extended part time job becomes full time
January 7, 2015 11:40 AM   Subscribe

I've had my current job for 7 years, working anywhere from 20-30 hours per week. (20 when I started, 30 a year later, and now we're down to 28 so they don't have to give me insurance because of the ACA.) Although I am not celebrating quite yet, it looks like full time is finally going to happen. Can I negotiate?

My current part-time pay would work out to be a $32,000 salary, but looking around.. I see that my skill set and job pays in the $50k-$60k range. I work in academia.

Our department recently went under some massive changes. We've downsized, although no one has been fired. Some people have been moved to other departments, some positions aren't going to be filled, some of those are being combined into a new position, and at least one person has had 60% of their work assigned to a new senior director. We changed because while we are the part of the school that has the highest enrollments (and thus bringing in the bucks) we weren't going fast enough for the administration.

The senior director was working as part of a grant funded position prior to his promotion; so when he officially became the head of the department, I had a frank talk with him and told him I needed a full time job; either here or somewhere else. He agrees I should be full time, has gotten approval from the budget committee and now it's all just a numbers game, he tells me. He use to work in corporate, if that matters. He also said he wants to diversity my job a little, and while I don't know what that means.. I have a wide skill set that would be of value to the department. (something I honed on to him and the previous boss over and over)

I know the health benefits here are great (source: coworkers), and I know that full time salary is determined by HR based on factors I'm not privileged to. Ideally I'd like my salary to be closer to the $50k mark then the 32k mark.. and maybe the possibility of working from home occasionally.

What I don't know is if I have any basis to negotiate? Long time employee who's told the boss that she wants and needs a full time job. If he brings me an offer, is he expecting me to accept it immediately? I will most likely find out what my diversified job will look like prior to the offer. (something about they're required by law to post the position for 24 hours)

If it matters, this is the only job I've ever had. I'm in my early 30s and female.
posted by royalsong to Work & Money (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You are totally within your rights to negotiate. The books "Women Don't Ask" and "Ask For It" by Linda Babcock and Sasha Laschever would be great resources to negotiate for the things you want with this. Good luck!!
posted by goggie at 12:03 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

The "basis to negotiate" here is the same as in any employment agreement. It's to your employers' benefit to pay you the least amount of money necessary to keep you as an employee (or to replace you). It's to your benefit to be paid the most amount of money possible. You don't need a reason beyond that.

However, I would like to make the following quotes from your post:

My current part-time pay would work out to be a $32,000 salary, but looking around.. I see [...] $50k-$60k range.
I work in academia.
We've downsized
we weren't going fast enough for the administration.

None of these things suggest you'll be able to pull off a 56% salary raise (from $32K to even the low end of $50K). You should negotiate - because you should always negotiate - but you should realize that it is likely the only way you can get what you want is to find another job.
posted by saeculorum at 12:03 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

What I don't know is if I have any basis to negotiate?

You absolutely have the right to negotiate. Now, it's possible that HR will take a look at your duties and anything else your boss wants to lump in and say, "Oh, this is a $50K job for a full-timer." If they don't, show your boss your research that says that someone with your skill set in a similar position would typically make $50K-$60K and receive similar benefits. Point out that only you have experience at your job in your position with the people you work with, and that finding someone to replace you will take time and money and effort, then more time and money and effort to get that person up to speed.

Are you prepared to meet them halfway and take $42K instead? If not, polish up your resume, because that's likely going to be their highest counteroffer if they start at $32K.

If he brings me an offer, is he expecting me to accept it immediately?

He shouldn't be. If he's from the corporate world, he'd better not be. On the off chance that he does get upset with you for daring to negotiate, that's a valuable preview of what he's going to be like to work with (i.e., bad).
posted by Etrigan at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

First of all, I'm assuming you are in a staff role and not an academic yourself?

Is your institution private? It must be if you have no idea what the actual pay for certain positions and payscales across the university looks like. That information is public record for a majority of state schools. I've been paid as staff or an RA in the U of California and U of Texas systems and in both cases I could find out the exact dollar figure that most of my colleagues earned in a database.

One approach would be to find the nearest public institution with such salary info on record, and look for your position and your department to come up with a range. The total compensation package will not be directly comparable between public and private and different size institutions, but it should get you a number to talk about that is maybe closer to $50K and more realistic than salary.com data, for instance. Your $50K figure may be inflated by higher salaries at R1 or salaries outside the education sector, or maybe not.

Your director will have wiggle room to bump your pay but not $15K of wiggle room, maybe $1-5K. This is part of why the change in title and job description is key, it may put you in a different pay scale entirely as far as HR is concerned and then he can do more for you, but it will be a struggle. Of course negotiate, but keep in mind there is almost zero chance you're going to get over 10% more than their initial offer. Universities don't offer nearly as much salary flexibility as industry.
posted by slow graffiti at 12:16 PM on January 7, 2015

You can always negotiate. However, the custom in US academia for normal staff and administrators is that schools typically won't negotiate outside a very narrow salary range. If you were a highly sought after professor, or a senior-level administrator like a dean, AVP, etc, then you'd have much more room.

The job salary will ultimately be tied to the actual title and job responsibilities. If your boss comes back with a salary that seems too low, it's probably not his doing. HR almost certainly won't approve a huge salary bump for a position title that pays substantially less elsewhere on campus. If he agrees that the offer is too low and you indicate you won't accept it, he'll probably need approval from HR and whoever ultimately signs off on his budget to change the position title (and update the duties) to match your desired salary. He may or may not be willing to do that.

