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How do I get my boss to take my raise request seriously?
July 24, 2014 7:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm underpaid after a year in my first job after Grad school. I've done great work and my boss is happy, but she won't put me up for a raise. I am in the process of looking for a new job and have an interview, but I'd prefer to stay at this one if she would take my request seriously. What's the best course of action? Snowflakes inside.

I started at my company 1 year ago fresh out of an engineering masters degree program that directly relates to my job. I was offered a salary of X and negotiated up to X + 2,000, although they told me at the time that they "generally don't negotiate." In the year I have been working I have made substantial contributions to multiple projects and taken on a lot of independent responsibilities that were not necessarily in the scope of my position, but more suited to the next level up. At the end of last year I received a 1.5% raise, along with everyone else.

In the past few months I found out that my colleagues at exactly the same level, most of whom were hired with 1-2 years of industry experience and without advanced degrees, are paid 7-10 thousand dollars more than me, one of whom told me he didn't even negotiate! HR told me also that  they are in the process of doing a recalibration of some people's salaries to better reflect market rates, but they wouldn't tell me if my salary was being recalibrated or when any raises would be given. For the first year I could understand my being paid a little less as somewhat of a trial period, but after I've proven myself I would expect to be brought up to market standards.

At my mid-year review (also close to my 1 year anniversary with the company) my boss talked to me about how happy she is with my work and how she'd like to put me up for a promotion at the end of the year. I thought it would be a good time to talk about salary and asked if it would be possible to talk about a raise, considering what I had accomplished in the year. She told me that she didn't think anyone would go for it as raises are mostly given at the end of the year in line with more formal review processes. I got the sense she didn't want to rock the boat with her superiors. I dropped the subject. I'm not too excited about being put up for a promotion, as the promotion process is very bureaucratic and requires a lot of higher up people to agree and approve it. I'd like just a raise because it seems simpler and would mostly just bring my low salary in line with the industry as a whole. 

I'm still very upset by it and submitted my resume to some other jobs and am getting a positive response. The skill set I've developed at my current job is very desirable in my geographic area and is hard to train for. I'm interviewing for another position in a week, and I would be willing to work for this other company. However, I really like my job, my projects and my co-workers. I don't want to leave, and I'm pretty sure my boss doesn't want me to leave either, as having to hire and train a new person would set the project timelines back considerably, and I don't think it's even on her radar that I would think of leaving, as we have a very positive and friendly relationship. 

 How do I communicate to my boss that I find my salary unacceptable, that I have other options than the  status quo, and that she needs to figure out how to make this work if she wants to retain me? Hopefully without coming off as very disloyal or bitchy. Alternately, should I just talk to HR since they have already admitted that they are looking into how some people at my site are significantly underpaid?
posted by permiechickie to Work & Money (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
She told me that she didn't think anyone would go for it as raises are mostly given at the end of the year in line with more formal review processes.

Do you have any reason to doubt this statement reflects your company's actual policy? If they generally only give raises at the end of the year, and you were only employed for a few months at the time, it would make sense that you'd have to wait until the end of this year to get a raise if that's how raises work there. Do you know if anyone else has gotten a raise outside of that end-of-year period and what the circumstances were?

Also, is the promotion you're up for going to come with a raise? Most places I've worked that had a bureaucracy in place, it was a lot easier to give someone a promotion and a raise than just a raise on its own.
posted by griphus at 7:21 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


In my experience, the only sure-fire way to get a raise is to find another job where they'll pay you more. Employers are stingy as hell these days. I think a lot of advice about negotiating raises is pretty outdated. Employers got very entitled during the recession years and don't think they need to raise compensation to keep employees around.
posted by deathpanels at 7:21 AM on July 24 [23 favorites]



How do I communicate to my boss that I find my salary unacceptable, that I have other options than the status quo, and that she needs to figure out how to make this work if she wants to retain me?


By getting another job that pays more.

There is no way to convince them to pay you more if they are not inclined to. Don't worry about "loyalty" or whatever - they have none to you. The minute it suits their needs, you'll be out on your ass with maybe severance check and generally no warning at all.

