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Are You Earning Enough?

Using a Salary Calculator.

Let’s talk about how much money you make. It’s okay, it’s just the two of us here.

Financial conversations are hard. Whether you are landing your first job out of college or are looking to make a leap into a new position or career, understanding your worth and your financial needs are difficult.

Some companies treat salaries like a competitive game. The less they can pay you, the more they believe they win.

Some companies have unfair and illegal biases against women and minorities.

Some small companies and non-profits simply can’t compete with large companies with full benefit offerings.

Then there’s the education piece. The more you have, the more you’re worth. That also includes the amount of experience and any specific certifications you may have earned over the years.

Let’s add location into the mix. Two people with identical resumes won’t earn the same in New York City vs Detroit. The cost of living in these two locations is too different and salaries are always adjusted to account for the location.

Are you looking for a raise?

My advice is to first take your organization’s pulse. How are the current and projected earnings, rate of hiring, and place in the market? Are you affected by the current trade war like farmers trying to sell their soybeans to China; manufacturing like Boeing; or labor issues like the GM Strike?

Next, determine how much you’re worth. You can try this salary calculator tool. Also, check out my column in Prince William Living magazine for a cost of living calculator to help you determine your worth relative to your location.

Consider your current compensation and benefits. How much is healthcare? What is the organization’s 401K or retirement contribution? How much do you spend to commute and park if you drive? How many vacation and sick days are you given? Are there other non-monetary benefits to include health club membership, access to legal services, or onsite childcare?

Finally, and most important to your company, why should they give you a raise? Just showing up every day isn’t enough. What have you done for them lately?

Come to any salary discussion with a list of accomplishments and ways you’ve improved and helped the organization. Make yourself invaluable and your management will want to compensate you for fear of losing you.

I know this sounds like a lot of work for the sake of your work. Yet before you can have a thoughtful and well-argued discussion about your compensation, you have to have all the facts as they pertain to you and your specific job and location.

Armed with data and a thoughtful accounting of your roles and successes, you’ll also have the confidence you need to have a difficult and important conversation about your compensation.

Studies suggest that the best time to have important discussions is in the morning before decision fatigue sets in. If you don’t have a defined salary review, schedule time on your manager’s calendar. Come prepared, it’ll show.

Contact me with your salary negotiation question.


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