Ask Esther // 13

It’s never going to be about the money, of course. If I wanted to do that, I would’ve chose a more sensible career path.
I went into my interview, not expecting much and of course, when I got offered my Junior Designer role and asked how much I was expecting to be paid, I just sat there gawking.
I’m a Junior Designer for a small/medium advertising agency, straight out of university, and I’m being paid around the $35,000 mark. I was told not to expect much so $35,000 sounded reasonable for me. My question to Esther is, when does it come time to be asking for pay rises? Is it naive to think that these will naturally come? Everyone talks about negotiating contracts and such, and I feel silly to have just agreed and signed?

Unsure and needing a helping hand with this one.

I think you are in the ballpark of the right starting salary. Any lower and you’re more of an intern, but to earn more, you’d probably need to have already won a prize or two in your graduate portfolio.

Negotiating is a skill that takes confidence and that comes from practice. You got the job and if the money feels about right, then it is. Sometimes candidates overreach and actually succeed in getting paid more than they are actually worth. They don’t last long before their true value is determined and they are usually replaced, retrenched or fired within a few months.

Employers and employees quickly learn the most basic index of worth: It simply boils down to the cost of your replacement. If you can be replaced by a cheaper person doing the same job, the chances are that you will be. If a smart employer knows that the time and money spent to replace you would be better spent keeping you, then they might even volunteer your pay rise.

More often than not you will have to ask for a review. Don’t ask for a pay rise, ask for a review of your performance. A formal meeting. You are more than likely on a three month probation and they should instigate this meeting but if they don’t, you must. They may offer you a pay rise on the spot in the meeting, but it is the perfect opportunity when you are formally discussing your performance and how it is being measured, to ask when your pay will be reviewed. See how you did that? Asking for a performance review will demonstrate to your employer your value to the company. This of course backfires when you are underperforming and/or overpaid.

By showing initiative, but in a polite and determined way shows them you mean business but at the same time are showing a respect for the process and are prepared to listen to feedback. Ask when you should book your next performance review and again, in the next meeting (six or 12 months down the track), hit them up again, especially if you are confident that you are worth more to them than one of the several resumes currently sitting in their inbox.

Good luck!

You can ask Esther Clerehan anything about putting your book together, getting a job, what salary to ask for or what to do when someone steals your ideas. Go on, Ask Esther. There is no other creative recruiter with more experience to educate us on the art of the job hunt. You can email her here at junior at wtf@lifeatthebottom.com (wtf null@null lifeatthebottom NULL.com).

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 12/07/2012
Category: Ask Esther
Tagged: .