Getting paid More to do Less

Seriously, this sounds like it’s too good to be true. Getting paid more to do less – it’s an equation that just doesn’t make sense and rarely happens.

The first time it happened to me I was about six years into my career when I decided to make the big leap from my current corporate job to go work for my dream company in the city where my then boyfriend and sister lived. It was all too good to be true – until about 3 months into the job when I realized I was getting paid more to do less

After a couple martini’s on the rooftop of a Minneapolis bar, I broke down crying in front of my Mom & Uncle that maybe I made a big mistake. For the first time in my career, I decided the next path for me, received a ~13% pay bump and I was still unhappy!  I wanted to be challenged and it didn’t feel right that everything came so easily in my new job.

My uncle practically laughed in my face – I was undervalued before and now I’m getting paid what I’m worth. It wasn’t long before my new company figured out too that I had more runway. After my boss left for an external opporuntity, I took on more responsibilities, caught the attention of the divisional CFO, and got promoted after only 15 months in the job.

Lesson # 1 Don’t undervalue yourself

Ask for more than what you think you’re worth. You don’t want to ask for more than what makes sense for the role, but you also want to get compensated fairly and on the higher end of the salary range the employer is already expecting.

If you’re working with a recruiter, usually the company already has a range in mind and they can share that information with you. If you’re not working with a recruiter, do your homework. There is a lot of readily available information about average compensation for a given area through Glassdoor or recruiters who work within your functional area.

Lesson #2 Don’t be afraid to negotiate

When I accepted the new role, the job was posted without relocation. When they made me the offer, my new boss said if I wanted relocation they would have to re-post the role and it would delay the hiring process by 2-3 weeks.  I naively accepted the role sans relocation. In retrospect, I should have negotiated for more salary and secured relocation benefits. I was so impatient and excited about the next steps – that I cost myself probably $10-15 thousand dollars of additional incentive.

The second time I got paid more to do less, I had been running on fumes for months at work. The perfect storm – I had a new boss, the business was recently divested and acquired by another company, and we had significant turnover in my department. I had received a substantial retention bonus from the company during the year of the transition and an increase in our variable incentive, but my base salary had not been raised for over two years due to a salary freeze implemented by human resources.

During the transition, I had taken over two other people’s roles on top of my existing job. My role was never re-scoped to account for the additional work. Afraid to make waves, the Hubs encouraged me to say something to my boss. I didn’t have a formal plan – but after I explained the situation to my boss he took action. I thought at best I’d get a 10% raise, but he came back with a surprising offer. If I would write up the job descriptions, they would post for the two additional resources. On top of that, I received over a 30% pay raise!

Lesson # 3 It never hurts to ask

This may be an extreme example, but if you’re doing more than your original job scope due to a business transition or turnover, it’s important to find the balance. Whether you need additional resources to help you or you want higher compensation for your efforts, first you need to ask for it.

Highlight some recent examples where you’ve gone above and beyond and have some specific examples of items that should be cleared from your plate.  Women especially have a hard time asking for more and feeling as though they’ve earned it – but at the end of the day it’s about good business, it’s not personal. Of course, you may have personal reasons why you need more money, but those are not compelling arguments as to why your employer should pay you more.

If you want to be paid more, first do more then ask for more.  Men don’t seem to struggle with this notion as much as women. And women, sometimes – you might even be surprised at the outcome!

Questions, Comments, Thoughts?