Question: “In our company, employees never receive raises. We only get quarterly bonuses for meeting specific goals. Although the CEO says "we couldn't do it without you," he makes no effort to improve our salaries. This job provides valuable experience in a profession that I love, so I hate to think about leaving. I really enjoy my work, my co-workers and the relaxed environment. On the other hand, my pay is still very low after two years. Any advice?” — Worth More
Marie’s Answer: Did you know about this pay structure when you accepted the job? If not, make a mental note to ask more compensation questions during your next job search. In the meantime, here are some points to consider:
• Salary levels are determined largely by supply and demand, so current economic conditions have created a buyer's market for many employers. In highly desirable occupations, entry-level employees may accept a very low salary just to get in the door.
• If your company begins to have difficulty recruiting or retaining qualified people, better pay could become a higher priority. To raise awareness, you might gather a group to talk with the HR manager about the challenges posed by this compensation strategy.
• Since this job is enhancing your professional credentials, try to view it as a stepping stone. Your experience should soon qualify you for better positions elsewhere. If you have exceptional ability, eventually your earnings will match your talents.
• Meanwhile, as you clip coupons and forgo vacations, be thankful every day that you love your work, your colleagues and the company culture. Many better-paid people would gladly trade places with you.
For tips on discussing pay with your boss, see How to Ask for a Raise.
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