From a contract to a permanent job position in my new career
November 2, 2016 6:49 PM   Subscribe

I need some advice about how to transition from a contract position straight out of a master's degree in a professional health care field (communication sciences and disorders). Can I ask for a $17,000 raise?

I’m a recent graduate of a specialty health care field (communication sciences and disorders). I have been working for four months at a company full time on a contract basis.

When I started working, I was offered a three month contract, but it was extended shortly after to six months. When I accepted the job, it was based on 4,000 a month, which is just under 50,000 a year. I was fine with the pay when it was only a three month contract, but now I have been there for four months and the contract expires in less than two months. The average starting income in my field is 65,000 a year, and from what I have seen listed, there are opportunities that pay more.

My position with the company has been very positive. I have been involved in many projects with the company, and have recently been involved in 'big picture' decision making and future company releases. While The Masters program that I completed was a clinical degree, I am working in a unique research position that I feel that I am well suited for. I feel I offer a perspective that is valuable to the company, and I fit in well with the company culture. I feel have shown my value to this company, and I would appreciate any advice on how to navigate this situation. The contract is expiring at the end of December. I am also currently involved in decision making processes that could extend beyond my contract. How should I go about negotiating a salary in this situation? Essentially I would be asking for a $17,000 a year raise, which seems pretty dramatic...but I would like to be paid on par with my colleagues. I apologize for the vagueness, but it is a small field and I'd prefer to not be identifiable. Thank you, mefites!
posted by soft paw to Work & Money (4 answers total)
It's easier to get a raise like that by switching jobs.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:08 PM on November 2, 2016 [4 favorites]

Oceanjesse is definitely right, though there's no harm talking to your current employer.

Do you know if your company pays its other employees well and you just got lowballed because of the contract or if everyone is underpaid? That should be a major factor in your decisions. If they underpay everyone ... well, even if you got the up to $65k, your future prospects for raises wouldn't be great and making the case for a drastic raise would be challenging. On the other hand, if you slipped through the cracks or got hired in weird circumstances that no longer apply, that's an easier argument to make.

While you can't squeeze blood from a stone, if the company *is* willing to pay fairly, the argument you need to make is a business one -- in my time here, I've done X, Y and Z, been involved in the big-picture decision making and brought value to the company in these specific ways -- so I deserve to be paid Q. Parity with colleagues isn't necessarily the right argument to make to your boss but it should frame your thoughts about what the company thinks is reasonable
posted by bsdfish at 10:29 PM on November 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Agree with the advice given. As you know what the current job market is paying, you should use this knowledge (and of course additional research in looking for a new position at the higher level) to inform your current employer how valuable your skills are in the marketplace.

It isn't unheard-of to go from contract to a much higher-paying FT position, and since you have some track-record with the current employer and seem to like it there, make a persuasive case that you are worth the additional $17K. Or more - why not ask for $25K to leave room to negotiate, since you've seen higher-paid positions elsewhere?

(This is coming from someone in specialty healthcare field myself, with a couple of Master's degrees, who has been there in terms of negotiating.)
posted by scooterdog at 4:07 AM on November 3, 2016

I had a contract position during the last few months of grad school that converted to full time a few months after graduation. My contractor rate was quite under market and my FTE salary was a significant bump (~10k/year). However, it is often the case that contractors are paid above the market rate to compensate for no benefits. My guess is that the company you work for doesn't know your take home (they only see the invoice for your hours which is likely more than they'd pay for an FTE). The company you work through is probably making an ungodly fee or percentage on your position.

Ask for a fair market rate. The company is paying a lot for you to be there ($80-100/hr based on the times I've seen these figures) and the contract company is making bank. Long term they'll pay less for you +benefits as a FTE and you'll get more money.
posted by toomanycurls at 9:27 PM on November 3, 2016

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