Annual Budget Season Affects Hiring, Pay Increases


Happily, this is the first fall in three decades that I’m not engaged in the annual ritual of preparing agency and corporate financial plans for the coming year.  But the start of the budget season reminded me to pass along advice to job seekers and those hoping for a pay hike from their current employers.

For the next four months, most agencies and corporations will be reluctant to add new employees.  Yes, there will be hiring–but only to fill open positions where current workload demands the additional headcount.  There is little if any speculative or “investment” hiring.  The annual budget planning process requires managers to develop a strong business case to support any new staff.  And that hiring will be pushed off until 2012 unless the organization has updated revenue projections that require new personnel to achieve those numbers. 

If you’re interviewing for a new position, you’ll want to determine whether they are filling an existing opening or if it’s a “pipeline” interview.  Pipeline interviewing is common in agencies that want to be ready if new business requires quick hiring.  Like new client work, some pipeline hiring is a long, drawn out process and others move swiftly.

For those hoping for pay increases, the budget planning season also determines the pool of money that will be available for raises in the coming year.  Typically, companies and agencies budget for modest, single-digit increases in the salary line item.  But those are simply the pooled dollars; some employees will get a larger percentage and others less.  In order to ensure you are top of mind for the best possible increase, you might want to follow the advice offered in the September issue of Money magazine:

  1. Aim for a Better Raise.  Remind higher-ups of your value by visibly helping to advance key goals. 
  2. Hone Key Skills.  Expertise in project management, social media and app development is especially prized now.
  3. Assess Your Prospects.  Become more promotable and marketable by seeking assignments in fast-growing parts of your business.  Also kick networking into high gear. 


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