Career Advice Tuesday – “Forget the Love, Show Me the Money”

February 14, 2012

Dear Infosecleaders:

I am looking for some help in my current situation and hoping that you can provide me some guidance. 

Currently I am working as a senior information security engineer for a Fortune 1000 company.  I work for a company that has recently awoken to the importance of information security, due to a security incident a year or so back. 

At the time of the incident, I was the only information security engineer at the company, since then we have begun to hire some other information security talent to augment my efforts.   Although the additional resources have been helpful, I am still viewed as the go to person by both my CISO and some of the other business and technology leaders.    Because of this, many of the key projects fall on my plate. 

I am pulled in many different directions, work about 60 hours a week, and have been consistently told by many that I am doing a good job.   There is no shortage of love to go around, and I definitely feel appreciated.   During the year, I spoke with my CISO that the workload was getting to me, and he asked me to “hang in there” and assured me that I “would be taken care of.” 

I had no reason not to believe him, as he has always been honest with me.

The other day I was called into his office, where we had a scheduled meeting regarding my review and my compensation for the upcoming year.   During the meeting he explained to me that the company had a down year, so my bonus would not be great.  In almost the same breath, he revealed to me that my salary increase would be about 4% – slightly above cost of living.

I left the meeting disappointed and feeling both betrayed and mislead.  I was expecting my boss and the other managers who sang my praises to fight for additional compensation for me, considering the value I provided to them.     

Quite frankly, I am not looking for love any more, what I am looking for is money. 

Do you have any advice for me?  How can I get them to show their love in dollars?

Your help is appreciated,


Infosec Romeo


Dear Romeo:

I can understand why you feel the way that you do.  It is clear that you take a great deal of pride in your work as an information security leaders, and that you feel that you have gone the extra mile in demonstrating both our passion and commitment to both your CISO and the other managers that you have supported.

I also understand that you had some personal expectations in terms of financial reward in terms of the personal sacrifice that you gave your employer by working additional hours and delivering results to the people who counted on you.

Feeling betrayed because they did not return the favor, is only logical.

One thing that I can tell you is that you are fortunate that your employers let you know that you are important and appreciated, however, talk is cheap.  If your account of your extra effort and results are indeed factual, then you are justified for feeling that your managers should have fought harder for you when it came time to reward your performance monetarily – in terms of both your bonus and your raise.

That being said, here is some advice that you may find useful:

First of all, you mentioned that your information security organization is not that mature and that information security has not figured prominently until a little more than a year ago.    When organizations are in this transition phase, one of the things that usually lags in compensation for its staff members.    This is probably one of the reasons that the new members of your information security team have not significantly reduced the workload placed on you.  While your fellow workers are probably competent  – they probably represent the best that your company could afford, not the best available talent.    This is an organizational and human resources issue – that cannot be fought by one person, but you have the ability to help influence this by how you address your situation.

I would tell you that you should set up a meeting with your manager, and let him know in advance the subject of your meeting is your disappointment about compensation.   Prior to the meeting, I would spend some time and write down all of the accomplishments that you have had in your role over the past year.    In addition to this, I would pull all e-mails from either your boss or the other managers that have sung your praises over the past year.    What I would also do, is put together your interpretations of the business impact made by your contributions.

During the meeting, I would let your manager know that the praise was appreciated, but that your skills have a great deal of market value outside of the company.  You can share with your employer that you have turned down countless overtures from recruiters and other companies in the area, promising bigger roles and more money, based on the promises that you would be “taken care of” for your efforts over the past year.    You can also share with your boss that you were counting on the bonus and the increase, and were personally let down and hurt by this decision.

I would let your boss know that you do not regret your decision to stay, because you accomplished a great deal, that you enjoy working at the company, and that you have been building marketable skills.   However, you should let them know that you would hope that they may reevaluate their decision about your compensation and assess your skills versus the market.  (Before you do so, make sure that you know the answer, and that you are paid either “at” or “below” your market value. )  You may ask them to do a market study of what it would take for them to refill your position and contributions if they had to replace you.

Ask your manager if you could meet again in a about a week or two (not longer) and ask them to reconsider their stance on both compensation components.

Taking this tact will allow you to speak your mind in a non-threatening situation.  At no point do your threaten to quit or leave – but you imply that you have had other opportunities, have developed marketable skills, and that it may cost significantly more to replace you.   You have allowed your employer and your manager to make  a business decision based on fact and value, not based on threat and emotion.

Hopefully this will help you and your employers will realize that they have made a mistake in judgment.

When they do, make sure that you “Show them the love,” when they “Show you the Money”.

Hope this helps,
Lee Kushner

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Behavior, Career Advice Tuesday, Compensation, Recruiting, Security Industry, Skills 


One Response to “Career Advice Tuesday – “Forget the Love, Show Me the Money””

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