So let me explain my story a little bit.

I have been working with a company since May 2011. I love it here, everything is going great. However, when I took the job I took a slight salary cut (compared to the last time I had a salary). I am very young only about 2 years of experience so I knew I didn't have much room to negotiatie. Also, I had been underempoyed for 6 months with no benefits so even with a lower salary it was good enough. I have estimated from research and salary history that I am being paid 4k less than I should (yes 4k is not much but it matters when you make 32k, I am in my mid 20's in age). I also saw the potential to grow with the company and it also provides benefits.

Overall, the job is going excellent. The CEO and Vice-President have been praising me for all the work, telling me they they are really surprised at how good I am doing which has lead me to other duties described that are not part of my job duties or job description. They even pull me away for special projects (much to my supervisor's dismay) in business development. A department that my department never dabbles in, but they use me for it because I have certain skills in the company that no one else has. I even work on the weekends to make sure nothing gets back tracked for these special projects. The company is really wonderful and I love everyone that works there. I even make sure to come in 15 minutes early and 15 minutes late. However, I believe for my experience, what I am bringing to the company and my potential that I am being underpaid.

Every December employees recieve reviews. I had asked when I first got hired if salary raises are discussed in these reviews. They told me yes. With it just a few months away I want to make sure that I take all the right steps.

I am just worried that A) I haven't even been there a year and I am already asking for a raise which might look bad B) If my reasoning for getting a raise is valid enough.

With all the praises I have been getting I would assume that they will keep me pleased so that they make sure that I don't start looking elsewhere.

Also I would be asking most likely for 5k more.

Suggestions? Opinions?


Tom Green's picture
Licensee Badge

Boldly asking for a raise is risky.  Collecting allies in your career progression may help.  

Probably nothing happens without your direct supervisor.  Where does she/he stand?  If you don't have a forum to ask, request a mid term review, very common after a few months on the job.  Knowing his/her strategy for doling out raises is a basis for everything else you do.  Often with higher pay comes higher responsibility.  Ask about the career development ladder from your supervisor's perspective, what do you need to be doing more of (and less of) to move up?  Much better to end a long conversation on job expectations with a inquiry on pay, then to start a discussion on pay and then try to tie it to expectations.  

Praise from the CEO / VP level could be a sign they see you developing, not developed, to the level that matches your desired pay.  Are you sure your benchmark matches your experience level?  Your peers with similar experience, all at the same company, may merit higher pay in the company's eyes.  Your higher performance level may not have had time to trump their years of service.  Most managers trend towards fairness in compensation over time, but it can take a very long time to achieve, and it takes consistency.  

Another ally is HR, have you talked to them (the people you met during the hiring process, may be time to catch up and share your journey with them so far, and ask their advice).  They can tell you how raises typically work in your company (like your eligibility at the end of the year, if next raises are effective 1/1/2012, expect to get prorated to 7/12 of a normal raise, or maybe no raise until you have a full year in).  

Any chance the VP or CEO could become a mentor?  That would really give you an insider's view of what it takes to get ahead.  

I'll finish where I started, make sure your supervisor is fully informed on whatever you end up doing:  even innocent activity that comes at a surprise can jeopardize your chances.  Good luck!

Urbanist's picture

Well I also just wanted to add a few things I should have mentioned:

I am pretty overqualified for the position. They were looking for someone with an associates preferably a Bachelor's. Well, I have graduate school experience as I attended it to for two years, but left once I decided it wasn't for me and they cut my funding. I am also bringing in business development to another country based on my language skills and knowledge. My department and position have absoultely nothing to do with business development, but I am doing duties for it, which I love.

Again, I took the pay cut because it was a job I really wanted, knew there was potential and also I was pretty desperate as well. I don't want to leave this job, not in at least a few years, but my salary is pretty low making certain aspects of my life difficult.

robin_s's picture
Training Badge

... if I were you.  15% is a lot to ask for less than a year into a new job.  It may well be that they want to keep you pleased, but I think that is not necessarily a safe assumption to make on the basis of receiving praise.  I give praise, and positive feedback, to new employees all the time, to encourage them and keep them going in the right direction.  That doesn't mean I'm ready to hand them a raise.  

