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I got a raise (! … ?)

March 8, 2011

I got my raise info last week.

I wasn’t really impressed.

My manager was aware of that, even though he tried to paint a bright picture, telling me how dismal everyone else’s raises were.  My raise was actually quite good if you compare it to everyone else in the company.  So what?  I still am underpaid, probably by about 10%.  The demands on me have risen, my contributions are not insignificant, and thus, my salary expectations have also risen.

I really trust and like my manager.  He has done everything he can for me, and he is confident about my promotion this year, confident of my career potential.  I believe him.  They really changed things up last year, and it isn’t his fault.  He speaks highly of me, as do those who work with me.   I blame people so many levels up that I wouldn’t recognize them if I passed them in the hall, save their pictures on our company web site.  They probably think we all should just be happy to have good jobs.  But we are the people who survived 2-3 rounds of layoffs over the years.  It is a bad message to send your employees, the people who are the core of your company.

We chatted about future career opportunities, about what is going on currently with our jobs, strategizing how to make sure my promotion goes through… and this and that.  I am really lucky that he takes his job as a manager seriously and really wants to help his people grow.  I just need to work on figuring out what direction I want to go in next.  Managers also have full-time technical responsibilities, and not all of them really put in the time and effort.  He does, and he has some connections within the company (that I obviously don’t have), and he can help me build a really bright career.  I’m motivated, he’s connected and helpful.  It’s a good combination, despite the salary disappointment.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful.  I am glad that I got a raise.  For the curious (who stuck it out through my whole post), my raise was between 5%-6%.  So on one level, I am VERY MUCH excited and thrilled to work the new money into my budget.  Yay!  More savings! Plus, I can reduce my 401k contributions a notch, making it even MORE awesome.  The raise is a very good thing, and frankly, it was almost exactly what I thought it would be when I heard what the overall company “raise bucket” was.

But I am still not happy with my overall compensation, and I’m not afraid to talk about it.  I just am not sure what to DO about it.  Can I go back in time and renegotiate my entire salary?

20 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2011 5:48 am

    Well, at least congrats on the raise! (looking on the bright side)

    I agree with your last question. I wish I could go back and renegotiate my salary. When I got my job, I casually and shyly mentioned I’d maybe like more (very non-assertively). I mentioned I didn’t have a car and would have to buy one for the job. But it was just some HR dude, not my actual manager. Of course, now you read every book that says your most important step in making more money is to start a job with more money. The higher your initial salary, the more your salary can grow. So I’m definitely kicking myself on that one.

    So, it sounds like your manager knows that you’re disappointed with your current compensation. Is there any other benefit he can give you in the meantime? Does he think there will be more room for raises when the economy gets into high gear?

    It sounds like he’s trying to point out that things will get better down the road (looking at your career path and everything). So maybe he’s hoping you’ll get picked up by those higher-ups in the company or something.

    I don’t know. This just turned into the world’s longest comment. I don’t know if you can negotiate any more of a raise. But just keep the dialogue open with your manager.

  2. March 8, 2011 6:02 am

    I haven’t gotten a raise since 2008 so I can’t really sympathize just yet! But, I do know the frustration that comes with no raise or a too-small raise. I think you’re on the right path as far as thinking bigger whether it be within that company or with another company.

    Are there any other opportunities out there where you might be able to leverage another offer to get a better salary where you’re at now? It seems like you’re happy there other than the pay.

  3. Bonnie permalink
    March 8, 2011 6:46 am

    I hear you with the initial salary problem. Sometimes, try as you might, you just can’t get the employer to go any higher. And sometimes you either just need a job or you think that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make it up–and then the economy tanks! Right? I got my raise yesterday too, though, and I have to admit I’m jealous of your percentage…mine was more in the 2 percent range (this is across the board, at least, and not specific to me).

    • March 8, 2011 8:29 am

      I am actually happy with the percentage – the percentage I’d “need” to be paid what I think I should be paid was wildly unrealistic. So none of this was a surprise.

      I didn’t negotiate well, and that is my fault… but also, I earned a MS degree along the way and feel like it hasn’t had the impact it should have, even though it HAS improved my knowledge/skills.

      I’m trying not to dwell on it, because I am very very lucky. But I’m still thinking about what I can do to make it better.

  4. March 8, 2011 8:26 am

    Congrats on the 5-6%, even if it’s not what you really wanted.
    You could always try to renegotiate in another couple months for that other couple per cent.
    Is it possible to sit down with people higher up than your manager and talk to them? Even if it doesn’t do anything right away, it shows them that you are serious about wanting more money, and your willing to do your due diligence to get it.

  5. timetogetoutofdebt permalink
    March 8, 2011 8:45 am

    Hi. I have been reading for awhile but this post hit home. I have not had a raise in 2 years. There has been a lot of changes in my company the past 18 months including elimination of many positions. I keep being told they will be reviewing my compensation and getting me to “market value”. I grossly underpaid. Alas, here I sit still no raise and my expectations for a raise only growing. I have a feeling I will be in your exact shoes the day the raise does actually happen. Disappointed.

    Sorry to hear about it but hopefully this is a step in the right direction!

  6. March 8, 2011 9:44 am

    First, CONGRATS on the raise! That is great news, even if it wasn’t what you expected.

    A lot of the points you made are exactly why I decided to move on from my company. I haven’t had a raise in over 2 years, had taken on half the responsibilities of someone who was one position higher than me when they left and was still at the BOTTOM of my salary range…of which there was a $18K difference!

