my job is getting reposted for a lot more money than I’m making now

A reader writes:

I’m quitting my job in a month and moving to a new country to start graduate school. Hooray! I’ve been at this place for a few years and genuinely like it (except for the low pay and terrible benefits, but that’s nonprofit life for you), so I made sure to give my manager a very generous six-month notice since I wanted to give them enough time so they could hire someone new and I could train that person plus another new staff member on our very complicated database. It’s been a great transition out and I feel fortunate I have an employer who won’t push me out early.

However. My job just got posted with half the responsibility I have now, at nearly $8,000 more per year. That’s a HUGE difference — a 25% raise from what I am making currently.

I asked for a raise just 10 months ago when I took over a second person’s full-time job in addition to my own (meaning I’m currently doing the work of two people) and was told there wasn’t budget. I asked for better benefits instead, or even a title change to reflect the much higher-level work I was doing and was given vague reassurances that it was in the works. I asked a few more times and a more senior coworker even went to bat for me, and I got our organization’s 2% cost of living raise two months early. I felt lucky at the time.

I don’t feel like asking for the raise was unfounded, either. I was doing twice the workload I should have been doing and was praised constantly and consistently for my efficiency, work ethic, collaboration skills, and high quality of work. My coworkers have said at least once a day that the department will fall apart when I leave because they rely on me so much (an exaggeration: they’re all great workers and they got this, but it feels nice to hear!).

Now I’m sitting here looking at this new position and feeling absolutely dumbfounded. I’m leaving in a month so I’m guessing not, but is there anything I can do about this? As much as I’d love a retroactive raise, I’m not foolish enough to think that’s an option. Rather, I’m wondering if there’s anything I can say to my employer now to prevent that from happening to someone in the future, or if there’s a way going forward I can make sure it doesn’t happen to me again.

You’re right that you can’t ask for or expect a retroactive raise. Employers give raises because they want to retain people, so when you’re already leaving there’s no incentive for them to do that.

But you absolutely can say something about it.

You could say this to your manager: “I saw that the position was posted for $X. I want to be up-front that I was shocked by that. That’s 25% more than I’m making, even though I’d asked for a raise 10 months ago when I took on Jane’s work in addition to my own. At the time, I was told it wasn’t possible, so I was really surprised to see the new person will be hired on at such an increase, and with less of the workload too. Can I ask what changed?”

The reality is that what changed is probably that they realized you were underpaid and that they’re not going to be able to hire someone as good for what they were paying you. Whereas when you asked for a raise, they already had you working for the lower amount — so they didn’t feel they had to give you more to get you.

And yes, that’s infuriating.

Your manager probably won’t say exactly that. You’re likely to hear something like, “We took a look at the market and realized salaries have risen and we had to offer more to be competitive.” (Which is basically the above, just less bluntly.) Or she might tell you that’s just the top of the range but what they’ll actually pay will depend on how much experience the new hire comes in with.

At that point you can say, “I think there’s a real need for the organization to look at whether it’s paying people appropriately. This is the kind of thing that could make people think the organization isn’t negotiating with them in good faith, and could drive them to leave for another employer. I’m of course on my way out, but I hope it’s something you and others involved in setting pay will look at.”

Will that have any impact? Maybe, maybe not. A lot of employers are willing to pay new hires more than they’re willing to pay people already working there. It’s short-sighted, because it means people have to leave to realize their full earning potential — and eventually people do.

As for how to avoid this going forward: Negotiate as well as you can when you’re first being hired, because that’s usually the easiest time to get a salary offer increased. And from there, talk to colleagues and people in your field to exchange salary info (so you know what’s possible and typical, both at your company and in your field more broadly). Know the market you’re working in. And speak up when you think your work is worth more.

P.S. There’s a suggestion in the comments that you share what happened with coworkers who are still there, and yes. It’s helpful for people to know that there could be more room than they thought to push on salary — and also useful for them to know what happened to you.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 203 comments… read them below }

  1. AdAgencyChick*

    Sorry, OP. I bet the only way you could have gotten a raise at this place would have been to get an offer somewhere else, at which point they might have coughed out a counteroffer.

    1. OysterMan*

      Exactly, and based on Alison’s previous advice: taking a counter offer is usually a very bad idea.

      Best to leave and not look back.

    2. CatCat*

      At ex-job, this was one of the only ways to get a raise. It was nuts. I was like…. “Okay, I guess I’ll look for another job then.” And I did. And not only was the offer great (so great that ex-job wouldn’t be able to match it unless they bumped me up a classification, which was never ever going to happen in the time span I needed to make a decision), it seemed like it would be a better job. See ya!

      1. designbot*

        That’s the risk that companies take when they approach it like this. If your employees have any reason whatsoever to be looking, they might fall in love with another opportunity in a way that you just can’t compete.

      2. Massmatt*

        Employers, especially not good ones, weigh the risk of someone leaving as being low—she won’t actually leave, if she does then we will worry about it then, I’m sure the salary we offered 9 years ago is still “competitive “ yadda yadda. When someone actually DOES leave they are faced with the cold hard slap of reality and must either suddenly find the $ that was “not in the budget” before or face not having the work get done.

        Employees need to periodically reassess their worth, and be prepared to leave a job for a better one if things don’t improve. IMO the last recession has a lot of people still shell shocked and in the “thank god I have a job” mindset. But unemployment is low and many employers are having trouble filling jobs. Make hay while ye may!

        1. TardyTardis*

          This is not always easy to do in a small rural town, however. Just having a job with good benefits makes you aristocracy in some places, even if the pay is way low compared to what people are making anyplace else. It’s hard to find something better unless you’re one of the professional classes (doctor, lawyer, real estate).

    3. Sloan Kittering*

      Yeah, just reframe this: they weren’t willing to pay YOU salary + 8K. You didn’t do anything wrong, but that was their final position even after you pushed.

    4. Enginear*

      This exact thing happened to a buddy. He didn’t like the work culture, no changes were being implemented so he went out and received a job offer from a different company, gave his current employer a 2-week notice and that’s when they finally offered him a substantial raise to stay.

  2. BenAdminGeek*

    Wow, that really sucks. OP, I have no additional advice other than that I’m glad you’re getting out of there.

  3. EBStarr*

    If you’re in the US, you could also actively share with your colleagues the fact that you’re making 20% less than the posted salary for your job (assuming that you don’t learn some mitigating factors from your talk with your boss). If people become aware that this is happening it might give them more power in negotiating or (possibly, in the long run) create enough angst for your employer to improve their practices.

    I feel like there is a huge taboo about talking about money, and that really helps employers get away with paying their employees unfairly. There’s no shame in having been woefully underpaid by your organization, nor is there shame in warning your coworkers that this happened to you.

    1. KHB*

      Yeah, I was just going to say: Tell all your coworkers about this, if you haven’t already. You don’t have to share specific numbers if you’re uncomfortable – the fact that you’re getting paid less for doing more work should be enough. At least some of them are probably getting low-balled too, and they might be grateful for the heads-up.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      This is a great idea. It’s sadly too late for you to benefit from this, but your coworkers might be able to!

      Ugh this makes me so mad, I’m sorry OP. I hope grad school goes great!

    3. OP*

      Good idea. I’ve been chatting with a few former coworkers that I’ve stayed friends with (lots of goodbye coffees nowadays) and it’s come up – every single one of them had something similar happen to them. One woman had her (very overworked and overfull) job split into two separate positions when she quit…and of course both of them were each paid nearly what she was getting paid to do both, meaning she had effectively been doing two jobs for the price of one! I felt awful for her but it definitely made me feel like it could have been so much worse.

      1. Observer*

        In a way, that’s good because it shows that it’s not you, it’s an organizational culture. On the other hand, it’s really bad because it’s an organizational culture.

        That also means that it would be a real kindness to let people know what happened to you and what you’ve heard from others. That insures that people don’t think it’s just you, or you were being “too nice” or whatever.

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        The doing two jobs for the price of one tend to come up often, but that usually not the case. Unless your old coworker was working 40 hours doing doing one set of tasks and 40 hours doing another set of tasks, and only getting paid one salary she was not doing two jobs for the price of one. Maybe your coworker was putting in 60 hours a week, and if those duties were evenly split the two new people would each have 30 hours worth of work a week leaving them with 10 hours each to do even more of the same job or focus on other expanded duties. I am not trying to say your coworker was not overworked, I’m sure they were.

