Salary and Promotions

Negotiating Salary in a Recession

You may think that in a recession your salary negotiating power is gone. In fact, for many people, things are so bad they would rather take a pay cut than suffer a job loss. The truth is, a recent poll showed that many Fortune 500 companies are looking at freezing merit based raises for the coming year. For many people, salaries may freeze or decline throughout 2009.

That said, highly skilled, experienced, or recruited candidates may find that now, they are worth more than ever to employers. So, if you have experience in a field that’s in high demand or have recruiters knocking on your door, don’t worry. Your salary level is probably fine. But if you’re searching for a job or are in an industry that’s feeling the economic slump, now is a great time to brush up on your salary negotiation skills. Selling your skills and experience in an economic climate like this will be challenging. So, here are three ideas for negotiating a salary in a recession:

Make it about their money.

If you’re a proven candidate who’s been successful at saving money for employers in the past, whether by cutting budgets, using innovative ideas, or changing processes, make sure to sell the value you add to a potential employer to save them cold, hard cash right now. Many people can prove they’ve spent a company’s money. But proven power in saving money in a business setting is a rare talent. So, make sure you sell your ability to save the company money by sharing actual dollar amounts you’ve saved. If you’ve saved a company in the thousands or millions, you can make your salary about saving the employer’s money, and chances are, you’ll get paid what you’re worth.

Make it about your performance.

Here’s something to consider when you’re talking money with a potential employer once a job offer’s been extended. Tell them you’re willing to base your raise or bonus on your performance. Set the stakes yourself. If you can accomplish their goals for the position before their allotted time frame, or if you can raise productivity levels in measurable ways above the last person who had the position, it would be worth it for them to pay you more. So, let your boss or potential employer know that you want a better salary but are willing to work for it. Then, give them a deadline to make the change by. Here’s an example: if you meet their goals within the first three months, they agree to give you an immediate 5% raise, no questions asked. And if you exceed them in measurable ways, they will give you another review to consider an even higher raise.

Make it about your time.

Time is money. So, if an employer says they can’t afford to pay you what you’re worth right now because of the economy, suggest that you would work for what they can afford to pay you but at a reduced schedule. For example, if you can prove you deserve to make 20% more than they’re willing to pay but they still can’t pay it, see if they’ll work out a compromise until the economy picks back up and they can afford to pay you more. Suggest that you would be willing to work 20% less time than the job description requires but at the salary they can afford for a full-time person now. If you are a valuable enough candidate or employee, this may just be the solution to meet both of your needs.

When you’re negotiating salary, make sure that you approach the subject with professionalism and tact. Go into a salary negotiation discussion prepared with the facts about what you’re worth, but don’t alienate a potential employer by being insensitive to their business needs, especially in an economy like this. By positioning yourself as your potential employer’s ally when it comes to talking about salary in a difficult economic situation, you’ll be more likely to get paid what you’re worth and help your employer weather the storm.

Have you successfully negotiated a new salary, even in the recession? Share your tips and insights in the comments!

Money Matters, or Does It? Finding Satisfaction in Your Job

According to a survey conducted in 2008 by, 46% of workers said they were unsatisfied at work. One of our blog polls found that 37% of our readers thought more money would keep them at their current job. So this begs the question, “Will money truly make you happier at work?” Chances are, it won’t. Research shows that once you earn enough money to cover your basic needs, earning more money doesn’t make you much happier. So, what’s standing in your way of being happy at work? Is one of these three factors weighing you down?

Lack of Interesting Work. If you find yourself doing mundane tasks over and over again, or don’t feel excitement in your job anymore, talk to your supervisor. Ask if you can take on a few new tasks or responsibilities, or trade projects with a co-worker. You’ll be able to learn a new skill and become more valuable to your department by taking on a new challenge.

No Room for Advancement. Not every company creates a career path or roadmap for employees to move up within the company, so if there’s not one, create your own. Start by picking up new skills and increasing your knowledge to broaden your opportunities. This can help you make an upward move into another area of the company that you weren’t qualified for previously. If there’s still no opportunity to move up, consider looking somewhere else.

Feeling Undervalued. If your work often goes unrecognized or you’re not sure how your work affects the company, you might feel undervalued. In this case, talk with your supervisor and let him know your concerns. Ask him to explain how your work ties into the department or company goals. It could be that he has a hard time expressing appreciation or doesn’t know how you feel.

Money isn’t the only key to happiness, and earning more of it isn’t always in your control. But, there are a few key things that can increase your satisfaction at work, regardless of the size of your paycheck. Once you figure out what’s really making you unhappy, you can fix the problem. You deserve to be happy at work, so why not change what you can today?

What Would You Do for a 4-Day Work Week?

