Salary Archives

“Want a Raise? – Here’s How to Ask”

Published on August 11th, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

“At the end of my salary, there’s always a lot of month left.”

– Loesje

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORY: Here are some survey results recently published by compensation-data firm PayScale:

    a. Over 90% of U.S. workers reported being dissatisfied with their salary.
    b. But, only 43% of U.S. workers reported asking for a raise last year.
    c. About 19% of U.S. workers were offered a raise without asking for one.
    d. But 38% didn’t ask for a raise because they were uncomfortable asking, feared being too “pushy,” and some even thought they would lose their jobs if they asked.
    e. One statistic stood out over all: of those who asked for raises, 75% were successful.

How many received the raise they felt they deserved? 44%. Not too bad. Is it possible they didn’t prepare themselves with a careful plan, practice their “pitch” for a raise, and therefore missed out on a golden opportunity to be more successful? Quite possibly, in fact, likely.

While every employee, every employer, every industry, and the financial circumstances of every company are unique, three things are for sure: First, unless you were among the 19% who were given a raise without asking, you had to ask for one to get one. Second, even if your are among the 19% who were given a raise without asking, chances are 56% you were not pleased with the result. Third, there are more effective ways to do anything you do, and that includes asking for a raise.

So, it pays to think about your raise request, organize your thoughts, decide who you will ask, consider the rationales you will use to justify your request, and practice your raise request, all before making your request. These wise steps are steps few consider and even less practice. Sad, because they work.

LESSON TO LEARN: Requesting a raise can be a stressful proposition. You may be concerned that your request will make you seem “pushy,” or even anger your boss. You may be fearful that you’ll just be turned down. And, too, you might be granted such a small raise that it would be more than disappointing, even humiliating. If you want to find them, there are so many reasons to avoid requesting a raise in salary.

On the other hand – and there is always an “other hand,” isn’t there? – there are more important reasons to take the initiative, assume the risk, and get past your insecurity and anxiety. The first three are quite familiar: “food, clothing and shelter.” Others include the need to care for, and prepare for, kids, loved ones, retirement and the proverbial “rainy days” that are sure to visit when you least expect them. Raising your salary in your present job can also justify a higher salary in your next job, for “salary history” is a question raised in nearly every job application and in nearly every interview.

Keeping yourself at or above “market rate” for your position and responsibilities, and consistent with your perceived value to your employer, is your “first job” and not your employer’s responsibility. Sure, you may be offered a raise on each hiring anniversary or each January first, but whether you receive a raise, the amount you receive, and the frequency you receive one a raise are your job to influence positively, and not your employer’s. As the saying goes, “God helps those who help themselves.”

Over time, we have coached many of our clients in this process. Each person, each employer and each situation is unique, but there are certain fundamental truths, and even a few “tricks of the trade” that we have proven themselves especially helpful when asking for a raise.

Here they are – all 30 – for your consideration.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Based on many years helping employees negotiate for themselves, here are 30 logical, sensible and effective pointers that should help you when you decide to ask for your raise:
Read the rest of this blog post »

“My raise was tiny. Illegal discrimination, or legal cost-cutting?”

Published on August 23rd, 2013 by Alan L Sklover

Question: Hello. I have been with my present employer for over 28 years. I am now 50. I receive great performance evaluations, but this year’s raise was only one half of one percent. To make matters worse, half of it will not be counted for retirement purposes. 

I feel like it is age discrimination and they are trying to starve me out. Do I have a case?

Name Withheld
Leland, Missouri 

Answer: Dear Blog Visitor: Hello to you, as well. I chose to publish my answer to your question because so many blog visitors are asking similar questions lately. Here is my best answer.   

1. For there to be illegal “discrimination,” there must be an illegal “motivation” in your employer’s mind and heart. It is not illegal discrimination for an older person to receive a small raise, or to be demoted, or even to be laid off. Those unfortunate experiences can happen to anyone, at any age. However, if your boss said to himself or herself, “I am going to give him a small raise because I don’t like older people,” or “Deep in my heart, I know older people get sick more often, so I don’t think they are worth as much as younger people,” then it would be illegal discrimination, because of the discriminatory motivation for the act.  

2. How can you tell if you have a “case” of illegal discrimination? Since illegal discrimination is a matter of what is in the “mind” and “heart” of the employer, how can you see what is in an employer’s mind and heart? Actually, you cannot do that, even if you looked real hard in their ears, down their throats, or up their noses. However, you can figure out what is in employers’ minds and hearts by listening to what they say and watching what they do, because what they say and what they do is a reflection of what they think and feel.  

Let’s start with (a) what your employer says: if your employer goes around calling people in their 50’s and 60’s “old geezers,” or other negative things, then he or she probably does not view older workers with respect, and does not see them as valuable as they view younger employees. Likewise, if your employer keeps saying to older employees “You should not need much money, as your kids are all grown,” chances are the employer had age in his or her mind when deciding how much to give you this year as your raise. 

