I am a relative newcomer to the field and - like many just starting out - took a position I was somewhat overqualified for just before the pandemic hit, in order to make ends meet. Because of all the craziness, I've had the opportunity to take on far more responsibilities than I was originally hired for - which I'm thrilled about - but my compensation and title have not changed accordingly. The middle of a pandemic (in which people were being laid off/furloughed left and right) didn't seem like the best time to ask for a raise, but months down the road I wonder if I should have done so as soon as I was approached to take on these new roles. Did I miss my opportunity? If not, when is a good time to ask for proper compensation for the jobs I'm already doing? Any insight - especially from managers - would be greatly appreciated!
Dear Pandemic Pushover,
Great news, you’ve highlighted something I’ve also noticed recently: some of us are finally in a place where we have the perspective and capacity to look objectively at our work and lives. We know that clarifying long-term expectations about pay or title before taking on new responsibilities is ideal, but not always realistic. Fortunately, it’s never “too late” to review responsibilities with your supervisor and work to establish an appropriate pay or title change.
Speaking of, when was the last time you looked at your job description? Please, tell me you’ve had a 6-month or an annual performance review. While financial outlook may not be great, managers know that replacing an employee costs money and I bet yours knows you’d be able to find a job elsewhere. No one is a better advocate for you than you! Make a formal performance evaluation happen first. Once you have detailed performance feedback from your supervisor, you’ll have the foundation for your negotiation.
A survey I read reported 43 percent of respondents negotiated their salary in their current field, and 75 percent of those who asked received some sort of a raise. The gains from any small salary increase snowball over time. It’s worth your time to try! Negotiation is a lost art that requires practice to become a habit. Here are some thoughts on what you can do:
Preparation, evidence, and professionalism are essential. Look over your job description and write out your responsibilities; include those extra responsibilities you’ve been doing. Also include accomplishments and contributions noting the impact at the unit and the institutional level. Highlight the mission-critical activities and any specialized skills or knowledge you have, especially those that went beyond the minimum and preferred qualifications.
How critical is the extra work you’re doing? Ask yourself, if I’m not doing X, Y, and Z who would be? Then compare the scope of your responsibilities to other positions within the organization. Is this list public at your organization? If not, talk to colleagues in similarly situated roles and a few holding a higher title to compare. Were you hired without a supervisory role and are now supervising students, interns, or professional staff? What are the titles of the employees at your organization who supervise? By looking at your own work but also comparing your work scope to others with higher titles you will help to make the case for a compensation review or a change in title (or ideally both)!
Clearly demonstrating your contributions during a time of limited human resources should result in you being taken seriously. Don’t forget to time your request well and state up front that you’d like to discuss your goals and future with the organization. During the meeting, be direct about your desire to grow in the company and be clear you are seeking for your pay and title to align with your work. Once you see the results, you’ll become more comfortable establishing clear expectations about your job and making negotiation a priority.
Be prepared to be told no AND don’t let your supervisor off the hook entirely. Ask if anything can be done outside of salary or title, and get their ideas for improving in your current role and positioning yourself well for the next. Decent managers who recognize the value of employees like you want to find solutions. With diligence, you can work toward a promotion even if you can’t get it right away.
P.S. Now that I’ve shared my thoughts, I’m curious what the amazing community of educators reading this post has to say. Chime in, folks! What thoughts do you have for Pandemic Pushover? Share your thoughts on the Global Leadership League’s LinkedIn page. Have a question for Sophia yourself, ask here!
*Please note: This response is provided for informational purposes only. The information contained herein is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice or legal opinions of a licensed professional. Contact a personal attorney or licensed professional to obtain appropriate legal advice or professional counseling with respect to any particular issue or problem.