will asking for a huge raise make it more likely you’ll get the lower number you really want?

A reader writes:

My friend and I were discussing raises and what’s appropriate to ask for when negotiating. I pointed her to your website for more input, but we couldn’t find an answer to our specific conundrum so I’m hoping you can advise.

Let’s say my friend currently makes $40k a year. When her next review/raise comes up, she’d like to ask for a $10k raise so she would then be making $50k. She figures that if she shoots for the stars, her managers are more likely to meet her in the middle but if she starts more modestly like asking for a $3k raise, she might be leaving money on the table.

I thought that wasn’t such a great idea, since asking for such a big jump without a promotion might lead her managers to think she was unrealistic and unreasonable and that could cloud their perception of her in the future. But, she disagrees and thinks the worst they could say is no.

What do you think? If your employee asked for a large salary bump for a yearly review, would you think less of them or would you just turn them down and move on?

What’s her basis for asking for 25% more? Can she point to reliable data showing that she’s significantly underpaid for the market? If so, there are times when it can make sense to do that (assuming she’s got everything else lined up, like at least a year of excellent work behind her and, you know, an employer that’s not struggling to stay afloat during a global pandemic).

But if a 25% increase would put her out of sync with the market and her company’s pay structure and she just wants to ask for it because she thinks it’ll push whatever they do agree to higher (“shooting for the stars,” as you wrote), then no, this is a bad idea. She’ll look unrealistic and naive.

Sometimes people think, “Just ask, the worst they can say is no.” But often that’s not true at all. Often “the worst” is that you’ll look unreasonable or out of touch with reality, and it will make people question your judgment in the future.

I have no idea if that’s the case with your friend or not. And jumping from $40k to $50k isn’t outrageous or out of reach in every context. But she’s got to be able to back it up with something.

In general, I’d say it’s smart to ask for a little more than you really want (because you might get it and because of the anchoring effect she’s talking about), but not typically several multiples of what you think you can really get.

It’s important to note, though, that all of this might be moot right now, depending on her industry. If her employer has been relatively unharmed by the pandemic, then great. But if they’re trying to figure out how to keep people and how to make payroll next month, asking for a large raise right now carries a high risk of seeming tone-deaf. That doesn’t mean no one can ask for a raise until there’s been a full recovery — but this particular moment, when things are still so uncertain for so many businesses, is tough timing.

{ 115 comments… read them below }

  1. Bob*

    I agree with Alison. Asking for 45K may make sense, but the employer’s profits right now are wise to take into account.
    Also have more then one piece of backing up data if available/applicable, market rate underpayment and others at an equivalent level at the company making her requested amount for example. One piece is good but if you have two or more thats better.

    1. Just J.*

      Seconding this. Before doing anything, your friend needs to find out if her company is even considering raises at this time. Ours is not. And if they are still offering raises, try to find out if they are in the 1-3% range or if they are in a higher range. Even asking for 5k on a 40k salary is a 12.5% raise. This is still a large raise. So make sure you have done you market research on underpayment, what competitors are paying, etc. And your friend’s previous performance reviews would need to be strong to stellar.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        your friend needs to find out if her company is even considering raises at this time. Ours is not.

        Neither is mine. Next year I’ll have to speak to grandboss about doubling the standard increase companies usually give as “merit” increases (3%) to make up for not getting one this year when I was supposed to.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            My grandboss would as well, but let’s hope our CRO and CFO agree, lol.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      I think you would have to be careful on market rate data now, too. What was true in February is not necessarily true now. My company has had minimal impacts from COVID, raises were completed in April per the normal schedule, we’ve been hiring, and I’ve been contacted by recruiters, but I would still be cautious because companies are still generally seeing that they can do more with less.

      1. Bob*

        True enough.
        If the company is one of the ones flourishing during Covid i would consider it, if they are not then its time to let sleeping dogs lie.

    3. Alice*

      I understand in a practical sense why the employee has to take the employer’s profits into account when negotiating a raise.
      But — we are always hearing, it doesn’t matter if your rent/property taxes/childcare/commute costs went up — that’s not relevant to negotitiating a salary; what’s important is market value.
      If the employer’s capacity to fund raises is important, why aren’t the employee’s needs also part of the calculus?

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I think in this case it’s less that people are saying the employer’s needs are important but the employee’s needs are not, and more that they’re saying that if the money isn’t there, you’re not going to get it, and asking for it anyway comes across as not being really smart. Likewise, if an employee is trying to cover their own work plus work from a colleague who was laid off, asking them to take on yet another project is likely to get you “if you want me to do that, I’m going to have to stop doing something else,” and the irritation of the employee, with good reason.

        1. Bob*

          Well put. Also employers wish to pay employees as little as possible. If they could pay minimum wage they would. But they have to pay more to get and keep talent. But they try to limit raises, sometimes by information asymmetry, sometimes by playing games, sometimes by claiming there is no money whether its true or not (i talk outside covid), sometimes by simply refusing and banking that the employee will accept it and not leave.

  2. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Unless something’s changed drastically 25% is huge. I could see it if someone just got a new certfication or degree that’s required to take on a new level of responsibility. Or if someone took the job at a drastically low pay rate, as a career changer who had an agreement to revisit the pay issue after a certain period of time to prove herself.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      I feel the friend used round numbers to make it easier to choose percentages.