If you take the new position and your old gig wants you back badly enough, they will find the money. I've seen it happen a few times. Most often what happens, though, is you find a better paying gig, and they find another sucker to exploit.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:22 AM on July 24 [16 favorites]


I had my Master's degree paid for by my then-employer. I was told I would get a raise when I had my degree in hand. I got my degree in August, and it took them until Christmas to put in my raise, with me whining about it every time I got a paycheck. There was a nice holiday surprise as they had made my raise retroactive to the day I got my degree, so I got almost four full months of back pay at once. I got paid biweekly, so two or three times per month I was in my supervisor's office AND calling HR to ask where my raise was.

The squeaky wheel gets greased. I think you're going to have to keep on this with your supervisor. In the meantime, start looking for other jobs, and be prepared to leave for another employer if your pay is not adjusted. You can honestly say in your exit interview that you are leaving because you were promised a higher salary due to your Master's degree, and negotiations when you were hired, but that higher salary never materialized, so you're leaving for an employer who is willing to pay you what you are worth.
posted by tckma at 7:22 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


Honestly, I think it's not that she doesn't want to "rock the boat" -- I think it's much more likely that raises are given by the company at certain times, when they've been built into the budget, and to request a raise outside that timeframe isn't going to get you much.

Blackmailing your employer ("give me a raise or I'm leaving") never works. You might get the money in the short term, but more often than not they'll be looking for a reason to replace you from that point on.

You've been there less than a year. You're doing good work, and they want to promote you. This is all good. But were you my report and came in asking for a $7000 a year raise (particularly after only being there less than a year!) honestly, I'd laugh. Because that money just doesn't exist in my budget.
posted by anastasiav at 7:22 AM on July 24 [13 favorites]


How do I communicate to my boss that I find my salary unacceptable, that I have other options than the status quo, and that she needs to figure out how to make this work if she wants to retain me?

You get get a job offer from another employer, then hand in your notice and see if your boss offers you a better deal to keep you. If not, you go to the new job. The only way the underpayment in the company will improve is if people are consistently leaving for better-paid jobs. Anything other than that, and they don't have to increase your salary because you're still there.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:23 AM on July 24 [5 favorites]


How do I communicate to my boss that I find my salary unacceptable, that I have other options than the status quo, and that she needs to figure out how to make this work if she wants to retain me?

I recently went through this same conversation with my boss as I have been extremely underpaid for more than a year. I would be very careful not to frame it in terms of a threat (ie "If you don't give me a raise I will look for another job"). However at the same time you want to make it clear that this is a serious problem for you. When I was talking to my boss, I let him know how frustrated and demotivated I am every day because of this situation, which I felt comfortable saying because my boss is a very open and understanding person -- obviously you will have a better idea of what level of candidness you can use with your boss. I emphasized that I did not feel the company values my hard work and this is affecting my daily work.

I did NOT mention that I know that my coworkers who are doing equivalent work make substantially more than me, nor did I mention that I am actively seeking other jobs.
posted by Librarypt at 7:23 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


Liking your job, projects, and co-workers is a form of compensation. It's security, and it's a perk, and it's something that your company uses in those ways (intentionally or not) to keep salaries low, because if people weren't happy with their job, projects, and co-workers, they would demand more money.

Make it a new project. The "Get Permiechickie A Raise" project. Approach it like you would any other work-related thing -- assemble your data ("people in equivalent positions in similar areas make $X per year"; "finding, hiring, and training my replacement would cost the company $Y"), make your argument ("therefore, the company would save $Z by giving me a raise"), package it up in a PowerPoint presentation or whatever, practice your presentation, and give it to your boss.

And keep looking for something else, because "And Company Q has offered me $X plus $5K" is a pretty compelling closing point. But be certain that you're willing to jump before you tell your boss that you're so much as looking.
posted by Etrigan at 7:24 AM on July 24


In the past few months I found out that my colleagues at exactly the same level, most of whom were hired with 1-2 years of industry experience and without advanced degrees, are paid 7-10 thousand dollars more than me, one of whom told me he didn't even negotiate!

Aside from the other issues, this is a very serious one, and one that your employer (boss and HR) should be very, very concerned about. Have they heard of the Ledbetter Act?