        Right now I work 40 hours a week, if a coworker quit and I “took over” their position, I would continue to only work 40 hours a week. I would not be doing two jobs, I would be doing some kind of 50/50, 60/40 split, with part of my times doing duties from job A and the other part doing duties from job B, each job would have to have some duties dropped by the way side.

            1. Door Guy*

              This almost sounds like me at my last job. I was salaried and putting in horrendously long days 6 days a week (think 5am – 9:30pm at least once or twice a week, most other days were 12+ hours)

              In February of last year, my coworker got a promotion and they just dumped his entire team onto me (putting me at largest team headcount in our 28 office company by a fair margin) after stringing me along for weeks that they were going to hire someone. They claimed budget cuts (and our budget HAD been cut, but before the position he was promoted to was open) and then told me they’d try to fill the spot once it got busier and we were out of the “slow season”. I still have no idea how I actually got everything done every month as it was a job that required going out and inspecting work my team had completed as well as performing job site evaluations on my team. Our office covered a HUGE area across 3 states, and I was expected to do other duties as well and not just those inspections. When a memo came out about how they were going to be re-doing all the inspection quotas, I was thrilled as my goal/quota was the highest in the company (all our reports showed every office and we had to filter them to just ours). Then the new report came out and my goals dropped by (drumroll…..) 3. I went from 107 to 104. I later found out that because our office had a “sister” office 4 hours away that shared the same General Manager they included their quota’s into the calculation and our “office average” was where they claimed it should be, just not our actual goals.

              The only pay increase I got for literally doing the job of 2 full time workers was my 3% annual review raise AFTER they finally hired me some help. I did, though, hear that the regional manager and the VP of the company had “Noticed my hard work” which (for right or wrong) felt more like an insult than a compliment as I was working my proverbial buns off (and not my literal buns as long drives, gas station/fast food, and lots of caffeinated beverages don’t promote weight loss).

              I left that job finally this spring for one that pays better (10k/year more), has set hours, and so far, have been awesome.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          Actually, I think what ends up happening more often is that you do take over someone else’s job and end up just doing yours and theirs poorly. I was in a position where I was effectively doing the work of 4 people, which isn’t to say I was doing 160 hours a week. What that means is that I was managing accounts frantically trying to keep everything afloat for 70+ hours a week. Every decision I made was the first thing that came to mind, not the absolute best decision because there simply was no time. All the processes we had in place to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks were just garbage because I felt like my whole job was cracks loosely strung together with thin wire I was walking constantly. If you really, really push yourself, you can do two peoples jobs in 60 hours a week, but you’re going to burn out. Quality will suffer.

          The truth is that you can push someone who has mastered their job to put more and more and more on their plate and they can become more and more efficient. Someone who is already in the role knows what they can get away with and what they absolutely must do to get the job done. You can stack tasks on them because they know all your processes. A new person is going to be slower and they won’t be able to triage. It isn’t a long-term strategy because if you push far enough, that high performer is going to go elsewhere.

          All this to say that hours are simply not apples. There is rarely a 1:1 comparison between an existing employee and a new hire.

        2. Jerm*

          My current job and previous job leave me with the impression that you can actually do the work of 2 roles and not require overtime because those roles don’t truly require a full work week. Just sayin’.

        3. Doreen*

          That depends on the job – in my job, I can do the job of two people. We have staffing ratios such that each person in my position is supposed to manage an office and directly supervise 2 Senior Teapot Makers who each supervise 7 Teapot Makers. It happens for various reasons that sommy counterparts are supervising 4 Seniors who are in turn supervising 28 ( or more) teapot makers. They aren’t typically working 80 hours a week , but they are working more than 40 and don’t have the time I do to plan or train people or to do many other things that aren’t subject to a deadline

      3. JSPA*

        If Alison sees this–is this something that could go in a cover letter, for a job where the title does not do the job justice? Something like, “the job I was doing spanned [duty1 to duty2 to duty3 to duty4] and in fact was divided into two full time jobs, at salaries of X and Y, upon my departure.” Or does that signal, “underpay me and overwork me, I’m easy that way”?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No. The salaries would definitely feel out of place there, and more broadly it doesn’t really convey what you’d want it to convey — the person reading it could easily think, “OK, that doesn’t really tell me anything — was the job restructured and expanded, are the two people taking on additional work, etc.?”

      4. Door Guy*

        Back in college, I took a semester off and decided I could work the overnights at my job since the current worker was going in for surgery. Did them 5 nights a week for 9 months at my regular wages. Come time to go back to school I find out they are offering pay increases to do the overnight job. When I asked why I didn’t get a raise, the manager told me I had volunteered so they didn’t need to use the extra money as an incentive…

        All that meant was I was no longer willing to step up at that job and even at future jobs

    4. Old Cynic*

      ….and if they had been paying me what they intend to pay the new person I would not have been job hunting…

    5. Jadelyn*

      I might also put it on Glassdoor tbh – prospective employees deserve to know this is an org that does not pay market rate unless forced to.

      1. Goose Lavel*

        Let colleagues know that you make $32k and the company will pay $40k for someone without company experiance.
        It may help them negotiate for higher pay.

    1. jamberoo*

      Mine too. I was hired by someone who ended up being a low-balling sexist jerk; every time I attempt to negotiate a raise or promotion that would bring me closer to industry standard I am told they are restricted by percentages and there’s nothing I can do. ( Of course there are things I can do >:/ )

      1. Door Guy*

        When I asked about a salary increase for getting a 2nd full time workers job dumped on me (see above comment) I was told that the company had just let a bunch of people in my job go at other offices and that if my coworker hadn’t gotten promoted out we might have been forced to let one of us go so I should just be happy I have a job…

        That company had so many bad decisions that, although I know why they were trying to make them, they ended up just being penny smart pound foolish.

    2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      This happened to a boss of mine. She was in charge of her area and 6 sub areas, with two part time assistants. She put in for retirement and the person they hired for her replacement was in charge of her main area, no sub areas, and an extra f/t staffer for $5K more than she was making.

    3. Sloan Kittering*

      This is soooo common in nonprofit. And to be honest, there ARE people in this field who don’t really live off their salaries – either their spouse makes a good enough living, or they have family money, or whatever. So a lot of orgs get used to the idea that they can get rockstar employees who don’t “need” a living wage because they’re so committed to “the mission.” (or they’re very young). It’s only when they try to *replace* those people that they run into the problem (and sometimes they get lucky several times in a row! It happens!). As a nonprofit employee who depends on my salary to live, I am veeeery familiar with this phenomenon.

      1. A B*

        Yeah, we get that a lot in higher ed, especially at the lower levels. People think it’s a great place to work, and it can be, but we have been pushing for inclusivity and access and equity and no one seems to care if that applies to the staff as long as students (and faculty, really) are covered.

        1. J.E.*

          I work in higher ed and see that too. Also, part time employees not getting the same recognition as full time employees. Not all part time employees are student workers who move on, there are many with a decade or more in their part time positions yet years of service recognition just seem to be for full timers.

      2. J.E.*

        I’ve seen this happen too. Also, maybe I’ve just become that cynical, but part of me thinks at least they are refilling OP’s position. Some places wouldn’t and just pile extra work on the remaining employees for no additional pay.

        1. OP*

          That’s why I was doing twice the normal workload in the first place – someone quit (someone 2 levels above me) and their work got passed off to me because they decided not to re-hire that position.

        2. Doctor_Octopus*

          +1000 to all of these comments. I worked at a non-profit cultural institution and they were infamous for all of these practices. Most of our senior leadership were women who were comfortable making lower salaries because their male partners made enough to cover the bills and then some (we live in a large expensive city, so these were typically men in tech or finance). Another fun trick they were known for involved posting a job at a higher pay band, and then telling applicants (usually young women of color) that they weren’t reeeeally qualified for the job, and they could only offer it to them at a lower salary and title. Spoiler: they were definitely qualified for the jobs. We used to call the postings board the “bait and switch board”. All of this was accompanied by a heaping side order of talk about “diversity and inclusion”, and “developing tomorrow’s leaders”. OP, just know that this is super common and probably doesn’t relate to your skills (although I took it really personally when it happened to me). I hope grad school goes well and that you get a job that pays you fairly and that you can use your awesome abilities to change the world.