  3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    There’s always going to be a budget restriction in place for most businesses. They are not regularly running with a huge amount of unallocated salary sitting around, so to ask for such a huge increase will indeed come across as out of touch with basic business practices.

    In my experience, it’s always people who are out of touch with these realities of jobs paying a specific amount due to specific factors and market rates that will come in and say “I want 25% more!” and then are shocked, shocked I tell you, when you say “That’s not possible.” and then you aren’t given a counter offer even because you can’t negotiate with unreasonable people. You run the risk of someone knowing that if you ask for 25%, if you do give them the 5% more than you’d be allowed to, they’re going to very possibly be offended by the low amount. That causes another issue all together as well.

    Even if you know about the company financials and you know that you have X amount of profit every year, so you can think “They could afford to pay me this!”. That’s not how it works. You’re only worth what someone is willing to pay you.

    Even as someone who’s regularly bounded up the ladder and regularly gotten what are viewed as large raises, 25% is outrageously out of touch without a substantial promotion involved. Most salary bands are not that wide nor should they be.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I managed someone like this. She wanted a bigger raise than our 3% max allowed. She actually was really low for the role, as she’d started straight out of school, so I was able to get her a marginally larger bump than the 3% cap, but it still wasn’t as much as she’d hoped. And there wasn’t much upward trajectory unless someone in a higher-level role left.

      Unfortunately, this is the case at a lot of companies, and why new hires can come in higher than existing employees due to negotiating (though that can backfire too!).

      1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

        I know that it’s common to have new hires come in higher than existing employees, but it never made business sense to me. Why would you knowingly create a system that actively incentivizes your employees (particularly your best ones) to leave?

        1. Doc in a Box*

          I think it’s because of the widespread taboo against discussing salary. Old guard rarely knows what new hires are making, unless the employer has really transparent pay tables like the federal govt.

        2. MissDisplaced*

          I don’t know that it’s on purpose. But a lot of companies go through tough times or economic difficulties and simply can’t give larger raises every year. However, the market rate for some in-demand jobs rises. As time goes buy, those staying long term at a company with those 3% or 5% yearly COL raises slowly begin to fall behind the market rate.
          I’m more confused as to why people stay so long? Perhaps they receive good benefits as a tradeoff, or the company feels like a family and treats employees well. Or perhaps they really like the job but become complacent and are afraid to venture out and look for something else?

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          I used to have the same issue with former HR (who also had Strong Feelings about people discussing salary), and it did cause people to leave. My current HR is sane and fair, and we market adjust existing employees if we are looking at hiring people at the same or higher salaries than the current team. I cannot imagine how demoralizing it would be to be paid LESS than someone with zero experience when you have months/years of it.

        4. TardyTardis*

          I did leave a job because of just that (for more money and more hours, too).

      2. Lynn*

        wow! 3% barely keeps up with the cost of living increase year over year in a lot of cities! I don’t know any further details on situation but the issue may have been that the compensation structure wasn’t reasonable / standard, not that the employee had unreasonable standards

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Hi Lynn, my husband and I both work for non- profits (he is a professor with the state system, I’m a librarian with the city) and we have never gotten more than a 3% raise and many years none at all, not any COL adjustment. He has worked with his university for 26 years.

          1. Lynn*


            I had no idea that was so prevalent — but even Social Security did a 1.6% COLA last year! ‘

            This is getting into a sidebar a little bit but some big cities will have as much as a 20% cost of living increase in a year — it’s crazy to think that you could get the best merit raise possible and still end up with less purchasing power the next year

            1. Thankful for AAM*

              Yup, my mom (we are politically very far apart) likes to complain about a lack of COLA. I like to point out she got more than we did!

              My husband has tenure so no merit raises. My city does not offer them at all, just COLA when they can.

            2. Black Horse Dancing*

              Very common in government/public sector work. I know many people includig myself who don’t get any raises for years.

              1. AcademiaNut*

                Academic here – 3% raise is a good year, when I get both a merit and COL increase. If there are budget cuts, there’s often no raise, and they definitely don’t make it up later.

                Also – raises and salaries are *not* negotiable. You get what the position pays, and the official merit/COL raises (if any) and you either accept it, or you leave. Note that “leave” can mean leaving the field, or moving to a different city or country to get a new job.

                1. Marina*

                  You all get 3%???!!!
                  It’s been about 5 years since we went to an across the board 2% standard. I miss 3!

        2. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs*

          Particularly in small non-profits, raises of any kind are not a guarantee. I’ve received small merit raises but never a COLA. The idea of knowing that your salary will rise every year is sort of incredible to me! I wish that was the case across the NFP sector but unfortunately it’s not.

        3. mgguy*

          I’m at a big university, and we’ve received exactly 3 COLs in the past 10 years I’ve been with them. The first two were back-to-back, and were 1.5% flat with up to an additional 2% depending on your last performance evaluation. Both times, I got 3%. The last one was this past year-after 4 years without them-and was 2% for everyone with a heavy dose of “we’re so generous that we’re doing this now.” Meanwhile, things like parking permits have gone up every year, so without a raise we actually earn LESS every year, and parking was able to push through an even bigger increase than normal this year that wiped out most of the two percent raise for almost everyone making under $40K or so on the basis of “people can afford a bigger increase this year since theyr’e getting raises.”

