In Salary Negotiations, a Picture is Worth a Million Dollars

September 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When talking about resumes and other career communications, a picture can easily be worth a million dollars.

I’m working with an IT executive who was wondering whether she’d have to take a salary cut, just to get her foot back in the door after a fairly sizeable period of unemployment. I say no. Let me explain… and you happily employed readers, this is for you too! Your annual review (read raise negotiation) is coming up.

Every job opening has a salary range that the hiring company is willing to pay.

A company will go above their initial range if they think a candidate offers a uniquely high return on investment (ROI) and/or that they align with company culture in a way few others would.

A company will pay as little as possible if they are choosing between candidates they view as offering the same set of skills and experience. Sometimes they’ll even forego making a hiring decision rather than risk making a poor one.

Negotiating a starting salary near the top of the range can add tens of thousands of dollars a year to your compensation and approach a million dollars of additional lifetime earnings. (The total extra amount grows exponentially because future raises and starting salaries at new jobs are negotiated upwards from there.)

So how can you be the must-have hire who commands the big bucks? By painting a clear picture of your ability to solve your future employer’s most pressing problems. Do this by:

  1. Proving your monetary worth. Review your entire career and look for ways you’ve made money or saved money for your employers. Be sure those are prominent on your resume, individually and cumulatively. If a company knows that you’ve repeatedly added $800K to the bottom line, they’ll feel confident hiring you at $100K+.
  2. Being branded, not “blanded.” Make sure your communications and everything about you express your brand. That means your resume, the messages you leave on voicemails, and the clothes you wear to your interview are aligned with each other and painting a picture of who you are and how you work. The right company, which is genuinely aligned with who you are and vice-versa, will have to have you.
  3. Speaking to prospective employers’ specific needs. Yes, of course you’ve researched your field and industry and created your documents and job search plan accordingly. But are you personalizing your communications? Have you Googled the company you’re writing to or interviewing with to find out what their current hot-button issues might be and how you can contribute positively from day one of your hire? Do it! Yes, it takes more time, but a few strategic, meaningful communications will get you further than masses of form letters.

Get the picture? If your employer does, it’ll be worth a million.

Entry filed under: Job Search, Personal Branding, Salary Negotiations, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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