by Louise Garver/
Originally printed in Blue Steps
Oct 27 2014
It’s a fact that salaries haven’t kept pace with inflation. While the economy seems to be recovering from the slump over the past years, employers are still very cautious when it comes to executive salary increases. When you are ready to ask for a raise, the best position to be in is one of power. Leveraging your resources such as professional accomplishments, personal and professional network, industry expertise, and more could put you in a much better position when negotiating your salary.
Region has a lot to do with compensation. The higher salaries are typically on the East and West Coasts. Do a little research to find out where the center of your industry is located. Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I in the best region for my industry?
- What type of commute am I willing to make?
- Do I want to physically move to a new area?
- What area will work best for my personal/family life?
If you are living and working in the area where your industry thrives, you have a much better chance (and a whole lot more power) to negotiate a higher salary. More companies today are open to telecommuting, but at the executive level, there is still a high demand for “face time” in the office, especially if you are managing a large staff.
Some employers look negatively on executives with long commutes because they think you’ll either burnout or eventually find a position closer to home—either of which is likely. So when it comes to considering your raise, they may not be as willing to negotiate.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has excellent information on workplace trends by industry. Data includes unemployment rates, employment by occupation, projections, salaries, and more. This information can be useful for current strength of the industry, people employed in that industry and future growth—and how that can support you at the executive level. Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I in an industry with positions that are in high demand?
- Am I in a growing or declining industry?
- What industry(ies) are showing the most growth for me?
- If a change is necessary, what industry(ies) am I willing to consider and what do I need to do to make that change? (career change, re-education, relocation, etc.)
One thing we know for sure, the economy will be constantly changing, and we have to be prepared to flex with the ebb and flow. The popularity of certain industries reflects what’s working today and may not exist (at least in the same way) years from now as we have seen with manufacturing, tourism, etc.
If your industry is thriving and growth trends look positive, you have more leverage in negotiating a higher salary.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating: what is your unique value to an organization? Knowing the answer to this single question supports your worth for a raise in salary. More questions to ask yourself:
- Do I have special skills or talents that I can leverage?
- Do my achievements support my current job and position me for a promotion?
- Do I have the right credentials and designations?
- Do I need to develop additional talents and skills?
Of course being able to point out how much money you saved the company in costs or made the company in revenues is key to seeing your merit. Don’t leave anything out when looking at the significant contributions you made to the organization. Keeping customers and the company running at a steady pace is significant when navigating a downward economy. Even having a higher educational degree can add worth to your compensation considerations with some companies.
Are you the best kept secret in your industry? Let’s hope not for your sake! It’s not only important who you know and who your network might know, but it is especially significant that your network knows “that you know what you know.” If your network knows how valuable you are to the industry and your company, this gives you negotiating power. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do people consider me a thought leader?
- Am I well known in my industry?
- Is my professional network strong enough?
- Are my social networks developed?
Social media makes it easier than ever to deepen relationships with people. Use the BlueSteps network to connect with recruiters or LinkedIn to connect with other professionals; join group discussions about industry trends or topics.
Your network is a valuable asset. Be consistent in nurturing your connections. Consider your network like a bank account. You have to put something in before you can take something out. Tap into it when needed for resources, leads, and information that can help you determine your worth when asking for a raise.
Where is your negotiating power?
You want to enter salary negotiations from a position of strength. Where does your power lie? People can sense when you are not confident going into negotiations. If you do not show confidence and point out your value when asking for a raise, why should the company think you are worth a higher salary? The strongest negotiating position you can be in is to know your value to the organization and that you are a leader in your industry.