        3. Paulina*

          They’re refilling OP’s position, but only for half the work. Unless there’s another job posting still to come, there’s extra work for someone.

    4. DustyJ*

      Me too! In fact I was under the impression that this was standard operating procedure in most jobs. If you want a raise in salary you have to leave, and the position you’re leaving gets automatically bumped up for the next incumbent.

      One lives and learns on this site!

    5. ce77*

      Me too. I work for the government and there’s a lot of odd policies about how much of an increase you can give an existing employee, while starting salary has significantly less restrictions. Happens all the time. We are working on fixing it and fixing the policies, but that isn’t as helpful as money in your pocket.
      So it knowingly happens all the time. You are making $50k, and then the starting salary for the position moves up to $55k but we can’t pay you that due to a wide variety of bizarre/bad policies. There are loopholes we work through, but those take upwards of 3-4 months for approval, and in that time you are being paid less. I’m sorry it happened to you.

  4. OysterMan*

    I remember this feeling when I found out that the person they hired to replace me a few jobs ago was making 66% more than what they had been paying me. One of the big reasons I left was because of money, but they just simply didn’t have it in the budget to give me a raise.

    I knew there was no way they were going to be to afford to replace me at the salary I was making, but a 66% increase was eye opening. That person quit after 6 months, so even more money down the drain for them.

    I couldn’t be happier that I left that toxic place. It’s a sinking ship.

    1. OysterMan*

      the clarify: I knew they weren’t going to be able to find a replacement at the low salary I had been making. I was making way WAY under market value.

      That was some years ago, and now I’m making exactly the salary that they were paying that first person who replaced me. It turns out money can buy happiness, up to a certain income level :) Being financially secure has turned my life around, and I never would have gotten here if I hadn’t left that place to seek the salary that’s appropriate for my skillset.

      1. Zephy*

        “Who ever said money can’t solve your problems must not have had enough money to solve ’em,” said the greatest philosopher of our age, Ariana Grande. Like, I’m trying hard to think of a problem I have that wouldn’t be totally solved, or at least made considerably easier to solve, if I had more money. I…got nothing.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I tend to think that’s true with everything except for personal relationships (marriage, family relationships, etc.). And that’s a huge category with massive quality of life impacts.

          Oh, and health. Money certainly helps there as well — but can’t solve everything.

          Money solves everything else I can think of.

          1. Asenath*

            Well – money alone can’t fix some non-personal problems. I left a field that paid a lot better than the one I moved into – but I was very unhappy in the better-paying job. And bad at some of it, to be honest – I was probably ill-suited to it anyway. One of the reasons I stuck with it as long as I did was that I didn’t know how I’d make ends meet without the money that came with it. I managed to live on less quite happily, once I realized that I had to find something else for my own mental and physical well-being. It was a rough transition.
            Still, it must sting to know that the employer can find money to pay someone else more than they paid your for the same (or less) work.

            1. smoke tree*

              There is particularly a balance when it comes to time and stress. I could be making more money if I took on tons of freelance work, but I’ve decided it’s not worth it to me. Same calculus with taking on a higher-stress position that pays better. Maybe in this thought experiment, “money” is meant to refer to no-strings-attached money.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah, it’s not “if you have money, you’ll be happy with any situation.” It’s “if you have enough money, you can walk away from a job that you don’t like.”

              1. Asenath*

                That’s the bit I find confusing! I left a job I didn’t like without money in savings – and without any immediate prospect of any from other sources! So I eventually realized that I could walk away from a situation I didn’t like (to put it mildly) without money. And when I did get another job, I earned a lot less, but managed to enjoy life. I’ve found it liberating to realize that I can survive happily even with little money. It’s also nice that after quite some time living sensibly on what I suspect is less than the amounts mentioned below, even allowing for a fairly low COL area, I am entering retirement with, probably, enough to live on. That’s close to “no-strings-attached” – but it doesn’t feel as good as knowing that I can manage to survive if I don’t have money – because I’ve done it.

          2. Delphine*

            In the case of health and personal relationships, not enough money can do a lot of damage–increased stress on a marriage or not having the funds to regularly visit a doctor. Once the damage is done you can’t necessarily throw money at it but had you had that money before…

          3. Massmatt*

            Someone I knew put it well: “It’s true that money can’t buy you happiness. But poverty can’t buy you ANYTHING!”

            1. Jadelyn*

              My favorite response to that is “You don’t think money can buy happiness? You must be spending it wrong. Here, give it to me and I’ll show you how it’s done.”

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          There have been various studies on money and happiness, which is a bit different then solving problems. But I think some studies have found that happiness does increase when you make more money up to a certain level that is. I think the number they mentioned was about $60/70k a year, after that making more money does not make a person happier. I think this is part of the law of diminishing returns.

          It seems to make sense to me, once you reach a certain income level where you are stable enough to be able to cover your bills, save for retirement, and have disposable income for fun things the rest becomes relative. If someone is making $130k a year, they are able to take a nice vacation, but they know that their neighbor makes $170k a year and they are able to stay at a nicer hotel, rent a nicer car, do some nicer activities. There person making $170k a year knows that there is someone who makes $210k a year who is able to afford even more, a nicer/bigger house, fancier dinners, etc…

          1. OP*

            I think I know the study you mean – IIRC, it was something like that, but with the caveat that the real number is something like X% of the cost of living for each area since $60,000 in San Fran is much different than say, rural Iowa. Basically, the point was that you had enough money to live on (meaning consistent and meaningful access to food, water, and permanent shelter) PLUS enough that you could build a cushion for emergencies (and larger purchases).

            1. OP*

              …which I now realized you basically just said that in your last paragraph. Three cheers for reading comprehension ;)

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think more money helps WAY beyond that level. Even $200K is nowhere near the level where you can spend on whatever you want and totally eliminate money stress. It’s happiness-enhancing to be able to throw any amount of money needed at a problem and not have the stress of “oh shit, I need to do $90K in repairs on my house foundation, how will I make that happen?”

            1. animaniactoo*

              To whit: Recently my parents had to install a machine in the dining room to keep my mother alive and it was making jetplane levels of noise – clearly not sustainable for living with longterm. My dad was able to NOT completely freak out about it and call the necessary people to see if it was defective because he knows he has the money to go find and pay for another not-covered-by-insurance quieter one if necessary. (Fortunately for people everywhere who don’t have that option, it was, in fact, defective and swapped out the next day).

              So… it matters even in small ways for being able to cope when you only MIGHT need to spend $2K+ in cash tomorrow and not worry about how that will also affect the rest of your budget for the week or the month; or how hard you’re going to have to argue with somebody to fix something that should be covered and how long that will take.

            2. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I understand what you are saying. I agree not many people are prepared for such huge emergency expenses like a $90k foundation issue or other huge expense, that such an expense would lead to significant stress. I further agree that monetary freedom/security would lead to an increase in happiness.

              I did not read the actual study so I can’t comment on the specific methodology. I can only speculate that happiness is impacted by many variables, with money being an important one but not the sole variable. I also speculate that happiness is hard to quantify and relies on self reporting to some degree. It could be that more money while it increases happiness due to the financial freedom it provides, it also leads to a change in a different variable that actually decreases happiness to such an extent that results in a net happiness decrease.

              I do think to a certain extent the more money you make, the more you want to spend, and leads to a keeping up with the Jones type situation. But I am no where near that income level and probably never will. Maybe I have just bought into a lie perpetrated by the 1% to keep us folks on the lower end of the income spectrum in our place.

              1. TardyTardis*

                In our neighborhood, $90k would buy an entirely new house…or at least a fairly nice old one.

            3. seeveeargh*

              Whoa, I think $200k is way higher than the level I’d need to eliminate money stress, but I do not own a house and would prefer not to ever own a house. The $X here is relative to people’s situations, expectations, and goals I think.

              1. seeveeargh*

                Oh, also just remembered I’m Canadian so I don’t have to worry about healthcare expenses as much as Americans. And tuition is a lot less expensive here so.. okay, I see where you’re getting that number from now, Allison. Sorry, eh.

