Category Archives: Negotiating

How to get your pay above $125K

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. (George Bernard Shaw)

I talked in depth with salespeople earning over $200,000 per year.  I asked, “How did you get into the position where you won’t even consider taking a base salary under $100,000?”

The answer is very simple he said, “It is all in how you position yourself.”

I talk with accountants, programmers, managers, salespeople, engineers, and others every day who would never take less than $100K.  Others doing similar jobs can’t conceive of earning over $40K.

The difference is that the well paid people are always trying to develop the skills and experiences that are rare.  One salesman said, “I’m highly paid because of who I can get in to see.  I can talk to people in research laboratories and CFO’s of companies all across America.  I know how to get their attention and sell to them.  In Philadelphia there are thousands of salespeople who sell well in Philadelphia, but can’t or won’t sell in New York or Boston.  If you are competing with a thousand salespeople for that Philadelphia only job, guess what?  You may think you are worth $200K, but there are at least 500 other people willing to do it for $50K-$80K.  You will never get paid $200K because you have positioned yourself wrong.  Too many salespeople have positioned themselves to sell in Philadelphia for $50K.”

The same applies to computer programmers, managers, accountants, and even call center technicians.  I know a lot of people earning over $100K because they have looked at their business carefully for years.  They constantly ask, “Why is Joe earning more than me?  What jobs are paying big bucks?  What do I have to do to get there?”

First you need to position yourself at entry level so you can get experience. Then you have to see where the rare talent is.  What are people doing that earns them the money you want to earn.  Then you need to educate yourself, volunteer to help on projects, and get involved in decision making.  Eventually you will work up to the rarefied air of the best paid people in your field.

So how are you positioning yourself?  How will you be positioned next year?

Something To Do Today            

Make a list of 5 people who are doing what you want to do and earning what you want to earn.

Now go invite each one to lunch.  Whether they accept your invitation or not, ask them for help.  Ask them how you can join the rarefied company at their level.

11 reasons you are getting a miniscule raise

It never seems fair when you get a cost-of-living raise or less.  But there is usually a reason.

Here are 11 reasons you may not be getting what you think you deserve.

Use the 3 career phases to decide if you should take that job

Job offer?  Will you take it?

  1. Don’t turn it down because the pay is $2000 too low
  2. Don’t take it because you get a 30% pay raise

If you only think of what is happening short-term, you will make a lot of bad decisions.

This article goes into a lot of the things you should ponder before saying yes or no.

Are you paid enough?

I help people get paid enough.

A lot of folks are underpaid.  I’ve gotten a few people 50% pay raises.

I try not to get them paid too much.  If they are paid too much they get laid off.

This article gives some good answers to the question, “Are you paid enough?”

Signing bonuses are returning – yes the economy is better

The return of signing bonuses and paid relocation are strong signs of the strength of the job market.

This article goes beyond our local experience.  We are seeing the same thing.  There is a greater tendency to offer a relocation package and/or a signing bonus when a skilled employee takes a job.  Our strength is in information technology, accounting, and sales.

So, yes, as this article states, the market for technical jobs is much better.

Give up and go elsewhere when things are bad

I found a great job for someone and was told”

“If I leave, deliveries will stop, sales will stop, and a lot of people will be out of work. I’m going to have to turn down this job.  I owe it to my boss and coworkers to see them through these hard times.”

Is this you? What’s next?  Layoffs 3 weeks later.  Suddenly it really is self sacrifice because you are laid off.  And you may lose the house too.

First secure an independent income, then practice virtue. (Greek proverb)

I am not saying to abandon ship when you are needed.  I am saying that you must be aware of what really is happening.  You finding a new job may free up enough money to save another person’s job.  The shock of your resignation may be what finally gets through to the big boys that things are going badly.  Sometimes a company is going bankrupt no matter how heroic everyone is. Reality is not always what you think it is.

When business is bad it taints your whole outlook.  You see problems everywhere.  In your distorted world, no business can be thriving.  You are wrong.  Some are growing.  Don’t be afraid to join them. I guarantee that you are replaceable. If not, the problems are so severe you should leave anyway.

There is an alternative. A while ago I was talking to an accountant at a company that was in bankruptcy.  He said, “I am earning more money than ever before.”  They REALLY couldn’t afford to lose him, so they gave him bonuses and guarantees. If you are the hero, make sure you are compensated and protected.

When business looks bad, it may be time to leave.  Don’t let the lens of self sacrifice or fear fool you.  Many times what is best for you, leaving, is also best for the company. If you really are indispensable, get paid and protected for it.  If they might fire you for asking to get paid for your risk, you are not indispensable.

Something to do today

Is business bad?  Find someone you trust who has business experience.  Talk with them about whether you should stay where you are or find a new job.  You may just need an outsider’s perspective.


Coming up

How to ruin a phone interview

Start a new job excellently

New and better or cheaper

How everyone else sees you

The difference between fertilizer and ****

Salary toys

It’s not how much you make, it’s….  okay, so it is how much you make.

Have some fun and compare what you make to the rest of the world.  It can be an eye opener when you play with minor variations in titles.  is a great place to go looking for good jobs. Monster and CareerBuilder are fine too.

Then go to and find the range of salaries for that job.  They have neat graphs that show you the range of salaries and what percentage of people get the high or low salary.

Add Senior or Chief to your title and see what that earns you. will help you compare the salary and cost of living in different locations.

