Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Get the Raise You Deserve: A Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiating the Right Pay Package

Academic journal article Journal of Accountancy

Get the Raise You Deserve: A Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiating the Right Pay Package

Article excerpt

Are you being paid what you're worth? Many CPAs begin working for a company with one set of responsibilities but as time passes their duties gradually grow or change. As a result they end up assuming the responsibilities of a higher-level job without a commensurate pay increase. In other cases CPAs who have been in a job for a while find that new hires with the same duties are earning higher salaries be cause the company's incremental increases for existing employees have not kept up with changing market conditions.

Experts say there are several steps CPAs who find themselves in one of these situations should take. First, get educated about what your job responsibilities are worth today. Then, put together a compelling case for wily you deserve to be paid more. Finally, determine the best way to approach your boss to make sure your request for more money is approved.

Many people were reluctant to press for more pay during the recent economic slowdown, notes Reesa Staten, vice-president and director of research at the financial staffing and placement firm Robert Half International in Menlo Park, California. But with a recovery apparently in sight, those concerns may be unfounded. Her company has found CPAs can earn as much as 10% more than candidates without the credential. Their skills always provide value to employers, and given recent business reforms and a renewed focus on corporate governance, CPA expertise is particularly in demand. Accounting professionals who remain aware of their companies' changing needs--and how they can address them--will be able to make a strong case for higher pay. This article explains how CPAs in business and industry can do just that.


To begin the process, "review your original job description to find out what your duties were supposed to be," advises career consultant Robin Ryan, the author of 60 Seconds & You're Hired and Winning, Resumes, among other books. "You may realize you've been taking on more and more tasks that were not originally supposed to be part of your job." The documentation a company uses for its regular performance evaluations--which often lists duties--is one possible source of the necessary data. Your company's human resources department may be another source.

Armed with this information, "create a table that lists the tasks in your original job description and your current duties," Ryan says. "Do you now supervise two people even though you weren't hired to do so? Make sure you include a column that describes how your duties benefit the company's bottom line, such as how you cut costs by introducing efficiencies in specific areas." Create another list of more general ways you have added value to the job by, for example, learning new skills or software programs or training junior employees.

At some companies this may be all you need to prove you merit a raise. Or you may come to suspect you deserve a promotion rather than just a raise--and at some companies that's what you will need to get a truly significant increase in compensation. If your company has implemented a salary freeze, you may want to argue for reclassification at a higher level with higher pay. One resource CPAs can use in this case is Robert Half's Glossary of Job Descriptions for Accounting and Finance, which lists job types and definitions (see "Resources for a Broader View," page 57). Objective sources such as this glossary can help you make a case for a raise or reclassification.


Once you've decided you deserve more money, the next step is to determine how much. Whether you are seeking a raise or a pro motion, it's important to approach your boss with solid salary research. (See "Resources for a Broader View" and "Tools for Determining a Salary Range," page 53, for sources CPAs can use to get a sense of what companies are paying.) While these resources are a starting point, it's a good idea to look in your local newspaper's classified ads for positions that require your skills at companies like your own, Staten says. …

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