    My new salary puts me almost at the top of the previous range. Thank goodness for market rate! Clearly I was not getting that in San Diego. Unfortunately, my boss kept saying “maybe” when I asked twice about an increase. Unacceptable, I was feeling very used. It doesnt quite sound like you are in the exact position and your manager sounds like they really are trying to help and being very open!

    I also tried to negotiate my very first salary, however in the end I just learned to live on a low amount, which I believe is actually a GOOD thing…though not sustainable for the long-term, obviously. 🙂

  7. March 8, 2011 10:10 am

    Congrats on the raise!

  8. March 8, 2011 11:11 am

    Congratulations on the raise! This is the first time I am commenting on your blog, but I’ve been reading (and enjoying) it for a while.

    The attitude of the “higher ups” at your company sound like the ones at mine… at a meeting the president of where I work actually said, “You should all be grateful that you have a job today, because nothing is guaranteed.” Haha, jerk. But atleast you have a good manager who will probably end up as a reference/recommendation for your next career move!

    Anyways, congrats on the raise 🙂 – KS

  9. oilandgarlic permalink
    March 8, 2011 12:10 pm

    Congrats on the raise! I’ve been meaning to write a post about raises since I just negotiated mine, but the outcome wasn’t what I hoped for or expected. It’s always worth trying to get a better raise and it sounds like you’re justified in expecting more. It’s also great that your manager is working with you on career development.

  10. March 8, 2011 1:05 pm

    That’s a double-edged sword, indeed. On one hand, it’s excellent news that you got a raise at all, but on the other hand, it also serves as a reminder of the fact that you’re underpaid to begin with. Ugh, I can so relate.

    My annual review is at the beginning of May and I’m already looking forward to / dreading the conversation about compensation. My company is going gangbusters and my responsibilities have expanded tremendously over the past year, so I’m hoping for a good result!

  11. March 8, 2011 5:06 pm

    I 100% empathize. (I’d say 150% empathize but I keep hearing Bones in my head saying: You can’t mathematically go higher than 100%.)

    I actually did negotiate for the higher salary but didn’t get it so when raise time comes around, I’ll be in the exact same boat: knowing that everyone thinks highly of me, getting the highest possible percentage in comparison, probably, BUT – it’s still nowhere near what I should be making.

    Yes, it’s a stable job in a tough economy and I haven’t complained (other than about being so overworked cause it IS out of hand) since I obviously know what it’s like to be unemployed but it still doesn’t take the sting out of knowing I’m/we’re underemployed for the amount of work we put in. It keeps me thinking of alternatives more often than I’d like, this early on.

    • March 13, 2011 10:27 am

      It is funny how companies don’t put in more effort to really retain their best employees. I mean, they probably will if I walked in with another job offer for them to match, but do we really have to play that game? (The answer probably is YES, but how annoying!)

  12. March 8, 2011 7:16 pm

    Congratulations on the raise! It’s too bad you’re not getting properly paid for all your work. My advice is to use the next couple months building your case, with the help of your manager (who sounds awesome) for why you deserve a raise and then go for it.

    • March 13, 2011 10:27 am

      My manager really is great – I’m so thankful, because that can make all the difference.

  13. March 9, 2011 8:39 pm

    It really still is a tough financial time. I know you’re not getting paid as much as you should, but as the others have said: Congrats.

  14. March 10, 2011 7:21 pm

    I’m crossing my fingers that you get the promotion this year – it’s long overdue! It’s definitely good that you have a manager who’s willing to fight for you, I think that’s pretty rare.

    My raise wasn’t nearly as good as yours, but still better than average. I makes my goal of earning 6 figure base salary by the time I’m 30 a little harder, though!

    • March 13, 2011 10:29 am

      I think it is rare too, which is one thing that gives me pause when I think of other career options.

      What makes me mad is that I know people (well, at least one person) with roughly equivalent education/experience who are making about 6 figures at my age. He’s just been more willing to negotiate hard, sell himself hard, and willing switch jobs to find the best opportunities.

  15. March 15, 2011 9:55 pm

    i think it’s great that you are not happy with your raise. That means you have the fight in you to get what you want.
    I would test the waters and discreetly go to a few job interviews and test the waters. See if the salary range you think you should be at is market competitive. If it’s totally dead, you might want to keep quiet. If it seems like there are some interesting opportunities out there, speak to your manager and tell him you are disappointed in your raise. Tell him the range you think you should be at and gauge his reaction. At this point, you have a few choices. If he tells you wont be getting that amount anytime soon, you can get an offer at another place you could be happy at and see if your current company will match it. If he tells you its based on the company’s performance ask him if you should be concerned that your company is no longer an industry leader. If he says your expectations are reasonable, and you trust him, you might want to stick around. A good manager can make your career. You might want to confirm a time frame for this next raise though. It’s important to get raises and promotions when you are in the early-ish years of your career IMO.


    • Kris permalink
      March 14, 2012 9:31 pm

      I really appreciated your feedback.

      I just received a whopping 17% raise this month, but I am still not where I believe I should be (that should give you an idea of how underpaid I was). The only way I was able to get that raise was to sit down with my manager on a couple of occasions and show/prove to him my worth to the company. To answer your question, yes, you can go back and renegotiate your salary. I have a great relationship with my manager as well, but in the end, the only person responsible for your career/pay is you. Do it in a professional manner and have a case that you can clearly state to your manager.

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