Skip to main content

Realistic Salary Expectations

Realistic Salary Expectations

So, you think you deserve a raise? Join the club. None of us are paid nearly what we think we deserve.

Now that we've established that, let's take a look at how you might be able to fatten that paycheck.

Be Realistic

The first thing to realize is a pay increase may not be possible. Dennis Dunlap, an HR consultant with LoCascio Hadden & Dennis in Indianapolis, offers the following advice: "One of the best ways to increase compensation is to demonstrate you can do more than the job requires. Adding duties can justify an increase in pay."

But no matter how convincing your arguments are for a raise, the money may simply not be there. In that case, any raise at all should probably be welcomed.

Negotiate Other Perks

Dunlap also recommends other bargaining tools such as "a six-month review of your own performance as a basis for a raise." He also suggests workers "request an increase in nonmonetary rewards, like more vacation time with pay or some extra three-day weekends."

If You're Job Searching

On the other hand, if you're in the middle of a job search and you're not being offered the dollars your experience and skills warrant, one alternative could be negotiating a sign-on bonus. It's a one-time expense for the employer and could be a short-term solution to accepting a lower starting salary.

If you're offered a job with lower pay, you should consider the rest of the benefits package. People seeking employment need to remember company-paid health insurance has a dollar value and should be considered part of the total compensation. When you add the value of a company's total benefits package to your base salary, you may be closer to the level of compensation you were seeking initially.

You may also want to try a variation of the six-month review as suggested above. Start for less, demonstrate your value to the organization by exceeding the boss's expectations and, after six months, request a review of your compensation. If you've performed well, your value to the company should be self-evident -- just remember to keep a record of your accomplishments so you can point them out during the review.

The Salary Wizard can help you find specific information regarding earnings for your position, industry and location.

Remember, if the economy is weak, an employer may not have much leeway with salaries. The best way to enhance your earnings, whether you're currently employed or in the middle of a job search, is to clearly demonstrate your worth to the organization in value-added ways that would be difficult for any employer to ignore.