why your boss won’t give you a raise

If you’re wondering why you can’t seem to get a raise – and maybe feeling frustrated and demoralized – it’s worth looking at why your salary hasn’t been raised. In many cases, understanding why your paycheck has stagnated can help you figure out the path to increasing it.

Here are seven of the most common reasons I see people missing out on salary increases.

1. You haven’t asked. A surprising number of people who are frustrated by their wages haven’t actually asked for a raise. It’s easy to feel like your employer should recognize the value of your work and compensate you accordingly – and certainly some employers will do that – but often you need to speak up and advocate for yourself. If you haven’t asked your boss for a raise in over a year, now may be the time. Or, maybe you’ve asked for a raise but…

2. You haven’t made a strong case that your work merits more money, and why. Sometimes you can get a raise simply by saying something like, “Can we revisit my salary?” or “I was hoping we could take a look at my pay since it’s been a while since it was last adjusted.” But you shouldn’t assume that’s all you’ll need to say. In general, you should be prepared to lay out a compelling case about why your work is now worth more than it was the last time your salary was set – pointing to increased responsibilities and accomplishments.

3. It hasn’t been long enough since your last salary increase. If you received a raise in the last 12 months, your boss isn’t likely to give you one again so soon. There are some exceptions to this, like when your responsibilities change significantly or when you move to an entirely new role, but in general most companies won’t give out raises more than once a year.

4. You’re earning the market rate for your work. If your pay is already in line with what the market says your job should pay at your level, with your background, and in geographic area, your company probably can’t justify paying you more. It’s smart to stay up-to-date on the market range for the work you do, so that you can calibrate your expectations accordingly. (This is also useful in figuring out if you’re under-paid, and using that data to argue for an increase – or to realize that you may need to go elsewhere in order to get paid what you’re worth.)

5. You’re maxed out at the top of what you can make for this job at your company. There’s usually a ceiling for how much it makes sense to pay for any given role, and if you stay in your job for a while, it’s possible that you’ll reach that ceiling. Sometimes this is based on internal company salary bands, and sometimes it’s just a question of hitting the upper end of the market rate for the work you’re doing.

6. Your boss doesn’t realize what you’re contributing. You could be doing outstanding work, but if your boss doesn’t know about it, it probably won’t be reflected in your pay. Make sure that you’re sharing your accomplishments with your manager throughout the year – everything from praise from clients, problems you solved before they cost the company time or money, efficiencies you’ve implemented, and any other victories you’ve racked up.

7. Your work hasn’t actually been that great lately. Beyond cost of living adjustments, raises are recognition that you’re doing great work and contributing at a higher level than the last time your salary was set. If you’re having trouble getting a raise, be honest with yourself about whether those things are true. If you’ve been slacking off, making lots of mistakes, not seeming particularly engaged with your work, or otherwise performing at less than a high level, it’s pretty reasonable for your manager not to be moved to increase your salary right now.

8. Your workplace has terrible compensation practices. In some companies, you can do everything right – perform at a high level, make your accomplishments visible, be easy and pleasant to work with – and still not see that reflected in what you’re paid. Some companies do have compensation philosophies that center around paying people the lowest amounts they can get away with. Some companies won’t increase salaries unless someone is on the verge of leaving for a higher-paying job (which is a terrible practice, since it drives good employees out the door). Some companies have unrealistic ideas of what it takes to hire and keep good workers. If you’re working for a company with poor compensation practices, you might need to move on in order to get the raise you’re looking for.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 76 comments… read them below }

  1. Clever Name*

    Oooh. Number 7. That’s such a tough one to admit to yourself, and I think it’s really hard for most people to objectively assess about themselves. I have a coworker that wanted to do a bit of a role-play discussion where he was asking for a raise and I would play the part of our boss. This coworker is not doing well. He was hired to be a subject-matter-expert, based on his interview and resume, but in reality, I would say he is more on the level of a shaky junior-level person. There is talk that he is way overpaid given this. Before we even got started, I stopped him and said, “Before we do this, I think you need to prepare a case for why you deserve a raise.”

    1. Cally*

      I think #7 also points to a lot of people sabotaging themselves for a raise: they get disgruntled because they still haven’t gotten a raise and slack off to only give the employer ‘what they pay for’ but then are never eligible for a raise because their work is barely satisfactory and their attitude sucks!

