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Should I ask for more in base if I'm happy with my total compensation?

If you're a top performer who's happy with your total cash compensation but interested in increasing your base pay, it still may be in your interest to negotiate on both base and bonus rather than base pay alone.

Q. How do I go about requesting a "fair" base salary when the company knows I'm happy with my overall compensation?

I receive a salary of $36,000 in my position as a branch sales manager. My total compensation in 2000 exceeded $62,000, thanks to the bonus plan, and I'm quite satisfied with this amount.

The problem is my base salary. My position pays between $35,000 and $55,000. Although I have only been the branch manager for one year, I believe my talent and results should be reflected in an above-average salary. I expect a salary increase this April, but 3 to 5 percent won't get me to $45,000 or above, which I feel I deserve especially in comparison to other managers who don't achieve my results.

I want to request a raise, but the company knows I am happy with my overall pay and that I wouldn't really consider leaving if they don't honor my request. They are correct. How do I go about requesting a "fair" salary?

A. Ask your manager or human resources department what your expected total cash compensation is for the year. Your company may be delivering annual total cash compensation of $62,000. In order to meet this number, they may have decided to pay you a low base salary while giving you a larger variable pay component.

Once you have figured out your company's pay strategy, you'll be in a better position to negotiate an increase in your base salary. If your company's pay strategy is to pay a low base salary, you may find it difficult to get a substantial increase in your base pay.

However, based on your bonus last year, maybe you should consider asking the company to revisit your entire compensation package. See if you can get them to increase both your base and variable pay components. This way, you can negotiate on all aspects of your compensation package rather than focusing on one component.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional

Copyright 2000-2004 ©, Inc.

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