tor

Increasing your Wage

195 posts in this topic

First of all work out what you do currently.

Then work out why you do it.

So "what you do" is the actual thing you do, not your job title. Like the things people / you think you do well. In my case for example I believe the reason people hire me is because I solve problems.

Why you do it may boil down to "for money" but may also be because it is something you enjoy doing, because you seek approval from others or whatever.

So then work out if what you do is specific to an industry or can be used in many industries.

So now you know what you do, why you do it at your current place of employ and whether you can change your current place to a different industry or different company.

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Negotiation

To get a pay rise you are almost certainly going to need negotiation skills. So evaluate your skills.

If they are not up to scratch get better at them. I found the easiest way to do this was to just start going to job interviews and asking for more than they said the job was paying. You don't get the job very often but you do get better at explaining why you deserve more cash than the wanted to pay.

Then start planning for your next review. Catalogue all the cool stuff you have done and the good start that came of it. When you go into a review you will almost certainly forget some of the things. Try and build a narrative around the things you have done. If you just say "I did this, this and this" it is not very compelling. If you say "I worked on this skill and used it in these situations which had these outcomes" then you make a small story which people can understand.

Then negotiate your pay. Make sure your negotiation has a clear desired result. Don't just blurt "gimme all the money sucker" (although I have done that once or twice with success). Rather have your own selected references to what the industry is paying and what you are after and what you are willing to sacrifice for that increase. For example:

"I want a 20% pay rise which would bring me to this kind of level of remuneration in the industry, the job descriptions look like this <examples>. Therefore I expect to be performing at this level and picking up these extra tasks and skills as the year progresses, this is how I propose we measure it <example>"

Be flexible though, if they say you don't get the cash 'til you prove you can do stuff that's not a bad deal. If they won't pay it at all until the next review decide then and there on a way of measuring it so that next year you get your 20%. (note I have had this backfire miserably once, wasn't a complete loss though as I had been pushing hard all year and so had skills which got me my next job the day after I got a plaque instead of my pay rise).

Be creative and keep the pressure on them. For example while doing a long drawn out negotiation of my contract fee I stopped putting in my invoices (but continued to put in timesheets) and told them it was because the invoices would be back dated so it was easier to not get cash and then have to work out an adjustment. After some 4 months of debate we had the new rate worked out and I invoiced for 4 months work. The ever increasing amount of cash they knew they had to pay created pressure for them to reach an agreement rather than stringing me along.

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Skills

An easy way to up your skills is to dedicate time to them but choose the skills to work on.

Work out what skills are saleable by looking in the job ads. A programmer for example with strong SQL skills is going to get business work a lot easier than one that knows more languages. A DBA with good DR design skills is going to get a job in the architecture team rather than the infrastructure team. The pay is generally better in the architecture team. Look around your industry at the stuff that is done badly, match it to your skills and decide if you think you are capable of it (I for example would never touch project management despite it being generally done awfully because I doubt I could do it any better).

So choose a thing which looks like you could do it but is not an obvious fit with what you currently do. Then try and work out how to measure if an example is any good. Don't even bother trying to learn how to do it, just learn how to measure if it is good or not.

Once you think you know how to measure it start trying to measure the examples occurring around you. In my example of the DR design for an operational DBA I started pushing for a test of the DR procedures. Then looked at what happened when we did that test. By looking at the example and comparing it with the way I was measuring it I could see flaws in the implementation, but they were high level flaws; "it was too slow". So then I spent time reading articles about DR design and started to learn the alternatives available for those key areas.

After a while you will start to know where the real trouble areas are in this new skill set. Then start learning the basics of the skill.

The reason I do it this way is that it requires minimal time investment, I don't start out learning from scratch. I jump in to the troublesome areas and focus on them. This makes it more interesting and keeps my focus better. I try to devote a set period to this particular learning.