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          I work for an organization (in a high COLA city) that is sensitive to the talent market and proactively gives market increases for retention purposes when that market shifts, and we do not assess cost of living as a factor in increasing compensation – the market may take it into account, but we shift with the market and to focus on retaining top talent and based on our revenue (current and projected), not because an increased COLA figure is released. If the COLA in a location has jacked itself up, likely the organization is also subject to some of those increases and, absent an ability to increase revenue to the COLA level, may not have the funding to give everyone a locality COLA increase. Not all organizations are sitting on bags of money that magically increase in proportion to COLA or 3% or whatever the “right” raise amount is.

          This year, no one is getting a raise, and only a very specifically-defined group is getting bonuses. Considering a substantial number of peers in the industry have been permanently laying people off, furloughing to part-time/no-time, and cutting salaries and benefits, we’ve made it through this pandemic fairly unscathed. It’s possible we’ll lose people, but the money’s simply not there to give right now.

      3. ZB*

        Yep, this happened to me, and my employer discourages discussing pay between employees. Luckily, we do anyway, so I knew it would be reasonable to ask for an 7-9k increase, on top of the 4k more I’d received the year before. But I already knew that an employee I largely trained was making that much as she negotiated better, and I’m also known as pretty much a rockstar employee. Ended up getting what I was aiming for without asking. All that said, you know if this is your situation, negotiate for what you’re worth, but don’t try to play crazy mind games or ask for an outrageous sum based on your company/market as Alison said!

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Ideally, if the company brings in a new employee at a higher rate for the same role, the existing employee ought to be bumped up to market value of the new hire. But I doubt that happens all that often.

      4. mgguy*

        My salary history at my current job is a long and complicated one, but I accepted my initial job with a low salary($13/hour for a job that required a STEM masters degree) and fairly limited duties. I did that with the understanding that I’d spend a year training as a direct replacement someone who was integral to the department and had announced his attention to retire. It was a good and educational year, and I also became even closer to someone who was already a good friend(I’m the only one there who stays in touch with him. I should also mention that this particular individual was making over twice my initial starting salary.

        The day after he retired, I immediately assumed all his duties. Because training with him had been a significant portion of what I was already doing, everyone I talked to considered it a virtually seamless transition. Yes, I still had some to learn, but after a few months of “settling” into my new duties the general consensus was that I was more on top of a lot of things than my predecessor had been, even if initially my problem solving skills were a BIT slower(and after a year they were virtually equal). I should also mention that I was also doing all my prior duties, and continuing to get both glowing real-time feedback and good performance reviews for how well I was doing them.

        I started pushing for a raise, and asked for the same salary grade as the person who had retired. I knew I’d come in lower within that grade(accounting for experience, etc) but thought that since I’d been trusted with all his duties+more, that was a reasonable request. That was $13 an hour to $46K if I’d gone in at the bottom of his grade(he’d retired at $55K, which was top of the grade).

        I suffered through one horrible manager(who was later fired) and told me among other things that I needed time to “prove” myself in the new role, and drug her feet for over a year on even submitting the paperwork outlining my new duties. The raise came in…at $16/hour. I nearly quit on the spot, but got even more determined to prove my value. I stuck it out, management improved, I managed to get another bump to $20, I continued to go above and beyond and prove my value, and finally last year was called in with no prompting and handed a paper saying I’d been reclassified to the grade I’d been asking all along and at nearly $48K a year. In all of those cases, I felt I had solid justifcation, but did manage to also continue showing my value to show that I was worth that salary.

      5. WantonSeedStitch*

        This is why periodically, my employer (a large and well-funded nonprofit, so in a better position than a lot of other nonprofits to do this kind of thing) does salary surveys and market adjustments for employees, usually ones who’ve been there a while. One of my reports got an increase of something like $10K one year in a market adjustment. The highest annual increase we tend to give is 4%, and that’s kind of rare. Usually it’s 2-3%. Basically, we start with a COLA and indicate if we think employees should be getting a bit more based on merit. This year, there are no annual increases, and we’re in a hiring freeze for the time being.

    2. miho*

      I once worked as an entry-level associate at an organization, and there were 8 of us associates entering at the same time. One of the associates in my cohort had to resign a couple of months into the job due to personal reasons, and another associate in the cohort asked if we could get a raise. Her reasoning was that since one person left, that means the remaining associates in the group should get a bigger slice of the pie. Boy was that an awkward conversation.

        1. miho*

          no, none of the remaining seven had an increase in workload. our manager took over some of the departed associate’s duties and had his other more minor projects cancelled. he hadn’t really worked there long enough to have a substantial body of work on his plate.

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      It does pay to know your worth. Last year I wanted a raise. I approached my manager armed with my stellar work ethic, what the current market rate was for my skill set and no pay increase for 2 years. I knew what the departmental budget was so there was money in the pot. I also offered to pick up the grunt work that no one else was willing to do. My institutional knowledge was deep and I clearly stated that I was willing to leave if I didn’t get a raise. My manager advocated for me with the grand-grand boss who held the purse strings. I got my raise.

  4. KHB*

    An approach I used for a while was to ask for an “above average raise.” (We have a fixed merit pool – say, 3% of salaries across all departments – so it’s easy to tell whether your raise comes in above or below average.) In reality, I’d be satisfied with an average raise, so I know I’m at least keeping pace with my colleagues. I wouldn’t be satisfied with a below average raise (which is what I inexplicably got for several years, despite complimentary performance reviews, before I learned to stand up for myself).