It's 'uncouth' to bring it up, but it's also uncouth to pay (better-qualified) women less for the same work. Raise this point. It's actionable and they know it.
posted by Dashy at 7:33 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Most companies have scheduled times when managers are allowed to give out raises. It's part of the budgeting process, and since you've been there less than a year, I think you may have to wait this one out. Considering you've already gotten your mid-year review, I might just hold tight to see what happens when your performance review/salary review happens.

If you absolutely can't wait, then get a job offer from another employer and see if your current employer is willing to counteroffer in order to keep you. Keep in mind, though, that this is a tactic that generally only works once, if at all, and you have to be willing to leave if the counteroffer isn't made.
posted by xingcat at 7:33 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


At my mid-year review (also close to my 1 year anniversary with the company) my boss talked to me about how happy she is with my work and how she'd like to put me up for a promotion at the end of the year. I thought it would be a good time to talk about salary and asked if it would be possible to talk about a raise, considering what I had accomplished in the year. She told me that she didn't think anyone would go for it as raises are mostly given at the end of the year in line with more formal review processes.

This is really a typical way to do things. However, if you want a more frank and transparent discussion before this point, securing another job that pays more will probably be the most direct way to get there. Also, the way that you frame the discussion at that point could be helpful. It will probably be received well to present it in a gracious way while also expressing (genuine) conflict; namely, that you enjoy your work, but you received an offer for more pay, which you think is more in line with industry standards. You are trying to figure out what is then the best move, while talking it through with your current supervisor. If this doesn't get the discussion moving in a positive direction, very little will.

That being said, a little more time invested to see if things resolve themselves might be worth it, especially if you enjoy your work (as this is pretty rare, even in a good economy). While working is an exchange of goods and services between equals more than a situation of indentured servitude where the employer should have an advantage, being too quick to always jump ship on a current position to find the ideal life situation is not always seen as a virtue in employment, while faithful commitment and patience sometimes is, and is sometimes rewarded with money.

I'm not saying you shouldn't be working to improve your situation, but if this is your first job out of grad-school, there is a sense in which you pay your dues a bit and earn a place of favor with a company (and one year just starts to scratch the surface). With some of your other colleagues, you don't know whether there are things that have been earned or recognized that have warranted a higher payment. It's not always simply education + experience, but having proven oneself in ways that may reflect long-term commitment to a company, innovative thinking, or a number of other things that warrant pay increases. You are in the best position to know for yourself, but sometimes it's worth having some patience before jumping ship, and showing that you trust the people you work with to make fair decisions, which sometimes takes some time. (I might suggest differently, though, if you had been with the company say for 10 years and there is still payment inequity.) It sounds at least on the face of it that you are being communicated with honestly in most steps of the process. (Even getting a thorough and encouraging performance evaluation can be rare in some places.) That HR would say that they are looking to come in line with industry standards is also a very good and often rare conversation to be having with employees, and I might wonder if this is a sign of better things to come.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:42 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


In the past few months I found out that my colleagues at exactly the same level, most of whom were hired with 1-2 years of industry experience and without advanced degrees, are paid 7-10 thousand dollars more than me, one of whom told me he didn't even negotiate!

I wouldn't read a whole bunch into this. We would offer more to someone with direct experience vs. a masters every time. If you don't catch up and pass them, that would be more worrying.
posted by ftm at 7:44 AM on July 24 [7 favorites]


Every time I've decided I needed a bigger raise, I've needed to get a new job (per deathpanels' recommendation above). 1.5% a year is just standard across my industry (IT), across many of the different places I've worked (small private company, universities, medium size public companies, medium size private companies, large global public companies). The only time this didn't hold true was the year I actually got a raise of -3% (yes, NEGATIVE 3%) so that the bossman could give someone else in my department who was threatening to leave a big fat raise. Needless to say, I and the 5 other members of that team who took pay cuts left shortly thereafter. That never made any sense to me. I mean, he kept the squeaky wheel and lost the other 5 people on that team in less than a month, going from a 6 person to 1 person team. It was so weird.

This time around, I'm in a slightly similar position to yours - I know I'm near the low end of my pay grade, I know I like the team, my boss, and my projects, and I feel in the 3 years I've been here that I've shown myself to be a valuable member of the team. In my year end review last year, I said to my boss, "I feel as though I have done a great job here at MegaCorp, particularly when you look at my track record on projects A, B, and C. I feel as though I have grown and become an important member of the team, and would like my salary to reflect my increased value to MegaCorp. What do I need to do to help you prove to BigBoss (his superior) that a salary raise is justified for me?" We then talked about a strategy and plan (which included me taking on an extra assignment, and him working toward getting me a new title - because as griphus pointed out, it's a lot easier to get a raise with a title change than without).

