Get the salary you deserve

If you are a typical hardworking employee who doesn’t like to play politics, your best raises will come when you change jobs. Here is what you can do about this.

It takes a rare combination of employee desperation and management insight for an employee to effectively communicate why the company should increase the employee’s salary to match the employee’s contribution to the company.

Too many managers have learned that showering "attaboys" and "attagirls" on their help can forestall reasonable requests for pay increases.

I’m not talking about pay increases based on time spent on the job. I’m talking about raises based on the fact that you are doing more than anyone in your pay grade.

Most companies are unwilling to recognize employee performance when it comes to paying more to high performers. As a result, pay raise differentials are typically kept to the narrowest range possible.

What this means to you is that, in most cases, your pay is determined almost entirely by your starting salary.

Most of you will never be in a better bargaining position than when you interview for a job, so you need to take your best shot during the interview process.

You must have an idea of the salary you want, before you go for the
interview and what value you bring to this company. If you don’t have
either of these, then the rest of this will not help you.

After you have determined that the position you are discussing is
one you want to do and can do, then you can discuss salary. Discussing
salary before that point is a waste of time. You may find that you are
willing to accept a lower salary if the opportunity allows you to get
in on a startup situation with a piece of the action.

Let the company make the first offer. If they refuse to do so, give
them a salary requirement that is 10 percent higher than you expect to
get. Then let them negotiate you down to what you wanted in the first
place. That way, the hiring person can report that they saved the
company money.

Everybody involved should have a win when you are hired. That way,
you will start out with as many people as possible on your side.

Startup or not, if they truly need you, make them pay you what the
job is worth. It may be difficult for you to grasp this, but companies
respect people in proportion to what they pay them. Actual performance
is difficult to observe and is assumed to be proportionate to salary.

Two people doing comparable work at different salaries will continue
to earn different salaries as the years drag by. The person with higher
pay may even get larger increases because she is more "valuable".

You job, then, is to secure the largest compensation package you can
when you have maximum leverage. Believe me, the feelings of good
fellowship and unfeigned enthusiasm will never be higher than during
the hiring phase.

Take advantage of that opportunity and secure a starting position
and compensation package, in writing, that will give you the best
chance to star in your new position.

If you miss that shot, and hope to negotiate a better deal at some
later time by threatening to leave, your odds of success are greatly
reduced.

It will take a great deal of skill and sincerity to renegotiate a
salary once you are locked in. You must be willing to leave the company
for another job or to go back to school if your negotiation fails.

That is why most of us simply changed jobs when a simple discussion
with management didn’t result in a suitable salary adjustment. When
most merit raises ranged from 3 to 8 percent, we could usually count on
a 15 to 20 percent increase by changing jobs.

If you are a valuable player, make sure you are part of a team that deserves you, and give them your best.

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