Job growth is on the rise but wages have flattened out.

Higher pay isn’t the most realistic career goal to start this year with, say several new studies on jobs.

Wages in the U.S. have only increased 0.9 percent since last year, which isn’t in sync with living costs, says a study from job site Glassdoor. It won’t hurt to wait a few months to ask for a raise, or get creative and shoot for …

  • More paid time off
  • A promotion without a raise
  • Flexibility in your schedule

These are a little more realistic.

“Real income — the actual amount of goods and services people are able to purchase with their paychecks — has been impacted by the lethargic wage growth. Wages are not keeping pace with rising inflation,” says Patrick Wong, economic data scientist at Glassdoor. “We expect this trend to reverse, with either stronger wage gains or softening inflation rates as we continue into 2018, bringing real wage gains back into positive territory for most of the country.”

Wage negotiation

When wage growth starts to turn around, maybe you can try to negotiate your salary. But it turns out most people don’t.

Only 39 percent say they tried to negotiate a higher salary with their last job offer, says a study from Robert Half, a staffing firm. Men made up most of that rate. Almost half of men (46 percent) negotiated, while only 34 percent of women did.

The topic is becoming increasingly more sensitive to discuss during a job interview, according to the study. But a little strategy could go a long way.

“First and foremost, avoid negotiating any part of the compensation package until after you’ve received a formal offer,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half. “Second, don’t go into a negotiation without practicing the conversation in person with a trusted friend or mentor. Someone who has been in your position can help you prepare for the unexpected and make a stronger case.”

If a raise is out, quality of life should be in

If you can’t get higher pay, what’s the next best thing? Maybe a little paid time off.

A little over one-fourth of employees say vacation is most important, says a study from Accountemps. A better corporate culture (24 percent) wasn’t far behind.

“In today’s employment market, companies need to put their best foot forward when making job offers and, beyond salary, highlight benefits that could entice candidates,” says Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps. “Professionals want to be hired by organizations that support work-life balance and have values that align with their own. An attractive corporate culture can go a long way toward recruiting and retaining top talent.”

A promotion was third-most important (21 percent), behind a pay increase. Speaking of promotion…

Not all promotions come with a raise

The money would be nice, but knowing you’re valued and going somewhere can make all the difference in staying at a job.

Over half (54 percent) say they’d like a raise without the promotion, but that may not be possible. In that case, nearly half (46 percent) would gladly take a promotion without the raise, says a study from Korn Ferry, consulting firm.

“Let’s be clear, appropriate compensation is key to a professional’s job satisfaction, but being recognized for a job well done through a promotion is also a critical factor in motivating and retaining talented employees,” says Tom McMullen, Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner. “A lack of career development opportunities is the number one reason why professionals leave a company.”

If nothing else can keep you with a company, or, there’s one last thing you haven’t thought of, try for a more flexible schedule.

Making your own work hours

There’s more to life than working, and enjoying your life can benefit your work performance.

More than 40 percent of workers say flexible hours are most important to them, says a study from Clutch, a staffing firm.

“Employee perks contribute to a stronger work-life balance,” the study says. “Over half of the respondents said their employer-sponsored perks give them a better quality of life.”

And as June Palmer, director of sales at VIDA Fitness, a D.C. health club, points out in the study: “A healthy employee is a productive employee.”

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Joe Pye

Joe Pye

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Pye is a freelance writer for Debt.com.

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Article last modified on March 20, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: You’ll Get Hired, Just Don’t Expect a Pay Bump - AMP.