    It helps to know the company-wide raise pool to have that basis for comparison. Because if they budgeted 3% for raises, then nobody’s going to get a 25% raise without a darned good reason, because for you to get 25%, seven other people have to get nothing.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I got 20% the year “everyone” got COL, but I was more underpaid than most others, and would have been difficult to replace at a critical time. Looking back, it was indefensible of them to (1) deliberately make me feel guilty about that raise, or indeed (2) not compensate *everybody* appropriately, because their profits were huge.

  5. A Simple Narwhal*

    I wish I had gotten this advice when I was early in my career. I was severely underpaid and my mom suggested the same thing as OP’s friend – ask for an outrageous raise and they’ll meet me somewhere in the middle.

    Nope. Ended up walking away with nothing but embarrassment and disappointment.

    But if I think back honestly, my (awful) boss probably wouldn’t have agreed to any amount, even if it was reasonable. They told me that I was paid as much as they wanted to pay me, and that they had to work long hours for low pay when they started out, so I should thank them for the opportunity to do it too. (Jerk.)

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I think OPs friend is asking for a raise that’s unrealistically high but I wouldn’t describe it as “outrageous”, as presented. Out of curiosity are you able to share the sort of % raise that you ended up asking for?

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        It’s reeeealllly bad – I asked them to double my salary.

        In my/my mom’s defense, the market rate should have been ~$40,000-50,000 for my job, and I was making $28,000 a year. I was also working 50-60 hours a week, plus evening and weekend events (they specifically stated they wanted me to work them because they wouldn’t have to pay extra since I was salaried, instead of the people who were supposed to work them that were hourly). There was also only one week of total PTO and zero paid holidays. So in my mom’s eyes, asking for $56,000 would allow for some haggling and we’d meet somewhere in the $40k range.

        So yea, the smart thing to do would have been to see the writing on the wall and get a better job somewhere else, but my mom definitely had a “winners never quit and everything works out if you try hard enough” mentality and I was young and naive.

        Again, my mom is a wonderful, smart, supportive figure in my life, I just know not to get work advice from her.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Oh dear! Your mum gave you one of those “You’ve gotta have moxie or gumption” talks.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        This 100%. She absolutely meant well, but it took me way too long to realize that someone who’s worked solely in healthcare probably doesn’t have the best insights or advice for navigating an office job.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          There’s also the problem that parents tend to have a wildly inflated view of their kids’ skills or marketability. It took years of crap jobs for me to dissuade my parents of their notion that I was a genius destined for Great Things.

          1. Em*

            I mean, I am doing Great Things, it’s just that they’re very small great things that I can’t talk about due to confidentiality, and because they’re caregiving Great Things, they don’t pay that well. :p

  6. MissDisplaced*

    It’s incredibly difficult to get a $10k raise at the same company, or even getting that much with a promotion. Unless, as Alison notes, you have very compelling market evidence to suggest the role has been very undervalued in the market (it can happen, but if they had many willing applicants it is at market value) or there has been something extraordinary the employee has done to bring in revenue or save money, such as bringing in a big customer or some such.
    So yeah, asking for $10k over a $40k would likely be seen as clueless and out of touch.
    If your friend really needs to be at $50k, the best way to make such a big jump is by a new job, provided the $50k does fall within market norms and average ranges for the industry and their experience level.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Sadly, this is true (especially your first sentence). This is why I end up leaving and going to new companies after a few years – you’ll never get paid what you should sitting in one place long-term.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Exactly. Seldom are you rewarded for staying at the same company for 20-30 years nowadays unless it’s the government or a Uni.

        My motto has been move on to move up. Usually every 3-5 years. It’s tough at times, but it keeps you on your toes and up on your skills.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          A lot of government and uni jobs don’t give a yearly raise. Ask me how I know.

          1. MissDisplaced*

            I know as well, though I didn’t stay long at a Uni as I got an offer that was almost double the salary. It seems government and Uni jobs do tend to have good health benefits, retirement and free tuition, as well as use of the facilities such as the gym and such, and are perhaps more stable. But I guess you’d have to weigh all that if it makes up for a lower salary.

            You’d be surprised at how many for-profit companies don’t give raises either! COLA is never a given, and especially this year due to Coronavirus.

    2. TardyTardis*

      Yes. The only time I ever got a large raise was when I moved (and then was trapped by the best benefits in my local area. Oh, well, they paid out big time for my husband’s chemo…)>

  7. Kimmybear*

    I agree with the advice that you need evidence to back up your request and to ensure that your request doesn’t come across as out of touch with reality. I’m in an industry that continues during the pandemic with lots of adjustments. Instead of travel, we do more conference calls. Instead of organizing training events, we conduct them online. It would come across as tone deaf to ask for a raise right now but does the same thing apply for asking “Where do I need to grow/improve to reach the next level in my career?” Thoughts?

    1. Bagpuss*

      I think it is reasonable to ask.

      I also think that, if you can’t realistically ask for a raise now, it’s also important that you are documenting was in which you have improved / advanced since you last had a review , so that when you get to the point where you can ask, you are able to set out the things which you’ve done which justify a higher salary. I think one risk if there is a freeze on reviews and raises is that by the time you are next reviewed, if you’ve been doing work at a higher level in the mean time then the ‘baseline’ of what is expected of you may have gone up, and you may need to work a little harder to remind your managers of the level your were working at when your current salry was set.
      Equally, it helps remind you of things you have done to benefit your employer, when you need to make the argument, in 6 or 12 months time!

