Fighting for salary re-negotiations
November 30, 2011 3:03 PM   Subscribe

I've been learning new skills at my company that are far outside of my current job description. I've long ago realized that there's going to be a need for someone to take on these responsibilities beyond the one person we have now. And the time seems to be approaching! Please help me work through this and nail the salary re-negotiations.

(This is a small company of 9 people, they've let everyone but the very bare essentials go. We're in a creative industry.)

The second set of responsibilities is crucial for our company to continue functioning, and the main employee who does this stuff is going to be out of the country for a while. (How that person hasn't had extended illnesses or vacations in all this time is mindboggling.) I've talked to our HR/office manager two weeks ago, mentioning the fact that I'd love to take this on but would need fair compensation. And I've already proven myself capable, the company knows I can do this.

So here's the thing: next week we might have a need for me to start doing this second job, and I haven't heard anything back about my promotion. I think I'm being reasonable when I consider it as such, as it's a huge jump from my position and I would continue doing my original job. Plus the new position would involve working with heavy/fragile/expensive equipment and occasional travel, both in and outside of the country (USA). It's a big change from what is essentially a desk job. And I don't want them to think I'll happily smile and take the first number they throw at me, just because "emergency" work came up and I wouldn't want the company to suffer, now would I?

Some relevant information:

* 3 years of employment here
* No annual reviews, raises, or bonuses in that time
* All equipment I'd be working with is proprietary stuff that we developed in-house, taking weeks to learn and weeks more to use unassisted
* I'm the best they've ever had at what I currently do, working at the efficiency of 2-3 people
* But I'm badly underpaid for this, others in the industry are making 30-50% more. (Ouch!)

So, how hard do I push for that minimum 20% increase I want? How do I be that iron fist in a velvet glove I've always wanted to be in negotiations? I know it's too late to bring up being underpaid, but I know it and they know it, and I want to stand up for myself and fight for a fairer salary with this change.

Please throw tips at me! How can I best be firm without holding the company hostage and burning myself? Any guidance, with wording or other things, would be appreciated.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Response by poster: And this is probably not relevant, but it just kills me to see our CEO boast about expensive lunches and dinners on the company dime, and then tell us with a straight face that we can't afford cost-of-living increases. Please.

I'm looking elsewhere, but I want to use this opportunity while it's here.

posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 3:13 PM on November 30, 2011

Sorry, but the best salary negotiating strategy I've found when solid facts and logic don't work is being ready to leave.
posted by Brian Puccio at 3:21 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

If they're laying off a lot of employees, giving no raises, allowing highly skilled employees to go underpaid for years and giving the CEO a big expense account, this may not be the opportunity you think it is. If they don't care whether you leave (and it sounds as if they might not, even if you'd rationally expect them to care) then you've got nothing. If you can't easily leave then you've got nothing.
posted by jon1270 at 3:23 PM on November 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Chiming in with a big Agree on everything that has been said above. Absolutely do not take on these additional responsibilities without having compensation settled first. As far as negotiations, it appears that you approached the HR manager about the new opportunity, not the other way around, yes? Follow up with that person tomorrow and be direct and polite.

"We discussed a potential change in my responsibilities, and a corresponding increase in my salary, two weeks ago. I'd like to know where we stand on that."

Be prepared to say no if/when they want you to start the job with no raise. ("I'm sorry. I won't be able to take on this opportunity, then.")

Good luck with your job search.
posted by sillymama at 4:04 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far. Want to chime in to say that I will not take this on without further compensation. I've overextended myself as is, and made it clear that I won't be doing this out of the goodness of my heart. So they know in order for them to continue running, they have to offer me something. I want to make sure that something isn't a meager handout.

I guess I can always revert to "I'm sorry, that won't be possible" if they keep pushing for something under my minimum. And stick to my current tasks only.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 4:26 PM on November 30, 2011

I am in agreement with the statements above.

In addition to that, I wanted to point out another rational angle. You say that you are working as much as 2-3 other people. If I am your manager, I would be concerned about the backfill necessary to make that transition work.

If you can solve that problem in a positive way for your company (and job security) your chance of success are improved. You still need to battle with all of the above realities, but you are doing so from a stronger position...

Good luck!
posted by milqman at 4:47 PM on November 30, 2011

So I'm with the rest here that say this might be a tough sell.

But as to how to handle it?

Talk to whoever is in a position to make it happen and say simply that "you're happy to take on these additional responsibilities but that doing so would require a 20% raise for the corresponding increase in workload". Wordsmith this to suit.

You don't have to have an alternate job elsewhere lined up - there's already two on the table, the one you have and the one you want.
posted by bitdamaged at 5:38 PM on November 30, 2011

I guess I can always revert to "I'm sorry, that won't be possible" if they keep pushing for something under my minimum.

For what it's worth, the salary neg. version of this that I've heard is "that's not enough." Be clear, but don't tell them what "enough" is and keep the focus on the compensation rather than what activities of yours will or will not be possible.
posted by rhizome at 6:06 PM on November 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

It appears that you may be somewhat reluctant to shop your skills around and see what realistic opportunities exist elsewhere. That is the only way you will find the strength to dictate what you will and won't accept as compensation for additional responsibilities. It does take time and energy to get job offers from other companies, but given all the facts you presented, I think it's worth spending that time and energy now.

You are setting yourself up for a potential ultimatum scenario, and having that job offer in your pocket, is about the only way you'll be able to make the right decisions for yourself (unless you have balls of steel). Good luck.
posted by Land Ho at 7:07 PM on November 30, 2011

the main employee who does this stuff is going to be out of the country for a while.

Will the company still be paying that person a salary while he's out of the country? (It's unclear to me how long he'll be gone, whether it's a paid or unpaid leave, etc.)

If it's an unpaid leave, you can make the argument that the company has extra money to play with since they don't have to pay his salary. If they won't be paying him AND you'll be doing the work he was doing, they'd be pretty ballsy to insist they can't afford a nice raise for you (at least a temporary one while he's gone and you've taken over his duties).
posted by whitelily at 8:22 PM on November 30, 2011

If you're not ready to leave then there is no salary negotiation. There is only you asking for more money and them deciding whether or not to give it to you.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:15 AM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oof, I guess everyone's preparing for the worst these days.

I got the promotion, and a 19% increase :) Stood firm, made my points, and definitely tried to avoid being negative about what's happened thus far.

Thank you metafilter!
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 10:14 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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