Career Advice Tuesday – “More Responsibility, Same Pay”

August 3, 2010

Last week, we guided an open forum at The Black Hat Briefings, that let the audience members ask any questions about the information security employment market and their individual information security career.  Over the next few weeks, we are going to feature some of these questions to provide advice to our audience. 

We are going to start you off with our personal favorite:

Question:  “I was recently given additional responsibility in my position that is requiring me to work more hours.  These new responsibilities are helping me develop leadership skills that I know that I need to develop for my information security career, which is terrific.  The issue is that I am not receiving any additional compensation for performing these added duties.   Can you provide me with any guidance on how to handle this?  Should I ask for a raise, I think that I deserve one.”

Infosecleaders Response:

One of the biggest mistakes that information security professionals  generally make is that they believe that they are immediately entitled to additional compensation once they are offered more responsibility and opportunity.  When employers provide you with additional responsibility, many times they are viewing it as a test of your skills, or even an “organizational experiment”.   Initially, management would like  to see how you handle these new responsibilities, see if you rise to the challenge, or if you reject them and are put off by their byproducts (more hours, people management, additional demands), prior to making them official and rewarding you with a compensation increase.  Basically, they are asking you to prove yourself and to validate their decision of selecting you for the role.

When given the opportunity to gain additional skills and create additional impact, it is our advice to accept these challenges and develop your skill matrix.   Independent of pay, you will be improving yourself and making yourself more valuable to your current employer, and more marketable to future employers.   By accepting these challenges, you will also learn more about yourself, and gain a preview into your readiness for new career challenges.   You should always remember what drives your market value -  your combination of skill, talent, and experience (and its application).   It is a shared responsibility for both you and your employer to make sure that this value is recognized.

Our advice to you, would be to continue on in your new role for at least ninety (90) days before introducing the subject of additional compensation.  During that time period, you should take it upon yourself to demonstrate to your management (through results and impact) that they made an excellent decision in selecting you for the role.   If you are successful in doing this, chances are that they will come to you (within 90 days) and make your new role “official” and reward you with additional compensation. 

If they do not come to you, then I think it would be important for you to set up a meeting with your management, asking for an evaluation of your performance in your new role.  If during that meeting they provide you with positive feedback that you are doing a good job, at that point you should introduce the concept of monetary reward and compensation increase.   It would be our hope that they are prepared with a suitable answer and provide you with either action or a timeline for this ”salary adjustment”  to take place.

In closing, our advice is to look at increased workload as an opportunity for learning, growth, and access.  The value in the experience will stay with you throughout your career.  If your current employer does not realize your added value,  do not worry, a future employer definitely will.

Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday 


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