However, I've seen it happen pretty often that someone will not get the raise they wanted, take a new position at another company to get the pay bump, then come back to OriginalCompany in a year at a new pay grade, salary, and title. For some reason, it's easier to do that than to just get promoted from within a company in a lot of cases.

Good luck. It's not a great feeling to know that you're underpaid compared to your coworkers.
posted by RogueTech at 7:47 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


If you are by chance a woman (your comment about being perceived as "bitchy" implies this might be the case), I recommend reading Women Don't Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, especially the latter chapters that contain some advice along these lines. In short, be confident and don't worry about ruffling feathers - knowing your worth is actually highly respected by reasonable employers.

That said, you've already directly raised the issue, so right now just keep doing what you are doing and keep the applications going. You can use another job offer as leverage for a raise if you really do want to stay where you are; if they want to keep you they'll find a way to do so.

It's definitely reasonable that the process for either a raise or a promotion can take 6 months. Ask for another meeting in 3 months to check in on how either is progressing, and be prepared with data on your track record. If it doesn't happen in 6 months to your satisfaction, you'll want to move on.

On preview: the equal pay for equal work issue is delicate, and you likely don't want to frame it as a legal issue unless there's clear cause, especially as a new employee without much of a track record.
posted by susanvance at 7:49 AM on July 24 [4 favorites]


Seconding ftm. In engineering circles, (MS + 0-1 year exp) == (BS + 2-3 years exp).
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:56 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


If you'd rather stay, I'd wait till the end of the year and seek a major raise alongside the promotion.

In my experience raises of more than about 5-10% don't won't without a promotion (title and responsibilities bump).

Then you can look for new jobs in January after that time is over.
posted by amaire at 8:19 AM on July 24


Aside from the other issues, this is a very serious one, and one that your employer (boss and HR) should be very, very concerned about. Have they heard of the Ledbetter Act?

There's nothing to indicate that there's a gender issue at play here, which is what the Ledbetter Act focuses on. It's much more likely a result of the other employees having industry experience. As a number of folks have responded, and I'll echo, industry experience trumps academic experience almost every time.

I also want to highlight what a number of folks have said, that companies often don't do raises outside of the annual review cycle. It's true where I work, and when I was a consultant and frequently doing HR planning, it was true for most of the organizations I consulted to.

A couple years back, I did manage an off-cycle raise for one of my employees. It was a nightmare. Most people seem to think their manager is sitting on a pile of cash that they can just hand out, but that's not the case. I work for a small organization (400ish employees). Here's what the process entailed:

1 - I had to write a justification for the employee's raise.

2 - The Group Manager (my boss) had to agree with the raise, and look at it compared to compensation across the group.

3 - The Business Unit Head (the Group Manager's boss) had to be convinced of the merits of the raise, had to agree with the raise amount, had to identify where the money was going to come from, and explain to someone else why that money wasn't going to them, as originally allocated.

4 - Our Business Unit Financial Director (reports to Business Unit Head, peer of Group Manager) had to review the finances to make sure it would work, and to understand what the long-term implications of the raise were, as that amount snowballs over the years.

5 - The Head of Compensation in our HR group then had to buy into the raise. This involved doing a compensation study to take into consideration education level, experience, performance levels, industry, and geography.

6 - Once the Head of Compensation agreed to the raise and the amount, they had to take it to the head of HR for their approval.

7 - The Head of HR circled back to the Business Unit Head to discuss, look at alternatives, understand the impact, etc.

8 - Quick consultation between the Head of HR and the CEO to make sure this didn't cause any problems.

9 - Once the Head of HR approved, it went back to the Business Unit Head to approve the amount, the Business Unit Financial Director to approve the amount, my Group Head to approve the amount, and then to me to approve the amount.

10 - Only then did it get presented to the employee.

Ultimately, we gave the employee a small amount then, and an estimate of a potential raise at the end of the year, contingent on continued performance. And all of this was for a great employee that everyone agreed we wanted to keep. If there had been any disagreement or open discussion on the merits of the employee, this would have taken longer, or wouldn't have gotten past the first or second step.

