Want A Raise Without Sounding Like A Blackmailer

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about money: How can I drop hints that I’m looking for new opportunities,without actually going for a interview?

I have been working for the company for 6 years and am part of a department of about ten people. However the job I do is very specific and I and another girl are the two that have the qualification and experience to carry it out. It’s a very important part of the company structure. She is leaving in 4 weeks time to take maternity leave and they are trying to recruit a temp to cover her for 9 months, (I’m more senior than her and earn £21,900 per annum. They are having great difficulty in finding someone with the skills and experience to take on the role. They are offering the job at £20k, however I heard they might now be willing to up this salary to try and get someone. The job is very busy and you need two full time people. If they don’t get someone in soon they will be in big trouble.

I have started to look around myself now and have seen the job I do at other companies for a lot more money then I’m currently getting. My problem is if I was to get another job, it would really leave my company that I work for in a big mess, as they are really struggling to get one person in let alone two. How do I approach them about getting a raise,without been seen to be blackmailing them,which I’m not,but it would come across that way. Also I’m annoyed that this temp could be on or nearly the same money as me, when I have worked there for such a long time. I have done all the internal management courses and been for promotion twice but didn’t get it. I now feel like I’m stuck. How can I drop hints that I’m looking for new opportunities,without actually going for a interview?

Signed, Stuck

Dear Stuck:

This is a challenging time for you and your future so it has to be handled well. I don’t know your work culture, your business or your status and stability there, so my thoughts are merely that and may not reflect the best thing for you to do in your specific circumstances. Perhaps they will give you some ideas to help in your decisions.First is to decide what your real issues are. If you could get a pay raise, would you stay, even thought things aren’t quite like you want? If you don’t get a pay raise, will you definitely leave at some time?

You might as well know those answers for yourself before you start your job hunting. If you know you could get a job elsewhere and do better financially as well as in strategizing career-building, you should probably move on when the coworker comes back. If you’d like to stay, then your focus can just be on salary and benefits for right now, with plans for trying to move up in the future. If those plans don’t work out over the next couple of years, THEN you could look at a move.

There is no way to hint about something like this. For one thing, hints are usually resented and irritate everyone as well as hurting your future chances and your current reputation. So, my advice is not to hint. Come right out and talk to your manager and/or HR about your desire to get a raise to reflect your increased value now and in the future, and the fact that you’ll be helping to provide orientation to a new employee while filling in gaps created by the maternity leave. Be clear that you are committed to working hard while the coworker is gone and that they can depend upon you. But, also say that since pay hasn’t been evaluated for awhile, you’d like to ask that your position be audited, keeping market values in mind. (Or whatever protocol is usually followed for deciding about pay raises.) I do want to mention that the fact of a temp being paid more isn’t much leverage in many jobs.

Temps are often paid as much or a bit more than incumbents, just to get their help short-term. They wouldn’t be hired at that full-time. It’s always frustrating to long-term employees when that happens, but from a business viewpoint it makes sense for a few weeks or months.

The next thing you have to consider is, what will you do if they say there is no way they can pay more for your position? Will you leave, no matter how it hurts the business? Will you stay and feel resentful and have it hurt your work? Will you stay and try to find a way to be positive in your response to the disappointment? You need to know that before you ask for the raise.

This would be a good time to show that you are thinking like a manager and like someone who seeks the best for the business. Perhaps you can use this to help you either advance there, solidify your job there and get a raise, or at least allow you to move on one day with a positive reference and good contacts.

My main concern was to advise you to be honest with your manager about at least some of your thoughts processes. I also wanted to mention that from an ethical viewpoint, if you have basically been treated well in your work, this would be bad timing for leaving. Likely the coworker will return by the end of the year. You can hold on that long probably. If something better is out there, you can leave for it then. If a sure thing comes up that is much, much better in the next few months, at least there would be a temp worker there (hopefully). You could leave while feeling that you’ve done your best to be a loyal employee but you also have to do what is best for you and your future. Good luck to you about this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe