"How much money am I worth?"

Well ... it depends. That's what makes this whole thing so hard. It's why most job seekers dodge the money question. Its why so many deals fall apart. Very few jobs are black and white in terms of pay. In fact ...

Most jobs have pay ranges (instead of flat rates).

It's frustrating, really. It's especially frustrating when you see how big the pay ranges are for some jobs! Whoa! What's a gal to do? Well, if you're Jane, you'll try to make the most of every opportunity. 

Mike's story: Mike got paid $13,000 more than 4 other coworkers ( who were doing the exact same work)

Automated software testers make between $72,598 and $105,913 (according to three different current salary surveys). One year, I hired a team of 5 testers all at once to work on a team together. We had the budget to pay an average salary of $85,000 (we did not have enough money to hire 5 top testers, so we had to look for people who wanted less money than the top range). We paid four of them between $80,000 - $90,000. We paid Mike $103,000. When my boss looked at my monthly hiring report and asked me about the discrepancy, all I could tell her was "Because he asked for it, and because he is really, really good." She said "Aren't the rest of these testers really, really good too? And aren't they delivering the same amount of work as Mike?" All I could say was the truth: "Yes, they are ... but they didn't ask for it. We really wanted Mike on the team, and he wanted $13,000 more. He's a great guy. He really holds the team together. They all enjoy working with him. He's worth it."

Was Mike really worth it? The easy answer is "Yes," because we paid it to him, and the next company paid him even more. But was he worth more than the others? That's really subjective.

How did Mike get there? First, he is really good at what he does (you have to be good to command top market rates, of course) AND he asked for it. Every step of his career, when it came time to talk about money, he did his homework. When he saw the pay range, he always set his sights on asking for the top of the market range. He did not always get it, but he certainly got more than most of his competitors. Eventually, she woke up and was on top of the compensation pile. You can do the same. 

6 Simple Steps to Getting What You Want

1.     Know what you want!

  • The position (Title, duties, …)
  • Full-time vs. contract
  • Compensation (base, bonus, incentives)
  • Vacation time (and holidays!)
  • Benefits (Vacation, Insurance, 401K)
  • Growth / advancement opportunity
  • Training / education
  • Work schedule / flexibility
  • Commute

Plus: Know your BOTTOM LINE! When will you walk away? Here’s how to figure it out:

  • Write down your past compensation
  • Write down what you need
  • Write down what you want
  • Write down why you want it (fire up your motivation & your courage!)
  • Write down what you have seen & heard re: market rates.

 2.      Know why you want it (personal motivators … to give you the courage to go for it!)

*Psssst! This is NOT something you share with them! Keep this to yourself.

  • Why do you want those things (money, and anything else)?
  • What will your life be like if you get what you ask for?

3.      Know what the market will pay. Here are 5 ways to figure out market rates:

  • Market research online
  • Department of Labor data. It's fabulous! http://www.careeronestop.org/
  • Indeed.com, Salary.com, Glassdoor.com
  • Niche salary surveys in your area of expertise (Dice.com for technology, Robert Half for finance, IT, marketing and legal, American Marketing Association)
  • Talk to people. Talk to people. Talk to people! (Especially recruiters & hiring managers)
  • Your own pay history can be a strong indicator of market value
  • Know your value to the company. If you will deliver more than other candidates, you are worth more. (Are they desperate to hire? Do you have unique or hard-to find skills? Will you solve their biggest headache? Will you save or make them money quickly? Can you prove it? Will you be a top performer?)
  • Test the waters. Be honest and say "What I'm seeing out there in the market is pay between $35,000 and $50,000 (or $155,000 to $185,000 ... whatever the range is for your role). How does that fit with your budget?

4.     Know their motivators & concerns

HOW? Ask! Listen! Talk to people who know them! Research the industry & company!

Common motivators = fair price, urgent need, key skills, someone who can hit the ground running, someone who will not quit …

Commons concerns are that they will pay you too much or over market are these:

  • They don’t have the money in their budget
  • You’ll be paid more than everyone else
  • You’re already at the top of the pay scale (no room for raises)
  • They think your expectations are too high
  • They don’t know that they are paying less than their competitors

5.     Discover & negotiate as you go!

Find the courage to ask the tough questions like …

  • “What’s your budget for this position?”
  • “Do you have any wiggle room on that comp. plan?”

Use the Negotiation Prep Worksheet to find the win-win for both sides

6.     Plan & practice the conversation

  • Anticipate the objections (put yourself in their shoes)
  • Plan your conversation (3 bullet points)
  • Practice the conversation