Negotiation openers 101 (or how to get paid what I'm worth)
December 5, 2017 10:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm up for contract renewal and have already shown that in my first six months on the job I did far more than I was hired to do. I'm worth more, I know it and I think the boss knows it. I've never been in this place. I think it's a 5-10 minute conversation. So how do I start it and keep it going?

I'm not really expecting a lot of pushback, except maybe on the "what it's worth" point. This is a reasonable person who holds 100% of the decision-making power for a small company.

Not long ago I posted this question about what to call my job and what it's worth. I work for this company roughly half time. More and more I'll be asked to perform tasks (but only some of the time) that I'm paid more than double to do for others.

I'm neither experienced at negotiation, nor do I put on a confident front when faced with this kind of situation. I stammer, I turn red, I um and er and uh and I clearly open a door to be taken advantage of. I've always undersold myself and generally think that if my elevator speech inflates my importance/skills that I'll ultimately reveal myself as a fraud. Going into this meeting with some clear lines to facilitate the conversation will help with this.

What are some good openers to a productive and fair conversation that says "You wanted me to do this and this, I did that and that, I do more and will do more and it's worth this"?

What are some additional things I can say to keep the conversation going?
posted by AnOrigamiLife to Work & Money (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a bit confused. If you are a contractor, your "negotiation" is simply a statement of "effective $DATE, my hourly rate is $X - who should I work with to effectuate this change?".

Contractors do not negotiate for rates. They set their rate, and the client business either takes it or decides to discontinue your contract.
posted by saeculorum at 11:36 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Negotiation is about the work you do outside of the room - you need to establish what fair rates are for your position on the market, how they compare to your own, find some quantifiable numbers for things you've done over and above expectation, and what number you are willing to accept to continue working there. Very few people will just pay you more because you say you want more. You need facts and to establish, for yourself, what is either a hard stop or a "walk away unhappy and research other jobs" number.

You establish rates by doing some research in your local market on what jobs like yours (maybe not exactly the same as many of us do unique things) typically pay. Your local library might be able to help you find resources. From that, you can establish how it compares to your own pay and where, along the continuum between, you are willing to accept to continue to work there.

Basically, salary negotiation is best done by establishing how good you are at your job in quantifiable ways, the ways you think you can grow and help the company achieve more, and how you've done your homework and have looked at similar jobs and believe your work is commensurate with a higher rate. Position it as an investment in the company's future. Outline ideas for how you might help the company's bottom line in the future.

Your employer may do a number of things - try to defer to another time to review salary and position, say there's not enough money in the budget, or a whole host of other things. They may ask you what you're looking for and then offer a number below that. There's no magic set of things to say or "opener" that gets you through this part - it depends largely on how serious you are about being paid more. Serious people take lowball offers or companies that won't pay them and find others that will to either leverage a raise or move on.
posted by notorious medium at 12:15 PM on December 5, 2017

What happened the last time you asked this question? You got some very detailed responses back in September and were having a meeting about your role then too.
posted by Jubey at 12:26 PM on December 5, 2017

I agree with saeculorum. This shouldn't be a negotiation. Assuming you've done your homework and have an accurate idea of the going rate for the services you provide, just send them an email a month or two before the end of your contract saying, effective the date the contract renews, you're increasing your rate to X.

Include the part about "You wanted me to do this and this, I did that and that, I do more and will do more"—but don't get into a debate about how much your services are worth.

Here's how I look at it, based on over a decade as a freelance copywriter: it's my job to tell the client what my rate is, and theirs to decide how much of my time they need and can afford.

Where the negotiating comes in is around the scope of what exactly I'm going to do and deliver for them. In other words: negotiate the scope, never the rate.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:42 PM on December 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I agree with the above, send them an email saying that the scope of your role has increased. Current research says that the going rate for performing x, x and x tasks as a (project manager or whatever) have a payment of $X and that you'll be renewing your contract at the new rate. If they push back and say they don't want to pay that, negotiate the scope of what you do, in other words, less hours or whatever but not less money.

You need to insist on what you're worth and stick to your guns. If you're bad in a formal in person negotiation, do it via email instead before the end of your contract, but tell, don't ask. If you don't value yourself, why should they? They won't pay you what you're worth if they don't have to so be firm.
posted by Jubey at 2:29 PM on December 5, 2017

To clarify, the last time I asked this question was months before I was actually due to have the conversation, and I was asking then about job titles and pay.

This question is specifically asking about conversation openers. Language to use.

True, I am a contractor. This challenges me because it feels like a very different animal from a straight contract to do the thing. This is a very small business where a mutual friend introduced me, and the boss has also become a friend. They offered me a contract through the end of the year for a far simpler job than what I ended up doing (only because they didn't completely know they needed more, and it was within my skills to tackle those things). My list of responsibilities spans a wide swath from admin tasks to (soon) CRM development (which I am skilled in and do for others on a project basis), all depending on the week. I cannot justify my standard hourly rate for the latter if I only do that thing some of the time.

I may send an email that precedes our conversation, or we may just have the conversation over coffee. Anything about how to guide the process helps, tips on language, keywords, seriously. Thanks everyone!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 2:57 PM on December 5, 2017

The advice you're getting is to reset your rates via email, rather than in a conversation.

It's fine to have different rates for different kind of services. For instance, you might have one rate for administrative support and another for CRM development. An email might go something like this:

Dear X,

Over the time we've been working together, the scope of my work has increased significantly. You originally wanted help with [A and B]. Since then, I've also done [C, D, E, and F] and accomplished [J and K]. Looking forward, I'm excited about using my skill with [Q] to achieve [R and S].

To reflect these increased responsibilities, my rates will be changing effective [date of new contract]:

Service 1 $XX/hour
Service 2 $YY/hour
Service 3 $ZZ/hour

As we prepare to renew our contract, I'm happy to talk more about how I can best contribute to your success.

[Very truly yours,]
posted by ottereroticist at 4:08 PM on December 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I get the impress that you feel uncomfortable asking for what you're worth because you and the boss are now 'friends'. If this is the case, remind yourself that if you really ARE friends, he won't want to take advantage of you.

If he is using your chummy relationship to try and pay you less, knowing that you deserve far more and are doing much more than was originally contracted, well, I guess you two aren't friends after all. He's just your boss. Who is trying to screw you over. I hope this isn't the case, but in your head, if you two like each other you shouldn't be nervous and this should be a straightforward conversation about compensation.

Trust me, this person knows what they should be paying you and right now they're getting a bargain. All you are asking for is what's fair. Remember that.
posted by Jubey at 6:53 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

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