                1. Helena*

                  Depends where you live as well. If you rent in Toronto, your household income definitely needs to be closer to $200k than $80k if you want to be free of money worries. Nova Scotia, $80k is plenty to live on.

          3. Dust Bunny*

            Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy security and freedom, and those go a long way.

            Huge amounts of money won’t make you happy if you’re a fundamentally miserable person, but not having enough money will very definitely make you unhappy if it means you can’t live a decent life.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I totally agree about not being happy if you don’t have enough money to survive. The point that I was trying to make, and I think OP might have made it better, if you are able to pay for food, housing, put money in savings, and have some disposable income for fun stuff, then after that more money might not make you happier. I say this as someone who is still significantly below the $60/70k that the study identified as the optimal income range, and whom a $40/50k raise per year would make a big difference. I think that maybe once you hit a level of income where you don’t worry about necessities (food/housing/clothes) you still have other problems/issues that you worry about.

              1. Roza*

                Just wanted to chime in with my strong agreement with this. I still remember my life living on a grad school stipend in an extremely high COL area. I was lucky to have a stipend at all, but I still remember the stress of making sure checks didn’t bounce based on the timing of stipend payment and rent, having to run the numbers on every purchase, sacrificing tons of time to do something in a slightly cheaper was because I could not afford more, unexpected expenses (or even worry about unexpected expenses) being terrifying… I went into industry and immediately quintupled my income, and the effect on my mental health has been enormous. Even now, several years later, it feels like such a luxury to not have to stress about every tiny purchase, and to have a rainy day account to use to throw money at problems or chores instead of having to do every single thing myself. I don’t really need more money than I make now, but I wouldn’t want to make less and lose that security.

        3. whatthemell?*

          And funnily enough, Ariana comes from money. Like, MAJOR money. Long before she was a kid actress on Victorious, her family was super wealthy- government contracts for shipping electronics and components. I worked at her management company and would hear all about the multimillion dollar properties her mom purchased all over the country just so they’d have a comfortable place to stay when in LA….or NY….or wherever.

          Not knocking what she said – it’s absolutely the truth – but she is one person who wouldn’t know what it’s like to be without. Kinda ironic.

        4. Grand Mouse*

          I have a massively popular post spread around where I break down WHAT money can buy and how that contributes to happiness like being able to leave a bad situation and have life-enriching experiences

          I realize by saying this I’ve tipped my hand on my anonymity somewhat. Anyway just saying a lot of people agree with this!

        5. Former Employee*

          “… the greatest philosopher of our age, Ariana Grande.”

          And I thought it was Cardi B!

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        I heard someone describe it as “Money can’t buy happiness, but poverty always buys distress.” Basically money won’t magically make you happy but it can remove a lot of stressful things in your life that get in the way of being happy.

  5. Katertot*

    I feel you, OP. I had a similar thing happen to me, except I had accepted a promotion that I hadn’t applied for, along with a very small raise – and later found the job posted online for starting at 20k more than I was making doing it.

    It’s a really crappy feeling, but if anything this should confirm that you are making the right decision in moving on.

    1. OysterMan*

      “It’s a really crappy feeling, but if anything this should confirm that you are making the right decision in moving on.”

      Exactly! This knowledge will really help you if you ever start questioning your decision to leave. You are definitely making the right move by leaving.

  6. Lobsterman*

    If there is one thing I have learned from AAM, it’s that the only power we have is our willingness to leave.

    1. Windchime*

      Yes. And in most places, that’s the only way to make significantly more money. It’s mind-boggling to me that businesses don’t understand that it costs money to train new people — why not just pay your experienced people the bigger salary and save on the training costs?

      Someone at work told me that there is money in the budget to make counter-offers when people threaten to leave. So why isn’t there enough money in the budget to just pay the going rate so people don’t have to threaten to leave? It’s so confusing to me.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Because they’re gambling that you won’t. It’s stupid and short-sighted, but…capitalism, I guess.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          It’s also the excitement of a shiny new employee with unknown skills and abilities, versus Jane who they already know and therefore take for granted. Plus, there’s some kind of human mental failing where it just sucks to pay more for the same thing that used to be cheaper.

          1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

            “Plus, there’s some kind of human mental failing where it just sucks to pay more for the same thing that used to be cheaper.” Nail on head, right here.

        2. Former Usher*

          Yep. As a former manager once said, “I knew you were unhappy but didn’t think you’d leave.”

      2. Jelly*

        It’s probably because most people actually don’t leave. Inertia is strong. Companies count on that. And the money they save for the year or two they keep the underpaid person is probably more important to them than a future unknown cost of a position search.

        That’s why they only pony up when someone is actively trying to leave. The unknown future cost of hiring a new person has become an imminent cost they are trying to avoid.

    2. Yikes*

      Yes. I worked at a non-profit where the only way to advance was to submit a letter of resignation. One guy even brought a box to clear out his office. Once you resigned, they would beg you to stay, promote you, and give you a raise. I naively asked for a raise without threatening to leave. They said I could be promoted if someone was immediately available to fill my job. So, they had me run the entire hiring process to find a replacement so that I could be promoted. I wrote the description, posted ads, vetted resumes, interviewed, called references, hired someone, and trained her. Once she was comfortable with the database, they fired me.

      Some nonprofits, just like corporations, are truly terrible, no matter the value of the mission.

  7. Stephanie*

    My employer has tuition assistance that varies from some support to full support. For some degrees, they pay an external candidate more in salary who has the same degree versus an internal candidate they sponsored.

  8. AW*

    OP I’d seriously look at leaving earlier if you can, leave them with the headache of transitioning your work to the new person. They know damn well what they were doing and didn’t care.

    1. OP*

      My dad told me to do the same thing! I totally would, except I so desperately need those last (now 3) weeks of pay since I’m about to spend a bucketload on tuition :)

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Okay wait. You gave them SIX MONTHS notice and they just now posted your job THREE WEEKS before you’re leaving???

        1. OP*

          YES! And I asked my manager probably once a week if I could help get the job posted and was told no, no, they had it, until they frantically realized how little time was left and asked me to write the job description for them. So I did, two months ago! And it still took another 5 weeks to post it after that!

          1. Southern Ladybug*

            Well I sincerely hope you do not put in any extra time between now and then. Do your job, work while you are there but don’t jump through hoops!

            And congrats on grad school! I’m excited for you.

          2. Jadelyn*

            …kinda wanna get a bucket of popcorn ready to watch the flailing that will ensue once you’re gone. I can’t believe they squandered a six month notice period!

            1. OhNo*

              Seriously! What a way to waste a truly generous notice period.

              OP, I can almost guarantee that they’re going to be flailing after you’re gone, which means they may reach out to you with questions. After this nonsense, don’t give them anything for free unless you desperately need to keep the contact relationship going.

              Just remember: you’re soooo busy with graduate school, you really don’t have time… but you could maybe arrange a few hours of consultation for a fee of $X, if they really need the help.

              1. OP*

                Grad school is literally in a different country, so I will only be reachable via email and in a completely different time zone, so…they’re not really going to be able to get much outta me anyway even if I wanted to!

          3. Observer*

            The 5 weeks part I actually understand. I bet that when they started the process of getting the job description posted, someone must have realized that they could NOT post that – they needed to change things. Of course that takes time, especially when no one has thought this through.

            If you have any good will left, do point out them that this pattern is costing them money, and is likely to cost them even more as current (and future) staff get to understand how they handle this stuff.

            1. Paulina*

              Yes, especially since how they handle this stuff seems to be to fold vacant positions into the workload of existing staff without a significant raise. I wonder, after they fill it, for how long that position is going to remain with only half of what the OP is doing now, especially since there’s no indication that they’re hiring someone to do the other half. Or will those responsibilities just get added to the workload of one of the remaining coworkers?

          4. Detective Amy Santiago*

            You have clearly made the right decision to leave! Good luck with grad school!

            (and maybe stay in touch with a few people there so you can update us on the ensuing train wreck when you’re gone)

            1. OP*


              I have definitely made some coworkers promise to update me on how things are going when I’m gone, so I will try and keep you all posted if I’m not buried by school work :)

        1. OP*

          Not much (we don’t get a lot), unfortunately! But I am using what pittance I have to take a day off for paperwork, packing, and whatever other nonsense still remains.

