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Guide to Salary and Compensation

By Stacey Hawley

Understanding Salary and CompensationPay, salary, compensation….all these words are synonymous for how we value ourselves.

How companies reward or pay us equates to how successful we feel.

Because pay is much more – so much more – than just salary, understanding everything involved in terms of compensation can amount to big dollars, better benefits, less stress, and reduced risk.

From understanding our value to navigating our financial future, understanding pay (and how to earn more money or avoid losing money) is imperative.

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Negotiating compensation is not a one-time event – it isn’t “one and done.” In fact, from the initial job offer through bonuses, benefits, equity, and/or termination, pay defines our relationships with companies.

The value proposition – what we get for what we give – never ends. This ongoing cycle evolves. The higher the position, the higher the pay, and the greater the risk.

A recent study by Robert Half suggested that only 39% of workers negotiate their pay. Of the group that negotiated, more men than women engage in compensation discussions, and younger workers (age 18 to 34) are much more likely to negotiate than older workers.

That means over 60% - OVER SIXTY PERCENT – either trust the companies to do the right thing or are too afraid to ask. And the reason most people don’t ask – because they either don’t know how or don’t know what they should be asking FOR.

The Guide to Salary and Compensation gives you the tools you need to ask – from how much, to when and what.

1. Learn What "Salary" and "Compensation" Really Mean

There is so much more to compensation than just your annual base salary: Vacation time. Monthly benefit costs. Bonuses. Stock Options. Restricted Stock. Relocation costs. Severance. Restrictive Clauses. The timing of when rewards are paid or how they are paid matters, too.

Understanding everything you could – or should – be getting provides you with valuable information when discussing compensation with your employer. It also helps you negotiate.

Sometimes, companies can’t give more base salary. But they might have flexibility to provide other forms of compensation and rewards that will make you – and your employer – happy.

It is important to understand all the possible items on the menu before you begin negotiating. You may be willing to give a little on one item in exchange for something else that is equally valuable to you.

2. Find Answers to Important Salary and Compensation Questions

As you know, knowledge is power. Knowing where to look for information to gain that knowledge is the first step. This guide will provide you with ideas, resources and tips for finding answers to important salary questions like:

  • Should I be getting an increase if I just started working?
  • Is it OK to sign a confidentiality or noncompete agreement or should I have it reviewed by an attorney?
  • If I just got fired, can I still ask for more money?
  • Can I actually negotiate my bonus?

Understand how to evaluate that initial job offer letter from a potential new employer. See where you have room for negotiation.

3. Learn How to Discuss Compensation with Your Manager

Rather than being scared to discuss salary and compensation, learn how to approach the conversation in a way that is engaging, productive, and healthy for both you and your manager.

“Negotiations” don’t just occur when you are hired…they occur throughout your employment period. You are constantly managing how you are perceived, how your performance is viewed and how your results are rewarded.

Viewing compensation discussions as an ongoing relationship not only boosts your self-confidence but it increases the chances you will be paid as well -- or better -- than your peers, safeguarded during a downturn, merger, acquisition or other blitz and better positioned for the future.

The Bottom Line

The Guide to Salary and Compensation helps you play the compensation game. When you become an active player in the game, you boost your self-confidence, feel better about your choices and create a solid foundation for your career success.

More About Successful Salary Negotiation


About the author...

Stacey Hawley is a salary and compensation consultant and career coach. She helps companies reward and recognize their people effectively and helps individuals like you earn more money. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or via her website.