Want to make more money? These four surprising factors can impact your average salary

By Marnie Soman Schwartz
December 09, 2014
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Want to make more money? Silly question. Hard work, diligence, performance, and training will all impact the dollar value on your paycheck-but these things don't paint the whole picture. More subtle skills (like your ability to read your coworkers) and even traits outside your control (like your height) can impact your bottom line. Here, four surprising qualities that have been shown to affect your salary.

1. Your emotional intelligence. The capacity to pick up on how others are feeling (what researchers call emotion recognition ability) is related to your yearly earnings, according to a study from Germany. Emotional skills help you process information about your environment, and then aid you in using that intel to navigate the office social scene-which can help you get ahead at work and therefore earn more. If you're having trouble relating to your employees, learn how to Be a Nicer Boss in Just 30 Minutes a Week.

2. The grades on your childhood report cards. If you were a high-achieving kid, you're more likely to be raking in the big bucks as an adult. One study from the United Kingdom found that math and reading achievement at age seven predicted adult socioeconomic status. And a study from the University of Miami found that for every one-point increase in a woman's high school GPA, her yearly salary got a 14 percent boost (the effect was slightly less in men).

3. Your appearance. Talk about unfair: About 10 years into their careers, women earn about $2,000 more each year for every point on a five-point attractiveness scale. Other studies show that overweight women earn less, while tall women earn more.

4. The length of your name. According to a survey from careers site TheLadders, longer names mean lower salaries-with a startling $3,600 drop in salary for each letter added to a name's length. An easy piece of career advice: Go by a nickname. When they tested 24 pairings of longer names and their shortened versions, researchers found 23 of the shorter names were associated with higher salaries (the exception: Lawrences earned more than Larrys). Who knew?