“When we play, we must realize, before anything else, that we are out to make money.” – David Sklansky on the game of poker.
I’m not sure if there is a game more closely related to the loss prevention profession than Texas Hold’em poker. A game focused on managing risk, protecting assets, capitalizing on opportunity, and outplaying adversaries. Blending skill with chance, poker quickly teaches a person how important it is to interpret human behavior at the right times, make calculated decisions, and minimize losses.
But at the end of the day, loss prevention employment is still just a game about money. In poker, as in our careers, what separates those who get paid from those who do not is the ability to play the loss prevention salary game better than others.
Money. We are great at protecting or recovering it for the organizations we represent. But let’s change perspective for a moment. How skilled are we when it comes to protecting our own interests in terms of compensation? The money we earn for a hard day’s work.
Have you ever felt you should be paid more for your skills or efforts? Ever find out a colleague makes much more than you do for the same or similar job, yet you outperform the person consistently? Have you felt that you deserved a raise for going above and beyond expectations, but didn’t get it?
Most people have felt these things at one time or another, but dismiss it as part of business and continue to perform for what they are paid. But only those who are skilled at playing the money game have taken those thoughts and used them as motivations for action.
I realize that job satisfaction is not always synonymous with compensation. There are many factors involved that can only be measured individually. But surely you wouldn’t do your job for free, so why not get the most out of the experience in the process?
I refer to compensation as a game because much of it is. The outcome largely depends on how well you play it. Most of us, at one time or another, have witnessed or experienced the inequalities that exist in this area. We figure out that the compensation we receive is not always representative of the value we provide, or our worth to a company, but is more representative of whether we succeeded or failed when it came time to play the game. If compensation always represented employee worth, you’d be rich and your boss would be asking you for lunch money, right? Sometimes left holding the short end of the stick, we realize that healthy compensation favors the prepared—those who take the time to stack the deck in their favor.
Loss Prevention Salary Pre-Flop Strategies
In poker, starting with the best hand gives an advantage. The same goes for the money game. Applying a little effort in the pre-hire stages can pay off.
Change your mindset. Interview for a company, not a job. Why? Because surely you can perform at the job in expert fashion, or you wouldn’t have applied for it. But do the company culture and its leadership encourage personal career growth and professional development? Does the organizational structure allow for upward mobility or opportunities to increase compensation? Can you perform and succeed for the person you will be reporting to? Will this person be an asset or liability when the time comes to talk money, both initially and down the road as you aim to progress financially within the organization?
Both the company culture and the management traits of the person you’ll be reporting to should be a priority in your mind. There’s no bigger roadblock to more money than a supervisor (or organization) with no interest in your career progression. While it can be a mistake to talk money too soon, it’s important to use the pre-hire job interview process to effectively assess both the person and the company you’ll be working for to ensure they both align with your goals and needs.
Outsource. It’s easy for us to operate in a vacuum regarding our loss prevention salary. Don’t. Consult those who specialize in career development and benefit from their expertise. Reach out to a recruiter in your industry. They can provide a wealth of information on current market trends and new opportunities. They can also take a global perspective of your personal brand and offer strategic, actionable advice on how to improve it in order to receive healthier compensation and roles. The same goes for your resume. Seeking the loss prevention salary you deserve has a lot to do with strategic positioning and image. A successful resume writer can address both.
Investigate them as much as they will investigate you—the position, the company, and the hiring manager. Reach out to those in your professional network who can provide insight into these areas. Leverage the wealth of information regarding companies and pay scales on the web. Use sites that give insight into positions and pay such as glassdoor.com, payscale.com, or vault.com. Dig into the company and its leaders by reviewing online data. Taking the time to fact-find promotes efficiency by ensuring you’re not wasting time pursuing a loss prevention employment position that does not fit you or your loss prevention salary expectations.
Negotiate. In poker, “If it’s good enough to call, it’s good enough to raise.” When it comes time to accept or reject an offer, this is where you have the opportunity to become a real player in the money game. If you’ve done your homework, you should be informed on where the offer stands relative to your experience, abilities, and compensation trends across the industry. If needed, negotiate. Learning negotiation skills is a priceless tool that will serve you for years to come in various aspects of your career.
Perform. The cards are dealt, and it’s time to get down to work. Regardless of whether you’re in a new or existing role, the path to more money begins with performance. There’s no sleight of hand to apply here. This is where you have to put in the extra effort. The goal is to develop your personal brand by influencing the image people have when your name is spoken. Outperforming, dominating, and providing extraordinary results do this. You should add value beyond your job function. Once this foundation is set, it makes it much easier to focus on obtaining more money because you’ve created leverage.
You’ve put in the work and exceeded expectations but have yet to be compensated fairly. Only you are able to determine if it’s reasonable to ask for more money. If it’s time, be proactive and ask for it. Keep in mind:
Timing is everything. Understand your organization’s financial calendar, budget, and be conscious of any projects or issues that may hinder your request. Also, understand the person you’re going to ask. What is the person’s preferred communication medium? When are they most open to ideas and discussions?
Gather intelligence. As in poker, the more information you have, the better. Ensure you have all of the necessary information you will need to pitch your proposal for a compensation increase. This includes comparative data highlighting your compensation relative to the industry, dates and amounts of previous pay increases or awards, accomplishments and achievements you’ve obtained (in detail), extra responsibility you’ve taken on in your loss prevention employment, and any other information necessary to support your request. It doesn’t hurt to anticipate what points will be brought up to counter your request, just to be prepared.
Articulate your thoughts clearly, whether in person or in writing. Be specific in your request. Do not leave room for interpretation. You should have a specific goal in mind in terms of the loss prevention salary you are requesting and why you’re requesting it. Be sure to back it up with data and examples. Never make your request personal or make comparisons to anyone else. Stay away from discussing any dissatisfaction or taking a negative tone. Keep it professional and stay on target.
Think of yourself not as an employee, but as a business owner. The owner of you. You have to negotiate, position, and strategize for the advancement of your business. If you don’t, someone else will do it for themselves, and get your money.
Hopefully, your organization has recognized your value and has rewarded you fairly for your contributions. But that’s not always the case. Don’t be afraid to muck your cards. Sometimes mobility or reinvention is a better course than allowing yourself to be undervalued. If your employer isn’t willing to pay for exceptional performance, it might be time to go be exceptional for someone who will—even if that could be yourself.
Sometimes knowing when to fold a bad hand is the most valuable skill you can possess.
This article was originally published in 2013 and was updated July 11, 2017.