Salaries for Corporate SEO Professionals vary drastically. So how do you know you’re getting paid what you deserve? Let’s explore a few ways to look at it, and at the end of this post, a one size fits all solution to bring to your higher ups for getting that raise!
First, let’s look at profitability. As a marketing guy, you probably have a pretty good idea how much is spent on promotions, and how much revenue your company generates from it. You might even be privy to information about fixed operating costs. In the best case scenario, your company even posts it profitability. If the company you work for is a cash cow, you can probably use profitability as a good selling point on getting an increased salary. ESPECIALLY if you can track it directly to your own individual efforts.
Let’s say your company nets 100 million annually, and you drive 30 million in profit while only spending a few million. There’s probably no good reason you should be making 50k yearly. If you work for a smaller company or a start up, chances are good you’re not producing hundreds or tens of millions in net revenue. In this case, check out the trends in your specific industry, and especially your company’s profit.
If there’s a big upside on the horizon, but little money going around at the moment, here’s your move: Sit tight at a lower salary for a while, but talk to your boss or CEO and plant the seed. Let them know you are OK with working at a lower salary temporarily, because you intend on helping to grow the company and to reap the benefits when that growth happens. From that point, track your performance (you should already be doing this anyways). If your company turns a corner and starts posting larger profits, and you have been doing more than your share, it’s probably a great time to remind your boss or CEO about your previous conversation and try to schedule a meeting.
Next, get a good idea about how much others who perform your specific job function earn, especially in your zip code. Salary.com is your friend. There are some awesome charts you can print out and keep on file. Use these on the big day when you approach your boss or CEO. I just performed a quick search on Web Promotion Specialist earnings in my zip code. Do the same for your exact title, or closest match.
As a rule of thumb, hiring managers are usually comfortable hiring new professionals in the 25% to 50% range according to Salary.com. If you want to demand more than that, you better know your stuff inside and out, have some concrete evidence or prior performance, and have a darn good sales pitch prepared. Oh, and people love pretty graphs and / or pie charts. Make some from your previous job(s) and keep them on file.
Another more risky technique of getting a raise is to feel out the market for YOU. Even in economically repressed times, there are always companies looking for web gurus. If your boss or CEO isn’t very receptive to chatting about your eventual raise, look for a job. Get an offer, and present it to your boss or CEO with the opportunity to match (provided you want to stay at your current job). If they cannot match, you can always jump ship to the next company willing to pay more.
But be careful, this is a higher risk technique. Both companies could look at your differently, possibly negatively, if you play hard ball. Do not use this technique if you think you can make headway in the politically correct way, or especially if you are somewhat easily replaced. Nobody want a high maintenance individualist on their team.
Even if there are valid reasons that you cannot have a pay increase, there’s always title. Getting a better title sometimes is easy if you pitch the company that you won’t cost any more. The better your title, the more likely your next job will pay better. Especially if the company you work for is not a start up. (side note: Titles at start ups, very small companies, or family businesses don’t usually carry the same weight from a hiring manager’s perspective. I can’t even count how many times I have interviewed CEOs from their own web design firm or music label who are looking for an entry level position.)
And finally, here is your one size fits all solution. 60% of the time, it works every time (thanks Anchor Man). But be forewarned, this magic formula will ONLY work if you can provide results. You MUST drive more volume than your current level. If you do, you have a raise. And without further ado, here is your formula.
Take your current salary, and cut it an half. Take your current performance metrics (hopefully sales volume or profitability) and devise a pay for performance monthly bonus structure, which sums up annually to half of your salary. Make sure you have a few versions of your bonus plan just in case your logic is disputed, make sure you have accurate reporting already in place. You want this plan to be bullet proof before you present it.
Here’s an example of the plan in action. Let’s just say you drove 100k in directly trackable profit for your company last year and you are currently paid 50k. Why not change your salary to 25k with a 25% profit share for volume you are pushing through your channels? This would show that your new plan would pay you exactly the same as last year.
Now here’s the kicker… If you drive 200k next year, your performance means you got an automatic raise to 75k. If you post a cool million, you just made yourself 275k. If that happens, and you used this method of negotiation, I’ll gladly accept checks for 10% of your earnings increase, made payable to Chris Hooley. No seriously, I’m OK with it. Email me. We’ll talk.
“I want my salary cut in half, and a fair bonus ONLY based on my performance” is not a hard pitch. For top level execs, it’s easy to swallow because you cut your fixed costs and only pay out if you are earning more. It’s a win-win situation.
Before you schedule your meeting, have those pretty graphs and charts printed out. Have your Salary.com info on hand. Look good, get plenty of rest, and put on your salesman hat (the one with the extra charm and wit). Be confident. Then go in and tell your boss you want a paycut, and that you only want to be paid if you provide results.