I am a 39 year old woman in North Carolina with a bit of a dilemma that I want to correct very soon. All of my life I have worked at hourly wage jobs. Fifteen years of that was in pizza delivery at a rate (with tips) of about $18 an hour. I took time off and took the GIA Graduate Gemologist course and passed it with flying colors. During the process of taking this course I got hired part-time for the company I now work for. I was hired as a sales associate and was paid $9 an hour. I have had two raises in the three years I have been there and now am paid the company’s highest hourly rate of $10 an hour.
Last fall, I got my graduate Gemologist diploma that hangs in the store now.
I have found out the starting average hourly pay around the country is almost three times what I am making. So now I want to transition to salary at a rate comparable to that. Since my hire, there have been two other G.G.s hired at salary at that level or higher. I have never been on salary and do not exactly know how to go about asking for it, but I better have my ducks in a row by tomorrow when I will meet with the manager.
What I have going for me besides that diploma is that they know I work the rate of 1.5 people. That’s how I have always been at every job I’ve had. I’m a self-starter that doesn’t sit idle and finds things to do at all times. They have realized I am consistent with this and that I have many other skills, such as, computer and inventory management, which came as a bonus to them as it’s not in my job description.
I have sold several pieces of jewelry there for over $10,000.00. I have a great attitude and complete any and all tasks assigned efficiently. These are things they would not know about a potential hire just because he or she had a diploma. This is a point that I was going to bring up in the meeting with my manager.
My question is “Am I screwed already?” Since they are already getting the work out of me at such a low wage, is it unlikely I have a leg to stand on as far as asking to be on salary? I want to be confident when I go in there, but not arrogant or whiny.
by Honey Smith, Professional Life Coach
You write that it's "...unlikely I have a leg to stand on as far as asking to be on salary."
What leads you to write this? From your posting, you are very clear about what you're good at, and you can state in detail the value you provide to your present employer. Two salary raises in three years suggests that they are paying attention to and rewarding this value.
How would it be to have an honest conversation with your boss about the company's big-picture and the part they see you playing in it? Understanding what's driving their decisions will help you see what's negotiable and what's not.
Some more questions to consider:
1. What qualifications did new hires have that may have justified their higher salaries?
2. What made your employer willing to pay more wages to new hires? For example, is it getting harder to attract people to your industry, region of the country, etc?
3. Are there routes within the company for job growth that you aren't aware of?
Once you have some more information, try considering a different perspective: Your employer can't keep you there against your will. You haven't signed a contract that says till death do us part. You have the choice to walk away, i.e., look for companies that will pay you what you're worth. Are you willing to move somewhere else for higher pay? What would it take to make this move?
If you're happy working where you are and you're mainly concerned about better compensation, I urge you to have that conversation with your manager about your future.
Honey Smith, Ed.M. is a Professional Life Coach who helps job seekers fast forward their careers, master life transitions and fulfill their potential.
Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
To help you analyze your current “salary” and figure out what sort of raise you want to negotiate, check out this excerpt from How to Figure Yearly Income from Hourly Rate by Jon Emmons:
Let’s say you are offered a job for $11/hour. If you assume you work 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year you can simply double the hourly rate and that will be the yearly income in thousands, so $11/hour = $22,000/year.
Also, be sure to research the median pay for your position at my Career Research Center.