      1. Grits McGee*

        I see a lot of my coworkers doing this and it’s so hard to bite my tongue- they’re disgruntled because they’re in low-level, low-paid positions and as a result they refuse to take on higher-level tasks because they’re not being paid to do that level of work. I’m afraid it’s going to end up biting them in the butt, because what are they going to have as accomplishments when it comes time to fill out their annual evaluations (which are directly tied to bonuses) and apply for promotions?

        1. TeflonMom*

          I couldn’t agree with this more. I have personally seen it – a staff person who is so concerned with being taken for a ride by the employer that they no longer see their effort as an investment in self. It’s understandable but also incredibly short-sighted.

          1. Gadfly*

            Although I’ve also seen the management put those tasks on people in low paid jobs for YEARS without ever acknowledging they were working above their pay grade in any sort of official way. That isn’t an investment in self at that point.

            1. Gadfly*

              For example, I know a lot about In Design (self taught almost entirely while on the job) from when my Old Job decided I was cheaper than local graphic artists at my $14pr/hr and the turn around from the graphics department they had outsourced to India was too slow and too full of errors to depend on in a hurry. I did that for 3 or 4 years. I created in full many ads, designed one that won a major award that the finishing artist got the credit for, could do a all but finished layout of an ad that then India just had to polish… I left at $14.25 an hour. (And that wasn’t the only thing they had added to my job description in the meantime…)

      2. Artemesia*

        We had an employee who was basically doing secretarial work for a star who didn’t use a computer but was an enormously productive and important figure in the field. When he took a job elsewhere, she had little to do. She was asked to do a few other things and was whining about how she hadn’t been given a raise in spite of being asked to take on new responsibilities. She was oblivious to the fact that she was adding virtually no value. I talked to her and pointed out a couple of roles we desperately needed filled and were not able to staff because of hiring limitations; I explained that doing A or B would be very important and pretty much guarantee her job. All she wanted to discuss was a raise. She was fired a couple months later having never realized her job had left and she wasn’t doing anything we needed done. People can be very un self aware.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I think it can go the other direction too. When you bend over backwards and practically kill yourself to do a great job and get a 4% raise, and the person who sits next to you does just enough to get by without getting fired and gets a 3% raise, it’s a real morale killer. Why work so hard when it’s not going to make that much of a difference in the end? It’s reasonable for companies to set high expectations for their employees. It’s also reasonable for employees to expect that working their tails off will net them more than an extra latte per paycheck.

        1. Naruto*

          Yeah, #8 is demotivating for sure. I suspect #8 leads to a lot of #7 situations in practice — because it disincentivizes people from trying, they stop, and then their work no longer warrants a raise.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            That is the biggest reason I left my last company in November. No matter how hard I worked, it was never *quite* good enough to warrant a promotion. My co-workers — even one I’d butted heads with in the past due to both of us having strong personalities — told me many times that they didn’t understand why I hadn’t been promoted. Part of that was due to my boss, whose idea of having a good attitude was plastering a big smile on your face and bending over to make your backside an easier target and saying, “Thank you!” No matter how horribly people behave, or what types of insanely unreasonable demands they make, or how verbally abusive they may be, or whatever threats they might make, if you don’t zip your lip and take it, you have a “bad attitude.” That’s not me, nor will it ever be. The bigger part was due to the parent company of my employer. They controlled the purse strings when it came to raises and promotions, and each year the pot of money given to the company to divvy up among everyone got a little smaller. And in that regard, I did sympathize with my managers, and all the managers at that place. It’s got to be tough to dole out such miserly raises, even if it’s completely out of your control.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            It’s an excellent reason to look for more money elsewhere. Because a few years of bitterly doing the minimum will leak through when you do eventually have to look for another job.

