Salary review season for many law firms and organisations is usually in line with the end of the financial year – June 30 or the end of the calendar year December 31 (usually foreign based companies or chartered accounting firms).
Budgets for salary increases are set by HR Managers in conjunction with the partners of a law firm or with the senior management of a company.
It goes without saying that everyone wants a salary increase. Whether you get a salary increase depends on both your performance and the overall performance of your team and/or organisation.
Smart employers will never want to lose their star performers, so some sort of increase or performance bonus will be given despite market conditions.
Before any salary review meeting do your research: have a confidential chat to a recruiter you can trust and they will give you an fair assessment of how your industry sector is performing and what employers are thinking in terms of salary increases. Recruiters have their ear to the ground and are talking to their clients on a daily basis. They are definitely “in the know” when it comes to knowing who is paying what.
Asking for a salary increase is difficult and nerve wracking. It’s a tough conversation. Always remember to be professional. Aside from your research, always ensure you have documented your achievements and client/stake-holder feedback. Look for examples where you have gone ‘above and beyond’: meeting expectations does not mean an automatic salary increase. An achievement, for example, could be that you contributed to a winning tender or you saved your organisation a substantial amount of money.
If you have been fore-warned by management that salary increases will be minimal for everyone, but your performance has been outstanding you could think of other creative ways to be rewarded for your efforts e.g. flexible working arrangements, extra annual leave, a one off performance bonus, study leave/allowance.
If all your suggestions are knocked back despite your well deserving case, it might be time to discretely look elsewhere for that dream role.
Negotiating Your Salary Package
You have just been offered your dream job. It’s now time to negotiate the total salary package. Negotiating your salary package is no different from any other commercial transaction: there is a starting point and an end point. The question that all job seekers have in the back of their mind is how much more can you achieve from the starting point.
It is usual for the employer to make an opening offer. Some roles, however, are not open for negotiation at all. The roles that are open for negotiation are usually the more senior roles or the roles where there the skill set is very specific and there is a shortage of candidates for the role. If you are fortunate enough to have used a recruiter or a head-hunter to secure the interview for you, the negotiation will be done on your behalf. As recruiters and head-hunters have industry knowledge in relation to salary packages and what salaries are being paid at specific companies, you can sit back and be at arms’ length in the negotiation process. If you do not have a recruiter or head-hunter acting on your behalf you will need to do your own research and find out what someone of the equivalent experience and ability as yourself is currently earning. This can, sometimes, be very tricky.
If the initial offer is a package that you are not entirely happy with, you will need to commence the ‘wheeling and dealing’ and what tact you will use. Will you play hard ball or will you take a softer approach? There is no right or wrong answer but one thing for certain is your prospective employer will judge you on how you negotiate your own salary package. It is perfectly acceptable to play hard ball if you are well prepared with industry research and you are certain of your worth. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you commenced a new role and you felt you were not being paid your worth.
If the cash component of the package on offer is not open for negotiation but it is your dream role, you may want to negotiate on other aspects of the package e.g. extra annual leave, working from home, shorter working hours, performance based bonuses. No-one will think ill of you for negotiating the best salary package: just ensure you have done your research or the research is done for you by your recruiter or head-hunter.