Keep track of the time you spend doing this extra skill learning as well. It will be useful for when you try to build a story around the good things you did as mentioned in the negotiation post above: "I spent 2 hrs a week working through the issues we had in the DR failover test and identified these areas <blah and blah> so I focussed on those areas and came up with this solution <example> which is why when we did the DR test in November it ran X% faster, since then I have been spending the 2 hrs a week looking at these other areas where I believe we can see improvement".

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I think you are right tor.

The problem is I don't manage to do so. My alternative method works like this:

Ask for the role and money you want.

Get rejected by your boss.

Look for another role.

Ask for the money you want.

Get the role.

Resign from your current role.

I find you won't get a raise until the market bears it. When the market bears it you will still feel undervalued and you realise it wasn't only the money you were after but a change in exposure as well. Changing employers every few years is good to avoid the Enron or Pacific Brands debacle where you entitlements vanish overnight.

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Changing employers every few years is good to avoid the Enron or Pacific Brands debacle where you entitlements vanish overnight.

Sorry if you see this as clogging up your thread tor. I like it but just one new benefit of being an employee;

The federal government has guaranteed employees entitlements through the GEERscheme.

The company falls over you get your entitlements eventually. If it goes into a buyout etc you don't from the gov but this does not matter as your entitlements (the liability of them) transfer to the new owner anyway.

Of course with this there are as with all things government policy related pretty clear unintended consequences.

No group of employees will now sign up to a reduced payout in a buyout of a company in administration knowing they get the lot if it goes into liquidation from the government. So in the buyout of a company the full liability must be taken by the new owners so a few more will go to the wall in the future. Perhaps the government can stand in as a creditor on behalf of the employees to help this work, i.e. still payout the employees but take a partial hit on the chin to get things across the line?

Of course other creditors can still be negotiated with.

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The federal government has guaranteed employees entitlements through the GEERscheme.

The company falls over you get your entitlements eventually.

I note your word "eventually". I see too many guarantees being broken to trust any of them. The best guarantee is the one you don't need.

The point is if I have to ask my boss for a raise he clearly doesn't measure my value as I do. I want my boss to be proactive and surprise me with a raise. When was the last time that happened? 1984?

Edited by sydney3000

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Skills

An easy way to up your skills ...

It amazes me how many people don't bother to do this and then complain about their pay. I know several SQL Server programmers that are still using SQL 2000 syntax on SQL 2008 - they haven't learnt SQL 2005 let alone 2008.

I'm sure if the same people were told about a professional sportsman that only pitched up for matches and didn't train they would say what a useless waste of potential that person was, without the light bulb even faintly glowing.

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Negotiation

Don't just blurt "gimme all the money sucker" (although I have done that once or twice with success).

He he, I'm going to do this to my partner quite soon, gonna be fun.

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Audacity

Take some risks.

First get your safety net in place. Save some cash and keep an eye on your budget so you know what your actual cost of living is. Then save enough to cover you for 6 months out of work.

If you can't do this find out just how hard it is to get a menial job and what they pay. When I am about to start getting risky I ask at the local Woolworths what jobs they have going and what they pay, I check the local bars staff turnover. If you know where the better value menial jobs are and how hard they are to get you have a safety factor there as your savings don't have to be so big.

Get an ABN so you can actually take on work at the drop of a hat.

Then start getting risky. Go for jobs which are slightly higher than your current level and ask for more money than they are paying. Use "win/win" tactics in these interviews. Show with your stories that you have actually been doing the job they are advertising and it just wasn't part of your title. If they don't believe you or won't pay the extra cash then offer to work for what they are offering for 3 months at the end of which they either backpay you or fire you. Even if it fails you get experience at the higher level. By making it a contract type arrangement you get the bonus of it not looking to bad on your resume.

Watch for your workmates mistakes and solve them. If you can work out a procedure / application or whatever to save the company cash you are probably going to find that you can implement it with little difficulty. If you hit difficulty work out where you failed in your negotiations. Saying the company wouldn't change is just blaming someone else for your own limitations.