      1. Gadfly*

        Well any combination of a company culture that discourages 1, 2 or 6 and is any degree of 8 leans toward producing a #7. Especially if there has been any reduction in benefits. Like losing 401k matches, worse healthcare options, having the job redesigned so there are no more bonuses…

        It is easy to say just go looking elsewhere, but sometimes that isn’t particularly practical when it happens. And adapting to the dysfunction by not even trying to meet impossible and contradictory expectations is a pretty common coping strategy. Until you are out, it can be really hard to see how what you are doing isn’t simply rational. Because it usually is part of wider dysfunction, not a stand alone problem.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          That, and it’s hard to leave after you’ve been somewhere for awhile. It took me a long time to get to that point, but when I did, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. And it was a bummer. I am really enjoying my new job, and I’m glad I made the move. But I put in 12 years at the last place. For 10 of those years, it was a fun place to work. The industry (aviation) was interesting, and my job was challenging and I had to continue to develop my skills. I made a lot of friends there, who were really smart and lots of fun to work with. I didn’t want to leave, but it became clear that I would be stuck in the same place forever, labeled as having a “bad attitude” unless I started dosing myself with thorazine.

          1. Gadfly*

            I really liked some of my co-workers and my manager at old job. But it was dysfunctional and the money all went to the salespeople with little going to assistants who did a significant amount if the work. When I started, there had been bonuses for assistants to share in the rewards of making and servicing a lot of sales. After those were cut, the assistants were actually given more of the work so sales people could focus on sales–which became all many did while we did practically everything else for the client. So they got more and more money with each sale/client and we got more work. And we were supposed to be happy about it and never ask them to wait while we finished up something urgent (because their time was more valuable even if ours would avoid thousands of dollars in disasters) and do what they needed even if policy was not to do that, and always smile and take responsibility when we went under the bus… To be fair, they also were held responsible, but most would do their best to make it our fault.

            I had to quit when I realized I was probably subconsciously trying to get myself fired.

            1. JM*

              You probably worked for my employer because this is exactly what’s going on at my company. I work internally for the largest staffing agency/firm in the world and they treat their recruiting managers like gold but treat the administrators/assistants like scum. They cut our bonuses and only offer us $0.50 annual raises. FIFTY CENTS. God forbid you ask them for $1 raise after you’ve been at the company for 5 years and you’ve saved the company $1.3M in IRS fines, not to mention all of the behind-the-scenes work you get done to make sure these recruiters get their placements. You’ll get the usual, over-used “it’s out of our budget” BS excuse. Meanwhile the recruiters are getting thousands of dollars in bonuses, annual raises, and company-paid trips to Vegas while we bust our rears and get close to nothing. They also hire these unqualified, uneducated people for better-paying positions instead of offering these positions to those internal employees who need it and deserve it. The lack of respect, patriarchy and favoritism is absolutely disgusting. The people making these decisions make anywhere between $60K-$100K+ so they don’t care about ethics or what us administrators go through, it’s not their problem. We’re seen as “disposable” and/or “replaceable”.

      2. BananaPants*

        Yup. I’ve felt this way before – why bust my tail when it might get me only 0.25% over the organizational average of 2-3%? It’s not like anyone’s rewarding top performers with anything substantial. Even when I’ve gotten actual promotions my raise has never been more than 5%.

        Even if I work my butt off, it may not matter if my boss doesn’t notice or care. My organization has the managers do a rack & stack of their direct reports and then they all get together in a conference room with the directors and VPs and argue over who gets what. If you get stuck at the bottom of your manager’s ranking – and SOMEONE has to be at the bottom of the ranking – you get nothing, even if you met your objectives for the year and did what you were supposed to do. If someone is an executive’s favorite or has had a lot of visibility, they’ll get more in their annual increase – even if others objectively did more and better work. It’s a lousy way of figuring out annual increases.

      3. DC*

        This is my company to a T: I worked my butt off the first year our jobs existed (at very low salarys for the industry), got awards from the department, company, and our two-person team’s praises were being sung all over the place for what we had accomplished.

        Reviews rolled around, raises/merit comes out: 24c/h raise. Not even a full quarter. Talk about morale killing.

  2. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

    Wow! This is so timely. My question is this: if you are contracted to a company by way of an employment agency, who should you ask for the raise from? The employment agency or from the company that you are contracted to?

    1. Brett*

      There are tons of variables there depending on the contract between your agency and the company, the contracted rate your company is paid, how directly your company manager supervises you , etc.