  8. Rich*

    Negotiations involve an idea called Anchoring — Making an early offer that establishes a favorable boundary and favorable starting point in the negotiation — that your friend is trying to take advantage of. The idea is they’ll never go higher than what she asks for, and are more likely to meet in the middle. So, by anchoring the negotiation higher, that moves the middle up and you walk away with more.

    This is a real thing, and it’s a useful idea in negotiation.

    But Alison is absolutely right that it has to be based in reality. You couldn’t start your negotiation suggesting a $40K to $500k raise. It’s a ridiculous increase, and you’d obviously be seen as negotiating in bad faith — the same way you’d never suggest a car dealer give you a car for free.

    You (she) need a reason for why you’re picking the “anchor” number. It’s important to anchor higher than you’re willing to settle for, because you probably will meet in the middle. If you anchor too low, you overshoot your minimum acceptable number. But if the number isn’t defensible, it doesn’t actually anchor anything.

    “This is within the industry range for this role”
    “I’ve added these 3 responsibilities and delivered XYZ”
    “Earning this credential allows me to also take on work for X”
    “I was the one who got us into these new customers based on a relationship with Y, which lead to this new revenue”

    Those are all reasons for a raise you can attach a number to — a number you can defend. Those allow you to anchor high.

    “It’d be cool to make an extra $10k” will never anchor a negotiation.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think this sort of tactic is more useful for initial salary negotiations, too, when you’re *getting* a job — you don’t want to undersell yourself from the get-go. But after that, it’s hard to get big raises unless you’re getting promoted or just moving to a new job.

    2. MissGirl*

      So true. If you don’t anchor your initial offer in reality, you run the risk of getting a straight “no” without a counter offer.

      I’ve seen this played out in other things besides salary negotiation. I was part of a multi-million dollar contract negotiation. We made an initial offer, and they countered with an absolutely ridiculous number. Not only would we not be making money on the deal, we’d be bleeding it. We didn’t counter; we simply said no.

      That put them in the position of accepting the first offer or walking. If they’d been in the ballpark, we would’ve moved their way some.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        That happened to me on the first house we put an offer on. This was almost 20 years ago, so I don’t fully recall, but I think they asked $145k, we offered $130k, and they countered with $145k. We walked away and ended up with a larger, brand new house for $160k (a bottom of the market/excess inventory in Feb. situation). Their house was about 15 years old and needed a roof. I didn’t feel we were ridiculous, but they thought so. They were pricing their house, not the market.

  9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    In relation to this in the answer:
    Sometimes people think, “Just ask, the worst they can say is no.” But often that’s not true at all. Often “the worst” is that you’ll look unreasonable or out of touch with reality, and it will make people question your judgment in the future.

    It’s so true, and something I find myself thinking about fairly often. Asking about an unrealistically high raise (or whatever) and the manager refusing – becomes part of the “long conversation” between you and the manager (and the company). People are “stateful” and will take this information into account in the future, it doesn’t just stop existing!

    It’s an important point which I don’t see people make often, so I just thought that was interesting. :)

    1. Filosofickle*

      What trips me up is that my negotiating weakness is my desire to appear “reasonable”. I’m so afraid of looking delusional about my value, or out of touch with reality, or just plain rude that I end up negotiating against myself all the time. “Just asking” is not in my DNA. So I try to compensate for it and swing a little harder, but then there’s the risk I over-compensate and misjudge in the other direction.

      I have learned to negotiate because I’m self-employed. I’m not terrible at it anymore. But I still get significant anxiety over big asks.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      I don’t want to come across as nitpicking language, but what do you mean when you say, ‘stateful’? I’m not familiar with the term.

      1. Mirve*

        It means there is memory. A stateful system is one that has “state” that impacts the outcome, the result is not just based on the current inputs, but also the current state of the system.

        1. JSPA*

          Ah, computer/networking term? Interesting…hadn’t heard it either…bounced it off theoretical physics dude, he hadn’t either. Basically, sounds like it’s shorthand for, “we’re not ever-renewing blank slates, but rather, our output to a situation is always conditioned on cumulative memory of past inputs.” Is that about right, or are there further subtleties?

          (BTW, I like having shorthand for making that point that’s not anchored in something cute from lit crit.)

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          Sorry, I’m “in IT by day” and used the word stateful without explaining it, which I shouldn’t have done. The people above me explained it though! Point taken to be more careful about using “jargon” wording in future. :)

      2. OrigCassandra*

        It’s a computer-programming and networking term. A “stateful” program (or object, in object-oriented programming) or protocol keeps track of the context of what it’s doing, and handles what it’s told to handle taking that context into account. A “stateless” one doesn’t know any of that context and must operate without it.

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      It’s VERY true, in employment and in every other context. Unfortunately it’s a bit of trash advice that meshes very well with “gumption” and the common American cultural belief that You Can Do Anything If You Just Try, never mind other people’s feelings, wishes, or agency. So it’s everywhere.

      The people who spout this advice would probably laugh at someone who asked them for a ridiculous raise or “hey, can you write me a $10k check just to be generous” or “would you name your first child after me?” and permanently regard them as deluded and absurdly obnoxious, but they never seem to stop and think about that.

