:::: MENU ::::

Asking for a Raise


Asking for more money has never been easy for me. To be fair, this is my first “real” (traditional) job in my life so I haven’t had a lot of experience. Prior to this I worked in the service industry for years (bartending and waiting tables), worked for universities in adjunct/contract positions, and other miscellaneous work with set rates (and often on short-term/contract bases).

I’m going to use a little ambiguity to try to preserve some anonymity here, but when I was hired in my current position my contract listed job duties and responsibilities. Although I’ve only been in my position for a single semester, I feel as though my list of responsibilities and duties have grown. This is totally fine with me and I really enjoy the work that I do. But I no longer feel that my title accurately describes my position. And the pay doesn’t seem to quite match either.

I foresaw this happening when I was first hired (and, indeed, I’d tried to negotiate for a different title from the beginning). Because of my foresight, I asked to have it specifically written into my contract that I would have a performance review after a single semester (the norm is to conduct annual reviews). This would give me a chance to discuss with my supervisor what I’ve done well and to identify opportunities for improvement. But more than that, it would give me a chance to try to re-negotiate my contract a bit.

But wait, there’s more….

I am currently on a 9-month contract. My department head has already asked if I’d be available in summer and I eagerly said yes. The way this is typically handled is by providing an additional short-term/summer contract. But when my department head (who is new to the position and not actually the person who hired me) learned that I was on a 9-month contract I could sense the frustration. I believe the words, “well that was a mistake” were actually uttered.

Here I have an opportunity to expand my job duties/role, gain a more prestigious title, and get paid more all the while. While I like the idea of a 9-month contract simply because of the flexibility it provides in allowing me to be with my girls, I also like the stability of a year-round job with a year-round paycheck.

So I’m thinking my proposal to my boss will be to change my contract from 9-month to 12-month. Because I’ll be working an additional 3 months (25% of a year), I’ll ask for a 25% raise. The way I’ll frame it is that it’s actually the same exact rate I currently get paid (same exact $ per month), but it will be year-round rather than only during the academic year. From this perspective, I’m not actually asking for a raise…I’m simply asking for more time to work!

I don’t know if it will fly. A 25% hike could cause some serious waves in the department, as I’m already paid more than several people who have been there longer and this type of raise would throw me up into the upper half of the department in terms of earnings. But, again, I’d be working more than others too.

Even if my boss doesn’t want to re-negotiate with me for a 12-month contract, I know I’ll still be getting extra money this summer because they really need me to develop and teach a class over the summer. So that’s already kind of a raise, in the sense that it’s more money than in my current contract.

This is such a crazy time of year. I had hoped to be able to have our official meeting prior to the semester ending but the last day was Friday so it wasn’t in the cards just yet. But we’ll be meeting in early 2016 to discuss these issues. My assumption is that any change will not take place until Summer 2016 and, again, I’m really only asking for additional work time so my monthly pay wouldn’t actually raise. Of course, if we stick with the 9-month contract but change my title and increase my duties, I could still have grounds to ask for additional money. Basically things are just really up in the air right now. But things are looking up. I feel pretty good about my performance and where things are at so (fingers crossed) I feel confident that things will only continue to improve across time as I become more comfortable in my role, etc.

Wish me luck in my (future) negotiations!


  • Reply Joe |

    Not to be “that guy”, but you are actually asking for a 33% raise by your description. By another metric, as you point out, you are asking for no raise at all, just additional work.

    Either way, I say go for it, might as well strike while the iron is hot!

  • Reply Mindy |

    I suggest reframing it and asking for a specific dollar amount or “commensurate with additional hours to be worked” and see what they offer as a starting point. Phrasing it as a 25% raise could come off as a bit off putting, I fear. Yes, it’s technically the same amount but psychologically easier to accept.

  • Reply Erin |

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm……! That’s tough. Typically speaking, raises happen yearly in academia, as it coincides with fiscal year changes and with the promotion and tenure process for faculty. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to get a raise, but might be more difficult in terms of an X% raise for your job as it stands right now (9 month, current title).

    That said, I do think that if the department head is looking at work in the summer that you should definitely broach the 12 month topic and see what happens. I don’t think of that as a “raise”, per se, because it’s the same monthly compensation – though, I do get that it is more money to you on a yearly basis. I’m not sure how your head will see it, but I would frame it more as changing the terms of your contract than the raise….unless you are also looking for a % increase in addition to that.

    Also, in my experience (at one public university), summer teachers can make a lot of money, so you may also want to see what would happen if you stayed 9 month but took on summer responsibilities.

    Good luck!!!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks! Yes, I assumed that any official contract changes wouldn’t take place until summer (possibly Fall). You also make a good point about summer possibly being a lucrative time of year to work. I guess we’ll hash it out and I’ll find out in January.

  • Reply Cory |

    Agree with joe. The increase in compensation you are asking for is 33% for 33% more effort. That isnt a raise, just working more hours for the same rate.

    If you think you are performing above your current rate, i would have 2 parts of the conversation. First discuss the additional hours you are looking for over the summer. Second discuss the rate of pay.

  • Reply AT |

    Typically academic raises happen either over the summer or right before the new fiscal year. Find out, and find out when the decisions are sent upstream. Joe is right, this is a two part conversation: now about additional hours and summer duties. Solve a problem they have money for and most admins will be deliriously happy to throw it at you. If you can get through that conversation with a general commitment to do it at “your regular rate,” without specifics, that would be better.

    And find out whether it’s really a 12 month contract forever, or just a single 3 month boost. And discuss what the vacation policy is for a 12 month contract at your school. Obviously without knowing your field and your particular customs, you might not want to be locked into 12 months forever if you can get research grants to pay part of your salary in the summer, for example. Having room on your dance card in those disciplines is important, in others irrelevant, but needs to be considered.

    Later in the spring is the time to discuss the title/rate change, but be proactive so the admin budgets for it before allocating the department’s raise money to other “problem children”. Nobody ever in academia gets a substantial change in pay rate without a) promotion or b) threatening to leave. There’s never enough money to do anything but quiet squeaky wheels, never enough to do the right thing. Yet another reason I moved on.

  • Reply Angie |

    I just wanted to say you should go for it. But most importantly, instill in yourself that you deserve it due to your hard work, experience, and valuable contributions! I cringe reading posts like this from you because it makes you seem so meager and afraid. But with all you’ve accomplished and the skills you created for yourself with your online freelance work (or whatever you classify it as) you are a very valuable team member. You are powerful. You got yourself where you are today mainly through your own initiative of driving your own path.

    Asking for a contract extension is the next natural step. You should ask for it with confidence as I believe you have already proven yourself. Who really cares where that puts you in relation to anyone else. Sadly, today is a time where people job hop for the sole reason of advancement and $$$. Its only natural that those that stay in the same position or company are slightly stagnant on wages and not at the top of the payscale. Its the price people pay for comfort (trust me because I’m one of those people!) Best of luck!

  • Reply Mike |

    jmmm, you are in a very interesting situation. The way you word it, it sounds like your not asking for much at all. You are literally just asking to be paid for your work. I say go for it! You wont know until you ask….anyways, Good Luck!

So, what do you think ?