In my company (and industry - public accounting), it goes like this: you start in October and are promoted (almost automatically, if you're not then you've probably been fired or quit) each subsequent October for the next 3 years. Along with the promotion comes a raise. Last year (my first year) I got the promotion and a raise. This year I got a promotion and a raise. It comes down to the fact that I'm not happy with my raise, can I tell my career advisor this and ask for another raise?

Here is additional info:

I talked to friends last year and they got raises significantly more than I did, one got 18% (I got 6%). I talked to friends this year and found the same results, one got $8k and I got $5k.

I am positive that I am being paid towards the lower end (if not the lowest) of my start class and coworkers  (at least one) who are in the start class behind me are getting paid more than me.

I was expecting a larger raise this year because I am now a CPA and have been promoted to a position where I oversee projects directly and manage at least 1 person (aka a more significant promotion than last year).

I've been talking to recruiters and it looks like I could get about $20k more than what I make now.

The thing that put my over the edge is that someone who was fired about 6 months ago got a new job and is making more than me.

I appreciate all feedback, but please don't read into the question and make assumptions not mentioned here, or if you do, please make sure to answer the question directly without any assumptions about my story. I'm not interested in hearing an answer that tells me I should be happy with any raise in this economy.

STEVENM's picture

" I'm not interested in hearing an answer that tells me I should be happy with any raise in this economy."

Haha, ok then... I do have to ask this though:  What do the metrics look like.  You say you're getting paid near the bottom.  Are the coworkers getting more/better results?  Do they have better relationships within?  That could be a simple answer on why.

I think it would be infinitely useful to ask yourself what differences there are between those getting more and yourself.  And really look for it.  Don't get defensive about it, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you.  But there has to be some reason they're getting a better deal if they told you the truth.  Find out what that reason is.  You may see an area you can improve on and make things a lot better for yourself.

But I'll make this assumption in the short term to give you my take - You're pulling more than enough weight to justify it and have no flaws that would justify the lower rates:

Until there's an offer to you specifically that gets you that much more money there's simply no way to know what the market really will offer you.  I'd suggest shopping around, interviewing, seeing what you could get.  Then you'll know for sure.  And, you'll have a way to get it now once an offer is on the table.  Then you've got a decision to make.

Ask yourself this - If you're being mistreated and/or undervalued compared to the people around you do you really want to stay? Even if you can apply some muscle and show them you know what's up it's essentially bullying them into action. You'll probably have to keep doing it while you're there every year. Risky and unpleasant.  And that's assuming they won't just cut ties with someone willing to battle it out once they have time to find a replacement, because they probably can find people who will be happy there.

mattpalmer's picture

... you just may not like the consequences.  If you storm into your boss' office screaming "you cheap so-and-so, you better give me the same money as everyone else or I'm out of here", they're likely to take you up on your kind offer to seek employment elsewhere.  On the other hand, you'll probably get useful information if you take up the issue in a calm, non-confrontational issue with an appropriate person (might be your boss, might be someone higher up, or it might be HR).  Something like, "I just wanted to get clarification of the way in which the amount of my raise was determined, and find out what I can do to maximise my raise next year".  A reasonable answer to that question should tell you everything you want to know: why you didn't get the raise you wanted, and whether you can fix the problem where you are, or whether you need to look elsewhere to get the remuneration you feel you deserve.

buhlerar's picture

Not sure if the metrics at your firm are slightly different, but usually your raise will boil down to some combination of billable hours, annual performance review rating, and probably some firm-wide factor that take into account the market situation and firm performance, etc.  So if you're looking for answers, you should look at your annual review and billable hours so you know what you're up against.  Maybe there are others, but if you're having a hard time answering Steven's question about metrics, these are likely candidates.  Firms don't just give one person 18% and another 6% to mess with your head.

I don't know your firm's annual rating system -- let's assume it's something like an overall rating of 1, 2, 3, or 4 (with 1 being the highest).  A 3 rating may represent 65% of the firm, but if you're not a 1 or 2 then your raise may hit a ceiling well south of 18%.

As for billable hours, your firm probably has a minimum in mind.  Let's say it's 2000 hours.  If you just barely exceeded the minimum, even though that's a pretty busy year, again your raise will probably be limited.  Do you know how many hours your cohorts billed vs. you?

Do you have a manager?  If not (sometimes in CPA firms you're just part of a pool and have several managers throughout the year), who delivered your annual review to you?  You could either ask them or go to some liason in HR to ask for clarification.  In an up-or-out culture it's probably OK to show a little ambition, assuming you don't go in with guns blazing, as Matt suggested.

However, one warning -- please don't quote your peers in this discussion.  There is probably a "rule" prohibiting you from discussing your salary info and I'm not sure it would bolster your case to quote the ill-gotten information.