Making The Case Of Starting With A Higher Wage

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!

Turning Down A Job CAN Be A Good Thing

With a tight economy, many people out of work and fewer jobs out there, why on earth would anyone actually turn down a job offer when they are unemployed? I’m guessing that you can come up with several scenarios on your own, but some include: low wages, unforeseen travel requirements, lack of child care options, a poor fit, pride etc.

Imagine though you haven’t been out of work for very long and you’ve got lots of enthusiasm for the job search, your attitude is positive and you’re looking to get something close to what you’ve just been doing at approximately the same salary. Being offered a job outside your desired profession, or at a substantially lower wage might not be in your best interests to accept. Of course if you are surrounded by others who have been out of work for an extended period of time, they’ll be telling you that you’re crazy.

So here’s the thing; when you are taking action that runs counter to what others are collectively doing or telling you to do, it can be empowering or unwise and it’s up to you to know the difference. If for example your last job paid $35.00 per hour, and you’ve just been offered a job at $15.00 per hour, you might rationalize that the $20.00 per hour drop in wages isn’t something you are prepared to take. Now if it’s only your pride standing in the way but you’d love the job itself and you could get by on $15.00 per hour, some would argue you should take the job because you’d be happy in the work and you could pay all your bills etc.

However, if you really believe that by taking that $15.00 job, you’ll constantly be beating yourself up over it and you’ll walk around with a huge chip on your shoulder on the job, you should decline it gracefully. All that’s likely to happen is you damage your self-perception, you hurt your image, you obtain poor references if any at all, and you may actually hurt your chances at getting a better salary the next job you apply to when they ask, “What did you make in your last job?”, and you answer $15.00 instead of $35.00 per hour.

Everything becomes relative. Much of what is right to do or not will depend on how long you’ve been out of work, your financial responsibilities and commitments, whether you are single or have a second family income, what the job itself would entail, your strength of character and more. And of critical importance is whether you have some long-term commitment or goal in mind related to your career. Many people just go along in life moving from job to job without ever having career goals, and some are exceedingly happy in this choice; they worry about other things you may not.

Turning down a job offer may actually lead to a counter offer made by the employer to attract you to accept; perhaps not more money, but other incentives that may woo you move. In order for this to even be contemplated by the employer, they must have full and accurate awareness of why you are declining their offer. In other words, what barrier exists that keeps you from accepting? There are instances where applicants negotiate moving expenses to go across the country or leave the country altogether. There are perks like hours of work, working part-time from home etc. that may not actually cost the company any money, but mean the difference between signing you on or having you work elsewhere.

Passing up a job offer can also just boost your self-esteem. You may have been frustrated being rejected by employers and lo and behold here you are turning down one of them! Of course this euphoria should be tempered because of course you are still unemployed and shouldn’t break out the champagne yet if you are still on a budget. A job just might be beneath you, or just a really bad fit for your skills. You might look down on a job that pays way below what you’ve been used to, but the people in those jobs are still people of value doing needed work. If you find yourself looking down on a job; never look down on the people performing it. Until you know their background histories, and why they are where they are, you should hold you tongue and reconsider any thought of spouting off your unsolicited opinions.

You know another reason to turn down a job offer? You research a company, and what you read on their website is not what you experience at the interview. You see people who are rude, unhappy, isolated or just plainly ineffective. The interviewer isn’t engaged, or seems desperate. Sometimes the cues you pick up on visiting the company and going through the interview tell you that you won’t enjoy your time there, or your reputation might be tarnished by working for a company.

Have you ever noticed that after going a long time with no offers, you suddenly get not one but two or three? This is yet another reason why you might turn down an offer of employment. Turning down an offer may mean your circumstances are turning around.

Something to think about.