    4. Dr Rat*

      Someone in my organization almost lost out on a significant promotion with that “the worst they can say is no” thinking. She lived in one state, the company opened a new facility in another state, and had her come out to assist during that time. They offered her a significant promotion if she would move to New State. So for her salary negotiation, she thought she should ask for MORE THAN TWICE AS MUCH as she was making. And this was not a C level promotion – she wasn’t even being promoted to a management role. So say she was making 50k, they were offering her 70k, and she decided to ask for 110k. When she tried to “negotiate” like that, they looked at her like she was crazy and basically said, yeah, never mind, we’ll find someone else. My understanding is she had to beg them to forget the whole incident and plead for the job, which she took, at the salary originally offered. But I’m sure the people she tried to “negotiate” with are still dining out on that one. “Wait, you think THAT employee request was crazy?!? Wait until you hear this one!”

    5. MassMatt*

      This is true, and in different contexts also. Many years ago the landlord of the house my partner and I were renting offered to sell it to us. Her offering price was s much higher than what it was worth (and described as “deeply discounted”) that we didn’t feel like we could o4 should bother with a counter. We found another place, she kept trying to sell it for months, keeping it vacant and finally had to rent it again.

      Successful Salary negotiation is based on accomplishments, skills, and ability, not a number you want.

  10. Fabulous*

    If there is significant tangible evidence that your friend deserves a raise, I don’t see why she shouldn’t go for it – with the following caveats: she’s been in her position for several years, has consistently outstanding performance reviews, plentiful positive peer feedback, examples of her work demonstrating her exceptional abilities, research that she’s making below industry standard for her experience and location, and a supportive boss.

    With all of the above, I asked for around a 25% raise last year. After a lot of waiting (approval had to go through two stages of leadership) I was approved for 19% to be rolled out in stages, provided COVID 19 hasn’t messed up the final 8%… but, in short, it can be done!!

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I once accepted a job at a low market rate with the caveat that I be evaluated at 6 months for a $5k raise and again at 1.5 year for the second $5k.

      I did get the first raise because I implemented a process that saved them about $10k per month. But I left before the second due to moving away.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Wanted to add though that this wasn’t close to 25%, but 10%. Asking 25% is really tough unless you’ve got credibility to back that up.

      2. Red Tape Producer*

        I did something similar when I first moved into a different field, with my first raise dependent on passing licensing exams and the second on completing a transition to a new role (that required being licensed first to do).

        Unlike you, they stiffed me on the first one because “finances just weren’t in place yet”. When the second one rolled around I got told that actually the “raise” was going to be my share of a commission from an account I would help pitch to while in the new role (absolutely NOT what we agreed on).

        Needless to say, I moved on from that company really soon after the second raise meeting. I should have left after the first, I got the feeling they became way too comfortable paying me peanuts for exemplary work. Would not recommend this kind of set up to anyone else I know.

    2. Annony*

      The additional caveat is how the company is doing right now. For most companies, this is not the time to ask for 25%. If they are looking at layoffs or hiring freezes, I would keep the ask much lower right now and build a case for next year.

      1. Fabulous*

        That’s part of the reason I’m nervous about the last 8% of my raise. My company has already reduced their 401k contributions because of their reduced profit margin and enacted some sort of freeze where I can’t be switched from hourly to salary right now (so says my boss, but who knows). I’m knocking hard on some wood that the rest of my raise goes through!!! Lord knows I could use the money!

  11. Emily*

    I’ve asked for big raises twice after expanding my skill set and neither time did I get anything. I think it’s probably easier for them to say no flat-out if you ask for something big. However, both times I suspected that I could find other jobs which paid me what I was asking for, and this turned out to be the case – I left for more money than I’d been asking my current employer for. I think in those sorts of circumstances, where you know you’re worth more on the market and you’re going to leave if you don’t get it, you might as well ask for what it’s going to take to keep you, and then you get your answer and go from there. Not much point in asking for 5% if you’re going to leave anyway if you don’t get 20%. Plus, especially if you do not much like your employer, it is satisfying to be told condescendingly that your skills do not merit what you’re asking for, only to leave shortly after for a higher salary. It is especially satisfying when your employer is surprised at your departure.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      “ It is especially satisfying when your employer is surprised at your departure.”

      So, so true! That happened on my last jump. I’m sure they thought I couldn’t find better. I can still remember the HR person asking me if it was for more money. But strangely enough money was not my main reason for leaving at all!

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Well done on knowing what you’re worth!
      I’m curious if on the two occasions you mentioned, your current (at the time) company came back with a counter-offer and if so whether it was a match for the ‘new’ offer?

      1. Emily*

        Thanks. Both times I just announced that I was leaving, I didn’t try to negotiate a raise. There were other reasons for me to leave. Also, I thought that if they gave me more money to keep me, it would be temporary and they’d find reasons to let me go later.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Yep, if they wanted to keep you with money, they’d have given you a raise when you asked.

        2. MissDisplaced*

          When I left on my last job jump, my manager did ask me if I would consider a counter-offer. I was kind of surprised given what was going on, but I think he wasn’t “ready” for me to leave right at that moment. I did decline to entertain a counter, as money wasn’t my primary reason for leaving. The manager wasn’t the reason either, actually. He was sort of ok, but wouldn’t stand up to the CEO on some things to make the company more flexible.

