Most helpful critical review
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
More informational than instructional, more textbook than casual reader
on December 15, 2012
I think this would make a great introductory textbook for a business class. It does do a good job of providing an initial insight into compensation and the different ways it is affected and disseminated. The concepts of "total rewards" (salary + other benefits), "CEO pay", influences on pay, methods of measuring payment (say hours vs. number of items processed), and methods of payment (stock options vs. cash) are all touched upon here and are well introduced.
That said, however, this book is not what I expected and I think people buying it based on either the description or the title are likely to be disappointed.
Truly I think this is a book without a large audience. The one it is geared to is not the right one (it doesn't give much that's actionable or really makes you feel like things are wholly clarified), and it doesn't go deep enough or reveal new research enough to really stand out as a masterpiece in the field of compensation.
As for helping you figure out what you can do to earn more:
Even though the last section does touch on factors for increasing your pay (flexibility, be willing to move, be willing to change jobs, ask, get more education) I don't think there is a lot that most of us will be able to garner to change our situation unless (1) you've never thought of the obvious, (2) you're willing to make extreme life changes (like moving), and/or (3) you work a job where your compensation is highly negotiable (i.e. probably a small company or start up) and you can use the information in the book to find out what others in your field are paying or to ask for compensation in a different form or by a different metric. Things like gender gaps are discussed, but obviously those aren't things you can address.
Also, the book gets highly technical...there are lot of charts and graphs that are not self-explanatory without the text. To delve very far into much of the graphs and charts you need to do a lot of thinking to process it (which for most readers I suspect won't be worth it). Also, you end up with the feeling that a lot about compensation is still being studied and is unknown. (i.e. "it's difficult to measure", "this study conflicts with that one," and so on) While the author's honesty is appreciated, it basically puts you in a spot where you still don't know why something is the way it is or what to do about it. ("Why People Earn What they Earn and What You Can Do to Make More...")
As far as a detailed course on compensation - I do get the impression the author is a very capable lecturer, consultant, and professor (that is his primary career). For someone who is very invested or knowledgeable in the field however, I don't know that this book will reveal much new information...as a textbook, as I said, it's a good introduction, but does not delve deep enough to full inform on the subject or make a true practitioner.
The most useful thing I got out of it was the address for [...] where you can find and research careers and pay by state and skills.
There are also interesting bits about what non-profits can and can't do (i.e. there's not much restriction on what they pay their standard workers...the primary restriction is just on not profit sharing with managers) and on how to really control factors when comparing statistics (always valuable) such as comparing CEO pay against layoffs to find correlation and determining if these things are related or at all causative (it appears they are correlated until you control for factors and they are likely not at all causative, but are related to other factors like: big companies have more employees and therefore are more likely to have at least one layoff, but big companies are more likely to need to attract a very high powered CEO and so offer bigger bonuses, or alternative: companies with a lot of risk are more likely to have to lay off employees but need to pay bigger CEO bonuses as the CEO is assuming the risk of failure and instability by choosing to lead that company).
Three stars...mostly because I just don't think the book will be what most people will want or expect when ordering a book with the name and description. It's too technical and not very actionable.