Try and avoid working in groups. There is no recognition for being part of a group. Any change that requires a group to implement it is probably going to fail so best to avoid them if you can.

Take the blame when you f*ck up (you will) and you will avoid a lot of the backstabbing that can occur as well when you are actively trying to change stuff.

Remember you will only last a year or two in any role when you start doing this as eventually your competence will not be enough for the required changes and you then either stagnate or screw up big time. Also remember that the threat of leaving is about as pointless as anything can be. You have to actually have the job offer before you can use this as a bargaining tool. Again give the other person options "I quit" might feel good but probably throws away any chance of a payrise internally. "I have a job offer which matches the story I told you about what I have been doing and where I feel I am in my career. Are you interested in talking about keeping me here?" gives them a chance to come to the table. If you're really lucky you get walked and have a quick holiday before starting the next job.

Get used to the threat of unemployment. It isn't so bad if you have a plan in place.

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Go for jobs which are slightly higher than your current level and ask for more money than they are paying. Use "win/win" tactics in these interviews. Show with your stories that you have actually been doing the job they are advertising and it just wasn't part of your title.

This has worked for me. Actually it is the only meaningful way I could engineer a 20% increase in income, but I did it big-time a couple of years ago and it will be a while before I can take as big a step. I always 'bite off more than I can chew, and then chew like hell' (Thanks, R Heinlein). It works.

Watch for your workmates mistakes and solve them.

Oh brother, this one works also.

Try and avoid working in groups. There is no recognition for being part of a group.

Nope, I find working in groups is pretty effective, particularly if you take the leadership role and/or take care of the point above... I have (almost) always found the synergy of a good group allows us all to perform well - more than the sum of it's parts.

Take the blame when you f*ck up (you will) and you will avoid a lot of the backstabbing that can occur as well when you are actively trying to change stuff.

A hard one for me personally to learn, but it works very well. It certainly won't get you any deeper in the poo than you already are, and can be unexpectedly effective, especially if combined with a potential solution.

Remember you will only last a year or two in any role when you start doing this as eventually your competence will not be enough for the required changes and you then either stagnate or screw up big time.

Being a jack of all trades, I'd have to agree with this one too. I tend to a cycle of acclimate - triumph - stagnation - irritation - move on.

Get used to the threat of unemployment. It isn't so bad if you have a plan in place.

As a contract worker, yes, yes and yes.

Apparently the more detail you add, the more sense your ideas make, Tor... ;)

Interesting thread.

Edited by Ruffian

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Nope, I find working in groups is pretty effective, particularly if you take the leadership role and/or take care of the point above... I have (almost) always found the synergy of a good group allows us all to perform well - more than the sum of it's parts.

Well these are just my experiences, I am sure there are alternate routes which work for people that have different skill sets. If I can't instil a cult of personality into a team then it tends to go to hell as it is the only management style I have (and I consider learning those skills to be not worth the money for the time as I don't think I would ever be a particularly good manager type). If someone else is the leader of the team I will almost certainly either alienate myself from the team or start a splinter faction :)

The group thing always sh*ts me, partly because it means sharing the glory; I want it all. Still not sure if it is because I need approval from people or because I want to know in myself that I did it.

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Get used to the threat of unemployment. It isn't so bad if you have a plan in place.

Unemployment may not be so bad but looking for work sucks. It's even worse if you want to pick up the dole. Going through bullsh*t Centrelink agencies for specialised IT positions is a complete waste of time.

My big jumps in salary have generally been when changing jobs, though I've twice receive raises by going directly to management (one was a 40% raise, thank you very much!)

Tor - in relation to skills, how much value to do place in professional accreditations? I figure it is a way to separate the wheat from the chaff but doesn't necessarily prove skills. I agree that looking at job ads and wanted skills is a good way to pick a training course (so as long as it also interests you).

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Know your charge out rate. If they can charge it, why can't you?