Now let’s look at (b) what your employer does. Most importantly, did older employees all receive lower raises than younger employees? Have more of the older employees been laid off than younger employees?  Have more of the older employees been denied promotions that were given to less experienced, and younger, employees? These acts would tend to paint a pretty strong pattern of different treatment depending on the ages of the employees, and thus indicated age was in the mind and heart of the employer when it decided on the small raise.  

3. If you are paid more than most of your younger colleagues, it is possible that a very small raise was given to you in order to urge you to resign, or get you angry enough to quit. This sort of seeming “discrimination” – where the employer targets those who are higher paid, and it is a fact that older employees are often higher paid – is a source of great debate among many people, including employees, employers, lawyers and Courts. While lowering overall costs is an entirely appropriate business objective, if doing so falls mostly on the shoulders of older employees, could it be “discrimination in disguise?” Courts are somewhat in disagreement over how to treat these circumstances, but are increasingly looking at each individual, and making a determination – illegal discrimination or legal cost-cutting – on a case-by-case basis, with a watchful eye toward “evident intent.” That is, they look at the other things that the employer is “saying” and “doing” to reach a decision on this issue of possible discriminatory intent. 

4. I think it is quite likely that you are experiencing what so many other people – young, middle aged and old – are experiencing, worldwide: lowered compensation for the same effort and performance. Not only am I reading about it, I am hearing about this trend on a daily basis from both clients and blog visitors. They are not only receiving lowered benefits, lowered bonuses, lowered commission payments, but even lowered salaries. This is on every “level,” from entry level to “C-Suite.” It is to the point that even some people are working for free – the “interns” – in most cases in violation of minimum wage laws.  

It seems like a matter of “supply and demand,” that is, few jobs and a lot people looking for them. While employers can’t sell more, and can’t raise their prices, they can engage in – and are – lowering compensation. In and of itself, it is not illegal. Demoralizing? Yes. Upsetting? Yes.

A real challenge? You betcha, as landlords, mortgage companies and those who sell us the food we eat are not lowering their prices at this time. Far from it. 

5. The one proven way to combat “income deflation” is to learn how to “navigate and negotiate” at work, which is what we teach in this blog. Even in this atmosphere of “income deflation,” some people are moving forward, climbing the income ladder, and achieving greater incomes and enhanced job security. It is a matter of pursuing and practicing our 7-step discipline, what we refer to as the SkloverMethod™ of workplace navigation and negotiation, which is fully explained more throughout our blogsite. As we often say, “Make yourself valuable, and negotiate that value, and all will be well.”   

I hope this has been helpful. Thanks for writing in.   

My Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Want to learn more of this “good stuff” regularly? You can Receive Each of Our Blog Posts Automatically, Free, By Email if you just [click here.] And we promise: we never sell, lease or let anyone see our subscriber list. Never, ever.  

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time™

© 2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“What Salary Do You Seek?” The Four Smartest Responses

Published on March 13th, 2013 by Alan L Sklover

“Money isn’t everything,
but it sure keeps you in touch with your children.”

-  J. Paul  Getty

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES”: About 15 years ago, I interviewed a candidate for a position with my firm who simply refused to tell me the salary – or even the salary range – he was seeking. When he said “I am not prepared to discuss that,” I was quite taken aback. When he said “I would rather not negotiate against myself,” I was puzzled. When I asked “Can you at least tell me what your ballpark is?” he said “I heard you are a great negotiator,” and still declined to answer my question. When I finally did offer him the job, it was at a salary lower than I would otherwise have offered him, because, it seemed to me, he just didn’t care. Simply put, he did not serve himself well in this discussion.

In my practice, I can’t count the number of times I have been asked by clients for a good response to the inevitable interview question: “What salary level do you seek?” 

“Should I ask for more than I want, knowing they will negotiate me down?”

“Should I refuse to answer the question, but instead ask them ‘What is the most you will pay?’”

“Should I say that ‘Money is not that important; opportunity is?’”

“Should I say that the job is more important than the salary?”

“Should I say that I would rather not discuss this until we decide there is a good ‘fit’ here?”   

The simple truth is that there is no one absolute best response that fits all job candidates and all interviewers. If there was, we would all have read about it by now. Rather, there are a few “smartest” responses to that question, responses that are likely to be viewed as responsive, positive, realistic and engaging, rather than unrealistic, passive, demanding or inflexible.   

LESSON TO LEARN: By definition, the best response to any question – including the “What salary level do you seek?” is the response that is most likely to get you what you want.

And, of equal importance is that you should respond in a way that makes you appear to be working “with” your interviewer, not making it hard for him or her to get through the interview.   

So, as examples, by responding with “I don’t know,” “That depends,” or “The job is more important than the salary,” you are neither being (i) responsive to the interviewer, nor (ii) moving “the ball forward” to your own “goal line.”

Instead, be prepared with a smarter response to the question, “What salary do you seek?” that is, one that will more likely than not appear to be (i) actively “working with” your interviewer, and (ii) “being smart” for yourself at the same time.  

