Career & Education | Life | Article

5 Ways to Increase Your Earning Power

by Ooi May Sim | 7 Sep 2023 | 6 mins read

Let’s face it: everyone wants more money. Having a higher salary gives us a greater sense of financial security and stability as it allows us to cover our expenses comfortably with money to spare, which we can then use to achieve our financial goals such as saving and investing.

A higher salary can also improve our standard of living. It lets us afford better housing, healthcare and education.

Plus, if we need to destress from work, we have the means to pay for leisure activities such as going for a massage or taking a holiday.

Aside from taking on extra work outside our 9-to-5 to gain more income, you can also look inward and take steps to increase your earning potential at your day job.

Invest in yourself continually

 You are the greatest asset you can invest in, so you should increase your earning potential by continually investing in yourself, says Derek Toh, founder and CEO of recruitment platform, Hiredly.

“Invest in books, online content, and courses that improve your skills and the results of your work,” elaborates Derek, adding that when you get better at what you do, your earning power will naturally increase as you bring more value to your employers and their business.

Justin Gerard, a certified life coach and founder of coaching platform, Debugging Minds, agrees and he says that pursuing professional development programmes is vital for workers to advance their careers.

This is because you need to sharpen and acquire in-demand skills that are valued in the job market, he says, adding that having sought-after skills will also put you in a better position to negotiate for a higher salary.

Develop leadership skills

When you think about leadership, what often comes to mind is a person with the ability to lead and influence a team of people. However, leadership should begin from within, says Justin.

“[You should] set clear goals [for yourself] and consistently strive to exceed expectations and deliver exceptional results,” he says.

Justin adds that having self-leadership skills such as being able to lead yourself based on your goals, values and principles can also maximise productivity and efficiency.

And if leading a team or climbing up the corporate ladder is something you want, you should be proactive about it.

Derek shares that many people have the impression that they only need to be a leader when the opportunity is given to them. However, most managers would choose someone who has already demonstrated at least the basic competencies for the next level, hence you would be better off being proactive and demonstrating leadership or managerial qualities even before you are promoted to such a position.

“Building leadership capabilities potentially leads to promotions or raises,” adds Derek.


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Look laterally, not just upwards

Moving up isn’t the only way to climb the corporate ladder, according to Derek. “If moving up is not an option, they might consider exploring lateral movements within the organisation,” he shares.

This is because, regardless of the company or industry, there will always be limited seats at the table. So, it’s important to look for other available opportunities.

Lateral movements are great as you already have knowledge about the company and will be given exposure to different skills that will broaden your expertise, making you more versatile and valuable, says Derek.

Justin adds, “If you are open to exploring new job opportunities within your current workplace, you have an excellent chance to negotiate for a 5% to 10% salary increase with minimal effort.”

Work on your soft skills

“Excellent communication is a skill that’s universally beneficial, as it allows employees to clearly express ideas and build rapport with colleagues,” says Derek.

This is because even if you’re the best software developer, if you are unable to communicate your methods and train of thought, it will hinder you from working well with your team members.

“Often, the best leaders aren’t the most skilled person in the team, but they are typically individuals who have enough skill and knowledge in their industry and is backed by incredible leadership and communication skills,” shares Derek.

Emotional intelligence, or the ability to empathise with others, understand their feelings, and manage one’s emotions, is another critical skill according to him.

“Things often get stressful at work. How do you diffuse the situation and help the team work through it? Those that strive under pressure will be seen as the best candidates to lead the charge,” he says.

This includes having the ability to articulate ideas, actively listen, and resolve conflicts, says Justin.

At the end of the day, while technical skills are important, people management skills are vital for anyone looking to climb up the ladder, he adds.

Derek explains: “Soft skills are often what sets top performers apart.”


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Expand your network

Justin believes that networking and building connections with the right people are essential for career growth and increasing earning potential as you can gain access to industry insights, valuable advice and job opportunities.

“Establishing relationships with professionals in your field allows you to benefit from the experiences and knowledge of your mentors and seniors,” he says.

However, Derek stresses that it is important to approach this in an organic manner as it is more authentic and less transactional.

“By focusing primarily on being the best at what you do, you naturally attract recognition and opportunities.

“This approach could lead to forming a network that’s based on mutual respect and admiration for each other’s work.

“It’s a network formed out of real connections, grounded in the shared experience of working together or acknowledging each other’s skills,” he explains.

Justin relates it to asking a friend for a recommendation for a car mechanic or dentist.

“When you consistently deliver good results, your network will naturally share positive recommendations about you with their own connections… (which) can lead to valuable referrals,” he says.


Working on all the above aspects will help you move towards earning a higher salary, whether it is at your current workplace or a future role that you move into. But whilst salary is important when evaluating your job, don’t forget to consider other aspects of job satisfaction such as work-life balance, job fulfilment and opportunities for growth too.