Non-cash focus key to salary rise

A RECENT national salary survey undertaken by the Australian Institute of Management has revealed what salary increases individuals can expect and what jobs and industries should attract the highest increases in the coming year.

Across Australia, the forecast salary increases are between 3.8 per cent and 4.7 per cent. The range is not uniform across all job levels, however.

Executive level positions will attract the highest increases, estimated to be around 4.7 per cent. The next highest category is professional/technical positions at 4.3 per cent. Salaried positions are the lowest at 3.8 per cent.

The cliché that “the higher your education the higher your salary” appears to be holding true. We all know striking exceptions to this rule but as a general guide you are on safer ground if you are well qualified and are constantly seeking opportunities to continue your professional development. Throughout the survey, jobs requiring higher level qualifications are forecast to grow faster than unskilled positions.

For example, after general management positions, which are forecast to grow the most in the coming year (about 4.6 per cent), the next highest is engineering and science at 4.4 per cent.

After a number of boom years, the information technology job family is predicated to have the lowest increase at 3.8 per cent. But don’t withdraw from your IT course just yet. IT salaries grew by 7 per cent in 2000 and the average forecast for 2001-2002 is 6 per cent. Information technology continues to be a key part of every business operation, so strong job growth and salary increases are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

When you start negotiating for your next increase, don’t just focus on the cash – look at the flexibility of non-dollar benefits. Extra superannuation, mobile phones, company cars and share schemes are the most common extra benefits and can provide substantial financial returns without your monthly pay increasing significantly.

The other key factor is the external environment. A total of 20.8 per cent of organisations predicted lower-than-expected salary increases following the events of September 11 last year. This follows from 36.2 per cent of organisations saying they have experienced a drop in sales or revenue since September 11.

No guarantees exist, but there are some simple rules that will increase your chances of getting a bigger-than-average increase next year (see right), regardless of who your boss is or how good you are at negotiating.

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