Have fun.  If you don’t like what you see, figure out how to fix it.  If you are overpaid, figure out if you are worth it.

Something to do today

Have some fun with salary toys.


Coming up

Working for the Fortune 50

Scrabble and muck and get ahead

When to give up and go elsewhere

4 things to make the hiring manager believe so you get more

Talk about bad hiring interviews.  Here is what happened to the founder of Apple.

So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us?  Or we’ll give it to you.  We just want to do it.  Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’  And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you.  You haven’t got through college yet.’  (Steve Jobs on founding Apple Computers)

Your pay reflects your interview

Two identical openings are being filled.  You are going to be paid just below the listed salary range.  The other candidate, someone with identical experience and the same pay in his previous job, will be paid at the top of the listed salary range and 10% more than you. Why? The interviews.

No recruiter can tell you what you will be paid, not even for working the counter at McDonalds.  The difference in pay reflects how you interview.

Every hiring manager wants you to help with an immediate problem.  They also hope you will help propel them personally to a bigger job and higher income. The trouble is that hiring managers have no crystal ball.  All they have is interviews. So they offer higher pay to the person who impresses them the most in the interview.  If you knock their socks off, they’ll even pay you more than they had budgeted for the position.

Hiring managers want 4 things:

  1. Help with a critical problem right now.
  2. To save money.
  3. To make more money.
  4. To make processes work faster.

If you can convince a manager that you will do all 4 of these things better than anyone on his staff, he’ll pay you very well.

Next we start on how to convince managers you are better than anyone else.


Coming up

You, the movie – stay focused

You, as Ed McMahon

The most powerful questions

Beating the tests

How to make a quick job acceptance decision slowly

The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’  One brush stroke stands for danger, the other for opportunity.  In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognize the opportunity. (John F. Kennedy) 

Why make a quick decision about a job offer?

You have gone in for 3 sets of interviews.  The HR person told you an offer is coming. The offer arrives 2 days later.  It is at the top of the pay range you expected. You ask for a week to consider the offer.  Instead of agreeing, the hiring manager extending the offer gives you until 9 a.m. the next morning.  There just isn’t time to make a decision.  With a firm resolve you tell them if you can’t have a week to decide, you won’t even consider the offer.  To your shocked surprise, the offer is withdrawn. That afternoon an offer is made to someone else and it is accepted immediately.

Why was the offer withdrawn?

  1. You proved you cannot make important decisions quickly given weeks of preparation time.
  2. There was another good candidate.
  3. They figured you were interviewing somewhere else you liked more.

When an offer is made, your acceptance becomes part of your new job history.

If you cannot make a decision quickly, it shows you fail to prepare, consider, and evaluate options in advance.

From the first day you find out you will have an interview, you should be preparing to accept or reject an offer. If a second round of interviews is coming up, you need to have a list of things you want to find out before accepting an offer.  Get the answers you need.

A list of questions is fine, just don’t ask questions you should already have found out about yourself.  Also, don’t ask about benefits, vacation or salary unless you are talking with an HR person. You don’t want the hiring manager to decide that you are only interested in how much vacation you get, instead of the job.

Come up with three salary numbers:

  1. What do you reasonably expect them to offer?
  2. At what minimum pay level will you accept even if there are absolutely no benefits?
  3. What pay level will you accept with benefits just like the ones you have now?

Be prepared. When you receive a job offer and immediately say, “The money is too low, I expect more,” then you have a chance to negotiate.  If you wait a week and ask for more money it feels like you waited just to get an offer from another company so the two places could get in a bidding war. Managers hate that.  It makes them feel they are getting a mercenary who will leave for $5 more instead of an employee who really wants the job.

Know if you want the job.  Know what is an acceptable offer. Have buy-in from your family.  Then say yes, no, or I need a better offer.  Know your answer as soon as you get the offer.  How you prepare for and accept an offer really will be the first part of your job history.

Something to do today

Decide on the three money numbers you want today.  Don’t be afraid to change them later, but have them today.


Coming up

How to make a quick decision

Job research

Company research

The jobs on my resume

One way the economy is really affecting hiring that is critical, but few notice

10 years ago the average car buyer visited 4.1 dealers before buying. Today he visits 1.7 dealers. The buyers are better informed. They can even find the dealer invoice amount, dealer only incentives and other bargaining information before they buy. The speed of decision making has dramatically increased.

3 years ago companies we deal with sometimes took months to consider who exactly they should hire. There was no hurry. Candidates were plentiful and not moving into new jobs quickly. Slow hiring was not a problem.

Now the need to fill particular jobs is more acute. I’m talking about the highest demand jobs.  Even in this economy there are critical jobs that desperately need to be filled. Companies need to hire quickly.

Even after an offer is accepted, more candidates are being courted by the company they are trying to leave and the companies they turn down. That courting often continues for months after they start their new job. For these critical jobs, 20% or more of the people that accept a job, get stolen by someone else before they start.  The speed of decision making is increasing as well as the need for good decisions.

Companies are less and less likely to seriously consider you unless you are serious about a move. They won\’t allow you two weeks to decide if you want a job. If the company waits that long then they may lose their two backup candidates. The companies just can’t wait.

Since companies and candidates are moving faster now, I\’ll give you some guidelines about how you can make decisions quickly over the next few days.

Something to do today

You are at least considering leaving your job. Write down why. It will help organize your thoughts.


Coming up

How to make a quick decision

Support net preparation

Personal brainwork

Job research

Company research