How to Strategize for More Money

Posted by Patra Frame
salary negotiation

Salary is a regular topic in career and job search discussions. Many people wonder if they are getting paid what others in their field are. Some believe they are underpaid, others just want to know how to get more money. In recent years, average pay raises have been low at about 3%. Those taking new jobs have also seen smaller increases than in the past – often in the 5-10% range.

What can you do to earn more?

First, do great work.

Whatever your career and your level now, people who do top quality work consistently are those most likely to get higher pay raises and faster promotions. You do this by learning what your boss expects and regularly exceeding it. Keep your boss in the loop on your achievements and issues needing their attention. Add in a willingness to learn and grow your skills. Understand what your company values and play to that.

Ask your boss what it will take to get a higher pay raise each year and work toward that. A company may plan based on a 3% average, but that may mean only 75-80% of all employees will get a raise while the range of those raises maybe 1-7%. Also, ask where you fall in the current salary range for your position. Most companies over 100 employees have ranges. Learn the pay range to understand when you need to get promoted or move before hitting its limits. Ask if there are bonus programs or other ways to improve your pay if raises are limited.

If you are in a situation where your boss does not value your work or discriminates against you illegally, you need to move on. You may be able to find a better boss in your company or you may need to find a new company. Do your homework and get into a better situation where you are valued and can succeed.

Second, learn about pay in your career field.

Professional organizations can often help with that as they offer great opportunities to network with hiring managers. A friend in human resources from a past job may have recent, specific salary survey data for your field too. Networking with other people in your career field is usually your best resource for current market information including pay data.

Pay is influenced by many things. One is the contract. Whether you work for a prime or sub is another. In general, large companies pay average salaries but may have better benefits. Mid-size companies pay higher salaries while small companies pay the highest for those employees in their core fields but less otherwise. Geography also has a significant impact on pay. Most mid-size to large companies tie pay rates to local salaries. Jobs in the core of a large city usually pay more than the same job in the suburbs. These factors make the many salary calculators you see online of use only in the broadest sense. They take national data and adjust it for cost of living and the age of the data to make the numbers you see when you ask about a specific job in your area. Use them for a very general guide but not for negotiating.

Third, be visible.

Be visible within your company by connecting with other people in your work unit and outside it. Volunteer for internal task forces or cross-functional teams. Offer to be a ‘buddy’ for new employees or to mentor other employees. If your company sponsors events, offer to help with them or participate. When your company is hiring, refer top-quality people you know.

Be visible outside your company. Be active in relevant organizations, whether in person or online groups. Use your social media presence to pass on interesting articles or events in your field. Consider working with a group that guides students in your career area. Other community or non-profit organizations also offer a way to learn and demonstrate skills that will help you move forward in your career.

Fourth, conduct a successful job search and negotiation.

Any HR person can tell you about applicants who were already earning far above the pay range for a position. Most of us also have stories about the great candidate who lost the job because they asked for too much in negotiating an offer. These are both easy mistakes to avoid.

When you are looking for a new position, target specific employers. Learn everything you can about each company. Do your research online first but then start talking to people you know. You want to understand their culture and their pay practices. Don’t waste your time on just applying randomly for jobs. Spend your time learning first and then targeting your best matches. Once you know those, you can write a great resume and network your way into a job where you are valued personally and in your paycheck.

Make a decision checklist early in your job search that covers all your goals and what trade-offs you will make. Include pay and benefits parameters if these are important to you.

When you are asked about pay in the hiring process, ask about their range for the position. Pay ranges are not always available, but it is worth asking. Then you can see if it covers your expectations or not. Many states and cities have outlawed employers being able to ask for salary information. You still should have a pay range in mind that you seek. As above, base it on real knowledge of your current value in your field. Once you have given a pay range, you need to live with it. Going back to ask for more money than you first stated is a red flag and often leads to the job offer being rescinded.

You can negotiate an offer. Your research into a company should include whether they will negotiate; some will not, but most will.

  • Know what you want – If the job and the organization are right, then it is worth trying to improve the pay or some other aspect of the offer.
  • Be realistic – Understand you can improve your chances of getting closer to what you want by asking for 1-2 critical changes, not for a long list.
  • Be aware that some aspects of an offer cannot be changed. The terms of medical insurance and retirement plans, for example.
  • Base pay, incentives, stock/options, vacation, telecommuting options, and relocation expenses are often negotiated.
  • If the job and organization are not a good match for your career goals or success needs, more pay and benefits won’t make it right.

Create your change request:

Sit down and write out the 1-3 changes you want and why. Then rank them. Here is an easy format.

The most critical change I want is this:

  • Current offer:
  • Difference between what I want and current offer:
  • Supporting business reasons for this change:
  • Options I would also consider:

Next, think about what you will settle for. Is the original offer acceptable if the organization refuses to change it, or will you walk away? If you can only get your highest priority change made, will that be enough?

Once you have completed this exercise, call the hiring manager. Talk about what you love about the organization and the job first. Then state your concerns with the offer. Do this quickly after you receive the offer. You want to convey your commitment and enthusiasm. And you want the hiring manager to see you as reasonable but confident in your value.

Be willing to offer alternatives. Example: if you cannot get more pay immediately, can you get a three-month review, or be included in a bonus program? Be positive about working with the hiring manager and remind them that you will make immediate contributions.

Once they have made changes in response to your request, be ready to accept it. It is smart to ask for the changes to be confirmed in writing, but accept them as soon as you receive them.

Be positive and keep your eye on the important things: The right job in the right organization for you, with a compensation package that makes sense to both sides = win-win.

Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2020 11:43 am

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