  12. Working from Home While Living Near an Air Force Base*

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to ask for a significant raise? I work for a small non-profit with eight employees. My coworker who was promoted before I started began his role as Director of Llamas and is now Director of Goats. I was hired as the Llama and Goat Specialist about a year and a half ago. My coworker shared his job responsibilities from when he was hired as Director of Llamas and I am doing every single job responsibility of the Director of Llamas in addition to my work with Goats as well. My coworker shared the list because he agrees that I should be promoted to Director of Llamas. The minimum salary for the Director of Llamas is $17,000 more than what I currently make in my position. Does anyone have any advice on how to ask for a deserved promotion during these times?

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      The YOU MAY ALSO LIKE link above, the AAM Guide to asking for a raise, has some really good advice. Since it’s from a couple of years ago, I’d add the point to think about whether your non-profit has been affected by the pandemic, whether it’s likely to be, if other agencies in your field have been, etc.

      It might be that donations, grants, and contracts are dropping in anticipation of the economic downturn–and that could affect their ability to pay that salary, even if you rate it.

      1. Working from Home While Living Near an Air Force Base*

        So the non-profit I work for is a trade association, so basically we have members that are in a specific sub-set of the healthcare field. To be honest, our members are obviously taking a hit but so far it hasn’t affected our revenue too much and very few members are dropping. We also just hired a new part-time person as well. But the main point is that we don’t receive donations or grants for the most part, outside of a couple grants through the state that are for specific workforce programs. Thank you so much for flagging those links for me as well.

    2. Red Tape Producer*

      Honestly, I think you just described everything you need to say in your comment! I would definitely emphasize that you are asking for the minimum salary of someone in this role, so this isn’t a raise so much as it’s putting you into the correct salary band for the work you do. If the funding just isn’t there right now because of Covid, it might not be a bad idea to have a counteroffer that’s basically “I understand times are tough, if it’s not possible now to give that kind of raise could I get a commitment in writing to have this discussion again in (2 months, 4 months, whatever you think is appropriate) and reevaluate where the company is at then?”.

      Just make sure you get that commitment in writing and be prepared to stand firm on what you’re contributions are worth. I mentioned in a comment above, I was in a similar situation but to move fully into the role with a higher pay scale I had to get licensed first. I was promised 50% of the raise on passing the licensing exam and the other 50% on fully taking over all responsibilities. They delivered on neither. The company claimed the funding just wasn’t there, but I think truthfully they liked the extra funding on the balance sheets and couldn’t swallow paying me an extra $15K for work I was already doing. It cost them double what my salary would’ve been to hire someone else for the role, but they still felt like I was unfair in not giving them more time to pay me what they promised.

      1. Working from Home While Living Near an Air Force Base*

        Thank you so much, I love the script and the idea for future reevaluation. Both great ideas. I am hoping to have a follow-up conversation come July 1, since that marks my 1.5 year mark and is also when we have a better picture of the financials. And my boss loves baked goods and it just happens to be my birthday so cupcakes won’t hurt :)

        1. Red Tape Producer*

          Baked goods bribes are always a good call :) I’m crossing my fingers for you, just remember that you’re already a great investment and they will still getting great value for your work after giving you a raise!

    3. AnotherAlison*

      It sounds like what he your coworker was doing when he started as DoL is not necessarily the same as when he left the DoL role. When he became DoG, they left DoL open and added you to support Llamas and Goats. Is that correct? Sounds like they’ve pushed DoL work to coordinators now and don’t value it as much, and the threshold to be a DoX is higher. You probably should make more, but they may push back with these reasons. There was some need to *not* have a DoL when he was not replaced, and it was probably because they couldn’t support the full director salary. Was the DoL work new when he started? Did he develop some stuff that’s now in place and no longer needs high level attention?

      I have a parallel at my work where they keep evolving the director roles. Five years ago, “Alpacas” were a new market and the staff count was 10. Now “Alpacas” are a declining market, the Director of this group is focused on Miniature Zonkeys with Alpacas a small part of what he worries about, and there are 40 staff, with many of us doing Alpaca projects by rote and a few of us moving into miniature reindeer work. We don’t need an Alpaca director to manage that work or that staff because it’s a well-oiled machine now. Even though I too would like to be the Alpaca director and could do everything my director did 5 years ago.

      1. Working from Home While Living Near an Air Force Base*

        Okay the goat and llama thing is way too much to keep straight. The Director of Llamas position is Director of Communications and the Director of Goats position is Director of Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs. And since I did not mention this in my first comment, I am doing all of the communications work (llama work) for my association which represents long-term care facilities (i.e. nursing homes and assisted living facilities) in addition to my work as a lobbyist (goats work). So my work is incredibly valuable right now as I am communicating regulatory changes, reimbursement updates, and a wide variety of other information to our members on a daily basis.

        So my coworker was hired to be the Director of Communications, taking over for my now boss when he was promoted to President & CEO from his position as Director of Communications.

        I honestly believe that I have revolutionized our communications. I have redesigned several newsletters that we send out to make them more user friendly and aesthetically appealing, led several ad campaigns with Facebook and Google ad words, created a rebranding effort for both our association and the profession as a whole, and have been in charge of redesigning our website among several other things. The association has saved thousands of dollars because we are able to do some graphic design work in house since I have been hired instead or hiring it out as well.

        So if anything, the work has significantly increased over the past year and multiple things require my attention on a daily basis (communications from CMS, CDC, DHHS, DHS, local DOHs, State Emergency Ops, etc.)

