I work for a large corporation and have been with the company for eight years. In those eight years, I have been promoted or moved to another division for more pay four times. I am fairly certain another such opportunity will be coming up at the beginning of 2012. Here is the issue: When I am told that I have gotten the job, I am either told the salary is X or am sent a letter with the salary information, so there is really no opportunity for negotiation. I understand why the company presents the information in this way, but each job has a salary range (which is not known) and I would like to negotiate up, if possible. Do you have any advice on opening up negotiations when the salary is presented in such a “this is final” way?

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1 reply
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Companies this large have a huge system in place to ensure there is no salary discrimination based on unfair reasons. The system slots each job at a given level and each level of jobs has a non-negotiable salary attached to it. There is almost always a wide range of types of jobs at each pay level. (Or, in industry lingo, “pay grade”.)

    Point of reference: Microsoft has transparent levels and salaries so that everyone understands where they are in the system.

    So you need to negotiate to be promoted to a higher level in order to get a higher salary. When you talk with your boss about your career path, you need to talk about how you will march up the pay grade ladder. Ask if you have to march rung by rung or if you can skip. You can talk with your boss about how you can get your pay to increase faster. Many times, in companies like this, your best bet is moving to a department where pay grades are generally higher.

    For example, at Microsoft, corporate development jobs (mostly finance people) are generally at a higher pay level than marketing jobs. So moving from marketing to corporate development might be a way to get a pay grade bump — though it’s hard to imagine someone who could make that move, to be honest.

    You should get a handle on the whole system your company uses, and then start negotiating months in advance with your boss. Your boss probably needs to get approvals to skip levels for you, and your boss needs to get the raise into the P&L for the department, so you can’t really negotiate this stuff in a performance review, or a formal review process — you have to negotiate it months beforehand.


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