Much has been made in the media recently about the lagging pay prospects of America’s working men and women. According to one report, in fact, the total remuneration of American workers is now down to 56% of the country’s gross domestic product. That’s just 7% better than it was in 1929, at the start of the Great Depression!
As bad as this situation is—and it is terrible—there’s another side to this story, one that seldom gets told. This overlooked reality is the positive financial experience now being enjoyed by a large number of non-executive workers. These people are not the privileged few at the top of the heap in corporate America. They’re working men and women down in the ranks of the workforce, and their pay is going up, even as it declines for so many others.
Hard to believe? Take a look at the trends in the chart below. (The data were compiled by SHRM.)
• Number of employers paying hiring bonuses: 2004—61% 2008—70%
• Number of employers making market adjustments in pay: 2004—55% 2008—65%
• Number of employers paying retention bonuses: 2004—27% 2008—38%
• Number of employers selectively paying above market: 2004—25% 2008—31%
What these upward pay trends tell me is that employers in the U.S. are desperate for talent. Yes, there are a lot of people in transition, and yes it’s a very tough time to be looking for a job. But that doesn’t change the facts. And the facts are that employers will pay a lot of money to hire you and a lot of money to retain you … if you are perceived as a “person of talent.”
What does a person of talent look like?
They have one (or both) of two attributes:
• They have a hard-to-find skill. Their expertise is up-to-the-minute and critical to the success of a modern organization.
• They are a superior performer. They make an extraordinary contribution on-the-job and set an example that raises the performance of their coworkers, as well.
Whether a person of talent is in transition or seeking a new challenge at work, they look for a job in a very unconventional way. Because talent is an infinite resource, they position themselves in the job market as an “expert-in-progress.”
While they are looking for a new or better job, they are also taking steps to reinforce and extend their occupational prowess. They are taking courses in their field or adding ancillary skills that will enable them to apply their skill in a wider range of work situations even as they are networking and reviewing employment ads. Said another way, a person of talent is someone who makes the commitment and learns how to do career multitasking.
What does career multitasking mean?
Simply this: the old notion that looking for a new or better employment opportunity is a full time job is wrong. It’s two full time jobs: one to find the right employment situation and the other to reinforce the fitness of your career. Do the first, and you might find work. Do both, and you’ll find work plus the potential for increased pay.
Employers are forever saying that their employees are their most important asset. What they mean is that people of talent are … and they’re putting their money where their mouths are to prove it.
Thanks for reading,