9 Skills to Learn in Your 20’s to Grow Your Salary at Work

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Making more money in your 20’s is a great way to set yourself up with a fantastic financial foundation for your future. To make more money, you need to provide more value. Learning different skills can help you provide more value and in this post, you will learn 9 skills and learn how to grow in each of these skills to become better as an employee.

Is there a promotion you want at work? Are you looking to grow your salary? Would it be nice to have more money coming in each month?

The first thing you should do when trying to increase your salary at work, is start working on yourself, and build your skill set above and beyond in your current role. Sometimes that can be hard to figure out.

However, the best way to start is to focus on your soft skills.

Soft skills are your ability to relate to people and manage projects.

When employers are looking to promote people, they keep in mind hard skills, the skills needed to do the task at hand, but really look at soft skills. Good leaders possess these soft skills and use them well. Problem solving, delegating, motivating, and team building are all much easier if you have good soft skills. 

In this post, I’m going to share with you 9 soft skills that you can cultivate in your 20’s to grow your salary and make more money.

9 Must-Have Soft Skills to Grow Your Salary in your 20’s

Below I’ve listed the 9 must-have soft skills you need to start cultivating if you want to find success in your career.

  1. Communication
  2. Self-Discipline
  3. Team Player
  4. Big Picture Thinking
  5. Leadership
  6. Customer Service
  7. Conflict Management
  8. Problem Solving
  9. Negotiation

I’ve dug deeper into each of these soft skills in the following sections.

Let’s get to work practicing these soft skills and you’ll be well on your way to growing your salary fast.

1. Communication

The first and arguably most important soft skill is communication.

Focusing on your communication allows you to 

  • Mitigates conflict
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Better client relationships

All of these are things your employer looks at when looking for promotions and salary increases. They want you to be a team player. They want you to be focused on bringing in quality clients and producing quality products. 

So, how can you become a better communicator? You can practice active listening, and practice assertiveness.

Active listening

Communication starts with listening. Active listening is a skill that allows the listener to be fully engaged in the conversation.

You should first concentrate all your attention on the speaker. Put your phone down. Set your Skype icon to busy. Be prepared to be fully invested in the conversation.  

Next, understand what he or she is trying to say. Ask questions. Reiterate what they’re saying in your own words. Make sure that what has been communicated is clear and write down any actionable steps that came out of the conversation. 

This allows you to remember the most important points of the conversation. If you need to do anything to follow up, put it on your calendar immediately. 

Practice Assertiveness

The other side of the coin to communication is to practice assertive communication. Active listening is important because it builds a foundation of openness and cooperation. You’ve already shown to the other person that you’re willing to listen well and collaborate. 

But that’s only half the battle when it comes to good communication. You need to be assertive as well. This doesn’t mean getting all up in someone’s face demanding something.

Instead, you want to express both positive and negative ideas in a way that is open, honest and direct. 

To do this, you need to have specific goals in mind before starting the conversation or meeting.  Ask yourself questions to help figure out what your goal is. 

  • What do I want out of this conversation?
  • Is there something that I need for this person?
  • Is there some kind of feedback I am looking to get or give?

And frame your conversation off of that. Make sure that you stay on task – especially when giving constructive criticism. And that you make sure that you listen, as well as speak assertively. 

If you want to try practicing your new skills in a stress free environment, join your local Toastmasters chapter.  It’s a local speech group that helps members work on their communication skills. 

Recommended book for Communication:

2. Self-Discipline Through Consistent Efforts

Self-discipline is key to mastering your current job and showing enough dedication to rise up the ranks of your current organization.

It’s a great soft skill to have in your back pocket because your boss wants to see that you’re a self starter and dedicated to your work. The self-discipline required to do this well is definitely a skill you want to foster. 

To grow your self-discipline, deliberate practice is the way to start. 

One of the best ways to do this is to practice deliberate practice. This is a systemic practice of mastery.

The basic idea is to break down each aspect of your task and practice until mastery. You want to increase intense focus and ability in specific areas of your craft. You start with smaller tasks and increase to bigger tasks until you have the entire skills mastered.

Self-discipline takes time and consistently to see your efforts brought to fruition, but it will definitely help you achieve confidence in the area you want to master. 

Focus on taking back your time

The second thing to think about when developing self-discipline is focus on taking back your time.

Self-discipline and habit forming go hand in hand. Once you’ve planned out your deliberate practice steps, you need to make sure that you schedule them on your calendar well ahead of time. The more mental energy you put in at the beginning, the more likely you are to actually form the habit you’re trying to build. 

