• Amii Barnard-Bahn

Do your homework and get paid

Updated: Jun 18

First in a two-part series on getting paid/salary discussions)

A common question from my clients: How do I know I’m being paid fairly? 


My advice: Roll up your sleeves and do the research to discover the current market rate for your job. You can determine your viable pay range from four basic sources: 


1. Ask colleagues. Network with trusted peers at other companies and candidly ask if they mind, confidentially, sharing with you? And share with them openly if they ask. Note: Although allowed by law, I generally don’t recommend asking colleagues at your same company, as that can lead to problems. 

2. At least once a year, consider applying and interviewing for another job that genuinely interests you. This helps you evaluate your current role and market competitiveness. What skills are hot -- and do you have them? How does compensation vary based on the industry and geography? Would you physically relocate for the right opportunity? NOTE: In addition to assessing your current status, this information helps you plan for your career long-term. People sometimes get complacent and assume they are on an endless upward track at their current company. The reality is that the market never stays still, and ultimately, there is a ceiling for upward mobility. Always know how you stack up against your competition and how you’re progressing towards your career goals. Use the information you get regarding any skill gaps to map out your annual personal development plan and be aware of employment trends. 

3. Talk to recruiters. People often decline recruiter calls if they aren’t actively looking for another job - but this is a missed opportunity. Build a mutually beneficial relationship with a few reputable recruiters in your field by referring candidates to them (for jobs you don’t want). In exchange, you’ll get valuable compensation information that you can use when you need it.

4. Consult salary surveys for a general benchmark. Some industry organizations and recruitment firms conduct salary surveys that can directionally be helpful, such as Barker Gilmore’s annual compensation report for compliance professionals and their separate salary report for in-house counsel. The most accurate salary surveys are those sold by professional compensation consultants (such as Mercer and Willis Towers Watson), though unfortunately this route is generally cost-prohibitive for individuals. 

By combining these four methods, you’ll get a good range of the salary for your role that is usually valid for 1-2 years. Gather this over time and have it in your back pocket when you need it (e.g., annual reviews). 

And your quest for increased pay doesn’t have to end here! In part 2 of this series, we will discuss tips on using this data and other important factors you need to know in negotiating for higher pay inside a corporation.

More on Pay Negotiations

📷 With 2019 Compliance Week co-panelists Kim Yapchai, Heather Fine and Ling-Ling Nie 

Check out this 3 minute video clip of my interview at Compliance Week, where we cover key points about salary negotiation and pay.

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