      2. Free Meerkats*

        Just because you’re there doesn’t mean you have to work the same hours and load you have been carrying. There’s a lot of stuff that will distract you over the next few weeks, so your productivity is obviously going to be lower. Don’t let them guilt trip you, don’t volunteer for anything. Just come in, put in your 40 hors a week, and go home to pack, tie up loose ends, have goodbye dinners/drinks with your friends. You don’t owe this place more than that.

        Good luck!

      3. Working Mom Having It All*

        Well… they can’t fire you, can they? I would be tempted to go in for your usual hours and do basically no work for the next 3 weeks. Just mark time. Do stuff you have to do if, for example, someone comes to you and says “can you review this teapot design and forward it to Cersei for approval by lunchtime?” but otherwise just drag your heels. Take those last 3 checks. Move on and never look back.

        On the other hand maybe not, if you need them as a reference later? But assuming you are going to grad school for a completely different field. And even then, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be going above and beyond at this point.

        1. OP*

          I do want them as a reference, but I’m sort of – I don’t want to say doing the bare minimum, but I’m doing what I need to do to be good at my job. Before that, I was working as hard as I could to go above and beyond and be a standout employee, but now I’m just focusing on transitioning out. I’m just focusing on making sure that everyone has the things they need when I’m gone (so that my coworkers aren’t screwed!) but not trying to do any over-the-top extra work or projects.

          I will likely need a reference later on – grad school is for the same field but very different job, but it’s good to be able to show I know the field, and some skills from my current job are sort of a “bonus” to hiring managers for my future job (which previously didn’t care about those skills until it realized there was an underused opportunity in the cross over).

    2. RandomU...*

      At this point… while crappy the OP might also want to think about references. It wouldn’t be great to burn a bridge now.

    3. Enginear*

      6 month advance notice… wayyy too considerate! That’s opening the door for them to use you till the last minute.

  9. Junior Assistant Peon*

    I ran across a document I wasn’t supposed to see, a list of all my coworkers’ salaries and ranges for their positions. It confirmed what I had long suspected, that I being paid less than the range for my own job, and the same was true for my boss.

    After I left, the HR manager had a meeting with my boss and his boss, and she admitted to him that in order to recruit a replacement for me, a competitive salary for my position was more than what they were paying him! It shamed them into giving him a little more money, and they ended up dividing my duties between my old boss and a kid fresh out of college because they were too cheap to pay what it would have cost to replace me.

    My boss had been screwed by being promoted during a salary freeze several years earlier. The promised raise to reflect his promotion and new responsibilities never came, and he was stuck at his original salary with inflation raises. In my case, I gradually took on substantial new responsibility while officially remaining at the title and pay I was hired at.

  10. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I’ve mentioned this before, but a few years back, I was doing the equivalent of two full time jobs and was horribly burnt out. No matter how many times I asked for help, the only response I ever got was “you can work as much OT as you want”.

    Well, I ended up getting fired because it was an untenable situation. They had to replace me with two people.

    This all falls under the “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” umbrella.

    1. WellRed*

      Do you think they took a hard look at the job at that point and realized it was to two FTE, or did they try to hire one person and have no luck?

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I think they realized how much I was responsible for and that my direct supervisor didn’t understand at least 50% of what I was doing and went “oh shit, we need two people to handle this”.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          It’s funny what happens when someone has to type out the job duties for a job posting. Once they get up to 15 responsibilities, they realize it’s too much work for one person and no one in their right minds would apply for the job.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            Same story as Detective Amy. I once took a job with 8 bullet points as a description. I repeatedly requested to take my old responsibilities away, so I could do the new job and was denied. When I asked what my priorities were I was told “all of them”.
            The last straw was that I asked for a Friday off. Note that I was salary and had already put in an average of 60 hours every week for more than 2 months. I had already worked over 40 hours that particular week. I was put on a PIP. The 8 bullet point job description…6 pages. I walked in the next day with a resignation in hand. So happy to leave that toxic place behind.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Good for you!

              There were five of us in my department. Three people did one thing, I did that thing plus several other things, and then we had a person who helped us half time with various things. We routinely worked 10-12 hour days just to try to stay afloat.

              Core hours for our division were 9a-6p. We would frequently come in at 7:30 or 8am and stay until 7:30 or 8pm. One day though, all five of us had plans after work, so 6pm rolls around, and we all stand up and start getting our things together. Supervisor had the gall to say “you’re all leaving?”

    2. MaxiesMommy*

      Yep. I’ve never worked anywhere (except my very first job) where I wasn’t replaced by two people. One employer had the nerve to say “why didn’t you tell us you were doing all this?” SMH.

    3. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I’m on that same list… getting replaced by two people when I leave a job. But I now realize that it’s my fault. I am the overly-accommodating competent workaholic that enables that bad situation. The problem is that you become the corporate “workhorse” used as a infinite well of reliable labor. Why hire two people when one person is willing to do it all? Grr.

    4. Arielle*

      Several jobs ago I was replaced by two people, each of whom were hired on for way more than what I was being paid. I had to train both of them.

      I’m running into a similar situation now where people are finally getting around to reading all the documentation I’ve created for my maternity leave and going, “Oh wow, you do ALL THAT?” Yes. Yes, I do, which is why I’ve been asking you to staff someone to cover me for months now.

  11. Narise*

    I would have the conversation above with my manager and make sure to include this in the exit interview specifically that you trusted them when they said it wasn’t in the budget and now you know that was not true. This changes how you view them and their company. In addition to these conversations I would make sure your co-workers who value you so much are aware so if/when they ask for raises they can do their own market research and not be duped by ‘it’s not in a budget’ answer. If enough employees start asking for raises because of this it may impact the business. Also feel free to shorten your notice if that works for you. Don’t do it in a manner that expresses anger but rather from a point of view to your manager ‘Your decision impacted me personally and I need to move on.’

  12. Airy*

    Wow. I know it would be a dick move but I still hope that before you leave you’re able to hide some raw shrimp somewhere extremely hard to find in the office of each of the people responsible for this decision.

    1. OP*

      I’ve been working for this org for several years in various capacities and feel…or felt…a lot of loyalty to the company. It’s a nonprofit org I believe in very strongly, and I had fantastic relationships with my coworkers there (and still do – a lot of us non-managers/same level job folks get together for after work drinks, board games, dinner, sports events, etc) so I really wanted to make sure it was as smooth a transition as possible. We’ve had a ton of turnover lately and it’s been really tough on people (I know because a lot of the leftover work from that turnover fell on me abruptly and it sucked) so I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to the coworkers who remained.

      They didn’t post my job until very recently, though, so my hopes of giving them enough time to hire someone and make a smooth transition so as not to burden my other coworkers were all for naught. Maybe it was too nice, but I am still glad I tried my best to do right by my peers, even if management didn’t do anything about it.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        This sounds like me talking five years ago before I became jaded. I think the nonprofit sector attracts people like us, who really do care about the mission and feel personally connected to the org/coworkers. But over the years, I’ve seen them “find” the money for the things they want so many times, while screwing over loyal employees who are kicking ass every day on their behalf. And I’ve seen them pile on responsibilities to good people until they lose their motivation and burn out. It’s all so shortsighted. Now I try to remember that the mission is much broader than the organization, and even nonprofits are still basically companies who run a business. It’s rarely personal to them when they’re making decisions.

        1. new rug*

          Yes this happened to my husband before he got out of the NP world. Although in fairness it was always easier to get donors for one time splashy projects or short term initiatives than to pay staff a living wage or offer benefits to staff that had been there for years. The people who stayed all had spouses (or parents) who could carry the load financially.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            “easier to get donors for one time splashy projects or short term initiatives” – true. But I’ve also seen ED’s tap into discretionary funds for something dumb like new office furniture when we project folks are cut down to the bone for anything not billable to a grant.

      2. Kyrielle*

        It was nice of you to try to do it, though, and it doesn’t sound like it backfired on you in any way. Failed, yes. Backfired, no.

        And yeah, I look forward to any updates you have later.