      Ultimately, it is almost always the employment agency who decides what you are actually paid. But, they might require receiving a higher contracting fee from the company before giving you a raise, in which case looping in your manager at the company might be important so they understand your contributions when they are asked.
      Or if you do loop in your manager, the company might be able to push a request for higher pay for you back to the agency. Either way, both sides will probably want to be informed too.

      Who do you deal with on a day to day basis and who do you have the best relationship with? Your account manager at the agency or your supervisor at the company? Whichever it is, you might want to start with that person to just understand what your process might be, and odds are, if they agree you deserve a raise, they can help drive the process for you from either side.

      1. HardwoodFloors*

        I asked the management of the company I worked for because they knew my work. I received a substantial raise because I was a high performer, but I never would have received a raise from the agency if I went through them since they felt their employees were interchangeable.

  3. Cruciatus*

    Is there advice for a more non-standard employer? We get a 2% merit raise each year (obviously, if you earn it), which is especially wimpy when you make $30,000 or less (as I figure most with my title do, unless you’ve been here years and years). And the university I work at doesn’t really allow for raises. It’s horribly annoying. You can get your job reviewed and if you’re job duties really changed you may get an increase for that. But it is a long process with the potential for “nos” around every corner. They are all about equity in the system. So they look at what everyone is making across all the campuses (which must really suck, especially when a campus is in a higher cost of living area). So you really can’t just go to your supervisor and say “I deserve a raise because of X, Y, and Z” and expect to get one. I can’t figure out if this “equity” thing is good or not. I feel like it holds people back and works in favor of the employer, not the employee. This shouldn’t surprise me and yet it’s still very disappointing.

    1. Hey nonny mouse*

      I dealt with this at a private university, and HR finally told me I’d have to leave to get the kind of money I was asking for, regardless of how well I did my job. “Equity” definitely favors the employer and the low performers. And it’s not always their fault they can’t go above and beyond, I get that–sometimes you can’t even create opportunities, but it sure sucks to get half a percent more than someone who reads at their desk for seven hours a day because the work isn’t there.

      1. Artemesia*

        This is really common in Universities which is why research stars get huge salaries and many great teachers or women who are less mobile get paid pitifully in comparison.

      2. Ama*

        Yeah, I found this working at a private university myself — they really pushed the opportunities for internal transfer because unless you could move up into a vacated position in your own department it was virtually impossible to get a promotion or raise without changing jobs. And it was a university wide “joke” that as soon as you started working with a high performer in the departments that were notorious for overworking and underpaying (our IT department was the worst offender), they’d get hired into a job elsewhere in the university in six months.

    2. TCO*

      My public university has similarly tough policies. The most effective strategy for a raise (beyond getting a promotion or job review/reclassification) is to bring in a higher offer from elsewhere and secure a counteroffer. Terrible policy.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Years ago a California university offered me a salary that was both (a) below market rates, and (b) 20% higher than the highest paid existing employee at that level. Yes, you read that correctly – new employees were offered more than their more experienced peers. I could only assume that accepting the position meant that my salary would fall farther and farther behind market rates with every passing year.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh yes, they still do this. It’s how a 20-year superstar gets paid $100K less than a just-graduated-ladder-track new hire. There’s only a few opportunities to negotiate after initial hiring, and almost none will be successful unless accompanied by a job offer at a higher salary from a “higher ranked” institution.

    4. Dmr*

      I worked for a non-profit with a policy of giving everyone a raise of the same percentage​ at the same time, so there would be funding for raises for all or nobody. I was able to negotiate new job descriptions at least twice in my time there, with new salaries attached – it was the only way to get something significant.

    5. Cruciatus*

      I imagine no one’s reading at this point but I can’t wait until Friday’s open thread so here goes… So I finally have a job offer for another department at the university I was mentioning. I’m already not getting as much as I had hoped based on the salary band (that’s 2 higher than mine), but it is more, about an 11% increase (about $3500 (I don’t make a lot)). I’m still OK with this number but would prefer $5000 more. Since I’m at a university all about equity, is it even worth asking to get more? I feel like the numbers are already crunched. Any thoughts?

      1. anon for this*

        Thanks! I’ve been debating writing in with a salary related question. I’ll read that information and do some research first.

  4. CanadianDot*

    Or you work for a government agency where there’s no such thing as a merit based raise and you can’t really be promoted because everything has to be put out for competition.

