Apr 30 2012

How to Give and Ask for a Raise [Infographic]

Carlos Portocarrero

Here is a cool infographic I bumped into today (from the folks at Mindflash) that shows some mildly interesting data that is probably obvious to most people: if you’re a high performer in an executive position, you should expect a higher raise than the rest of us.


More interesting to me is the Employee’s guide near the end: it makes some decent points but doesn’t tell you what you can do to build your case ahead of time.

What do you think of this kind of data? Is it helpful at all or just noise?

*Favor: Can you please take my super quick survey on making more money at work? It’s six questions and won’t take more than 3 minutes, I promise! Thanks!

[click to enlarge]

Infographic on raises

May 19 2011

The Value of Stress Avoidance

Carlos Portocarrero

Stressful Times

None of us like being stressed out, but how much is it worth it to us to avoid said stress?

Travis’ comment on my Google/20% Rule post over at Wisebread got me thinking about this:

Google’s campus is also pretty sweet. It seems they make it so their employees aren’t stressed about “normal life stuff” Need stuff dry cleaned, no problem…Baby sitter canceled? Got one lined up. Dont want to drive to work? No Worries, we have our own buses.

We All Have Stress

I’ve been going through some stressful times of my own as our nanny decided to retire and the family we were nanny sharing with went the daycare route. All within a few days.

Which left us high and dry when it comes to having somewhere to put A while we’re at work.

Not knowing who is going to take care of your child is very stressful.

The Value of Stress

Let’s put aside what the monetary value of stress-busting perks like free daycare amount to in dollars, and imagine a job where your stress level gets cut in half.

Not because the actual job is less stressful, but simply because they offer a bunch of perks that make your out-of-work life less stressful.

Things like:

  • On-site gym: No more struggling to find time (and money) to get to a gym.
  • Daycare: Never having to go through this process would’ve added 14 months to my lifespan.
  • Paid sabbaticals: Take a few months off and go see the world…on them.
  • Free Commutes: Google has its own buses that’ll do the commuting for you.
  • Work from home: How about simply avoiding the commute altogether?
  • Tuition Reimbursement: MBAs are expensive…if you’re paying for them.

You start to add these kinds of perks up and all of the sudden your salary isn’t as important as all the side benefits a company can offer you. There’s a reason why Google is always at the top of those “Best Places to Work For” polls.

Daycare alone could amount to getting a $20,000 bonus every year. And that’s leaving out the best part—not feeling stressed about where you’re child will go if your situation changes.

What Stresses You Out?

I’m curious to hear what stresses other people out and what kind of perks would help resolve that stress. Is it daycare? Commuting? Traveling? Let me know in the comments!

Image by BLW

Feb 23 2011

Going to Arbitration with Your Boss: Could You Handle It?

Carlos Portocarrero


Picture the scene:

You’re in a courtroom-ish setting with a panel of three “judges” at the front of the room. They don’t know anything about you except for the papers in front of them. They don’t know anything about the line of work you’re in or what you do for your company.

All they know is what’s in those papers…the “evidence.”

On the other side of the aisle is your boss and a couple of attorneys representing the company you work for.

Your boss’ attorney stands up and makes his case:

Carlos did OK for himself this year. He contributed where he could and tried to add value on all the projects he worked on. Unfortunately, he fell short.

Every single project he worked on was deemed a failure when you line it up to the goals that were originally targeted.

In fact, Carlos did such a bad job that he is lucky to still have his job.

That being said, we want to keep him because we see value here and we’d like to “give him another shot.”

As you’ll see in the documentation in front of you, it’s clear that Carlos deserves a salary of $1.5 million dollars for the coming year. We tried to find a common ground, but he was obstinate about wanting more money despite his numerous failures.

So we had to be harsh in our assessment of what we feel he deserves. And $1.5 million is still being very generous.

Thank you.

He sits down with a big, dumb grin on his face and you stare at your boss, slack jawed.

Failure??? That’s not what he’s been telling you throughout this past year!

Now that it’s time to decide what your salary is going to be, they’re totally dogging you and taking a totally one-sided look at things.