      3. J.E.*

        You mention there has been a ton of turnover recently. Things like your situation are probably part of it and sounds like them not filling other positions and piling the work on remaining employees is burning them out. They’re going to have to change things or they’ll just keep having turnover and spending money on training new people who may not stick around.

    2. Enginear*

      Hell, people who’ve been working for companies for 10-20 years give only like a 1 month notice that they’re retiring lol

    3. hermit crab*

      In my experience (in the for-profit world, even!), it’s really common for people to give long notices when they leave to go back to school. You’re generally leaving on good terms, you’re not going to a competitor or some place that is going to “poach” other employees, acceptances can come months before you start your program, and you may have asked your boss for a letter of recommendation so they know you are applying anyway.

      Six months is maybe a bit long, but I’ve seen loads of people give 3-5 months — e.g., they find out they are accepted in the spring, tell their employer their decision, and then keep working through the summer.

      1. No Name Yet*

        Same experience here, in healthcare/research settings. I think I gave 4-5 months, because that was the time between grad school acceptance and when the academic year started.

      2. OP*

        This is basically what happened. The school is in another country so the acceptance cycle was earlier than a lot of schools in my country, which meant I found out in early January as opposed to, say, May. I told my employer in late Feb/early March that I was leaving late August/early September.

      3. Nerfmobile*

        Yes. I worked at a university when I was applying to grad school, so one of my references was my manager! She clearly knew I was applying, so when acceptances came out I told her once I had decided which program to go to. That meant it was about a 5 month notice period, which helped us manage a smooth transition.

  13. Me (I think)*

    My new boss went to our new director when he realized how underpaid I was, and her response was “Well, he can go someplace else for a few years and then come back here if he wants more money.”


    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Ha! That happened to a former coworker of mine. His boss (one of my favorites at that place – no BS kind of guy) told coworker and helped him find an awesome job elsewhere then called him back in 2-3 years at a 50% increase from what he was making when he left a couple of years prior. Dude would have been thrilled with 15% but some assholes are so shortsighted. Not sure why our value suddenly goes up when we either want to leave or have been gone for a year.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        “Not sure why our value suddenly goes up when we either want to leave or have been gone for a year.”

        The management version of “because no one is a prophet is his/her own own land.”

        1. Kiwiii*

          this!! a coworker of mine left for 9 months, expressedly stating that she was leaving because of money and that she’d be back the next time they posted the position. like you couldn’t just give her the raise and not deal with all the extra training??

    2. Autumnheart*

      Yes, because nothing says “brilliant leadership” like telling your talent to GO WORK FOR THE COMPETITION. Straight out of Harvard Business School. /ssssssss

    3. Jadelyn*

      The myopia of some managers never ceases to amaze. You have a person who you clearly acknowledge has the potential to be worth more money…so instead of making use of those few years to train and develop them, you shoo them away???

    4. Goldfinch*

      I work at the in-between company for a guy in this situation. He came to us in a desperately-needed role after a decade at Old Company, rocked it for less than a year, then went back to Old Company in a senior version of his old role. His replacement dug in and realized that he had let several critical balls drop during his final weeks, which threw some projects months off track. I’d bet my company would love to bill that place for all the wasted time and money!

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s unfortunately such a common tactic in places with bad management. I remember negotiating my pay up to get it to the bottom of the market range, only to find out when I quit that they had to increase the base salary by $12K for it to pass the laugh test. I’m still irked by it.

  14. CupcakeCounter*

    I feel your pain. When I left my last position they had to hire 2 people to replace me. The associate level position was listed at about $5k more than what I hired in for and the more senior analyst role was posted for several thousand more than what I was currently making (basically the “rounded up to the nearest pretty number” so I was at $42 and they posted it as $45.
    I’d worked my ass off for 15 months doing both jobs because the VP kept “forgetting” to sign off on the requisition or delaying the candidates hiring authorization form for so long they accepted another position.

  15. HailRobonia*

    It could be worse: you could be staying and they hire someone at your same level whom you have to train, and find out that they are paid significantly more than you.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Heheheh sooo been there. Or you get an idiot new manager who knows jack, you do everything for the next year, then find out that person is making twice what you do :P

    2. MistOrMister*

      Something like that happened in my first office job. Back then I thought whatever you were offered was what was fair and the same as other people coming in (young me was naive as heck!) and I took it happily as it was more than I was making in retail. I received a raise within maybe 6 months and thought, oh BOY look at me go! Then I come to find out, a brand new coworker with no experience came in and they started her at what I was now getting with my new raise. Then it came out that I was making a good 10k less than everyone else in my department even though 2 of the other 3 didn’t have much more experience than me and I did more work than everyone else. Needless to say I was livid and didn’t last there much longer!

    3. Ali G*

      Or in my case hire someone over you, that you have to train and then you are told that person is taking all your best duties from you. Nope!

    4. Ella Bee Bee*

      This just happened to a friend of mine. She was making below market for her role (in PR) and the company realized that they had to raise salaries to attract new employees. But they only changed salaries for new hires coming in, and kept the current employeees at the same salary. My friend found out that she was making almost $10,000 less a year after 3 years at her company, than people who had been working there a month. These were all people with the same exact position, and similar education/work history. The only real difference was when they had been hired. She is looking for new jobs.

    5. Ada*

      Been there, done that, bit my tongue and seethed silently while listening to our manager talk about how her work wasn’t all that good… And then she was replaced with someone who’s worse at the job.

  16. Dust Bunny*

    This is why pay rates based on the job market when you were hired are functionally no different than getting paid based on your pay at a previous job. What you were worth ten years ago shouldn’t matter; what it would cost to replace you now should.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s also why they say the easiest way to get a raise is to get a new job. At a previous workplace, my boss was awesome and constantly advocated for giving me unsolicited raises, because my boss knew our entire department was underpaid. Even with all that effort, I was still not being paid market rate. The new job gave me a 28% “raise.”

  17. bookwyrm*

    I had something similar happen when I left my previous job. I had exemplary reviews and been told for 2 years by my managers that I should get a raise/promotion, especially after I was given increased responsibilities, but it got stuck above them and never happened. After I turned in my notice, my job was posted – with the higher title and salary that I had requested over the last two years. It was incredibly infuriating. You have my sympathies.

    (The higher ups who did not give me the raise really went all-in on burning their bridge with me when I left. On top of the job posting, they made a big deal about the fact that I gave “only” two weeks notice – despite it being a coordinator-level position where two weeks is the norm – including at an awkward team meeting. And then they spent most of those two weeks ignoring me. They had always praised me and said they didn’t know what they would do if I left, but they really handled it poorly.)

  18. Olive*

    I’m truly sorry for you OP. I know how unbelievably infuriating that can be. I’m currently working in a department that isn’t coy about doing this to its workers. In the past few years that I’ve been here we’ve had an incredible amount of turnover for this very reason. People ask for promotion and/or raises and get told that it’s not in the budget so when they leave and notice their position is getting reposted with a better title and pay, they feel demoralized. I myself am currently looking now. I’ve been in my position for over three years, do way more than I’m getting paid for and can’t move up and I just know when I give notice they are poised to give my position a raise and higher title and no matter how much a prepare for it, I know it’s still going to be infuriating. I’m with you. They should do more to retain the good people they have on staff already instead of making them feel like they have to leave to excel. It’s an unfair and a topsy-turvy situation. I’m hoping that if you do decide to approach your boss with this, that it does make a difference.

  19. Jennifer*

    Sigh. I really hate this. It reminds me of how certain companies offer so many incentives and discounts to people signing on as new customers but forget to offer any perks to those of us who have been with them for years. It’s almost like you have to threaten to leave, whether you’re a customer or an employee, to get what you deserve.

  20. Clorinda*

    If they ask you to stay on, you can consult at twice the hourly rate of the advertised position. That’s only IF you want to and have the time, of course.

  21. AndersonDarling*

    It’s funny how the executives at non-profits will have their salaries adjusted for market increases on a yearly basis, but there is no money when the staff is vastly paid below market rates. I worked at a non-profit that had a solid revenue stream and when I left my salary DOUBLED! I mean, I knew I was underpaid, but I had no stinking idea I was that underpaid!
    Sometimes all you can do is leave. It’s a big world, and there are many people who will truly value you.