So, take a moment at the beginning of the month to plan out your schedule. Pencil in time to practice each skill. And then make sure that any items you need are prepared ahead of time. That way, you can just jump right into the activity.

When you do this, you remove decision fatigue. You have already decided, beforehand, what your schedule is going to look like. And it makes it easier to stick with. 

All of this in turn, increases your self-discipline, and your boss is sure to take notice. 

Recommended book for Self-Discipline:

3. Teamwork is Critical for Success in the Workplace

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Knowing how to cultivate teamwork is a soft skill your boss will really appreciate. Your boss wants a team player because working together and collaborating is going to achieve the best, most innovative results. You want your boss to see that you’re engaged and committed to working well with your team.

This mentality helps with their bottom line profit and creates an atmosphere of positivity. 

Being a team player also helps highlight your individual strengths and weaknesses and highlight your ability to lead. When you take ownership over something you do well, but then allow your teammates to own their own projects, and make each work together shows how strong of a leader you can be because you aren’t micromanaging your coworkers and you’re trusting them to do their part in part of the process. 

It’s empowering for everyone, and it gives your boss space to work on more pressing issues.

How can you be a team player?

  • Ask questions. 
  • Don’t try to do everything by yourself. Let your coworkers help you.  
  • Suggest innovative solutions to other coworkers. 
  • Take suggestions your coworkers give you seriously.
  • Drill down on your role in the company and make sure you know how your role affects others

Recommended book for Building Teams

4. Big Picture Thinking

Big picture thinking separates employees from managers. It is the ability to step out of your work and see the larger impact of what your organization is doing.

When you utilize big picture thinking, you can be more innovative in your work and help achieve the larger organizational mission.

Bosses love to see employees taking initiatives . They want to see you see patterns in complex problems and come up with new ideas and solutions. 

Big picture thinking allows you to keep your eyes on what the whole of your organization is doing, and keeps you connected to their mission. It also

  • Allows you to lead
  • Keeps you moving forward
  • Promotes teamwork
  • Encourages collaboration and allows you to see what others see
  • Keeps you from avoiding the mundane

So what are some things you can do to practice big picture thinking?

Analyze how you think. If you sweat the small stuff, are focused on perfection, or try to hold an entire project by yourself, seek to know why. And then change it. Instead of sweating the small stuff, ask how this impacts the entire project – if it doesn’t you can ignore it.

Instead of focusing on perfection and finding yourself stuck on the same series of tasks, step back and look for larger opportunities. If you are trying to do an entire project by yourself, start delegating. Give others tasks so you can focus on the best practices for the organization at large. 

Recommended Reading for Big Picture Thinking:

5. Leadership

A good manager is always looking for his team to have soft leadership skills. Learning to lead is a skill that will stay with you your entire career and give you opportunities no other skills can.

Developing the leader inside you is one of the best ways to rocket launch your career into a higher pay scale. It’s one of the best skills you can hone in order to increase your salary at work.   

The best leaders lead from a strong teamwork base. They take feedback well and make sure the entire team feels respected. They use strong communication to take teams to newer heights and create the best projects. To be a good leader, you need to do the following things. 

Define goals and expectations

Before you try and lead on a project, you need to know what the goals and expectations are for the project.

Take some time to create a strategy before you meet with your team and explore what the project should look like step by step.

Utilize some big picture thinking and make sure to get involved with what the project should look like.

Consult with other people if you need to gain clarity before speaking with your team members. 

Clearly deliver your message

Make sure that you communicate with your team well. A clear message is one of the most important parts of leadership.

Without it, the people you’re working with will become confused and discouraged. Practice what you want to say several times and make sure you have the best tools to communicate the most important parts of the projects a few times beforehand. 

Keep everyone involved 

The worst thing you can do as a leader is to not delegate. You really want to make sure that everyone on the project is involved in the project and bought into the final result. 

They need to have everything they have for success. So make sure that you’re communicating well and asking them questions. 

Listen and show empathy 

Not everything is going to go well on a project you’re leading. A good leader always listens first and shows empathy to frustrated coworkers. Hear people’s concerns and make sure that you’re always willing to troubleshoot problems.

A leader is only as good as their team, so you want to make sure that yours trusts you and wants to work with you to put together the best product possible.

<4>Recommended Read on Leadership:

6. Customer Service and Likability

If you have a front facing job, customer service is a skill that is necessary. And even if you aren’t front-facing, having great customer service and making sure you’re well liked by the team as a whole can do wonders to getting that higher paycheck. 

