I began my current job just under a year ago. When I received the job offer, I accepted my boss’ initial salary offer without attempting to negotiate because 1) I was really interested in the job 2) My job search had gone on for much longer than I had expected, and 3) the offer was within the range I had anticipated, albeit on the low end.
During my first week on the job my boss informed me that my colleague who heads up the project I work on would be going on maternity leave in a matter of weeks. After about a month on the job, I was responsible not just for my work, but for my colleague’s. (She had been staffing the project by herself, but it had become so large that they hired me.) So for over 3 months I worked very hard to learn and manage the work of two people. My initial reaction was to step up and take one for team–it provided a good opportunity to show my capabilities and work ethic to my boss. Although it was stressful at times, I kept the project moving forward and was thanked personally by my boss when my colleague returned.
A fews months passed, and then my colleague missed what was far and away the busiest week of the year because her baby got sick, and then she got sick from the baby. I had to take on her responsibilities again, only this time without any advance warning. I just found out today that she will be out another for another week next month. I get along very well personally with both my boss and my colleague. And in principle, I’m all for pro-family work policies, even though I do not really enjoy any benefits since I am single. However, I recently discovered that my colleague’s salary is about $15,000 more than mine. This made me very angry because I had assumed that the difference was more like $5000-7000 (she only has a couple years more experience than me). I really resent the fact that I have spent almost a third of my time here covering for her, while she rakes in that much more in income. I like my job, but no one told me during the job interview that I would be taking on this many extra hours—that would have surely influenced my evaluation of the salary offer.
I have a performance evaluation in a few months. Given my circumstances, I plan on asking for a substantial raise. I don’t expect parity with my colleague, but I really think it is unfair that there was not full disclosure of what my responsibilities would be. When I ask for the raise should I say that much to my boss, or just highlight my willingness to step up?
Well, one thing you’ve already learned is the value of countering salary offers. I have yet to hear of a case where a company offers X and the candidate says, “how about X+$5000” and the company says, “we’re rescinding the original offer.” The worst they’ll say is no. (Now watch, I’ll get an e-mail from someone who tries this advice and gets the original offer rescinded, plus their dog is hit by a truck and an ice storm hits the Midwest and they are forced to live without power eating cold beans and weenies, all because I told them to suggest a counter offer.)
I think you handled the extra work perfectly–just dig in and do it. Which you did. No use complaining.
But, now it’s yearly evaluation time and it’s time to get more money. Lots more money. (Incidentally, it’s harder to get a big raise once you are hired then it is to raise your starting salary, in my humble opinion.) The first rule is that your co-worker’s name must never come out of your mouth.
Yes, she was off having a baby, so you had more work to do. Then the kid got sick. Then she got sick. Your trials are largely due to her trials. This is one of the most difficult things about working parents–usually mothers. You need time off after a baby is born. And someone has to stay home with the kid when it is sick. It’s usually mom. No social commentary here, just sayin’.
So, your goal is to not say, “When Karen was on maternity leave…” or “When Karen was out for two weeks…” Rather, you want to say, “I jumped in and took on extra work. I learned blah blah blah and successfully blah blah blah and I’ve contributed blah blah blah. When I was hired I didn’t realize the amount of extra hours that I would have to put in in order to meet deadlines and goals. I’m happy to do it because I value this project and I value this company, but I’d like to have my compensation reflect the value I have added and will continue to add to this company.”
Now, when your boss says, “Good job for covering for Karen, but now that she’s back…” Don’t fall into the temptation to start badmouthing Karen, working mothers in general and annoying children who kick the back of your seat on the airplane. (Incidentally, you would think that if a two year old’s feet can reach the back of the seat in front of him, that would be a good clue to the airline that the seats are too close together.)
Say thank you and then talk about the project, and not about how you picked up Karen’s slack.
Good luck and I hope you get a huge raise.