WHAT YOU CAN DO: We refer to the four smartest responses to the “salary sought” question as: “(1) Flexible, (2) Current, (3) Internal, and (4) Market.” Consider these four responses when preparing for any upcoming interview, in which “What salary do you seek” is quite likely to be asked:   Read the rest of this blog post »

“If a job offers a certain pay, can I negotiate that?”

Published on November 10th, 2011 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I recently had an interview for a position and was told that the job paid a certain amount per hour. The amount of pay is a large pay cut for me, and the commute is longer than my previous commute.

If offered the job, do I still have the opportunity to negotiate salary and/or benefits? Or is it set in stone because they told me a set rate?  

Greta
New Kent, Virginia

Answer: Dear Greta:         

1. The pay offered for any job is just that – an offer – and may or may not be “set in stone.” When an employer and a job applicant first get together, it is common (but not always the case) that the employer lets it be known that “The salary offered for this position is a certain number, or a certain range.” No matter what the employer says, it is possible that – if the applicant seems valuable enough – the offered compensation may prove “flexible.” In my opinion the purpose of the interview process is just that: for the applicant to show the prospective employer how wonderfully valuable he or she is, and possibly even worth paying more than was advertised.

2. The time for discussion of “possibly higher pay” is when the job applicant has the most leverage: after he or she has shown himself or herself to be the most valuable person interviewed. At the conclusion of the interview process, if the job is offered to the job applicant, that surely means he or she seems more valuable to the employer than anyone else. That is good, and it means that it is now time to do what is entirely proper under the circumstances: for the job applicant to say, in his or her own words, “Is there any flexibility in the offered salary, as I would be more comfortable with a salary of about $10,000 more.” In my experience, I think most employers even expect to hear that question.

3. The job applicant can then (i) accept what was originally offered, (ii) seek more, as noted above, or (iii) reject the compensation offered as inadequate. If you are good at what you do, and have a positive working attitude, chances are most prospective employers will show some flexibility in compensation. Remember: if offered the job, you are seen as the most promising candidate out of the whole bunch. Sure, don’t be arrogant, but don’t sell yourself short, either.

Did you ever hear of a house buyer paying exactly the offering price? That is rare. Did you ever hear of a car purchaser paying exactly the offering price? That is also rare. Did you ever hear of a diner in a restaurant negotiating the price on the menu? Though it is rare, I have heard of it, and it is evidence of a negotiating secret: for a valuable customer – one who visits often, one who tips the servers well, and one who brings in a lot of friends – some restaurants give free meals. When dealing with any employer, remember how much he or she is “hungry” for a good employee.

4. The creative job applicant can also creatively negotiate other “things of value.” Greta, your note to me indicates that this is a long commute for you. If offered the job, but turned down for a larger pay package, might you suggest that the following be considered instead: (a) working from home one day a week; (b) reimbursement for commuting expense; (c) a better-sounding title; (d) improved benefits. Some of these things might be even more attractive to you than would be the higher pay you seek. I love to see people discover that, while important, money is not necessarily the most important “reward” an employee can negotiate for.

5. Remember, too, that everything that is negotiated today can be re-negotiated tomorrow. Most people think that negotiation takes place just once, or perhaps even once a year. I see it differently. I think negotiation goes on every single day, if and when you show your employer you are valuable, or show your employer you are not worth much, by how you work and what you get done.

If you make your employer say to himself or herself “Wow, Greta is so good, she gets more done than two people. She is the epitome of productivity and a great attitude, too,” then you are setting yourself up for the easiest and most successful re-negotiation of your life, next week, next month or sometime soon. But first you must show how good you are: that is what motivates winning negotiations.

Greta, you might enjoy and take advantage of our free YouTube video entitled “Can I Really Negotiate with My Boss?” You can view it by clicking on its title.

Thanks for writing in. Now go out there and show your great value!!  

Best,
Al Sklover

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© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Can an employer lay off an employee and then hire him or her back at a reduced salary?”

Published on April 6th, 2010 by Alan L Sklover

Question: My boyfriend was laid off in June, 2009, and his company just called him back, but at a reduced salary.

He was making $19.00 per hour when he was laid off, and they are now asking him to come back but with a pay cut down to $15.50 per hour. That’s a decrease of over 18%, and our expenses have not gone down a penny.

Can an employer do this? 

         Lizan
        Cleveland, Ohio

Answer: Lizan, there are many, many laws that regulate the employment relation, such as minimum wage laws, anti-discrimination laws, and workers’ compensation laws. But I have never heard of a law that prohibits what your boyfriend’s employer is doing.

Unless your boyfriend has either a personal employment contract, or a union contract with his employer, that says salary can’t be reduced, the employer can do what it is doing. Your boyfriend is free not to accept a paycut and look for employment elsewhere, although I’m sure finding another job elsewhere would be difficult.

If and when the economy gets better, or your boyfriend develops a skill that the employer feels it really, really needs, your boyfriend may ask to renegotiate. I hope that each of those things happens.

Hope that helps.

         Best, Al Sklover

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.


Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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