Move Beyond Salary – Money is Not A Viable Measure of Success

One of the most important jobs of a recruiter when making a match between candidate and client is salary expectations…or is it?  Salary is one component but what should be considered is the total compensation package + non tangibles such as culture and advancement opportunity.  However I am sure we can all recount those who get stuck on salary and that is often because salary reflects status and an interpreted success (along with job title).  We are after all social creatures and what others think of us makes an incredible difference in what we do and how we are motivated. 

A CareerBuilder study released last week (June 13, 2012) addressed the idea of salary and the impression of success.   According to the study which suggests 28% would feel successful earning between $50,000 and $70,000, and 75% do not need to earn more than $100,000 to feel successful. 

The participants in the research were all US workers and the industries were not defined however the notion of success is very elusive and based on the moment.  For example, if we considered that 28% would actually feel successful earning less than $70,000 then the average male US workers should feel successful earning an median (midpoint of distribution) of $56,000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2010).  Using salaries women would be a little bit off having a median salary of $43,000.  If this research applied to Canada even more would be successful as the average salary is $62,000 according to StatsCan (2010). 

However, can money be used a viable measure of success?  Of course not, it is not stable enough.  For example, in 1972, 30 percent of Americans said they were very happy, and the average American enjoyed about $25,000 (in today’s dollars) of our national income. By 2004, the percentage of very happy Americans stayed virtually unchanged at 31 percent, while the share of national income skyrocketed to $38,000 (a 50 percent real increase in average income). Why, because money while constant in number, changes in value as other variables change.

There is nothing strange about measuring our success with money; we measure things indirectly all the time but it is not money that makes one successful, success makes people money.  The more successful candidate will be the higher paid candidate and end up being happier…not because they are paid more but because they are successful.  Successful and happy candidates are the easiest to place – why…because they understand that salary is a result of success – not a creator of it.  We become prosperous because we create value.  Money is a handy measure of success but a dark side comes alive when candidates forget that money is only a measure. Some people focus on money for its own sake, forgetting what really brings the happiness - success.

Success in an organisation also sets new standards for success – raising the bar propelling the organization further – salaries do not do this.  The bottom line: candidates and clients who focus on the salary equation instead of creating an environment for success as part of total compensation will face retention issues, slow organizational growth and fail to motivate new employees. 

As recruiters we have to help candidates and clients realize that higher salary will not ensure success from an employee.  Salary is a measure of added value and we all know a poor motivator at best.  Creating an environment of success will create happiness and that increases retention and employee satisfaction.  Salary increases motivate in the very short term – success creates long-term happiness so get beyond the salary equation, get candidates to think more broadly when looking at possible placements and help move clients away from salary and focus on the total value which includes the intangibles of success.


Executrade – Your Recruitment Specialists

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