A reader writes:
I have been reading your blog since I got laid off. However, I have a job now—project manager in a oversea-headquartered international technology company. YAY! Although the salary is way lower than I asked for, I took it because I know I didn’t have relevant experience in this industry or as a project manager. I do want to be paid more (who doesn’t) but it’s definitely not now or in the near future. I enjoy working with my co-workers and the overall environment. It’s very supportive and politics-free. Therefore, money is not too big of a problem to me … but my husband keeps asking me when I can get a raise because “they give you a raise every 6 months!”
The reason my husband said this was because when he worked on a minimum wage job, he got a raise after 6 months and it was 50 cents. He also said that his father was offered a pay raise after 6 months working in a restaurant, which I guess was also a minimum wage job.
I don’t want to sound condescending, but I really want to tell my husband, “I am sorry, but you’ve never been in a corporate job and that’s not how corporates work.” And he denied my opinion because where I am working is a foreign company and that must be the reason.
Is there such a pay raise schedule in corporate America? How can I explain to my husband that you normally need to negotiate and have bargain power to get a raise in my position?
Nope. Lots of companies do raises annually, but plenty of companies don’t even do that. Of the companies that do annual raises, some just do cost-of-living increases (sometimes reserving more for the highest performers, although even those highest performers might need to advocate for it), and others do merit raises (which you may or may not need to negotiate for).
If you’re at a company that doesn’t do annual raises for everyone as a matter of course, then you generally need to present a case for yourself when you think your work merits an increase — pointing to your track record of increased contributions.
As for how you can explain this to your husband … well, if simply explaining it hasn’t worked, I’m as unsure as you are. You can show him this post, or you can send him any of the myriad articles out there on salary negotiation, but I’m not crazy about the fact that you’re feeling like you need to “prove” this to him. Ultimately, you should both trust each other to manage your own careers like the independent adults that you presumably are — which means that he’s welcome to disagree with your take on something like this, but he shouldn’t keep pushing his viewpoint on you after it’s already been discussed.