Ed. note: The following post was submitted to Going Concern by a reader who wished to remain nameless. The author works at a “local” CPA firm somewhere in this great land of ours.
The topic is actually very amusing and can cause several different angles over the almighty dollar. As an American culture, we seem to be quick to talk about the personal financial well being enclosed in our own homes. The items that separate the big dogs from the goldfish are numerous. Below are the reasons why I am a big dog and why you need to show me the money.
Know who you’re trying to convince – People often equate success to dollar figures, and I personally think salary or raises don’t always speak of high ethics or quality of a person. So the first words of caution are: know how your boss judges success. My boss judges it on money. The buck stops at that point. Therefore, when I spoke of my personal salary to him, I adjusted my strategy accordingly. He always talks with me about how he is doing personally, and how he is doing better than people at his level. This is due to the amount of responsibility and client base he possesses. Therefore, I changed the pace of my conversation so my point of view mirrored his. I brought up the point that the work I do helps him with his client base, and that my level of responsibility is more than a vast amount of my peers. As such, my salary should be adjusted accordingly.
Have the math to prove your position – Being in public accounting, we deal with numbers every day. Therefore, I made a spreadsheet that listed out changeability and realization (for those who don’t know, we bill by the hour). My numbers are then compared against my peers and when they are, statistics don’t lie. I am a big dog swimming with mostly fish. Point is again related to your audience in a way they can understand you. Accountants love numbers.
Tout your level of responsibility – I manage a large client base so the partner I report to doesn’t have to get involved as often as most. The reason for this is because I have set up and maintained client relationships so the client calls me instead of the partner. The clients understand that this is cheaper for them and also job security for me. When you do this, you make yourself more marketable and the partners see me as someone that his clients trust. With those client relationships come higher dollars. You have to separate yourself from your peers by going above and beyond. If you want to do the average and be a run of the mill employee, then expect the run of the mill pay.
I am involved in the community – By coaching little league football at a well known church, I interact with parents that might need a CPA firm to help them with tax issues or own a business that might need accounting services. Also by doing this, it shows the firm that I have no problems interacting with successful business people and can help them in various situations. I can grow the firm by doing this. Again, my peers don’t involve in the community as much as I do. This should be financially rewarded. I have an interest to bring in business, and should be compensated because of it.
I can leave this at any time – If my boss did not give me a descent raise, I was going to quit. I saw the storm coming, and therefore did all that I could prior to my salary evaluation. Quitting a job without another one lined up is a dumb move and would put my wife and me in jeopardy. I had (have) a job currently lined up and I could take it in a heartbeat. Therefore, I had my ducks in a row when I started to see the storm brewing three months ago. Always have a current résumé.
Be ready for the rebuttal – I know my weaknesses and had to be ready to discuss what I was lacking. I have not passed the CPA exam yet and that’s a huge drawback in my profession. So when I went in there, I had to tell him where I was in the process. Him knowing that I am taking care of it and not blowing it off, gives him a piece of mind that I am not average.
Case in point, just saying you want a raise and basing it off “because your deserve it” would make the employee look uneducated and should be embarrassed. You need to have a firm understanding of the reasons to justify your pay. In a pinch, always look at numbers. There is a reason 2+2=4 and will never equal 5. In a tough economy, you better have everything straight prior to walking into the boss’s office. When the economy settles, I’ll be expecting another sizable increase. If not, I will be very upset and will repeat the mentioned steps.