Experts POol

KNOWING YOUR WORTH: IT'S WORTH KNOWING

 

“Am I paid fairly for the kind of work I do?” I have seen this question on many employee survey forms over the years. While we may respond to this question, I am not certain we can articulate what is “fair pay”?

For many of us, the annual performance review and merit increase cycle is a time when so much uncertainty exists.  We may be asking ourselves: What will I be rated? What kind of merit increase will I get? Will I even receive a merit increase this year?

For others, if you are in the job market and actively interviewing for a new position, a common question you may ask yourself is: How should I respond when asked about my salary expectations?

The answers to these questions will be different for each of us based on the many variables that exist. However, while there are no universal answers to these questions for all of us, there is a way to limit the uncertainty for each of us. My motto: “When in doubt, check it out.”

Below are some steps to help reduce the uncertainty that may exist in your quest to know more about your financial worth to a company:

  • If employed, ask your employer about the salary range for your position within your company. This will provide you guidance on what the lower and upper limits are regarding the monetary “value” your company places on jobs. Evaluating your knowledge and skills will help you calibrate where you belong in that range.
  • Check online to discover market trends for salary increases. A simple “google” for “average salary increases in 2017” will quickly inform you that companies are targeting 3% merit increases this year.  
  • Ask about the compensation system at your company to determine how and when salary increases are determined. Many companies have a structure that correlates performance rating with level of compensation to determine the typical merit increase for their employees. Since your performance will be a key driver in your potential increase, speak with your manager about expectations and progress during the year. This should reduce the uncertainty around performance ratings.
  • Speak with recruiters. These individuals make a living by knowing the markets they serve. Their job is to match people with certain skills to opportunities that exist with companies. This includes ensuring that there is a financial match. 
  • Explore the average market data available for your function.  While not perfect, salary surveys that can be found in trade publications or via on-line sites will give you a sense of value for the function within a geographic area as well as size of company. There are several options to explore. Jack Chapman, author of the book "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute," highlights the sites below:
    • PayScale.com — collects ongoing salary data directly from visitors.
    • Salary.com — collects salary data from companies and customizes it to location, size of company, etc.
    • CareerJournal.com — has articles about salary trends.
    • Bureau of Labor Statistics — supplies surveys of corporate payroll data and employee questionnaires.

The overall worth you provide to a company can be measured by more than compensation. Yet, pay is a very tangible and comparable measurement. Since companies like to know if you believe you are paid fairly for the kind of work you do, why guess? Knowing your worth is worth knowing!

noviskis3 Brian Noviskis, Bus Ad '82, is an experienced human resources executive and can be reached at b.noviskis@yahoo.com

 

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