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Career advice: Keeping up with local salaries

Premier 100 IT Leader Edward Martin also has advice on the indispensable skills and how to become a CIO

By Edward Martin
June 8, 2012 11:34 AM ET
Edward Martin
Edward Martin of George Washington University

Computerworld - Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader
Edward Martin
Deputy CIO
Company: George Washington University

Martin is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader, answering questions about pay equity, indispensable skills and how to become a CIO. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to

My company has fallen well behind the average compensation in our area for several IT positions. I've lost many people in my group, and it seems to be accelerating. But when I've talked to management about bringing our pay in line with local industry, I've been told that we just don't have the budget for increases. How can I argue my point more persuasively? Many IT leaders face this challenge. The answer depends upon the IT area with which you are struggling to maintain equity to market. For areas that are becoming more commoditized, such as data networking, data center, help desk, imaging and deskside support, present alternatives to management that may need to include outsourcing or external help. Frame options with an attention to service levels and impact. For areas that are more specific to your business and processes, such as business analysis, project management, systems design, process management, or contract management, you should frame requests in terms management will understand. Propose a plan to bring the area into equity to market. Managers generally embrace plans that either emphasize shareholder value or minimize risk. Most importantly, base your proposal or recommendation on facts, not emotions or opinions,. Your HR department can be your partner in providing market equity data, so consider enlisting them.

If you were required to cut your staff by 20%, which skills or traits would you most want to hold on to? I would want to hold on to skills and traits that are aligned with a deep understanding of the business and that position the staff and teams to do more with less overall. For skills, I would want to focus on retaining business analysts, systems designers, project managers and process managers. For traits, I would focus on retaining multiskilled personnel who demonstrate strong critical thinking and good innovation skills. For traits in management and leadership, I would want to retain those who are not only accountable and able to exhibit good managerial courage, but who also are selfless and quite obvious about being selfless through their actions and words. An often undervalued attribute whose need increases dramatically in a downsized IT organization is having a range of communications. Personnel who can comprehend and explain technical concepts but can also translate business terms for and from senior management are invaluable.

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