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Get Paid What You’re Worth

May 1, 2024

Too many servicemen and women undervalue their experience and talent. I’ve heard the bullshit advice that you should expect a 20% pay cut when you leave the Forces. If you go into a negotiation expecting a 20% pay cut, that’s exactly what you’ll get. You might believe you’re only worth 80% of your salary – that’s your call. Think before you leap though.

How do you mark this so you’re on point? How does your salary compare to your civvy equivalent? If you don’t have a trade, what is the pay for a similar supervisor or managerial role in civvy street? Research this on Glassdoor or one of the job boards such as CV Library or Total Jobs. Try to get a feel for where you fit on the salary scale for the role you’re interested in.

Are you unqualified for the role?

  • You match little or none of the criteria.

  • Time wasted interviewing when you probably know it’s not a good fit.

  • Salary will be low.

Are you a “basic” candidate?

  • You have the minimum requirement for the role.

  • If the role is unskilled or low entry, as a basic candidate you might provide a cost-effective solution for the employer, which can be attractive.

  • You will command on or slightly under market rate.

Are you a “good” candidate?

  • You are qualified and capable.

  • You will likely add value to the business and the team and help to maintain the business where it is

  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a good candidate. This might be exactly where you are right now.

  • Focus on the value you will add and look at what you’ve already achieved.

  • Do you know if you’re joining a team that’s GOOD or GREAT? How does the employer measure this?

  • You will be paid slightly above market rate, but you will probably be worth it.

Are you an ‘A’ Player?

  • You can lead / run parts (or in some cases, all) of the business.

  • You match skills and ability, natural energy and the culture is a good fit.

  • You will change the business and propel it.

  • You will shift the needle and know how to take others on the journey.

  • You will be in the top 1% of your trade/leadership band.  Bill Gates says that Microsoft was built around fewer than 20 people. Are you in that bracket of “A” players who can have a massive impact?

  • You will help the owner / board to get their life back and time (THIS is impact).

  • Show them that by recruiting you that you can take the business to the next level and CONVINCE the employer they are about to make the right choice by recruiting you.

  • Being part of a culture of “A” players will help the business to recruit more ‘A’ players.

  • Focus on the value you will add and focus on what you’ve already achieved.

  • You deserve more than you’re currently on because of the impact you make – you may have to prove that and that’s an article for another day.

There is no judgement on where you fit on this scale (and this is, of course, entirely subjective). There is also nothing wrong with being “unqualified” – this may be because you are re-trading or doing something completely new.

How do you determine where you fit?

  1. Measure your skills, ability and experience against the role

  2. Measure your natural energy and personality against the role. For example, if you’re a natural extrovert and relationship builder how aligned are you with the role? Conversely, if you’re an introvert with an eye for detail, how aligned are you with a role like that? I use a profiling platform called Contribution Compass which does this for you.

  3. Beyond the role, how aligned are you with the company culture and values. This will often be in the JD and it’s usually easy to find out from 5 minutes on a company’s website how aligned their culture and values are with you.

Be honest where you are. If they don’t have the structure or budget to support an A player, look out for those signals. They might try to get you “on the cheap” – this is not a good start. If they recognise you’re an “A” player, they will most likely pay, providing you’re not taking the mickey. You might not have the ambition and that’s ok too but at least know your level.
If you’re looking for an executive role, track down salary surveys at that level from head hunters. These surveys will often track roles by region, trade and turnover levels. Why is the turnover important? If you are pushing for a COO role the level of responsibility in your previous role is important. For example, if you’ve managed a turnover of £1m, a jump to £20m is going to be a stretch and you will probably not be taken seriously.
It’s much better doing all of this than guesswork. You can then enter into a negotiation from a position of strength and knowing what your market value is and you’ll know whether an employer values that experience or whether they are taking the mickey or not.
A final note on pensions. If an employer asks about your military pension I think it’s fair to challenge why they need to know. It’s none of their business and you don’t need to disclose this. You’ve earned that and an employer shouldn’t be taking that into account in order to reduce your salary. For me, that’s an absolute red line.

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