If you don't know that you are somewhat in the dark.

As with most of my stuff I figure be somewhat reasonable about it though. Look at what they are adding to your skills. Accounting, insurance, staff coverage in the event of sickness / death, bad debt chasing, office space and a bunch of similar things. They will also probably cover you for dead time as well.

Then work out what that might be worth (talking to someone like zaph might help for the administrative overhead, get a quote for professional indemnity, health cover etc). Then charge them a rate which is commensurate with that.

Remember that means you have to look at your billable hours accurately. If you are a full timer this can often be something people are a bit lax on; keep a time sheet at even an hourly basis where you think someone paying direct consultancy fees would pay for your time. Don't forget your sick pay and annual holidays plus public holidays.

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Unemployment may not be so bad but looking for work sucks. It's even worse if you want to pick up the dole. Going through bullsh*t Centrelink agencies for specialised IT positions is a complete waste of time.

My big jumps in salary have generally been when changing jobs, though I've twice receive raises by going directly to management (one was a 40% raise, thank you very much!)

Tor - in relation to skills, how much value to do place in professional accreditations? I figure it is a way to separate the wheat from the chaff but doesn't necessarily prove skills. I agree that looking at job ads and wanted skills is a good way to pick a training course (so as long as it also interests you).

I actually quite enjoy looking for work. So much so that I started my own consulting company; all I do now is look for work :)

I completely agree that changing jobs is often an easy way of getting a pay rise but, in my opinion, it often means you give up on interim cash. 10% every year beats 30% once. If you are really into increasing your income you don't want to throw away even small annual raises between the big jumps. A bit of practice and planning for annual reviews might get you an extra 3 or 4% each time. It adds up.

Professional accreditations have their place. They can help bolster your case. I have none (my highest qualification now is my blacksmithing qualification which is probably enough to get me an apprenticeship hehehe). I think different industries put different worth on them, I am not sure I would trust an unlicensed doctor as much as I would trust an unqualified IT guy. Again it comes down to looking at the job ads and doing test interviews; if you are making no head way and the recruitment agents keep asking if you could get some qualifications it could be a bit of a hint.

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Try and avoid working in groups. There is no recognition for being part of a group. Any change that requires a group to implement it is probably going to fail so best to avoid them if you can.

Nice thread tor. All brilliant advice.

One small disagreement though. I like small leet teams. Not too big such that they are unwieldy (say 3-4 members) but with a good work dynamic. Bouncing ideas is crucial to good design in my experience. Having managed a small team in the public service I found that I couldn't offer monetary reward but prestige was important to get the best out of the younger crew. The glory can be shared as the first thing I always do is start training my own replacement. Mainly because I'm chronically lazy. The glory goes to the leader. ^_^ The opportunity to step up must be provided regardless. The promise is of course that the participants can step into the big league (of which you speak) with a good track record of success. I am working as the sole developer on a project at the moment in a death or glory role. It's all bleeding edge. Hardware and software refresh to the latest versions of everything. With scant doco (yes it's open source) and 11.5 weeks to go. Some more eyes would be useful to me. Back to work now.

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It would appear the bubble I predicted is on its way:

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/from-geeks-to-globetrotters-the-it-crowd-switches-to-contracting-20110216-1awmq.html

If we don't get a secondary GFC we are going to have tons of cash floating around and specialists are going to be able to get their hands on some of it. Contractors get to keep it, full timers give most to their boss.

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It would appear the bubble I predicted is on its way:

http://www.smh.com.a...0216-1awmq.html

If we don't get a secondary GFC we are going to have tons of cash floating around and specialists are going to be able to get their hands on some of it. Contractors get to keep it, full timers give most to their boss.

Contractors don't keep it all unless they work for themselves and don't go through an agency.

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Contractors don't keep it all unless they work for themselves and don't go through an agency.

True. That is why I am moving more and more of my work into direct / partnerships (rather than subcontract) now. Sitting at 50/50 by hrs for this year.

