Yesterday one of my connections contacted me with a personal dilemma and suggested his question might be right for a blog. I think that like him, there could be others dealing with the same issue, so here goes.
The situation is when you’re in the running for a job and the posted salary range is quite broad. It’s so wide, you can’t afford to take the job at the low-end, and you’re only considering the position should the salary you accept be toward the highest range. So how and when do you raise the issue of compensation?
To answer this question, you have to look at a number of factors. First and foremost is to separate what you need from what you want. Sure you want more, unless you’re so wealthy that you’re taking the job just to keep busy and working for $1.00 per year because you have to take a salary of some kind. But how much do you need to pay the expenses and how much do you want to live the lifestyle you imagine? Those are often two very different things. Essentially it’s a good idea to do the two budgets. Time consuming? A little yes, but a great exercise to know where you are and usually quite revealing when done properly.
Now it’s important to look at this situation from the viewpoint of the employer, not your own. This is critical and not a place most people start from. Most folks look at their experience, education and their accomplishments and come up with a number that in their minds is what they are worth. While that’s a healthy thing to do, it doesn’t impress most employer’s to simply say, “I’ve done my homework and I know what I’m worth.”
No, to make your case for a higher starting salary, you should make a business case. Business owners, Boards of Directors, etc. understand the business case model. It begins with what your hiring will actually do for the organization. Are you going to grow their business? If so, what’s your revenue stream, marketing plan and how do you plan on implementing it? If you’re going to solve an existing problem the company has, be ready to share it and you’d better understand and respect their business including their values, target audiences and their market share. Or if you’ve identified an opportunity for them which your skills and experience eminently qualify you to undertake, your services become more attractive.
And that’s it in a nutshell; you need to make hiring you attractive to them. This is a better approach than simply saying, “I’m 47, I’ve worked hard and I’m not taking less than x number of dollars.” You’ll likely be shown the door.
You become attractive when your services, ideas and energy synergize with the organizations objectives and goals. That being said, you also have to understand and accept that even if an organization does see the value in bringing you onboard, they might not be in a place to meet your expectations or demands. They may point out to you that they can hardly bring you in at a higher annual salary than other employees who have been at the organization for years doing essentially the same job.
Here you come to negotiation; and it should be a win-win strategy you propose. If you feel your business case is sound and you’re invested in making this work, what other benefits beyond dollars might you suggest be on the table? Perhaps there’s an opportunity to negotiate free monthly parking, your annual golf or membership, an extra two weeks vacation beyond what was offered, or build in some performance incentives.
Of course in many organizations these perks don’t exist. It may be that they are unionized and there’s no wiggle room, or it could be the company has never entertained the ideas you’re suggesting and will have to regroup and discuss your proposal.
What you do need to know clearly is the lowest number you’ll actually accept and if you’re offered anything below that number, are you prepared to walk away and look for work elsewhere? I know a woman who asked for $80,000 and when told the position was $46,000, she sheepishly said, “Okay”. This only after told the lower wage by the employer who was packing up, figuring she wasn’t interested. She ended up begging to be hired at $46,000 and her earlier number was just an ill-advised shot at the moon.
It’s important for your long-term mutual happiness that your wages reflect what you’re worth and that you are invested in the work you do to justify your wages to the employer. At an interview – or series of interviews – it’s up to you to show how you’re going to go about earning those dollars. This is where sharing your previous accomplishments adds validity to your case.
Examples! Examples! Examples! What are the specific examples from your past that prove you have the skills and experience you claim? Having shared those, now turn to the opportunity on the table. As your past behaviour is the best predictor of your future behaviour, relate what you’ve done to what you’ll do. If you make the connections for the new business, you may just get what you want – as shall they.
So know your worth; know their business, know your opportunity and go for the mutual win. Got ideas or experiences of your own to share? Comment please!