Compensation Revelation

May 29, 2008 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

By Matt Barcus
President, Precision Executive Search, Inc.
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Shifter.  I know, I know, who the heck is Shifter?  Well, Shifter is a member of the forum on the website and he recently posed some comments and questions that I felt I might know a little bit about.

Take a look at what Shifter had to say:

What should be the logic and strategy when interviewing for a position and revealing your current compensation?

I do not think that it would be proper to refuse to reveal your current salary and compensation to prospective employers; but I think that the offer I will receive will be ‘just a bit better’ than my current situation and not a fair market offer.

I equate this with the general noting of salary “commensurate with experience” on most corporate postings.

I want to put myself in the position for a premium offer without either offending the prospective company or having to specifically reveal that my job search has multiple options.


Having placed hundreds of civil engineering professionals throughout my career, and of course having negotiated most of their offers, I do have a few suggestions (in fact, most engineers that I work with build a spreadsheet according to these suggestions…go figure?!?!?!):

Know Yourself

What revenues have been generated as a direct result of your marketing efforts?
What clients can you bring with you?
What percentage of your hours worked are billable?  What percentage is overhead?
How many people have you successfully supervised, motivated and mentored?
How much time do you put in to your job above and beyond the typical 40-hour work week?
What is your complete compensation plan (salary, overtime, bonus, profit sharing, 401K matching, PTO, out of pocket insurance costs, cell phone, laptop, car allowance, etc)?

Know Your Peers

What are your peers making? Find out what they are really making, not what they tell you they are making.
How does your current level of responsibility match up to your peers’ responsibility?
What technology are your peers using?

Know The Position

Do you thoroughly understand the role that is being offered to you?  Do not assume anything based merely upon the title.  I know “Project Managers” that would be Project Engineers, I know “Directors of Transportation” that would be Project Managers, and I know “Designers” that would be Cadd Drafters at any other firm in town.  So make you sure you fully understand the responsibilities and expectations.

Have you been presented, and do you have a full understanding of, the company’s benefits?

Do you have a firm understanding of the average work hours…really?

If it is a newly created position, how committed is the company…really? What is their time frame for getting the ship up and running…really?

Of course there are other factors to consider as well, but the above should give you a good baseline to start with.  If you can lay all of this out to your potential employer as you present what you have to offer, and if you are confident as to what you can bring to the table and can subsequently back that up, and if you are already being compensated “fair market value,” than you will not, or shall I say, should not, receive an offer that is “just a little bit better.”   If you work for a miserable company that pays inflated salaries because they know they are miserable to work for, your offer may only be a “little bit better,” but your quality of life, work environment, etc may drastically improve.  Sometimes we see people that are underpaid-not because they underperform (though this is many times the case), but because the employer is out of touch with market salary conditions, so you would need to justify your request for a large increase in pay (know yourself, know your peers).  In the end, if you are not satisfied with the offer then you have to be prepared to walk away.

To get the premium offer you are looking for, you must have a full understanding of all of the above, and in turn be able to effectively communicate it.  Keep in mind though that a premium offer often lies in the eyes of the beholder.


Entry filed under: Civil Engineering Issues, Interviewing, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , .

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