Rachel, I got cheated at my last agency
My replacement got the salary I deserved
October 27, 2005
I left a job after six years after twice being turned down for a raise. My boss even had me compile a list of all the additional duties I had taken on, and even he agreed that the amount had doubled. The HR department sat on it for months but finally turned it down. I gave my notice and found another job for more money but a longer commute. The girl that took my place did not have the required skills but got $4 more an hour than I did. I feel cheated. If they would have paid me that amount I’d still be there. I want to make sure I don’t end up down that same path again. What do you suggest? How does one get fair pay for the job they’re doing, instead of just making it better for the next guy?-Kicked in the Pants on the Way Out
That stinks but get over it. What you describe is a common occurrence, and it often has less to do with the worker’s comparative abilities than the realities of the job marketplace.
When it comes to giving out raises, many agencies tend to be tight-fisted, and they resort to all means necessary to avoid handing them out. Then when the employee leaves they go to replace that person and learn that the market has moved up in terms of salaries and that they have to pay more. Pay they do.
Crazy, huh? Inefficient, too. But human resources directors tell me it happens all the time.
Keep in mind, though, that other factors may also have come into play. Your supervisor may not have fought for you. Maybe you did a poor job at impressing him, and he wasn’t really behind your raise. Another possibility is that he supported you wholeheartedly, but he wasn’t particularly skilled at getting his way with his superiors.
“Sometimes it comes down to how well your manager can fight for you in a roomful of managers,” says Barbara Kurka, vice president and director of human resources for Katz Media in New York.
What can you learn from this experience? When going into a new job find out right off what your new employer’s policies are regarding raises. Kurka advises asking about the salary review policy as soon as you get an offer.
“Ask on what basis you will be evaluated,” she says “Ask them, ‘What will I have to do so that a year from now you know you have made a successful hire?'”
Then keep track of your own accomplishments. Blow your own horn in a way that fits in with the agency’s culture. If you so something that leads to more business for the agency, make sure your bosses know. If you get an email from a client singing your praises or thanking you for that extra thing you did, share it with your supervisor.
Also, keep track of your fair market value with tools like Salary.com. Sniff around to learn how others in the office are faring when they go up for raises. What distinguishes those who get them from those who are turned down?
And always remain flexible in your wants and expectations. The agency may be tight on pay bumps but happy to reward promising staffers with extra vacation. You might ask for a bonus or special training.
Find out through the grapevine how much real power your boss has in the raise-granting process. In some agencies, the supervisor makes decisions. In others, HR pulls all the strings.
And if you find yourself taking on additional responsibilities again, discuss this with your supervisor. Ask what exactly is expected of you. Then lead in to the possibility of a raise, if not now, later.
And remember, even those who take on extra work and are doing fabulous jobs don’t always get compensated. The agency may just not be doing well enough to give you a raise. It isn’t always all about you.
“It is just one of the stats that ring true year after year,” one media veteran tells me. “I would always ask, ˜If you liked the guy so much, why did you let him go?’ The answer was always the same–budgets. What the media person sees as a personal attack may not be that at all.”
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