  22. AngryOwl*

    I’m sorry, OP. This happened to me at my last job (in addition to other toxic elements) and it’s so damn demoralizing. I hope you’re able to speak up, and I agree that telling your colleagues is a great idea. Good for you for pushing when they said no, too, even if it didn’t end up working.

  23. Catsaber*

    Shortly after I left my last job, they reclassified everyone in the department and my former position got a ~23% increase. I knew about this because I transferred departments, and my former coworkers told me. I was pissed off for a while…because I work at a university, and reclassifications – especially of an entire department – takes a LOOOOOONG time, like about a year, and my boss said absolutely nothing to me about it. I had always received high praise for my work, and my boss gushed about me all the time, so I thought that when I finally left, he would at least make a small attempt to keep me. One of the reasons I was leaving was because I had been underpaid for a very long time. I guess it’s possible he was told to keep it private until everything cleared, but it was like 3 weeks after I left that everyone got their raises.

    So anyway, I got into another department at the same university, and within 2 years, I’ve received a promotion and some hefty raises (one was when I was on maternity leave!) and have greatly outpaced my former position, because my new boss believes in paying people fairly, and being proactive in retaining employees. It makes a huge difference when your boss/organization is actively trying to retain good employees.

    1. Ann*

      I’ve had a very similar experience twice now—when I’m feeling charitable, I try to believe that the department heads were able to use my departure for underpayment as an argument in favor of the re-class or equity adjustments.

  24. Michael Valentine*

    OP, I feel you. We are currently hiring an additional staff member for our admin team, and the salary range is higher than what almost everyone else makes (I make slightly higher due to a few different job responsibilities, but when I say “slightly” I mean it). I doubt we’ll get an adjustment to our own salaries. And before anyone mentions it, no, the position will not be any more senior or require any more experience.

    1. Utoh!*

      Can an existing staff member apply for the higher paying position or are they only offering it to external candidates?

  25. Jen RO*

    In my company, the pool of money for raises is separate from the hiring budget. So, if the benchmark for a given position was increased tomorrow, we would be able to hire a new person for that amount… but we would not be able to increase existing employees’ salary accordingly. It’s utterly stupid. There are some mechanism in place to address this (employees who fall below the new benchmark are eligible for a slightly larger raise), but it’s never enough to compensate.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      This is a good point. As senseless as it can seem as an employee, there may actually be structural reasons within the org why there’s funds for hiring and not for raises. Of course, this is just how the organizational values are encoded.

  26. Name Required*

    Is it a possibility that the organization will receive an additional grant or funding that will allow them to increase the salary, but only after you are gone? That some stipulation of that funding is hiring a person to do X specific duties, and that your role will be slotted into that requirement?

    That’s the only generous explanation I can think of. Good luck in grad school, Letter Writer!

    1. OP*

      I work in our fundraising department – we’ve actually had a decrease in funding this year due to various factors, so that’s not it, unfortunately.

  27. Manchmal*

    OP, I would be annoyed too. The thing to keep in mind is: it’s not personal. This is the capitalist system that we all operate in (including nonprofits)! Labor is just one of the many costs that managers and higher-ups are trying to control. If you were in a management position, you’d keep labor costs down as well as you could, too (maybe not so egregiously, but still). That’s why loyalty to a company or an institution is to some extent misguided. That’s not to say you don’t make friends and get behind the organization’s mission, etc. but at the end of the day if you’re unhappy with your job, you try to change it–either from within, or by leaving and finding a new one. A budget isn’t anything more than a list of priorities, and if more money for you isn’t “in the budget,” that just means its not a priority.

  28. Mandrake*

    Alison’s assessment sounds spot-on. About 6 months ago, another manager in my company was looking to add two more people to his team. They’d be performing the same function as others on the team, there was just a need for more manpower to take on a higher project load. So, he floated the job description out to one of the recruitment agencies we use, along with the salary range, which was in line with what everyone else on the team was making. The recruitment agency came back and said “um, with this salary range you aren’t going to find anyone willing to work for you.” The manager was confused and pressed for more info. It turns out that with unemployment dropping to record lows in our metro area the past 12 months, supply had gone down and demand had gone up substantially for that type of position since the last time he’d made a hire. After meeting with the c-suite, it was decided that not only would the salary offer for the two new job openings be increased, the rest of that team would be getting equivalent raises as well. This manager and our executives had not realized how high in demand that particular field had become and did not want to risk losing an existing team member (or a complete exodus) due to salary. Several other managers including myself re-evaluated the market and salary trends for our departments and made a few necessary raises for our high-value employees as well. So it sounds like your soon to be former employer may have come upon the same revelation during their talent search, they just didn’t have any incentive to give you a raise since you were already heading out the door.

    1. Yikes*

      My wife’s employer does this. She got a significant raise last year because her boss found out that my wife’s counterpart at a local competitor was being paid much more, and wanted to make sure my wife was being paid the same amount. It’s a little crazy because counterpart has decades more experience, and it is not unreasonable that counterpart is paid more, but I’m not complaining.

  29. mark132*

    Unfortunately most employers do a poor job rewarding loyalty. It’s very frustrating, the incentive is to reward “disloyalty” at most.

  30. Brett*

    At old job, they eliminated my position after I quit because they realized what I was doing was not worth enough to pay someone else enough to do it (the “nice to haves” were too expensive).
    But, instead, they ended up making a new position with slightly lower pay that did the parts of my job that they did want to pay for (and a few other new responsibilities). But that person was underpaid and left as well. They realized that the work that person was doing was not worth enough to pay someone else enough to do it.

    So they cut the duties again to just the bare bones work that they really wanted done, a subset of the last two roles with absolutely none of the “nice to haves”, so that could finally afford someone in the role.
    And had to bump the pay up to higher than what I was making in order to hire someone for that subset of responsibilities. So, they lost all of the “nice to haves”, but I am glad that they are at least paying the role something close to market for its current responsibilities now.

  31. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP, I hope you will take these lessons with you into your future jobs. I’m afraid it’s often the case that the best way to get a significant salary increase is to change jobs and let the market decide on the current value of your services.

  32. HugsAreNotTolerated*

    Has anyone else seen the article about the 35 year old who ended up with a 41% raise that enabled her to pay off her student loans by asking the Over/Under question on salary? She found out that she was making $20k less a year than a male co-worker who had very similar qualifications and the same work experience. By stating an amount and asking her co-workers if they made ‘over’ or ‘under’ that amount she could get a really good sense of what they were making without them having to outright tell her what their salary was. A good way to get around the whole pesky ‘eww we don’t want to talk about money’ thing with co-workers, but still find out if you’re being underpaid. Not super relevant to this OP now, but could be helpful in the future!

  33. J.E.*

    For sure bring this up in the exit interview. They may have waited so long to post the job because they might have been waiting to see if they could get away with not filling at all and just spreading the work out to the remaining employees.

  34. agnes*

    OP, so sorry this happened. It’s all too common unfortunately. Alison gave good advice for future positions–negotiate as much starting pay as you can! This fascination with the novelty of “new blood” and hiring from outside the organization works in your favor when you are first coming to work.

    I also recommend that you keep track of your accomplishments and be ready to submit them in written form just before your evaluation. Managers forget all too easily what you did over the past year and it doesn’t hurt to have that information handy at evaluation time, especially if your eval is tied to any pay increases you get. My last boss gave credit to someone else in the office for work I did–and gave her a fat raise for it (like 10% during the recession!) . when I reminded him that it was actually MY project and I was the one who delivered the goods, he hemmed and hawed around about it. He finally admitted that he made a mistake, but he didn’t want to give me the credit or the money due, so I left and went elsewhere.

    (I still think there’s something a little improper about their relationship, but It doesn’t matter because I am happy and valued where I am.)

  35. S*

    OP I feel for you, I could have written this post. I had a job in a dying industry and had absorbed work from two people who were let go. Never got a raise and was working below the market rate, and just generally felt overwhelmed. I left three years ago and now make 40% more than original crappy job. I got a ton of crap from coworkers for leaving (because according to them, no one leaves the industry), but they all lost their jobs a year ago when all offices in the country were relocated. Sometimes moving on is the best thing to do. But I would definitely say something and post on Glassdoor about your experience. Good luck

  36. OP*

    Thanks everyone for your support, advice, & excitement about school. Thank you especially to Alison for giving me such a clear script. My manager is out this week but I will definitely use it when they return. They are very non-confrontational and basically run everytime a direct question is asked, but I will try to put that out there as firmly as I can (also non-confrontational to the nth degree).