First you want to make sure that you know your product on the inside and out. The best customer service comes from being knowledgeable and able to answer any questions people ask. You want to make sure that your teammates can trust you to handle things well. 

Second you want to make sure that you’re always friendly and open to helping other people. This starts by having a friendly and open demeanor. You always want to listen first before speaking. Make sure you understand their concerns and don’t hog the spotlight. Also, make sure you’re asking questions and providing the best information. 

Customer service and likability come down to relationships. You really want to make sure that you’re actively fostering those relationships and putting your best self forward.

Recommended Book for Likability:

7. Conflict Management

Conflict management is an essential soft skill for anyone wanting to grow their salary at work. Mitigating conflicts at work helps keep the team happy and working towards the best final project.

Bosses look towards employees with good conflict management skills to help them keep everyone focused on teamwork and good products. It takes a lot of confidence to settle conflicts well, but with a little practice, you’ll be well on your way. 

Let The Person Explain and Actively Listen

This is the most important part of conflict resolution and management. You have to facilitate a space where all persons are heard and respected.

Without this, no change is going to occur and nothing will change. Take turns talking and reiterating the main points of the conversation so that the big issues are addressed.

But, make sure you’re not bringing up old conflict. Really try to focus on the conflict at hand. 

Show a Willingness to Compromise or Collaborate

After all the major concerns have been addressed. The next step is to be willing to compromise and collaborate. Look at the problems you’re having and ask everyone to bring solutions to the table. Then try and find the best mix of solutions with everyone’s input. In order for any problem to be solved, all frustrated members have to feel like they have decision power in the solution. 

Even if you think your solution is the best – or that you’re the right person in the conflict – put those feelings aside. The goal is to work together, so you should prioritize resolving conflict over being right. 

Remember the Importance of the Relationship

Ultimately, you want to continue working as part of a team. And a huge part of conflict management and resolution is to keep the relationship at the forefront of the conflict. If it’s a client you’re struggling with, remembering that clients get you paid is huge. If it’s a coworker, remember that you could be working with this person on a long term level helps put things into perspective.  

Recommended Book for Conflict Management:

8. Creativity, Design and Problem Solving

Practicing creative and innovative design allows you to delve deeper into problems and work to create collaborative solutions. Your boss wants to promote people who bring interesting perspectives to problems and who work to create a more efficient system. 

You want to bring a solution-focused and action-oriented mindset on the table. And know that designing is more than creation of products. You can also use design theory to improve your office’s systems, protocols, procedures and customer experiences. 

However, you cannot practice creative problem solving in a bubble. Make sure that you’re holding brainstorming sessions between you and your coworkers. Test different products and systems with them. And get them involved in the thinking process. The more people that are involved in an innovative project, the better the final product will be. 

Definitely use creativity and design to your advantage to make your boss notice you and give you that raise. 

Recommended Book for Problem Solving:

9.  Negotiation

The final soft skill essential to a pay raise at work is negotiation. Not every boss will recognize your hard work and then advocate for you to get a pay increase. You have to advocate on your behalf. 

Talk to Your Boss 

Bring up your concerns to your boss well before they establish their budget for the year. Start asking for more responsibility as a precursor to more pay. Open strong communication lines and establish a positive relationship. 

Prove your Value 

In order to negotiate well, you need to prove your value to the company and to your boss. Keep a list of all your major accomplishments in your role. Make sure you highlight your unique skills that made your accomplishments important. 

Do Research in your Role

If you have a good relationship with coworkers in similar positions, ask them what they make. If you don’t, use websites like Glassdoor to help approximate what you should be making with your years of experience. 

Ask for More Money

Use the time that you’ve spent on collecting data for your benefit. Sit down with your boss and tell them that you’ve been taking on more responsibility and show them the pay data for your role and say that you’re looking for a pay increase to match your increased responsibility. 

Need more guidance? Here’s a comprehensive guide to asking for more money at work.

Recommended Book for Negotiations:

9 of the Best Soft Skills to Grow Your Salary in your 20’s

Here are the best skills to help you grow your salary. Use them to get more involved at work and show your boss that you’re serious about making more money. 

Practice these soft skills at work and you’ll be well on your way to growing your salary fast.

Thank you for reading!

About the Author

Hi! I'm Erik, the creator of The Mastermind Within blog.

I'm passionate about helping you improve as a person, get better with your finances, and create your dream life over time.

Through setting goals, critical thinking and intentional living and action, I believe you can master your life, win with money, and get on the path to freedom.

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