Forget the Second Job: Negotiate a Raise and Get Some Sleep

job interview  two senior...
job interview two senior...

If you are like many Americans, you have a second job or are thinking of getting one. A second job is a great way to cover your bills during tough economic times but two jobs often means less sleep and all the bad side effects that come with it.


There is an alternative solution -- salary negotiation -- that can get you as much or more money without the extra work hours. Chances are that you accepted your current primary job with the initial salary offer. You were happy to get the job and you did not want to tick off your future manager so you accepted what was offered. You most likely are underpaid if that is what you did. Consider this story a hiring manager recently shared with me.

An Inside View to Determining a Salary Offer

The hiring manager had a position open that had a budgeted salary range of $53,000 - $60,000. Resumes were reviewed, candidates interviewed, and this hiring manager, her manager, and the recruiter had culled the pool down to the best candidate who happened to be a woman. When asked about the desired salary the women responded $30,000, half of what was available to pay her. The recruiter loved this since her bonus was based on savings from her hires. The recruiter recommended offering $30,000. The hiring manager was appalled and would never condone such unequal pay. The other employees doing the same job at the company were averaging $60,000 and the minimum budgeted salary was 76 percent higher than the recommended offer. The hiring manager prevailed after much debate since it was her budget. The candidate was offered the job at the minimum of the salary range and she gladly accepted it. Who wouldn't be happy with $23,000 more than you expected? Yet, had she continued and negotiated her salary she could have seen another $7,000 in her pay because the hiring manager was more than ready to go to the top end of the salary range.

Costly Errors Most Women Make

In this particular story there are two places that the candidate could have cost herself as much as $30,000. First she stated a desired salary without knowing the value of the job. My guess is she made the common error of looking at the bills she had to pay when answering that question. The second error was not taking advantage of the most powerful moment a person has regarding pay -- the time between a job offer and job acceptance. Good use of the time is to state interest in the job and disappointment in the salary offered. (Do this even when they offer you the moon.) Luckily the two missteps only cost her $7,000 instead of the $30,000 it could have been with a different hiring manager.

Tips to Prepare to Negotiate a Raise

Do you see yourself in this story? If you do, I suggest you prepare for a salary discussion with your manager. It's worth having before looking for a second job. It's worth having to see if you can quit your second job. Here are a few tips to get ready:

Learn the market value of your job by visiting a salary research web site such as or a trade association for your job or industry.

  • Check out any internal corporate information about salary levels if your company has them.

  • Talk with willing colleagues if your company does NOT have a salary confidentiality policy.

  • Use the term salary adjustment instead of a raise if you find your salary is more than 20% below market value. The use of this phrase can open up budget easier for management.

  • Prepare to discuss your contributions based on results not effort. You may have worked weekends for the past month but what were the results of those weekends?

  • Drilldown the results of your work into dollars saved or dollars earned for the company. For example, you may have improved an internal process that saved the company 3 minutes per person who does it. Don't talk about the process talk about the 3 min X 10 people who do it each day X the 235 typical days a person works X the average salary for those 3 minutes.

  • When ready, don't ask for a raise, instead tell your boss you "want to discuss my salary." If you follow the previous tips you will be giving a business argument of why you deserve a raise that is very different from asking.

    It's amazing how much easier companies find money for an employee when the employee truly knows the market value of the job and the value of her own contributions. Think of the financial stress you can eliminate from your life with a raise. Think of the time you can save yourself by eliminating a second job. Think of your comfy bed calling you at night!