I know you're considering getting another offer and using it to get a raise. You can do this. People do it all the time. But you better understand that you get to pull something like this - at most - once in an organization.

Are you sure you want to do it over a couple thousand bucks?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:54 AM on July 24 [6 favorites]


Business moves at a glacial pace at times. Reviews, promotions and raises are done at a proscribed time, usually at the end of the year. It can take an act of congress to get promotions or raises outside of that timetable. It's only 4 months at this point, you can afford to wait and see what happens.

Absolutely keep looking, you never know. I always keep irons in the fire. In the mean time, keep doing an excellent job and keep an outrageously good attitude.

It sucks that there's a pay disparity, if your boss is a female, you can bring that up in a general conversation about how as women you're routinely over looked and discounted in the workplace. Don't name names, don't whinge and whine, if it comes up in conversation, you can simply say, "It's frustrating as a woman knowing that men with less education than I have are paid more to do the same job. It's the scourge of the profession and it's a scandal." You're not grinding her for money, you're subtly hipping her to the fact that you KNOW, and while it may be a general feeling, or specific facts that you have in hand, that it needs to be addressed and pronto.

Don't let comfort and complaisance keep you in a situation where you're working for less for no good reason. Don't jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, but don't turn down opportunities just because you like where you are.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:27 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


When you're fairly recently out of school I would say it's absolutely worth it to go through all of this for a few thousand bucks.

In my experience, the lower your salary history, the lower your salary future. Let's say you stay with this current job for 5 years, with a consistently low salary as relates to your co-workers (factoring in for experience). When you go to leave, you will be looking for an improvement on that low salary. Let's say you get $10K more. But a co-worker applying for that same new job, who is making that $10K more now, would command an even higher salary. So you will be still be behind the curve, salary-wise. No one is going to give you $20K more, because they will not believe that they can justify that kind of increase, but they will absolutely believe they can get you for less. And you will likely feel desperate enough to take it. Thus perpetuating the cycle of the low salary future.

Companies have a salary budget, and it's a bonus to them (and sometimes directly to the hiring manager) when they can hire you at the low end of the budget. I don't believe that they are literally sitting on a pile of cash, but they know the market just as well as if not better than you do, and I believe they can free up a couple of grand within a short time frame, and then go to bigger increases at their regular interval.

To put it another way, if you leave in a months' time, they will have that salary range to work with, and may end up having to pony up more than you're currently making in order to get the next person that they want.

Now, how do you put your manager on notice? You already did when you asked her for a raise. If she's not doing anything with your request, she's not paying attention.

Your only option now is to keep looking, go into her office offer in hand and tell her about it, and see if she counters. It's yes or no at that point. And if she does, and you stay, I would still have it in the back of my mind that this company only gets another 2 years of my time, max, because you still need to keep your eye on your salary future.

If she can't match it (or better it to show they really value your work), I would give a good exit interview and say you really liked working there and it only came down to salary. Because you never know - they may come to you in a few years time with a better offer.
posted by vignettist at 9:49 AM on July 24 [3 favorites]


I really appreciate the responses so far, especially the ones about people's experiences getting or not getting raises.. From what I had read on getting raises, I thought the process of getting a raise was much simpler, and would be easier than waiting for a promotion that may or may not materialize at the end of the year. It was frustrating because I had done the things that are suggested for getting a raise (outline accomplishments etc) and it went nowhere. I would like to wait until the end of the year just to see what happens, but one of the resumes I submitted somewhat on a lark has generated interest at a company and they are moving pretty fast in interviewing me, which kind of freaked me out.

And to clarify, yes I am a woman, and I'm aware of the literature on being negotiation averse, which is part of why I didn't want to drop this without giving it a fair shot.
posted by permiechickie at 10:12 AM on July 24 [1 favorite]


It really is worth bringing up with your boss that a) you want more money, and b) you're aware that your (presumably male) peers are paid more money and that this is upsetting to you. If your boss doesn't want to rock the boat, How acceptable is it for you to talk to their boss and get more / better info from them? Good managers want to keep good employees, so let them know more transparency about when and how much is what you need.