Unlike in the corporate world, hiring managers in higher education have almost no autonomy and authority to make significant changes in salaries, benefits, or promotions. Everything needs to be approved by multiple other parties before it can happen. So again, unlike corporate, you probably can't even negotiate for additional benefits/perks that aren't already available to the people who work with you. Anything your boss promises you regarding work from home or anything else like comp time, extra vacation, etc. isn't worth anything unless there's already an approved policy in the HR manual.

Your best bet, once you have the new job description in hand, is to find comparable jobs at other institutions that publish their salary ranges (mostly state schools). If they are lowballing you, you can ask your boss to take your research back to HR as ammunition to change your title to match what other schools are offering for similar jobs.
posted by trivia genius at 12:20 PM on January 7, 2015

Response by poster: Yes, I am in a staff role. I work at a community college.

I just want to point out that my life's situation drastically changed July of last year. I use to be in the position to work a job I love and manage my finances. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case and was the driving factor in why I told the new director what I did. This is pretty damn close to dream job for me, but I can't manage my finances anymore if I'm not working 40 hours a week w/ benefits. If I'm going to be 40 hours/week I don't think it's unreasonable that they pay me somewhere close to what my skill set is worth. This is why I wanted to know if negotiation is possible. Otherwise I will say yes and get paid subpar while I continue my job hunt.

and I'm not making any salary right now. 32k comes from ~$15/hour* x 40 hours/week x 52 weeks/year = 32k.

*my current pay. Right now my AGI is something closer to 20k

posted by royalsong at 12:22 PM on January 7, 2015

Given all the information in you post I would suggest the following as a practical strategy--defer serious negotiations for a year or two until you are well established in your full time role. At this time ask for a modest salary increase (+/- 10%) to recognize the additional responsibilities that often go with full time work. Before asking for substantial increases wait--make sure you know the facts and demonstrate your commitment and above average/superior performance. One can always negotiate but never underestimate the importance of timing and bargaining power.
posted by rmhsinc at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also be aware that the ACA definition of 'full-time' may soon change -- in such a way that even 39.5 hours a week won't qualify.
posted by LonnieK at 12:55 PM on January 7, 2015

I think that there have been some good suggestions here, but this seems like a somewhat 'tricky' matter to me, so I'm going to suggest that you also ask this question over at Ask A Manager, too.
posted by doctor tough love at 12:57 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

You can see what they offer. When the present the offer you can say, "Gosh, this is a lot lower than I was expecting. Let me review it and I'll get back to you." No matter what they offer. Never accept the first number they give you, not right off the bat. After reviewing the offer, benefits etc, you can ask, "Is there any wiggle room, people with my skill set typically make Y." Then shut up and no matter how quiet and uncomfortable it gets, wait for an answer.

Right now, get your resume out there. If you have a skill set that demands more money, you need to get the irons in the fire so that you can be prepared to leave if you have to. Keep looking, keep applying..
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:14 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have to echo what i said in this thread.

These types of raises are white whales, or sasquatches, or whatever. They don't happen. Everyones sisters-boyfriends-uncle has gotten one but no one has actually seen one. Especially since you've sat on being underpaid for this long.

Maybe if you were working closer to 20 hours, and going to 40 would bring you close enough that like a 10-20% raise would put you in the zone you should be in would this be possible, but basically needing to almost double it?

Nah, the correct answer is go somewhere else. And you'll be going somewhere else with a solid track record of someone who sits down and gets to work, isn't a "job hopper", etc.

This kind of raise doesn't even really happen with an actual offer in hand.
posted by emptythought at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

One can always negotiate but never underestimate the importance of timing and bargaining power.

Yes to this, but no on the rest of rmhsinc's comment. The time for asking is now, and every time an opportunity for professional review comes up. This timing is actually great: they're creating a full time position, and if you don't fill it for them, they have to go through an onerous interviewing and hiring process. I agree that you probably won't get $50k+, but strongly disagree with any suggestion that you wait on negotiating. Negotiate now, then negotiate later. 1-2 years from now you could always look for another job if you want. Or you could look right now, too.

Asking for more money stressed me out every time I've done it, too, but that's not a reason to not do it. I do agree with emptythought that going outside the organization is, unfortunately, the most surefire way to significant salary jumps, but you never know with temp to full time.
posted by deludingmyself at 3:09 PM on January 7, 2015

Double-edged sword. First, you always have the right to negotiate. It's a deal between the two parties; you don't have to take it unless it's satisfactory to you. They are not required to accommodate your wishes if they don't want to and don't think the consequences of that are too terrible.

I see two scenarios here and they're kind of the same thing, but different conceptually. First, they make you a full-time employee with 40 hours in your job . I would expect that to play out just like Etrigan said.

The other is that they, as separate acts, create a new job description with your current responsibilities, grade it by whatever pay scheme HR uses to determine the compensation, then look for a person to fill the slot, with the understanding that once they do, your position goes away. This may be more likely to be a large pay raise for you if you get the job. In this case, I would expect you to have to interview competitively with other applicants, not just automatically get it. (Of course, you would have an advantage being a known quantity.) If your director is on your side, that helps a lot; however, sometimes a board of three or more members is required to do the interviews and recommend qualified candidates. If the job announcement nets a bunch of applicants that are way more qualified than you, your director would have a situation where choosing you might be impossible, or at least require more political capital than he or she is willing to spend. So this option is a little dangerous.
posted by ctmf at 4:28 PM on January 7, 2015

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