Do I deserve a raise?
February 19, 2008 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Do I deserve a raise and what should I be asking for? Are there any resources other than salary.com type places that can help me with this decision? I know this is asked all the time but each situation seems different.

Before I say anything else, I LOVE MetaFilter, this community is awesome.

Anyway, pardon the complete lack of knowledge on this topic (and my lack of clarity in asking my question), but I know very little on this subject and I want to learn as much as possible. After all, this is the first time I've been put into this type of position. In general I ask, what should I do about my salary and position given my situation?

Here's what detail I can give: I started my job a couple of years ago out of college and within a year of starting, I went from trainee to trainer due to some shifting of positions at work. I've done an exemplary job by all accounts in my current position, and I've taken on a number of additional responsibilities without additional compensation (besides merit increases). To me, that alone would warrant some kind of increase in pay or a promotion (am I right?). However, neither has happened in the last 2 years even though I've been slaving away nonstop.

To be more specific, I was hired on in California to do software testing and a little bit of development for a company. I now find myself developing and testing 50/50 or perhaps even 60/40, and training new people to assist in my work. Because my job is a mix of different things, it's hard to know whether I should be paid more like a tester or more like a developer. Also, while I don't officially manage anyone, I think I deserve some credit for the work I've done with new hires in guiding them along their way. After all, I'm taking work off of the boss's hands by doing so.

Anyway, it's obvious that I feel like I'm doing more than I'm getting paid for. But, being that I have been on the job for 2 years, would it be considered premature to be asking for a promotion or a raise? If I do ask for something, what should I ask for? Something higher than what I expect to get, or something lower? I don't want to give the wrong impression to my employer because other than the pay, I enjoy my job. Furthermore, I don't want to embarrass myself by going into this knowing nothing of what I can reasonably do about this.

What salary would be expected for a person in my position in California? How little is too little for what I do? Are there any good resources out there for this? I know, too many questions! Thank you for any guidance you can give me.
posted by Anthony84 to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You might very well deserve a raise, but the economy is tanking right now so a lot of companies are tightening their belts. The best way to increase your income is to change jobs. Typically you can go up 10-20% changing jobs, getting a little more responsibility, getting credit for that experience. Sometimes your current company doesn't miss you until you are gone. Don't be afraid to look around at other positions, but don't be surprised if you don't see a lot or what you do see isn't paying a lot more than what you have now. Try again after the election when things settle down a bit. People are waiting to see which way the ball is going to bounce.
posted by 45moore45 at 7:50 PM on February 19, 2008


I don't work in your field so I don't know what your salary range should be. But with regards to asking, I saw it's always better to ask than to wait for it.

What you should do is compile a list of everything you've done in the last two years. Be specific about your role, your work, and how your work contributed to a project/product and the company's success. Go into more detail on roles where you had significantly more responsibilities and company exposure, ie. projects very visible to higher-ups. Since you mention training, you should talk about all the people you've trained and how they've succeeded (in part to your training and mentorship).

Now here's where it gets important. You need to outline what you'd like to do and expect to do in the next 6 months, 12 months, 24 months for the company. You need to describe how what you will be doing will be important to the company's future growth. You need to describe how you're ready to take on more responsibilities. Let your boss soak it all in. Ask him/her what she thinks about everything you've described and if he/she agrees with your assessment. Hopefully they should agree and praise your work. Now you can say that you'd like to an increase in your salary commensurate with achieving certain goals at the 6/12/24 month marks. Give the salary increase as a % increase, not as a $ figure. A "10% salary bump" can look very reasonable while saying $X0,000 can result in sticker shock. At no point do you say this is for work you've done in the last 2 years. Your company paid you an agreed-upon salary + bonus for your past work - that's closed. What you're doing is establishing a history of quality, consistent work and loyalty that supports your future goals and ambitions and the salary bump is for the future.

Any decent manager should agree to all of the above and be ready to offer or negotiate what you've asked if you've handled it properly.
posted by junesix at 8:02 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Those are all things I can do. As for the economy, my company seems to be defying it and has been exceeding expectations. I think they have more than enough cash to throw around. Also, I rather like my job so I am reluctant to quit. I don't think I'm at the point yet of saying I will quit if such and such doesn't happen in my favor.
posted by Anthony84 at 8:10 PM on February 19, 2008


are you not getting yearly, or even six month, performance reviews? if not, you should be asking for them. that is when you go over with your superiors what you are doing to meet or exceed expectations and what is in your job description, what your goals are and how you can achieve them, and where can make your point about what you are doing that leads you to expect more money—among other things. having a meeting that is specifically set to discuss your job performance allows both parties to come into it prepared to talk about it.
posted by violetk at 8:35 PM on February 19, 2008


Ask yourself what the alternatives are and what consequences you are willing to live with if you ask for a raise. If losing your job is not one of them, sit tight.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:41 PM on February 19, 2008


I have thought about this one Johnny, and it's difficult to know for sure what I can live with because I am not sure what my value is elsewhere. Perhaps I need to look into that.
posted by Anthony84 at 8:52 PM on February 19, 2008


Then ask yourself this question. If I was at another company and looking for a job and they offered me my current job with my current pay would I take it?

It is my opinion based on 24 years in the work force as both employee and employer that the right time to ask for a raise will come and it will be apparent to you and your boss. Wait until that time. You will feel it.

Also, assume you ask for the raise and they give it to you. Will that help you in anyway other than the money? Will your boss always look at you differently? Will it be positive for having the guts to ask or will it be as a complainer? I think it is better to ask later than too soon.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:03 PM on February 19, 2008


Most software companies, even the draconian ones, won't fire you for asking for a raise.

There's a position at some companies that's kind of describes what you're doing. It's "software developer in test" or "software test developer." You can look up salaries for it and mention it in your pitch.
posted by ignignokt at 10:43 PM on February 19, 2008


The financial health of the organization will probably be a better determinant of how open the company is to talk of raises. If there are coworkers who have been there longer that you trust, you might ask them if they know what the policy is there regarding raises.

On the other hand, the last thing in the world you want to do is create a rift with your coworkers because suddenly you are making more money. If it sounds like asking for raises is not done, it still might work but definitely don't splash it around and keep it very private.

Your job is to take work off of your boss' hands regardless, so this is not a strong argument for a raise, and do not use it. You need to focus instead on ways that you have saved your company real time and money. If you have not done this, then basically you are asking to be rewarded for loyalty, which is not something you get after 2 years of working someplace.

I am sure you are a hard worker, and it's possible that the pay scales for testers and developers are significant enough that it might be a better tactic to come to your boss and say something like, "It looks like the job I am performing has changed. I wonder if something can be done to reflect that" -- i.e. changing your name from Assistant in Testing to Assistant in Development or something. That may set the stage for a pay raise later on.

But it seriously is easier than you think to find passable programmers. There's still a huge labor market out there and not enough demand. This pushes salaries down.

So you might find yourself facing the boss from the Work Is Hell strips:
A raise? You're lucky we don't fire you
posted by Deathalicious at 11:02 PM on February 19, 2008


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