I graduated with an engineering degree, and went to work for a giant corporation at a slightly below market rate. When they realized 6 months in that the reason they couldn't hire anyone was they were offering too little money, I got an off cycle raise (of ~ 10%). This is the sort of thing that corporations can totally do, even if the bureaucracy is a pain in the ass.

Also, it doesn't hurt you to complete interviews with other places. You're actually in a great position of power when interviewing with other places -- they have to court you since you're safe and secure in your current job, but would like some small differences. That will tend to make you much more confident in interviews because you don't need the job, they need you. And I don't know about you, but I certainly felt like seeing that other jobs out there were interested in me made me less stressed about issues in my current job -- even if I don't leave now, I can always in the future.
posted by garlic at 10:58 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


At my current employer, everyone on my team was at the same pay grade and title, except for one person who was hired at a lower pay grade and title for doing the same work. My boss wanted to promote him as of the next raise/review cycle and everyone agreed.

My boss ran into a bureaucratic requirement that promotions are not allowed until someone has worked for the company for at least three years. There was much lamentation about this, because this guy was good and did the same work as the rest of us who were at the higher pay grade/job title. He later got the promotion, but it took another year before he had met the 3 year requirement.

So yes, there can be bureaucratic issues with out-of-cycle raises and promotions, particularly at large companies.
posted by tckma at 11:54 AM on July 24


I understand we are talking about pay and not position, I.e. responsibilities, but on talking about promotions, I've seen a lot of young employees with an unrealistic expectation about how fast you can move up. It varies company to company and industry to industry, of course. A year is not a long time, and doing your current job well doesn't mean you should be hustled along to the next one.

In the end, if your boss knows you think you're being underpaid and that you might leave to get more money, you've done about all you can.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:13 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


and b) you're aware that your (presumably male) peers are paid more money and that this is upsetting to you.

I'd be really hesitant to do that. In most organizations, salary information is confidential, and the organizational culture is that you don't talk about or share that information. Saying that you definitively know how much someone else in your organization makes potentially raises problems for both you and them.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 12:43 PM on July 24


In most organizations, salary information is confidential, and the organizational culture is that you don't talk about or share that information.

They want you to think that to prevent exactly the sort of realization that OP has had but in a lot of cases its actually illegal for a company to have a policy against discussion salary with co-workers.
posted by Justinian at 12:49 PM on July 24 [5 favorites]


They want you to think that to prevent exactly the sort of realization that OP has had but in a lot of cases its actually illegal for a company to have a policy against discussion salary with co-workers.

Yes, I'm aware of the NLRA requirements. My point wasn't that they would be punished for sharing compensation data in and of itself (and even if this was in violation, the other employees were the ones sharing the data, not the OP), but that the discussion likely runs against the organizational culture. The last thing you want to do, when arguing for new title, more compensation, etc., is to be seen as someone who goes against the norm - it doesn't help you get what you want.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 1:28 PM on July 24


Just Nthing that on my work experience the only out of cycle raises I've seen have been as retention bonuses when there is a job offer on the table.

Also, and again no visibility of your organisation, but if this is your first job and you are comparing yourself to people with a work history, don't. Frankly, degree or not, you're in a different league. The working world respects work more than learning, for better and worse. You are a grad and were probably hired on that basis. It's a stereotype, but most people have experience with grads who come in think they know everything, overvalue their work and think they are paid poorly, when actually they are paid pretty well . It doesn't sound like anyone is applying that to you, yet. But waiting a year for a raise is nothing, nothing at all. And if you want more money damn skippy you will take that promotion as that is how most people get raises and you will never see another substantial one if you knock it back. Sometimes, you even have to take a promotion with a tiny raise, with more promised to come. The corporate world sucks sometimes.
posted by smoke at 2:57 PM on July 24 [2 favorites]


From what I had read on getting raises, I thought the process of getting a raise was much simpler, and would be easier than waiting for a promotion that may or may not materialize at the end of the year.

Oh, gods no. I didn't make that clear in my last response. Articles you read online (especially the ones I've seen geared toward women) make it seem like the process is:

1. Talk to male coworkers. Realize you're being paid 73 cents to their dollar. Get mad!
2. Be brave! Guys make more than you because you're afraid as a woman to negotiate!
3. Outline accomplishments and take to boss. Impress boss.
4. Ask for more money
5. Boss thinks about it, says ok
6. WIN!