You stand up and make your case:

Frankly, I’m shocked at what is being said by my boss’ attorney. I was under the impression I was doing a really good job, as you’ll see from the documentation in your hands. It’s clear that, when you look at the market for other people with my experience and expertise, I should be paid $4.2 million.

I’ve excelled in every role and my current position and responsibility in this industry calls for a salary of $4.2 million. I mean, just look at the evidence: there are four other people in our very company that have had results similar to mine and they all make at least $4.2 million.

That is how I have arrived at this number. Not only that, this company has continuously tried to cut costs even when performance warrants a boost in salary.

I will not allow myself to become a casualty of this cost-cutting effort.

Of course I want to stay here and continue to work, but I deserve to earn $4.2 million. I think you’ll find it pretty easy to agree with me.

And with that, you rest your case, sit down, and take a deep breath.

These three people will huddle together and pick a number. It’s either going to be $4.2 or $1.5 million, but it’s not going to be in between.

This zero-sum game is called arbitration and it’s how professional baseball players have their salaries decided when they’re eligible.

No matter how ugly it gets or how nasty things get, you’re going to work for this person in the coming year, making whatever the arbitrators decide. Their word is final.

My question to all of you: could you handle it?

Could you work for a whole year for a boss that has just trashed you in order to save some money? Many MLB arbitration stories hint that these cases have driven players to move to another team and not re-sign.

They held a grudge after all the mean things that were said about them in arbitration.

It’s why some general managers don’t like going to arbitration: the GM of the Orioles, Andy MacPhail, hasn’t gone to arbitration with a player since 1986.

Image by Andy54321

Apr 21 2009

On Salaries: Why We Want More Money

Carlos Portocarrero


I’ve written about the importance of salaries before and the role they play in our lives. We pretty much take it for granted that we always want more money. A higher salary is just one of those things everyone wants.

But why is that? To buy more stuff? Is it because we think it’ll make us happier?

And why do we want more money even in cases when we’re making WAY more than we thought we ever would at a certain job?

Well, right now I’m reading an interesting book that looks at how we make decisions called Predictably Irrational, and it offers up an answer: relativity.

Not the kind that made Einstein famous, but the idea that we don’t look at our salaries in a vacuum. We look at them in the context of our co-workers’ salaries. In the book, there’s an example of a guy going into the office and asking for a raise. His boss, a little miffed, asks him what he thought he was going to be making at the job when he first started. He says something like $100,000. But the dude is now making well above that, around $400,000. So the boss asks the guy why are he’s so unhappy with his salary when he’s making so much more money than he ever thought he would.

His answer? Because Ted, who sits next to him, makes $410,000. And he thinks he’s “better” than Ted.

Sound ridiculous? Think about your own job for a minute. Pick one person at your job that you think is useless. The person that drives you nuts because having that person around is like carrying around a huge sack of potatoes—it’s just a bunch of dead weight. And let’s say you somehow find out that person makes the same as you do or—gulp—even more. How would that make you feel? Compensation is how your bosses assign value to you and the job you do, so this means that, in their eyes, you and this “useless” employee are worth the same.

I don’t know about you, but I’d be pissed off. That’s why I think knowing/worrying about your co-workers’ salaries is a bad idea.

But that’s easier said than done, right? We’re human—we can’t just turn that part of our brain off and pretend it doesn’t bother us. And the book I’m reading offers up an interesting solution.

Sure, you could march into your boss’ office and demand a raise. But “I’m better than Ted” isn’t a great argument. Instead, Dan Ariely—the author of Predictably Irrational—advises us to hang out with people who make the same or less than we do. Socialize with them, chat with them, sit next to them, etc. Why? Here’s why:


If you’ve never seen this before, here’s the deal: both orange circles are the same size, they just don’t look like it because of relativity. What Ariely is trying to tell us is that one effective way of getting your salary rage under control is to be the circle on the right. And this applies to all kinds of stuff.

Make it so your circle of friends makes what you make (or less), is less attractive than you (a wingman that looks like you but uglier is ideal), and just overall makes you feel like the better person. Sound stupid? It can be, but when it comes to the salary stuff he may have a point.

You can’t change someone else’s salary—but you can pick the people you decide to hang around with, and that can make all the difference.

Photo by Lanuiop