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Contractors don't keep it all unless they work for themselves and don't go through an agency.

My agency only takes around 10% and I'm guessing the client takes an additional 20%. If they pay my rate I'm happy for them to make as much out of it as they can.

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I'm seriously thinking of contracting later in the year. I know most contractors I work with/hired get about $90-$100/hr. Any less than this and it wouldn't be worth it. Especially as a single source contractor. Less tax advantages I'm lead to believe. Anyone know what the going rate for java/j2ee security specialist is in Sydney/Melbourne. 10 years experience.

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I'm seriously thinking of contracting later in the year. I know most contractors I work with/hired get about $90-$100/hr. Any less than this and it wouldn't be worth it. Especially as a single source contractor. Less tax advantages I'm lead to believe. Anyone know what the going rate for java/j2ee security specialist is in Sydney/Melbourne. 10 years experience.

Tax advantages: changes to what constitutes a "proper" business make it difficult for most contractors to max out their tax rate at 30%

$100 wouldn't surprise me. I'm not in that area so unsure. I know friends who are testers with similar amount of experience on around $700 - $800 a day.

Found this link interesting:

http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/from-geeks-to-globetrotters-the-it-crowd-switches-to-contracting-20110216-1awmq.html

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Fine tune your academic record (year 12 or finish your degree) and change your job to the career you want so meet the requirements. As for increasing your wage in curent job...NFI, I'm at the top of the pay scale and if I leap to contracted management I'll be fired because I'm a John Adair believer and brainwashed therein (as most are ex C'wealth Military officer academy).

JA:

Task leader: Plan Initiate Control Support Inform Evaluate

Adair_venn_JW.jpg

It falls apart in the private sector because developing the individual is not important as outcome and developing the team and individual is done in conjuction and costs time and money. The current corporate ethos of f*ck the staff, they can be replaced as long as the outcome achieved and deadline met is contrary for long term growth but its a mercenary small contract world.

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I'm seriously thinking of contracting later in the year. I know most contractors I work with/hired get about $90-$100/hr. Any less than this and it wouldn't be worth it. Especially as a single source contractor. Less tax advantages I'm lead to believe. Anyone know what the going rate for java/j2ee security specialist is in Sydney/Melbourne. 10 years experience.

$100 / hr I would think to be low for anyone with 10 yrs experience and the word "security" in their primary skill set. I think most of the contract security coders at the banks I have been through are on more like $120 / hr for long running contracts. Competition is nasty for those jobs though.

I think once you have the 10 yrs experience things change and how good you are starts to become more important, up to there it is just a "length of time" thing. After that the rates start to reflect the skill level (including non core skills like personal marketing).

You might want to try and find what the Dimension Data / EDS types of shops are charging for their guys, then take off 50% to see what they are paying their top contractor guys. If you go direct to the client you will probably charge about 75% of what the DiData / EDS places charge for their guys. An example I am factually aware of (i.e. not just pub talk) is senior guys (10yrs and good) in the integration space are charged out at 225 / hr, full timers get about 80 or 90 of that and contractors get about 120.

Unfortunately unless you are truly a god in the field (and recognised as such by the internet at large) I suspect a city change might mean you have to take a lower paying role to start with and get your name out there. I know sql work which pays well is never advertised, going by roles the recruiters are trying to fill the maximum hourly rate for sql guys is down at 100. Most of my direct work is now via people that have worked with me at one site and contacted me when they move on to another role. Obviously that takes time to build up during which a "pay the bills" job will have to do.

If your "pay the bills" job gets you around and about you obviously speed up the process by meeting and working with more people.

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I'm at the top of the pay scale

Same. They don't even want to pay us overtime. I mean I do a few extra hours each week cos I enjoy the work. And when you're busy the time flies. But there are limits. I don't work for free. Not on weekends anyway. They'd better find me some leeway shortly or the project will slip. They've been told and it's their choice.

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