    It sucks, but I definitely feel less alone hearing all of your stories of similar things happening. It REALLY sucks to see how common this is, and I hope all of us are on to better things, if not now, then very soon.

    I am off to an exciting school in a fun new country to get my master’s in a field I love dearly, but I will keep your advice close to my heart for the inevitable job search that follows it.

  37. Jesmlet*

    I’m not sure if anyone has suggested this but I wonder if it’s possible that they’re posting the job at a higher salary than what they actually intend to pay people, which would just mean they suck in a slightly different way? Either way, best of luck OP, you’re clearly moving in the right direction!

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Haha, I see you’ve worked for one of my former employers!

      The salary bait and switch is more common than you might think, alas. List a higher rate in the ad, then tell people after they’ve already accepted the offer that whoops, the pay rate is actually lower.

  38. Close Bracket*

    Oh, man. This is like that partner who you finally left after asking them a zillion times to just freaking put their dirty socks in the damn hamper, and then you find out that their new partner gushes about how they always put their socks in the hamper and even do the laundry when the hamper is full without being asked. I’m sorry this is happening to you. Enjoy grad school and your new country.

  39. MommyMD*

    Why burn bridges on the way out? I’d say nothing and leave on good terms knowing they did take advantage of your hard work and good nature. You are leaving. There’s no point in rehashing it now. Good luck. Look forward not back.

  40. Alenyaka*

    I work in HR, and see this happen quite a bit. There is often times more to the situation than just reposting a person’s role. When people leave we often have to look at the division of duties, and redo other people’s job descriptions. It’s also an opportunity for other people to take on different things and grow.

    I’ve worked HR in non-profits before, and this happens there more often than anywhere else. It sucks, and I’m sorry it happened – totally unfair!

  41. Working Mom Having It All*

    I know exactly why they listed the job for 25% more, based on OP’s math.

    If $8000 is 25% of OP’s current base, that means OP makes $32K/year. Which is just barely over minimum wage in some places. Even in parts of the US with lower costs of living that use the lower federal minimum wage, $32K isn’t a great number. (Especially in a tech oriented role, which it sounds like this could be?) I know the nonprofit world expects lower salaries, but even so, that’s… I hesitate to say embarrassing, because I feel for OP, but… I’ll say it’s not an amount of money I would consider taking a long-term professional job for. In a major city you can make that plus tips as a barista.

    Meanwhile $40K at least looks better, as a number. It’s not really that much more, and probably still isn’t a living wage depending on where this is, but it’s a big enough difference that you’re at least not likely to have trouble filling the role.

  42. SomebodyElse*

    Things can work out…

    I just tripped over this with a new group that I started managing a couple of months ago. It’s a long involved story… but I’ll try to summarize.

    – Fergus moves into new team -lateral move and gets a small bump in salary but puts him in the bottom quarter of the pay band based on previous salary, Wakeen’s salary, and market rates. We’ll call this new salary $X
    – Wakeen in Fergus’ new team takes a role in a different team – No idea where Wakeen was in the salary grade, but suspect the low end because of where Fergus landed (one of the comparisons that take place during the comp review is where everyone else is in the same role)
    – Just made an offer to Hester (I’ll go with the reference of the day) to backfill Wakeen. Hester negotiates a starting salary of $X+16% (just shy of midpoint for the position salary)

    Fergus is now in a position of making less than Hester, so Fergus will be given an adjustment to get them closer to where they should be. There will be factors built in to this, such as different skills. But Fergus will be much better off when all is said and done.

    I really don’t know why Fergus ended up on the low end, but I suspect there were a few ‘bargain hires’ that the company kept comparing to, add to that the low unemployment that we are seeing now vs. the time frame when Fergus and Wakeen were hired, and the position as a whole will be in much better shape salary wise. Weirdly Fergus was my employee, but I had nothing to do with the initial hire nor the transfer (This is the long story part)

    My budget is going to be screaming for awhile. But it’s the right thing to do, so it’s going to happen.

  43. TeapotNinja*

    An alternative explanation is that there was a new grant that just came in or is coming in before the position gets refilled and the increase in pay is being funded by new money coming in. It’s not unheard of.

    Still crappy.

    1. OP*

      Unfortunately that is not the case (I work in our fundraising department). We had a decrease in funding this year and everything goes to a general pot, we only do specific funding/grants for special projects, NEVER hiring.

  44. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP, you should also write a review on Glassdoor, stating everything you wrote here.

  45. Courageous cat*

    I agree with not sharing with coworkers, but it’s never been clear to me how one would avoid (unofficial) retaliation for doing so. I once shared my salary with someone after I had left, and when my ex-boss had found out, he had been furious with me. Regardless of whether it’s legal, it can still burn a bridge. Any thoughts on how to avoid that?

  46. Fikly*

    I feel like many posts here about employers can be summed up as “the majority will treat employees as badly as they can possibly get away with, or worse.”

    I heard recently that it costs an average of 2-3 times annual salary to hire and train a replacement for a position. Employers don’t think about that cost, or don’t think people will actually leave.

  47. This Makes Me Sad*

    This. every dang job I have had! Been working in nonprofits almost 25 years. worked my butt off – 50 hour weeks was the norm. would work on vacation…because things have to get done and I was in charge of getting money in the door. Take on new projects as they come on. Always exceeded budget and department goals. And every time I left a job they would replace me with at least 2 people. Makes me mad that I don’t stand up for myself, but I see the financials. I know how close to the bone nonprofits operate. Interestingly, none of my replacements, who made lots more money, ever stayed as long as I did either. At the end of the day, I have to ask myself have I done everything to the best of my ability. Only way I can live with myself. And maybe that is why I still get rock star recommendations from jobs I had 15 years ago!

  48. Pharmer Ted*

    Sheesh, if that happened to me I don’t think I could fight the temptation to reapply for my old job and attach a cover letter that simply reads, “Guess what–with a salary like this, I’ve decided to defer school for a couple more years and come back! How does next Friday work for an interview?” just to freak the Hell outta them.

  49. Gazebo Slayer*

    I’d be interested to know if the person replacing you ends up being a different race or gender….

    1. OP*

      Me too. We’ve had a lot of turnover in the time I’ve been here (8 people in 2 years for various reasons, some good and some less good) and every single person with the exception of one has been the same race and gender. Every single person in my department except my boss (who is a different gender) is the exact same race and gender. The field I work in is 99% homogeneous. I would be shocked if it turned out differently.

  50. ManOfManyHats*

    I think the one point that seems to be missed is that the time to have a conversation with your manager is *before* you accept additional responsibilities or workload. I’ve had similar conversations to this…

    Boss: “So with Fred leaving, we need you to pick up his tasks X, Y and Z.”
    Me: “OK. Which of my current tasks should I hand off in order to do X, Y and Z?”
    Boss: “Well, we need you to keep doing your current work, plus X, Y and Z.”
    Me: “I can’t see that working out long-term. As you know, my current workload is already a full-time job. I can temporarily help cover Fred’s workload while you backfill his position, but if you want to change my role going forward, then we’ll need to have a conversation about the compensation for that role.”

    Sometimes this approach led the manager to just look for another sucker. Other times it led to a discussion about salary. One time it just went nowhere, but at least I had a clear picture of who I was dealing with, and I left for another position within the company that came with a promotion and bump in pay.

    You put yourself in a bad position if you allow yourself to get dumped on without saying anything.

  51. Anonymuss*

    $32,000/year??? Is this normal in the US non-profit sector?!

    I’m making $60,000 in private sector Toronto (admittedly high-cost-of-living city) and I only graduated from school two years ago.

  52. TardyTardis*

    This kind of bait and switch is one of the reasons I left one part time job for a full time job with benefits–I was on the edge anyway (and the daughter was going to college, so we knew we needed more money). A newbie was hired for a small amount of money more than I and other experienced part timers were, to do the exact same job we were–so bye. The company I signed on with had already received a few refugees from that library, and over the next five years received several more.

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