When, in reality, here's how things are going to go for me (I had my midyear review today, so I do know this is the plan):

1. In last year's review (this March), indicate to boss that I would like a promotion and raise, to show I am more valuable to the team. I have to get a promotion - or at least a job title change - to make it "relatively easy" (for various degrees of relatively) for me to get a significant raise. It's almost impossible in corporate bureaucracy to do a raise without a promotion, because you need to answer the "why" question, and gatekeepers want a simple reason. Promotion = raise is an easy, simple reason. "Permie found out she's underpaid and will leave if we don't figure this out" is a not-simple reason, because it leads to questions like "do we need to get HR involved" and "do we have money for a retention bonus" and "who can I blame for this info getting out."
2. Anyways. So I basically tell my boss, I want a raise and promotion. We develop a plan to show why promoting me is a good idea.
3. We work the plan. Yay. So far so good.
4. In the meantime, he tells his boss that he's pleased with my performance and is considering promoting me and why.
5. His boss makes a note of it and brings it up the next time he meets with the finance team that does his department finances.
6. At midyear review time, my boss and I make sure that everything is going According to Plan, and adjust if needed. He then mentions again to his boss that I am on track and still a good promotion candidate.
7. I keep doing what I am supposed to do, which basically involves doing the job that I'm being set up to be promoted into, to prove I can do it.
8. End of the year review time (November), I write up my self-review and send it to my boss, talking about how awesome I am and how I did all these great things and show how I can be good at NewRole.
9. Boss does his review of me and sends it to his boss (January). His boss then reviews it (late January). And then HIS boss reviews it (February).
10. Boss and Boss' boss get together and write promotion and compensation (raise) requests.
11. All of the reviews and promotion recommendations are piled together and the person 3 levels above me gets together with her head of HR and they spend a week figuring out who will actually get a promotion and a raise. Then all of this goes to Finance.
12. It goes through 3 levels of Finance approval.
13. If there are a lot of raises/promotions in one group, extra budget has to be requested, which takes about 4 weeks and ALSO requires at least 3 levels of finance approval and 3 levels of approvals in the chain above my boss.
13. Once approved, my boss is notified and can tell me (March).
14. All promotions and raises take effect April 1.

So, in thinking about it, the reason it seems easier to leave and come back a year later (my statement from earlier in the day) - the reason it's easier is because all of the budget approvals and so forth have already been done.

Anyways. So yes, it takes a long time, longer than the articles on the Internet would lead you to believe.


In the longer run, I do want to offer one other thing, which I'm not saying to placate you. There have been times when I've suspected I was underpaid, times when I KNEW I was underpaid, and here's some advice for how I evaluate those situations. (I'm a woman in IT, so I know there's often a discrepancy. Let's be honest - it does happen, and it does happen frequently enough that we can talk about it).

When I start to suspect I'm underpaid, I think about:

1. Do I feel I am being paid a fair wage for my work, regardless of what my coworkers make?
2. What is the environment here like? Is it toxic? I've found that places where I strongly suspect or know I'm underpaid, tend to be very toxic (like the -3% raise department).
3. What is a fair wage for this job? Glassdoor.com can be helpful here.

If I know I'm being paid much less than someone else for the same type of work, I also ask:
1. What is their degree compared to mine? (I have a non-IT degree, so that can hinder me).
2. Do they have more industry experience than me?
3. Do they have more experience in $key_area compared to me? (Such as a better grasp of a programming language).
4. How am I doing on punctuality, attitude, etc? (Whatever your issues tend to be. I tend to be late to work a lot, so now I work someplace with flex hours so it's not as important. But - know what's important to your boss, and make sure you consistently hit those checkboxes, whatever they are. For my boss, it's: getting my work done so no one complains to him about me, being on specific conference calls, and not interrupting him when he's talking. Whatever it is, make sure you're clicking those checkboxes!)
5. Do I want to stay here, or is it time to move on?

Most of the time, by that point I can tell what the right solution is for me. Maybe this will help you as well. Good luck - you've gotten very good answers here, and I hope they help you figure out what you want to do next.
posted by RogueTech at 5:59 PM on July 24 [6 favorites]


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