With high gas prices, employees are struggling to meet the increasing cost of simply getting to and from work. And businesses are paying attention. There are stories of some employers getting creative, using incentives to help employees pay for gas. It’s all over the news how employers in some fields are meeting worker demands by offering a 4-day work week. The idea is to fit a 40-hour week into four 10-hour days so employees have one less day a week to travel to work.

But when it comes to business, a 4-day work week isn’t quite as simple as that. In fact, most places that have gone to a 4-day work week are government or non-profit entities. Some businesses face complications like losing profits and customer service by operating just 4 days a week.

The truth is, every benefit they add costs employers cash they have to make up for somewhere else. When you think about it in those terms, how important is saving money on gas to you in the big picture? Just how valuable is that extra day off each week?

5 Secrets to Getting Promoted

Earn a PromotionGetting ahead in your career doesn’t happen by accident. If you want to get promoted you need to dedicate yourself to becoming the best employee you can be. The following five tips can help you grow professionally and land a promotion.

1. Increase your skill level. If you’ve been passed over for a promotion in the past, it could be because you’re lacking essential skills needed to advance in your industry. To remedy this, evaluate your capabilities in comparison with those who have recently been promoted. If you determine that your skills fall short in a particular area, take action. This could mean finishing a degree, getting a particular certification or working with a mentor to grow as a professional.

2. Become indispensable. When management is choosing between candidates for a promotion, they’ll review each applicant’s track record. To make sure you stand out above the competition, focus on becoming your boss’s go-to person by volunteering for tough projects and always showing eagerness to offer a helping hand. When a project demands extra time, stay late or work through your breaks will. This will show your boss that you’re dedicated to fulfilling your commitments.

3. Be in the know. Having relationships with the right people is essential to advancing your career. To get ahead, focus on developing a solid group of supporters through networking, both inside and outside of your organization. You can build your network of contacts by becoming a member of professional organizations in your field and volunteering for cross-departmental projects and committees within your company. Remember, moving up is often more about who you know rather than what you know.

4. Excel in your current role. You can show your boss that you’re worthy of greater responsibility by producing higher quality work in your current position. To do this, you’ll need to always complete projects on time, show expertise concerning all aspects of your current position and get along well with your teammates. If you consistently exceed expectations in your present role, you’ll be on the top of the list when management selects a candidate for the next big opportunity.

5. Change jobs. Leaving your current job is generally a last resort to advancing professionally. After all, if you like your job, it makes sense to stick around as long as you can. But, if your employer can’t provide adequate opportunities for professional growth and advancement, it may be time to look for a new job. But remember to always conduct yourself professionally, even as you search for greener pastures. You never know who at your current organization might be able to help your career sometime in the future.

Have you recently been promoted? What do you think caused your supervisors to select you for advancement? Let us know in the comments section below.

3 Tips for Negotiating Salary During the Job Interview

negotiate salary in an interviewCongratulations, you’ve landed an interview! Maybe you’re even on your second or third meeting with a particular employer. As things move along in the process, you’re getting closer to the time of salary negotiation. To ensure that you’re prepared when the time comes to talk about money, check out the following tips.

Let Them Bring It Up.
You don’t want to be the one to broach the subject of compensation. If the employer is interested in you, you can be sure that the topic will eventually come up, so wait for that time to discuss it. That means you shouldn’t list your salary requirements on your résumé unless you’re required to do so.

Stating how much money you want too soon can box you into a figure that is lower than what you might’ve received otherwise, or it can eliminate you from consideration because the amount is too high.

Also, bringing up salary too early in the process is presumptuous and can make it appear that you’re only interested in money.

Do Your Research.
Before the interview, it’s your job to find out what the going rate is for the position you’re being considered for. This figure will vary depending on your location, skills, experience and education.

To get an idea of what the salary for the job will be, do online research on sites like, or If you happen to have friends who work at the company you’re interviewing with or know people who work in the same industry, you can get a good idea about what type of salary you can expect.

Researching compensation before the interview is an essential step to receiving a competitive salary. After all, if you don’t know what’s a fair price, how will you know if the interviewer’s offer is one you want to accept?

Don’t Be Too Quick to Accept the First Offer.
Before you shout “yes” to the first number out of the employer’s mouth, take a moment to think things through. Even if you’re satisfied with the offer, it’s best to not be hasty.
Consider asking for a day or two to review the offer before committing. During this time, evaluate the offer and ensure that it’s in line with the position responsibilities and your background.

If the offer seems too low based on your research, try making a counter offer. But be sure you have solid reasons for asking for increased compensation or other perks. Employers won’t be inclined to dish out more money just because you say you “need” it. That’s why you’ll have to be able to explain why your skills and the position responsibilities deserve a higher salary. Chances are, even if the employer is unable to sweeten the deal, they’ll respect you for thinking things through and knowing what you’re worth.

