Friday, June 20, 2008

Uh-Oh: You May Not Be Worth What You Thought

If you were offered a job you really wanted, would you be willing to accept less money than what you expected?

That's the question many people are facing these days, even in those positions that were in such high demand they were supposedly bulletproof.

According to a JobFox survey, some median annual salary ranges dropped $10,000, compared to a month ago. Some examples include software design/development; product management; networking/system administration; finance; and government contracts administration.

These numbers reflect what the Department of Labor is saying, that wages are failing to keep up with inflation. That's pretty grim news as we face rising prices for energy and food, while coping with huge credit debts.

Still, there are some ways to cope in this economy:

1. Don't become overfocused on wages. Look for the growth opportunities in a job. You want a job to increase your knowledge and skills, and make you even more marketable in the future.

2. Ask for reviews. When you take a new job, ask for a review in the first 90 days to review your performance. This helps set the groundwork for a salary bump before your annual review. If you're already in a job, ask your boss to set up some quarterly meetings to review where you stand and make sure you're on target to meet goals.

3. Negotiate for other compensation/benefits. If an employer isn't offering you the salary you desire, ask for training opportunities -- either in another department, or to attend an industry event where you'll not only learn something, but make valuable professional contacts. As for other benefits, I know one worker who nabbed a good laptop from her company for $75 when the employer decided to upgrade. Make sure you're friendly with the office manager and the IT people so you know when good stuff may become available for purchase. Or, see if you can work from home at least one day a week to save on fuel costs. Some employers will pay the cost of monthly Internet service if you put in work time from home, or pay your cell phone bill if you spend time using it for business. The point it to be creative in presenting win-win options to your boss.

4. Ask about tuition reimbursement. Some companies still offer the benefit, and any education is worth the time. Recent schooling always looks good on a resume, and many companies cannot offer higher salaries unless you meet certain educational or training requirements.

Still, the question of whether to accept a job at a salary you believe is too low is a tough one. In this economy, it can be difficult to negotiate when employers are cutting back not only salaries, but positions.

Do you think it's a mistake to accept a job for less money than what you desire -- or is this a salary trend we must learn to accept?


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2 comments:

Barry said...

Anita --

Thanks for covering the Jobfox report (for disclosure, I am a career advocate for Jobfox.

Whether you should take less money are not depends on your long-term goals. I am a big believer in taking a position where you can learn the most vs. taking a job based on salary alone.

For example, if you are a developer and you need more experience with AJAX, I'd take the job that would give me more AJAX experience -- even at a lower salary. Long term, this will be more beneficial to your earnings potential.

Anita said...

Barry,
Appreciate the disclosure for others who visit this blog.
I guess the real question would be knowing when -- or if -- to jump ship to get the bigger money.
But if the bigger money isn't out there...then what?
Are we just going to have to get used to the fact that salaries may take quite a while (as in years and years) to recover? Especially with the global competition?