In the October 18, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, two readers try to avoid getting suckered into a job promotion that’s really two jobs for one salary.
My boss has asked me to take over someone else’s role on top of my own. The company was paying the other person to do the other job that I’d be adding to my own work. What percentage salary increase should I be given to take on the second job?
HR came to me and discussed an opportunity that I might be interested in. However, instead of hiring someone else, HR proposed to my boss that he offer me this position while I keep my current position. It’s basically a dual role — two jobs.
The salary increase is only about $200/month. It’s very low considering I’d be saving the company a lot of money if they don’t have to hire another person. I told my boss I’m not happy with the salary bump and explained to him why. He seemed open to reviewing the salary depending on what HR comes up with.
Well, my current role does not compare with any job titles in the salary survey our HR manager uses. She compared my position to job titles that aren’t my job. So it makes no sense how she came up with the proposed salary increase. In any case, the additional role will require about 3-5 hours a week. The salary bump covers about 1.5 hours of additional time per week.
How do I negotiate this with my boss? HR’s inaccurate information shows my salary is already high compared to the salary survey, and to what everyone else makes in the organization.
I could hand you a hundred bucks, smile and tell you I just gave you an opportunity to make more money. And it would be true, and a hundred extra bucks is a good thing, but is that a negotiation?
You’d ask me what I want you to do for the hundred bucks, and that would be the start of a negotiation. But a good, honest negotiation requires more.
When a labor union and management are working out a new contract, they do “fact finding.” When two parties discuss doing a deal, they produce a “term sheet.” Those are two ways of saying you’re putting the facts on the table. The reason these two readers are confused and at a loss is because HR has given them no facts.
Is this a real job promotion?
So my advice to both readers is, get the facts on the table. HR would rather talk about “an opportunity” and “more money,” but what HR started with is three facts you don’t have but need:
- 2 job titles
- 2 job descriptions
- 2 salaries
I’d leave your boss out of this, for now. Go to the HR manager. Find out whether this is a real job promotion or just more work for less pay.
How to Say It
“Thanks for this opportunity. I’d like to make sure I understand it. May I please have copies of my formal job description and the written description of the job you’d like to add to mine, along with the actual titles of both jobs? I know what my salary is, but I need to know the salary of the other job. Then I can consider the work you need me to do and what it’s worth.”
What you’re really saying to HR is, I expect you to do your job. We all know what job titles and job descriptions are. Now you need to see them, and that’s HR’s job. Because, when did you ever take a job without a title or description — or without knowing the salary? That’s why you’re confused and at a loss — it’s understandable. (See Roasting the job description.)
Don’t be a sucker
There’s a special term for giving you a second job without paying two salaries. That’s not a job promotion. The employer is suckering you.
A raise is a good thing, even if you have to do more work to get it. Usually, that’s called a promotion. (See Promotion, raise, bad vibes… How to Say It.) What both these stories have in common is employers that want to save lots of money — an entire salary in each case — while sharing only part of the savings with the sucker who will have to do all the extra work. And we don’t even know exactly what work.
In a well-run company, HR would combine two jobs, create a new job title, define new objectives and performance criteria, assign an appropriate salary, and put all that in writing. Only then would HR approach an existing employee and offer the newly defined job promotion with a higher salary.
But this isn’t about offering an employee more money to do more work. In these two cases, this is about duping an employee into doing two jobs without paying two salaries.
Don’t be a sucker. The only way to negotiate combining two jobs is to know exactly what’s required of both jobs, and exactly how much each job is worth before they are combined. There: Feel better?
Assess the risk
I always tell you never to take anyone’s advice about your career choices — including mine. Consider the advice, apply your best judgment, and make a sound decision. As in all things, assess the risk. Your first concern should be whether your employer will fire you if you decline the added work — or label you “Not A Team Player” and fire you later if you don’t play along with this HR game. And it is an HR game: HR doesn’t want to do this properly.
Decide what kind of risk you are willing to take if you can’t get your employer to handle this to your satisfaction. Just be careful: If you agree to this without a fully defined new job description, there will be no defined metrics your boss can use to judge whether you’re doing what’s expected. That puts you in a precarious spot. (See Don’t suck canal water.) Likewise, you can’t negotiate a new salary without knowing both old salaries.
What I’d do is get the facts, so you and HR are starting at the same place. There’s nothing wrong with your employer trying to save money by combining jobs. What’s wrong is lazy HR departments skipping the hard work of doing this right, in writing, and with full disclosure. Assuming you want the additional work and salary, tell your boss you’d love a job promotion.
How to Say It
“I think it’s best for our company, for you and for me if HR would define this as a new job, with a full description, a new salary, and clear metrics for success. And I think the best way to do this is for you — as the manager — and me and HR to meet to discuss how to define it all. I’d be happy to help!”
Don’t negotiate in a vacuum
It’s no accident in either case that HR and the boss are talking with you in isolation. They’re doing this in a vacuum to avoid discussion. I think your best negotiating position is at a table with both your boss and HR present.
I think your boss has to lead this effort, because HR has clearly shown it’s got no idea what you actually do and how it compares to jobs in the salary surveys. (By the way: I think salary surveys are useful generally speaking, but when used to assign a salary to a specific employee, they’re the pits! See Am I chasing the salary surveys?, and Beat The Salary Surveys: Get a higher job offer.)
For the reader in Question #1 who asks what percentage increase is appropriate, I don’t like to negotiate in percentages — and you should not negotiate in a vacuum, either. I think you have to sit down with your boss and HR to figure out how much more work you’d be doing, how much value you’d be adding, and how much your employer will be saving. There’s no way to just toss out a number — you must negotiate by discussing the newly defined job and salary. (For a complete approach to justifying a higher salary by using a business plan, see How Can I Change Careers?, pp. 8-12. This PDF book isn’t just for career changers; it’s for anyone who wants to stand out in a job negotiation.)
Both readers who submitted the above questions face an added dilemma. If the second job can be added to yours satisfactorily, then HR erred in creating the second job to begin with. Why was it separate? Don’t compound HR’s mistake by letting the HR manager sweep the second job under your job by calling it “a job promotion” without creating a new title, job description and salary. You need to know exactly what the second job was — you’ll be responsible for it! So get those documents I bulleted above.
The reader who asked Question #2 has an extra problem. Clearly, HR doesn’t understand the work you do, your job title, or your salary — none of it maps to information HR has on file. How can you negotiate adding an undefined second job to your job if HR doesn’t have the correct definition and salary for your existing job?
These are more gotchas that point to serious mismanagement of human resources at your companies. Don’t take the fall for HR’s failures.
If negotiations fail
If either of you is uncomfortable with taking on the extra work, or with how negotiations go, you can always decline “this opportunity” — and let your employer just re-fill the vacant job (or find another sucker).
Please keep in mind: If your employer is really determined to dupe you into doing more work with inadequate pay, the only exit from this quandary may be out the door to a new employer.
I’ll leave you with a joke. A person’s standing at a bar enjoying a drink. Up walks an attractive face — and says seductively, “For a hundred bucks, I’ll do anything you want.” The drinker smiles beguilingly and slaps a hundred dollar bill on the bar. “Paint my house.”
An extra hundred bucks isn’t always an opportunity.
Have you ever been faced with an “opportunity” that made you nervous because it was nebulous? Did you take it? Or what did you do? What additional tips and insights can you offer these two readers?