Consulting firms tend to be quite open about career progression. If you do well as an Analyst, in 2 years you’ll be promoted to Associate. And 2 years or so after that, to Manager. And so on and so forth. They’re also quite transparent about salary progression. Everyone at the same level within the same office earns the same basic salary (pre partner level). And it doesn’t take much to find out what that salary is for each level.
Corporates for the most part, are the complete opposite. Salaries (and other package elements) can vary wildly from colleague to colleague – even among those who have the same responsibility. And even if salaries are strictly banded by seniority level, some colleagues can be nudged into higher bands. Equally, some may gain entitlement to other package elements (e.g, stock options) that aren’t open to others. In summary, many corporates will pay as little as they can get away with to keep you at work.
So how do you avoid being left in the compensation doldrums?
Here are a few thoughts:
1. Negotiate hard when you join. Your strongest negotiating position is straight after a company has made you a job offer. At this point they have shown their hand, i.e, they want to hire you. So you have the opportunity to secure the best package that you can. But be wary of negotiating too hard as they may have an equally good back-up candidate. Also, don’t overlook other elements of a package beyond basic salary.
2. Know your worth. This applies at all points through your career – whether you’re 5 years into working at a company and enjoying yourself or contemplating a new job offer. You should always know what other companies in the market would pay you so that you can compare what you are on/being offered.
3. Get some commitment on progression. If you’ve been in a company for a while and have a good relationship with your Head of Team, it’s perfectly reasonable to have an open conversation about how you can expect your compensation to progress. Try to get a firm commitment that you can hold your company to in the future.
4. Be honest if you know you’re underpaid. Again, if you’re high performing and have good relationships with your seniors, don’t shy away from telling them that you’re unhappy with your comp. If they truly value your commitment to the company, they should make the required steps to keep you from leaving. You can say that compensation is certainly not your priority or the be all and end all, but it does need to be a reason not to leave. We all have financial commitments – mortgages/rent – after all.
5. Get another offer. It’s the unfortunate truth that many companies won’t stump up what you’re worth unless you credibly threaten to leave. This normally means interviewing elsewhere and getting a better comp offer on the table which you can take to your current employer. At this point, make sure it’s a job you’d be happy to move to as your employer may tell you to ‘go jump’. However, in the vast majority of cases that I’ve come across, they will do what they need to keep you. Going through this process also helps you know your worth. It may sound like a nuclear option but in many cases it’s the only option that will really shift the needle.
If you’ve found this post interesting, I’d recommend you read about the elements of a package and about how to negotiate your salary. Employers using movemeon are always encouraged to advertise roles with a salary band. So it can be a great place to do some salary research – login to crack on with that or register if you’re not a member.
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