Before going in for an interview, it’s important to know what a reasonable pay range is for the position you’re applying for and to be able to sell your skills to the employer. By preparing for salary negotiations, you’ll increase your chances of receiving the competitive salary you deserve.

Don’t Let a Roadblock Derail Your Raise Negotiation

roadblock your raiseYou’ve done your homework, booked the meeting with your boss and prepared yourself mentally. You’ve made the pitch that you are well deserving of a raise based on your performance, progress toward your goals and value to the organization.

Then your boss throws you a curve ball, “So, Peter, what’s happening? Ah, now, are you going to go ahead and have those TPS reports for us this afternoon?”

You are unsure where the conversation is headed when you boss adds, “Oh, and next Friday is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to you can go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.”

If handled correctly, this blatant attempt to change the subject can work to your advantage. This tactic is used frequently by managers because it gives them the opportunity to regroup and hopefully discuss something else. You need to remember that this is your meeting, and you’re on a mission. Here are a few suggestions to help you reach your goal.

What do I have to do? Ask your boss to explain the career path that will allow you to increase your responsibilities as well as your bank account. Set time tables and measurements so you (and more importantly your manager) will know what’s expected.

Take responsibility. Offer to take on additional responsibilities and have your raise be reassessed in 90 days if your manager is pleased with your performance. Point out that you will be doing more work for the same pay. If your boss is open to this, consider suggesting that the raise be retroactive to the day of your meeting. There’s no sense leaving three months of extra money on the table.

Offer alternatives. There are other ways to get the raise without increasing your salary. A 5% raise for someone making $35,000 a year equates to an additional $1,750. If you know this going into your meeting why not suggest a one-time performance bonus equal to your raise. If that’s too much for your manager to digest, offer quarterly installment based on performance.

Get another job offer. I’m hesitant to offer this as a suggestion because it can backfire. You might mention that you have another job offer, and your boss will give you an empty box and show you to the door along with your last pay check. If you are going to attempt to use a job offer as leverage to get a raise, be prepared to leave.

Good employees are even more valuable in today’s tight labor market. It will cost the company more money to replace you and retrain a replacement than it would cost to give you that well-deserved 4-6% pay increase. Sometimes you have to rattle the cage to get your manager’s attention.

Best of luck to you, and let me know how it goes.

How to Get the Raise You Deserve

deserved raiseWhen was your last raise? If it was more than a year ago you may be losing money.

In 2006, the U.S. inflation rate was 3.24%. That means goods and services cost more today than last year. The price of gas has increased. Milk costs more. Cable costs more. Everything costs more.

If you haven’t had a recent pay increase, you are actually making less today than you were yesterday. So, what’s stopping you from getting that raise?

Many people are afraid to ask for more money. It could be conflict avoidance, fear of rejection or that you don’t know how to pull it off. If you are one of those people, I have some suggestions to help you successfully add some green to your future paychecks.

Know the market value of your job. Research how much your peers are making at other companies. It is dangerous to compare job titles with other companies because you might not be comparing apples to apples. Your best bet is to compare job duties or job descriptions. Online job boards and sites like can help you develop a pay range for your position based on your job duties.

Timing is important. It’s not wise to broach the subject when your boss is in a bad mood or on a tight deadline. You should also avoid asking for a raise right after you screwed up a project, went over budget or survived a layoff.  The best time would be after you completed a significant project or after you’ve taken on more responsibilities and proven you’re up to new challenges. Many companies create their budgets in the fourth quarter of the year. Employee compensation is an important part of each department’s budget so it’s best to get your request in early.

Stand strong. Don’t just walk into your boss’s office and demand a raise. You’d better put together a convincing case of why you deserve to make more. Examine your goals, progress and accomplishments. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. If you go in unprepared, be ready to get a quick brush off.

No boot kissing. Whining and groveling are pathetic in most business scenarios. You will be rewarded for your performance and confidence. Stating you need the raise because you’re getting divorced, having a baby or you need to get out of debt are not legitimate reasons. Any raise is based on your work performance. Not on what happens at home.

This should help you prepare, but it’s up to you to book the meeting and to make it happen. If you don’t ask the question, you’ll never get the answer.

This is evident in a recent study conducted at Carnegie Mellon University. Researchers found that four times as many men (51%) as women (12.5%) pushed for a better deal in negotiating a job offer. Not surprising, the individuals who asked for more money received 7.4% more than those who accepted the offer without debate.

The study cited a primary reason that women avoid salary negotiations. Women who pushed for more money were seen as “less nice” and were at times viewed negatively.

Have you recently experienced a successful raise negotiation? Do you feel you’d be looked at negatively if you ask for a raise? Are there different rules for women and men?

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the appropriate course of action if you meet some roadblocks when asking for more money.