    But at least then you know why you’re not getting a raise ;-)

    1. The Expendable Redshirt*

      *nods agreeably*

      I know my salary for the next two years! Sometimes, I find out months later that the funders approved a small cost of living adjustment. My program is always at, or exceeding capacity. There is no extra money for doing amazing things.

  5. Sans*

    So a raise is something above and beyond the 2-3% “merit” raise most larger companies give? (I have “merit” in quotes because of course it’s basically a COL increase, not merit. And the difference between a mediocre performer and a top performer might be 1%.) Because otherwise I don’t see how to EVER get a raise if you 1) stay at the same job 2) stay at the same company. Doesn’t matter how well you do. If you don’t want to move on to management, your job title is what it is. Even if you take on more responsibility and do an excellent job, it won’t get you more than .5 to 1% more than being average. I have no idea where these companies are that actually give merit raises to people on any kind of regular basis.

    1. Mike C.*

      What a good company will do is create levels within a position, (say Junior Engineer/Engineer/Senior Engineer or Engineer 1, Engineer 2, etc). That way, you can show advancement without having your best employees be forced into management.

      1. Anon Anon*

        That’s what my employer did. They recognized that they had quite a few mid-level employees who they would lose if they didn’t create more structure so that they could give them a good raise. They created a bunch of “senior” roles for existing roles, so that they could promote people into those and give them a more generous raise (which ranged anywhere from about 5-10%).

    2. hermit crab*

      Where I work, we have something called a “structural adjustment” that is separate from the regular, small merit raise (which is generally 2% – 5% based on how good your review is). They either do it across the board for certain title levels (to raise the floor of a pay band) or for individual employees (e.g., to bring longstanding high performers up closer to what they’d get as a new hire who was coming in at market rate/negotiating). A few years ago, I got nearly a 30% raise due to the former; last year, I got about 15% due to the latter. I’m still a little underpaid relative to what I could get elsewhere (and relative to some men who have my same job, but everyone says that I do it better…sigh) but the general concept is something I really appreciate!

  6. evilintraining*

    This is something that’s been bugging me, although I don’t think there’s much, if anything, I can do. I asked when I moved into a new position in HR at the beginning of last month, based on my new responsibilities. My director spoke with her (executive) boss, then pulled me into a meeting later in the day. I was presented with a job description that was pulled directly from the SHRM website and told it was “a lateral move” and I was “within range.” Meanwhile, in the course of pulling info for a project, I found out that someone who was hired a few months after me and is at the same level in an accounting position was hired at almost $6K more than I, with only a high school education (I have an Associate’s degree) and the same amount of job experience for the positions we were hired for originally. BLS data for my current job shows the average at close to my coworker’s salary. I’m disappointed but feel like I can’t legitimately use that information to help my case. Do I have any other options here?

    1. Mike*

      IMO, it’s worth bringing it up to your manager.

      Best case, you get it and continue on doing your job.

      Worst case, you don’t get anything. Then you say okay and go back to work, and either keep doing what you’re doing or look for a new job.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      But you know the market rate, right? So you could use that information, even if you can’t use your coworker’s information. It sounds like they were trying to “get the most” out of you by using an artificially low internal salary to justify keeping you at below-market. But that’s not fair or right, particularly if there are significant differences in experience between you and the new guy. And if you’re a woman, they have a an Equal Pay Act problem (i.e., that men and women must be paid equally for equal work)—but if you’re a dude, then the Equal Pay Act isn’t as helpful as the market-rate argument.

    3. Gadfly*

      I don’t think you can compare your job and an accounting one, as they may feel accounting is more valuable than HR. Similar levels, but different departments. Some skills are just higher in demand, regardless of education.

      I think the market rate is more important.

  7. LSP*

    Or you work for a state or otherwise public agency that has had a freeze on wages for ten years, while simultaneously chiseling away at benefits for public workers, resulting in what amounts to pay cuts…

    Not that I know anything about that.;)

    1. copy run start*

      Ugh, yes. I joined my state’s workforce after a long freeze and benefited from a couple of decent across-the-board bumps. I’ve since jumped ship and am glad, since it’s looking like that exact situation right now, if you aren’t losing your job.

