber virtually anywhere they need to go. There are some facts to back this up. According to an October 2014 White House report, millennials were the most likely group to move into mid-size cities, and the number of young people living in such cities was 5% higher compared with 30 years prior. The apparent preference for cities has been pointed to as a reason why Costco isn’t big with millennials, who seem to not live close enough to the warehouse retailer’s suburban locations to justify a membership, nor do their apartments have space for Costco’s bulk-size merchandise.

But just because the percentage of young people living in cities has been inching up doesn’t mean that the majority actually steer clear of the suburbs. Five Thirty Eight recently took a deep dive into Census data, which shows that in 2014 people in their 20s moving out of cities and into suburbs far outnumber those going in the opposite direction. In the long run, the suburbs seem the overwhelming choice for settling down, with roughly two-thirds of millennial home buyers saying they prefer suburban locations and only 10% wanting to be in the city. It’s true that a smaller percentage of 20-somethings are moving to the suburbs compared with generations ago, but much of the reason why this is so is that millennials are getting married and having children later in life.

3. Millennials Don’t Want to Own Homes
Closely related to the theory that millennials like cities over suburbs is the idea that they like renting rather than owning. That goes not only for where they live, but also what they wear, what they drive, and more.

In terms of homes, the trope that millennials simply aren’t into ownership just isn’t true. Surveys show that the vast majority of millennials do, in fact, want to own homes. It’s just that, at least up until recently, monster student loans, a bad jobs market, the memory of their parents’ home being underwater, and/or their delayed entry into the world of marriage and parenthood have made homeownership less attractive or impossible.

What’s more, circumstances appear to be changing, and many more millennials are actually becoming homeowners. Bloomberg News noted that millennials constituted 32% of home buyers in 2014, up from 28% from 2012, making them the largest demographic in the market. Soaring rents, among other factors, have nudged millennials into seeing ownership as a more sensible option. Surveys show that 5.2 million renters expect to a buy a home this year, up from 4.2 million in 2014. Since young people represent a high portion of renters, we can expect the idea that millennials don’t want to own homes to be increasingly exposed as a myth.

4. Millennials Hate Cars
Cars are just not cool. They’re bad for the environment, they cost too much, and, in an era when Uber is readily available and socializing online is arguably more important than socializing in person, having a car doesn’t seem all that necessary. Certainly not as necessary as a smartphone or broadband. Indeed, the idea that millennials could possibly not care about owning cars is one that has puzzled automakers, especially those in the car-crazed Baby Boom generation.

In many cases, the car industry has disregarded the concept, claiming that the economy rather than consumer interest is why fewer young people were buying cars. Whatever the case, the numbers show that the majority of millennials will own cars, regardless of whether they love them as much as their parents did when they were in their teens and 20s. According to Deloitte’s 2014 Gen Y Consumer Study, more than three-quarters of millennials plan on purchasing or leasing a car over the next five years, and 64% of millennials say they “love” their cars. Sales figures are reflecting the sentiment; in the first half of 2014, millennials outnumbered Gen X for the first time ever in terms of new car purchases.

5. Millennials Have a Different Attitude About Work
As millennials entered the workforce and have become a more common presence in offices around the world, much attention has been focused on the unorthodox things that young people supposedly care more about than their older colleagues. Millennials, surveys and anecdotal evidence have shown, want to be able to wear jeans and have flexible work hours to greater degrees than Gen X and Boomers. Young people also want to be more collaborative, demand more feedback, and are less motivated by money than older generations.

That’s the broad take on what motivates millennial workers anyway. An IBM study on the matter suggests otherwise, however. “We discovered that Millennials want many of the same things their older colleagues do,” researchers state. There may be different preferences on smaller issues—like, say, the importance of being able to dress casually on the job—but when it comes to overarching work goals achieved in the long run, millennials are nearly identical to their more experienced colleagues: “They want financial security and seniority just as much as Gen X and Baby Boomers, and all three generations want to work with a diverse group of people.”

What’s more, IBM researchers say, millennials do indeed care about making more money at work, and that, despite their reputation as frequent “job hoppers,” they jump ship to other companies about as often as other generations, and their motivations are essentially the same: “When Millennials change jobs, they do so for much the same reasons as Gen X and Baby Boomers. More than 40 percent of all respondents say they would change jobs for more money and a more innovative environment.”

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