Article #6 From the "What If ..." Library on Salary Negotiation

What If ...

I Want Sweet Revenge for a Layoff
In ranking life’s more difficult moments, losing a job has to be right up there near the top. The event can unleash a whole slew of negative thoughts and feelings that have been held in the body’s memory since childhood. But living well is the best revenge as they say and there’s nothing like landing an even better paying job to send those depressing hobgoblins packing for good. In an era where mass layoffs have been all too common, it’s much too uncommon to hear that in as many as 80% of those cases, especially in technical fields and engineering, the victims of downsizing and plant closings go on to bigger and higher paying jobs and in less time than you’d think.
Here are some strategies to get to that new better paying job faster:
1. Know what you’re worth. If you’ve been at that former job for a while, despite what that naysayer inside you might insist, the chances are you are underpaid. You may find out that with those skills you picked up on the job (along with perhaps more formal in-house or classroom training), your title, responsibilities and pay can be ratcheted up a bracket or two. Find out what your new title would command in the market place by checking professional associations, journals, websites, and periodicals. Don’t be afraid to contact a professional pay consultant if you’re still unsure. Their day-to-day experience in the market place can help speed up the process along with helping you brush up on your negotiation skills. Thirty minutes with one of these experts should be all you need to learn whether their cost to help boost your position is worth it; as professionals, they don’t want to waste their time or your money any more than you do.
2. Preparation, preparation, preparation. Interview preparation, whether on your own or with a coach, is an absolute must. To command the higher pay that comes with being their first choice for the position, you need to be their first choice; nothing will get you there quicker than stellar performance in that second or third interview. Learn all you can about the organization and the hiring manager as well as how they work. That knowledge will pay big dividends when convincing interviewers you have what it takes to handle the job. You’ll also learn things like never disclose your former or current rate of pay or even what you want to make. Reiterate that your first desire is to know as much as you can about the job and whether you’re the best fit; the time to talk money is always after you have an offer, never before. People are always surprised to learn that they left thousands of dollars on the table when they let slip current or former pay rates in an interview but it’s almost always the case. If the interviewer is insistent, stick with a range and remind them, politely of course, that unless you are actually being offered the job, money talk is a complete waste of time, yours and theirs.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and that extends beyond the cash portion of your compensation package to any and all the benefits as well. Didn’t get exactly what you were hoping for in the paycheck? You can easily make that up with perks like more paid vacation, an expense account and/or acompany car. How about if the company and not you foots the bill for your next laptop or cell phone or for value-added (but always expensive) education. It’s all money in your pocket and to them an expense line and a tax write-off to keep an important employee happy. Candidates are always surprised to find out that the extras that sealed the deal were there for them but they had to ask. Be careful not to rely too heavily on non-cash items, though; remember, healthcare benefits no matter how good can’t pay those other bills and you can’t pay the rent or make your mortgage payment in stock options.

You can find that the silver lining in this dark cloud is a great opportunity to advance your career. The greatest salary jumps always come to those who take the risk to move from one job to another; so consider this layoff an involuntary push in that direction.