  8. NW Mossy*

    I just got done with the annual raise cycle for my employees, and #4 and #5 are probably the hardest to communicate as the boss. It’s the space where I have to be honest that while I get some latitude in our compensation guidance to reward my top performers, I have very little headroom to increase the pay of senior employees who’ve been performing well in their roles for many years. It stinks because many people view merit raises as an assessment of their merit as a professional, so getting a small one makes them feel unappreciated even if their baseline pay is high in range. It’s one of the downfalls of being in the mature part of one’s career.

    I’m in the same boat myself – I just accepted a lateral transfer, and my boss-to-be was very clear that she couldn’t offer me an increase to make the move because a) I just got a raise and b) that raise puts me over the top end of the range for this bracket. I’m not likely to see another significant pay change unless I jump brackets, and that’s ultimately why I took the transfer – it’ll give me the right sort of experience to help me make that level jump, so it’s a useful strategic move even if it doesn’t mean anything monetarily.

    1. Catalyst*

      I absolutely agree. We are in the middle of reviews and increases, we have a lot of disgruntled people. It’s so hard to explain why they aren’t getting more, and we are capped at a certain percentage point which makes it even more frustrating because some deserve more.

      Another, which doesn’t happen often unless people gossip about their salaries, is that someone was hired at a certain pay level because of their experience and/or education and you do not have one or either. Unfortunately those things play a part in what people get paid and it’s so hard to get people to understand that.

  9. Cheese Sticks and Pretzels*

    I work for #8

    There have been no increases for anyone in over 3 years. I am paid way under market currently despite exceeding expectations in reviews the past few years and achieving global recognized certification for my position.

    When I have asked about closing the gap in my salary, I was basically told I would need to receive another offer then my company would match it. Of course my reply to that was if I am able to secure another offer of employment, you bet I am going to take it!

    Sure wish the job market would open up…

    1. LawCat*

      Been there, done that. Totally agree that “go get another offer and maybe we’ll match it” is a terrible strategy on the employer’s part.

      On the up side, when I was in your situation, I ended up finding a job that offered 30% better pay, better benefits, and minimal drama.

      Fingers crossed for you!

      1. Heidi*

        Did you 30% lower salary every come up before you jumped, or were you able to dodge that?

        I’ve been in the #8 position after returning to a company after a 14-month layoff. I was rehired at less than what I’d been making, which was actually static for the four preceding years, but I took it because I needed the job.

        I’ve now been at that same pay grade for 6 years, with increasing health insurance premiums chipping away at it, but I was able to negotiate for paid holidays and PTO (which is case by case for contractors) at year 3. Same take home pay, but I get to take a few days off instead of working year-round.

        I’ve been actively looking for other work since 2015, per this: “you might need to move on in order to get the raise you’re looking for,” and in that time, it’s became glaringly obvious I’m grossly underpaid.

        My career longevity and experience seem to set the expectation that I must be ridiculously expensive, so I have found that almost every interviewer has asked me point blank, repeatedly, what I’m making now, even though I’ve said I’m negotiable on salary requirements. If pushed, I give an “opening number.”

        When I’ve been bird-dogged into a corner where they’re not getting off the current salary question and I really wanted the job, I’ve answered it [which led one interviewer to actually says out loud, “wow, that’s surprising” [true story].

        If you’re applying for jobs that pay current market value, which is well above your current undervalued pay grade, how do you make that leap to a job that pays you better if a company is determined to gate your worth according to your current wage?

        I’m asking honestly, if you simply cannot escape the current salary question. I’m looking for tangible guidance, other than “don’t give it.”

        Thank you!

  10. Nervous Accountant*

    What if the company says that there’s just no money? Or not enough?

    I feel like when nearly a dozen people leave within weeks of each other, their collective salaries should be redistributed to the rest of us who pick up teh slack as a bonus or pay raise. That money is there, why can’t we get it?
    Is that the wrong way to look at it?

    1. Jan Levinson*

      I don’t think it’s a wrong way to look at it.

      I used to work at an extremely understaffed accounting firm. Multiple people quit within week of each other and management didn’t even consider raising salaries despite the extra work everyone was taking on.

