Updated: Sep 8, 2020
Only last week, I was talking to my friend – a fellow communication’s colleague about our intention’s and salary expectation’s as young professional’s.
There is no particular reason why the conversation should be taboo and I’m sure it provides the topic of lunch time conversation in many a workplace, but seemingly – to bring it up can leave one branded as ‘short – sighted’, ‘disloyal’ or even ‘cheeky’, as my friend and I recalled the many encounters we had faced and stories of friend’s who had engaged in similar dialogue with their manager’s.
So, I pose the question’s; whose problem is it, that most wage related enquiries result in a metaphorical beating around the matter at hand bush come the yearly appraisal? Is it fair that salary increment’s be reflected in an ethical one for all approach, or should the individual’s contribution’s in the workplace be recognised? Whose job is it to recognise when there is a need for personal salary increase? The individual’s; noting improvements in their performance in order to support their case, or the manager – only noticing the virtual stand still when the office junior isn’t in for two days to pick up incoming requests? And finally, how soon is too soon to ask what the salary is?
Social ettiquette may lead us to believe that only when the formal offer of a job has been received should you confirm the salary, but surely as with some public sector position’s that work on a salary band and other vacancies that list no salary we should unashamedly be allowed to ask before even applying for the job?
BBC Newsnight presenter, Emily Maitlis spoke unequivocally on the issue of worth in the Guardian Professional: Inspiring Leaders series last week saying; ‘Women often seem to have a fear of being “found out”. Of thinking they’ve pulled the wool over their boss’s eyes to get a job they don’t deserve’, to which I reply – my sentiments exactly! The problem for me being, what ground does a twenty – three year old have to negotiate at this point during the economic recovery? Yes, employment figures are on the up but not anywhere near enough for young people; with ‘ a drop of just 1,000 since the start of 2013’, according to The Independent, (Aug 2013). Should I maintain my ground when discussing salary expectation’s, having received more training and work experience across several internships and an early role in retail management compared to many of my student counterparts? Or am I aiming too high (should there be such as thing) and expecting too much too soon?
I spoke recently with entrepreneur John Leach, of Winning Pitch – specialist coaching service for businesses. John and I discussed my career intentions, my work history and what it was that placed doubt in my mind – (my mother mostly). John explicitly told me that I was on the right track and that anyone who tried to steer me otherwise was what he called a ‘visual assassin’. A pessimist, discouraging those who sound like they might have the right attitude about life. As much as I was inclined to agree, I couldn’t help but think that maybe John being positioned on the latter side of his professional journey may have not considered the practicality of the situation when it came to a new, fresh – faced (I use the term loosely here) graduate tackling something many people take year’s to practice confidently. Negotiation.
Subsequently, having only been employed after graduating in July a little over a month and a half, my manager has approached me about a permanent position being made available which she would happily accept my application for. However, the salary is unfortunately, not in line with what other entry level communication’s roles are offering – this based entirely on my own industry research. So, another dilemma rears it’s ugly head requiring those essential negotiation skill’s I mentioned earlier. The question being is this opportunity one not to be missed or does life have something more fitting in store? Perhaps I should take note of Maitlis’ advice, ‘ The one thing I’ve learned is to question herd-thinking, received wisdom – if everyone is agreeing about something it normally makes me pretty nervous. Or bored.’
I’m not entirely sure Maitlis meant it to mean separating yourself from the herd, but I’ve never been one to follow trends. Never one to let a style, attitude or majority rule influence my choices (yes, it did get me into a little trouble at school). But I believe that now as I begin to carve a name and a career out for myself, I should start as I mean to go on – negotiating confidently for what it is I’m worth.