Pay Isn't Everything... Or Is It?

At some point hiring managers and HR professionals have gotten it in their head that people work for fun and not for a paycheck. There are new articles every day talking about how millennials in particular don't care about pay and how they want flexible schedules and other benefits instead. I don't know about you, but unless you are an heiress or have won the lottery most of us get jobs so we can make money. Money is needed for the exchange of goods and services, like food and shelter. We need money to get the things we need to live. While I agree the perfect job candidate has motivations in addition to money such as location, growth opportunity, and company culture, the paycheck is usually at the top of that list. 

At the beginning of my professional career I started looking for a new job after my then current employer laid off a lot of people. There were a lot of rumors but the signs were not good the company was on the upswing. A recruiter had reached out to me and I interviewed for a sales job for an automotive parts company. The job required traveling constantly to Canada, Michigan, and Wisconsin to dirty plants and working alongside the real salesman who was Japanese and I would be a sort of translator (who could not speak Japanese btw). The job sounded like a lot of work. I learned during the interview the pay was around $30,000 with no commissions (for a sales job!) and a potential for a small bonus in the second year. My wife laughed at this when I told her and neither of us could believe the recruiter/company thought someone would take this job. Granted, this was back when the country was still recovering from the Great Recession, but that pay is laughable. I consider all time spent away from home traveling as working hours, so when you break down the hours required by this job you are probably somewhere near minimum wage. I decided I would be better off going back to work as a lifeguard than taking this job.

I declined the second interview much to the dismay of the recruiter. I was not a recruiter at this time, but had managed our staffing function, but I knew this lady was not taking the right approach. I would never push a candidate into a terrible job for them. I would not even work for a client with such crazy expectations. She even tried to bargain with me to take the job and work a few months until her guarantee was up so she would get paid and leave her client high and dry. I told her absolutely not and that the salary was terrible for the long hours and travel required for this job and asked why there was no commission. She said the company did not want someone motivated by money and that the Japanese culture valued hard work over greed. I'm willing to bet the owners of the company spewing that nonsense get paid so much because they can swindle their employees into believing this BS. She tried to make me feel bad about wanting a wage appropriate for my skill level and the demand of the position. I realized I shouldn't feel bad about wanting to be paid fairly for the work I gave to a company. As a sales professional I have always enjoyed working on commission because I can be compensated for my level of input directly. 

Around this same time I discovered Grant Cardone, a sales trainer and motivational speaker. I listened to all of his sales books (audiobooks ftw) and his online videos. He made me realize I should not feel bad or greedy for wanting a fair wage. Making money means supporting my family and causes I believe in. We are constantly bombarded with messages like 'money isn't everything' or 'money is the root of all evil' but money is not a bad thing and we shouldn't feel bad for aspiring to have some money or a lot of money. Life is hard with or without money, but it money can make things way easier. Working two or three jobs is hard. Taking the bus or walking miles to work is hard. Having no money is hard. This notion gets pushed that it's hard to make money but living without any is a lot more work. 

Don't be afraid to leave your job or start a side gig to make more money. I have explained this before, but rich people tend to have multiple sources of income. If you have income from rental properties, a consulting gig, or other means you will not be a slave to your day job. You will not worry endlessly every time there is a management change or layoffs. You will not have to compromise your values and stay at a company you do not align yourself with if you have other means of income. I read that the average millionaire reports seven sources of income to the IRS. If you have one source of income you must consider diversifying yourself. I have written this before, but you are a corporation and you should not rely on one client to buy your services. The one client right now is your full time employer. 

If you find out you are being paid below your market value you should usually leave the company you are at and seek another opportunity. Your employer most likely knows they are thieving you out of your time without fair pay. You can try asking for a raise but how often do you want to do that? Never try to get an offer just to get a counteroffer. This is passive aggressive and will make you look bad to your company even if they make you a counteroffer to keep you. You will go down in their book as a traitor. 

If you are seeking employment elsewhere and the company wants to know your current salary, do not tell them. You never want to anchor the negotiations. Always get the company to say the first number. Your current salary should not matter. What should matter is the market value for the position being filled. It is not in the best interest of the company to rip you off in the long term, so it is a win-win situation. If a prospective employer is pushy about this or otherwise makes you feel unease, then you should evaluate whether you really want to work there. 

Every day there is a new article from a middle aged baby boomer telling us what millennials want, and how pay isn't important to them. It is. Everyone wants to rightfully be paid enough for their skills, their time, and to live a comfortable lifestyle. Younger people may also want flexible work hours and value results over a strict 9 to 5 culture, but that doesn't mean they want to be paid less. They want pay in addition to the other things. Yes, they may not get it all, but if their skills are in demand they just might. 

While money is not a job candidate's only consideration, it is an important part that should not be looked down upon. I'm sure if we were all rich we would not choose to be software developers or other difficult occupations, we'd all be professional dog cuddlers or candy tasters. We all know the truth is the main reason any of us spend years of our life going to college, studying, going into debt, etc. is so one day we can live the dream and make some money. Let's all stop pretending we put ourselves through all that for prospect of having a job with an air hockey table.