      From my perspective – doesn’t the cost to train all the new employees who are replacing the ones who quit, exceed that of just raising the salaries of current employees who are willing to pick up the slack?

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I think it depends how little money the company has – or how much they’re losing. Not having to pay those salaries may or may not be enough to cover their losses. For example, if you were in debt $800 and then saved $300, you’re still in debt.

    3. anonynony*

      It depends. If they plan to replace any or all of those people, it will likely cost them. It takes managers away from work that might be bringing in more $$$. Plus, if those people left in part because they were being underpaid relative to your industry, it may be that they can’t get a new person in at the same rate. If they aren’t planning to replace them, that may in turn diminish their capacity to produce billable work, resulting in lower earnings and less $$ available for you guys. What you’re asking isn’t ridiculous but it’s also not nearly so straightforward as that either.

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Yeah, it probably is the wrong way to look at it. They’re likely looking at it as an opportunity to reduce staff and expenses.

      If your company is publicly traded, you KNOW whether the company has money or doesn’t.

      If the company shows, for example, a 40% increase in profits over the previous year and cries poverty to you – you can call horse***t on management. I’ve had to do that a few times in my career.

  11. Amber Rose*

    It’s always #1 since my boss only does a yearly review if he’s pestered, and raises only come up during reviews.

    I haven’t asked lately because of #7.

  12. Jan Levinson*

    #2 is so, so important!

    This past December, I asked for a 13% raise. For months leading up to my meeting with my boss, I accumulated a binder with all kinds of documentation proving how I had saved the company time and money, how I had gone above and beyond the job requirements, my willingness to help improve training processes, how my eye to detail had prevented multiple errors, and much more.

    By the time my meeting came along, I felt like it would be difficult for my boss NOT to give me a raise based on everything I’d presented to him. I was even more encouraged by my boss’s email post-meeting:

    You did a very professional job pulling together the information on what you have accomplished to make your case. I appreciate you and always have, but today you separated yourself even more. We will take into consideration everything you brought to us, and get back with you soon.

    And…I got the raise!

    I think it’s super important to realize that your boss won’t see many of you accomplishments unless you make them known! You’ll likely be surprised at how much he or she doesn’t know about your work until you bring it up.

  13. Dizzy Steinway*

    Their articles won’t load on my iPhone even when I request desktop site. I wonder if it’s a general problem or just me?

  14. Argh!*

    If you work for the State of Illinois, it’s because your state’s legislature hasn’t passed a budget in two years!

    1. LabTech*

      Been there, done that, noped out at the first offer (which luckily happened to also be the day after I received my notice of non-reappointment).

    2. Amadeo*

      LOL, this is why I left one regional IL state university to cross the river to the neighboring state to work at the other regional state university. IL government has become one of the biggest circuses I’ve ever seen.

  15. Elle*

    I used these tips in February (have been reading this blog for years), and got a 10% raise. It really does work. I am very appreciative of Alison and her wisdom & advice!

  16. Tiiiiiired*

    Another reason: biases!! Pretty tired of this being an issue in corporate america. But it’s not going away. Female? Person of color? Queen or gender non-conforming? Right this way for lower pay.

    And before you say to yourself, “I don’t hate those people! I have nothing to do with this!” You don’t need to be a Trumper or a KKK member to enforce biases at work. Who are you making a point to chat with about professional certifications? Who are you inviting into your office for career guidance chats? Who are you having a beer with? Who are you grooming for promotion? It’s total fucking bullshit. And don’t think we don’t notice.

    1. Gadfly*

      And as well as those kinds of biases (and don’t forget to add religion in there, sometimes as a plus, sometimes as a minus) there are also just little work cliques where friends and favorites end up with opportunities and money and promotions over people doing objectively better work.

      1. The Grammarian*

        Yes. This can get pretty dispiriting. As a youngish black woman, I feel like it’s hard for me to get in the “in crowd” of higher ups, generally older white men. Also, I don’t like the idea that schmoozing is the way to a raise. It should be based on the quantity and quality of work…But thinking that way has never gotten me a raise. Next time, I will develop my case and ask for one. Excellent advice!

  17. Macias*

    Hello I been working for almost a year where I work at and it’s not fair how I do too much to be paying such little money and my boss don’t want give me my raise
    Can they do that or they have to give my raise

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