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The Truth About Salary

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The Truth About Salary

By Michelle Yozzo Drake

You might not be able to put a price tag on happiness or love, but you sure can put a price tag on what you're worth to your employer. Salary is often the make-or-break element of whether you stay in one job or move onto another. Who wants to work for a company that pays peanuts? Conversely, who wants to give up a job with incredible pay? Although there are other issues to examine in each of these situations, salary ranks right up at the top of the list.

So how do you know if you're being paid a fair salary for the work that you do? And if you're not, why not, what are you going to do about it, and how are you going to do so without shooting yourself in the foot?!

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1. Know your job market. How? Do your research. I know I've offered this tip time and time again, but that's only because it is CRUCIAL to career success and advancement! Yet so many of us still walk into workplace situations completely unprepared, and when we slink away later on having made a mess of things, we wonder why.

Research is the top priority for salary evaluation. You have to know the market for the type of work that you do. How does your salary as an XYZ Manager rank compared to the salaries of other XYZ Managers in your geographic area? Are you getting paid more, less or about the same? What is the demand for XYZ Managers in relation to the number of positions available? Are XYZ Managers a dime-a-dozen or an elite group? Visit reliable resources like salary.com and verify the accuracy of your findings - the last thing you want to do is march into your boss's office demanding a raise with stats from Joe Schmoe's Stats Co. to back you up!

2. Know your company's position in its market. Find out how successful and profitable the company has been over the past few years. What does their cash flow look like? Are they hiring or firing and why? If your company is tanking and barely keeping its head above water, it stands to reason that they're going to pay at the lower end of the salary scale.

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3. Evaluate your raise schedule and range. Most companies have policies on when raises are handed out and how much they can be. Check to see if you're due for a raise that will bump you into a more competitive salary range. And remember that many employers only allow their managers to hand out raises within a range, usually between 2% and 10%. Where you land in that range depends on how well you...

4. Communicate your value. If you haven't made it crystal clear how much you're contributing to the company, then don't expect to be making the highest salary possible. So many people focus on what's in it for themselves that they forget to illustrate to their employers what's in it for them to pay a higher salary! Why should YOU receive more money? What statistics can you offer to back up your claim that you're a valuable part of company?
Just because you show up and you do your work, that doesn't necessarily put you in the top part of that raise or salary range. You need to be able to quantify your contributions: have you been able to lower turnover or increase profits? Has the work that you've been doing had a dramatic positive impact on the company and its bottom line? Have you had a positive effect on the employees who, in turn, affect the bottom line? Make the connection between you and your company's success, particularly their profitability. If what you've been doing hasn't had an impact on the business then you need to start taking on more important, business critical work.

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�Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.� � Herbert Hoover