It's also not safe to assume that you are being paid 4k less than you should be.  What you "should" be paid means very little, especially in this job market.  What you "will" be paid is all that counts, and that is what you are worth to your employer.  How much do you know about your company's financial health?  Is it a profitable year?  Is the company growing?  All of that, as much as your performance, will factor into your worth to your company.

I agree with PapaGreen that it's better to have a frank conversation on job expectations, with an inquiry about pay, than a conversation focused on asking for a raise.  When the conversation does turn to compensation, if you really want/need 5k - you might ask something like "how can I grow in this job so that I am worth 5k more to you?"  You never know, they might say you already have.

TomW's picture
Training Badge

A 15% raise is pretty extreme unless it's accompanied by a promotion as well.

I think you're too focused on the money. If the upper management gets that perception as well, your favored status could come to an end real quick.

You say you're overqualified. You might have more education than the role required, but that's hardly the same as being overqualified. Overqualified implies that you have qualifications for a much better job somewhere else, which is very different froma couple more years of (unfinished) education than they require.

You may want to see what kind of raise they propose before you get so excited. December is still a few months away. In the mean time, I'd recommend that you do your job better than ever before and see what else you can do to help the group succeed. Make sure that your justification for a raise is more than "the executives say nice things to me".

Tom Green's picture
Licensee Badge

If you're generating new business and it is outside your normal duties or expectations, and the VP and CEO are noticing and praising you, that is really good basis for asking for more $.  Again, need to do your homework (HR, boss), but business exists to acquire customers, if you've done it (note the past tense, companies pay for what you deliver, not what you promise) then a reward shouldn't be a stretch.   If not pay raise, maybe a bonus.  Many companies have special reward programs for contributions above and beyond the call.  

Urbanist's picture

Thanks again everybody, you have no idea how much I appreciate all the feedback. I think I will hold off on asking and honestly I feel as if they truly feel as great about me as they praise me that they will offer it to without me asking, and if they don't I deal with it and just keep working hard. This is a very honest company and employees are treated well, thus far. Also, the company is a business management/human resources consulting firm so they probably know what they are doing, or at least I hope so. :)

afmoffa's picture

Communication is what the LISTENER does. Price is what OTHERS are willing to pay.

What would a rival firm pay you to join their team?

I'm not wild about terms such as "overvalued," "undervalued," "what others make," and "what I deserve." Your salary should be $1.00 per year more than what the rival firm down the street would pay you to come work for them. (All things being equal, which they never are.) That's how free markets work. That sounds soulless and cynical, I know, but economics is not a Hallmark card.

If I'm your boss, and I pay you $30,000/year, and you work hard, that doesn't mean you "deserve" a raise. If you bring ten new customer accounts in the door, it doesn't mean you "deserve" a raise. If you outperform every one of your coworkers, and for some crazy reason I pay your coworkers more than I pay you, you still don't "deserve" a raise.

If I'm your boss, you only "deserve" a raise if I believe that the rival firm down the street would pay you $30,001/year to walk out my door and go work for them.

Do all you can to find out what competing firms would pay someone of your calibre. You can ask your network, you can ask discreet coworkers who used to work for competing firms, you can check salary Websites. As a last resort, you may even need to seek out a job offer from those rival firms.

When you ask for a raise, the core of your argument needs to be something like: "Boss, this year, I've done X, Y, and Z. I happen to know that Acme Industrials pays people of my calibre $37,000/year. Now, I like it here at Baxter Incorporated. I like working with you, and Sue, and Bob. This is where I'd like to build my career. However, I have an obligation to myself and to my family to ask you if Baxter might be willing to pay me $35,000 next year. I know times are tough, but I think I've proven my value to you and to Baxter, and $35,000 is still below my sense of prevailing market rates. I'd really appreciate you going to bat for me on this when you and the VPs are discussing compensation for next year."

gpeden's picture

One thing that you have working against you is that *you chose* to take the pay cut - not your boss. Now you may be having buyer's remorse - which is fine, but that is your doing.  You didn't have to take the offer - and if I am the boss I got a great deal.

And it was only 4 months ago. I am guessing that the real job market hasn't changed that much since then. Is there a *real* job out there pays more - if so why don't you (didn't you ) take it? "research and salary history' is not that strong a point - you can probably find a research site that would support your desired number.  In a sense you just set the market at the salary you accepted.


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