        Sorry but the more I write the more fired up I am that I deserve this promotion.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          You definitely sound deserving.

          JSPA more succinctly identified the points I was trying to make, but generally you’ve answered the question. You have some legitimate new, above-your-level accomplishments to point to–it’s not a case of keeping things running as your predecessor set them up with no improvements.

    4. JSPA*

      Was “Lama and Goat specialist” a pre-existing defined role, or did they create it when they brought you in? And, from how far back is the “Director of Lamas” list?

      Roles do get re-defined, and tasks may take less time with increasing automation or outsourcing of some functions. A nonprofit (or any other employer, really) may decide that they’ve been overpaying for a role, and that the functions of that role can be re-defined and handled at a lower level. (Or, for that matter, that you’re no longer spending an extra 20 hours licking and sticking stamps and hand-addressing mail, for the biannual funding appeal, on top of your regular job, whereas that may have been a thing everyone had to pitch in on when the role was first defined, 30 years ago.)

      I’d nail down some of those potential loose ends, and have answers in place, if they bring it up. “No, but we now do feed optimization twice weekly, which is similarly time-consuming; and when nobody was doing hoof checks and tail brushing high level before I was brought in, we nearly missed a bad case of hock-rot, and the recovery would have been exacerbated by tail tangle.” Or, “when I came in, it was reasonable for you to expect that my skill and attention to detail might only cover the list at the level of Specialist, but I have consistently demonstrated a higher level of commitment, attention, skill, responsibility, and task-ownership that’s more properly aligned with the title and pay of Director.”

      That is, don’t only argue that the list is the same (assuming fair’s fair), but that you do the list at a higher level; and that the value of doing the list, at the level you’re doing it, merits the pay.

      I suppose if the prior Director had 2 years’ experience when given the title, and you’re approaching a similar level of experience (and/or you have similar or better numbers / outcomes), that’s something to bring up: you’re at a stage of your development where it’s been customary to make the jump / be recognized. But an appeal to worth is generally stronger than an appeal to fairness or precedent….with, however, one proviso.

      The proviso would be if the title and pay for two people with similar backgrounds and equivalent experience diverge sharply, and the people in question differ in gender, race, creed, color, national origin etc, and there’s some evidence that this is being taken as a reason to pay less. In that case, while it may be fraught to say, “frankly, the only thing that differentiates me, now, from Jared, 3 years ago, is that I’m female,” you might want to get that on the table.

      (Be prepared to hear, though, that if the economy 3 years ago were like the economy now, Jared would also not have been given the promotion.)

  13. Wintermute*

    This is very much a “know your workplace culture” thing. I have an acquaintance who ran into a situation where she was working for a haggler. She’s pretty high-level so she was negotiating directly with the business owner for her salary, and he came from a culture where the number you give is NEVER firm, very much a culture where every business relationship and transaction more significant than buying groceries was expected to be negotiated. She had trouble getting paid what she was worth because he just naturally assumed if she named 85 she really, secretly wanted 80 and would settle for 78. She said 80 because 80 was her bare minimum. She walked away and got another job, and worked there several years before she was ready to move on, repeated the same song-and-dance. She walked away AGAIN but this time he called her back two days later and made her an offer at 80,000.

    Now, he REALLY wanted her, and she is a facility director for someone who wouldn’t have as much liberty to make them “work to earn her” she probably would have either taken 78 or lost the job opportunity. My advice would have been if you know this about the company and you’re not a high enough level to make them play games, then just name 90 if you want 85.

    The risk is if it’s NOT a haggling culture at that business they may assume that you’re not going to be happy with anything less than what you named, and may ask you to justify the number you came up with, in which case you are likely to cause trouble for yourself.

    This is one where you need to ask people who have gotten raises in the past about how they were about it (and if you can’t find any… DANGER DANGER).

    1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      In the IS/IT business – it’s quite common – managements sometimes will only negotiate when a proverbial gun is put to their head. And it’s often a formula for failure – on the part of management.

      Several factors are at play –

      – how well (financially) is your company doing? And the business unit you’re in? “Yeah we’re doing well but there’s no money in the budget for raises” – no, but there might and often is a “slush fund” for “off budget raises”.

      – how valuable are YOU? Will they need to replace you, and how easily can they do that? If you’re being paid way below market levels, they’re going to have to bring in an unknown quantity (maybe) to fill your slot if you go. And pay him or her what you’re asking for, or even more.

      – if a simple salary discussion ends up in frustration (it often does) and you are being challenged to test your market value – DO SO. Once I had to do that – to force an overdue promotion. It wasn’t fun, but…


      1. Wintermute*

        Yup, I’ve never known an IT worker that got remotely their value through internal raises and promotions. It’s absurd but it’s a fact. If you hit a milestone like 3 or 5 years experience in an in-demand product, maybe add some in-demand certifications to your resume, your value LEAPS, and companies just won’t keep up (to be fair they may not always have a slot for, say, an amazon web services admin, that coincides with when you earn your certifications).

        The result is that someone, say, hits 3 years ops center experience and gets amazon certified and a networking cert too. Great for them, their value just jumped from about 40-50 to 60-65k a year. No company will give someone a 15k raise at 3 years with the company. So you have to bounce.

        It’s even sillier when you see bounce-BACKs. I’ve seen people get some security certifications, be told there’s no junior security positions available, leave for a 10k raise, work four years at another company, and bounce back to that senior position the original company wanted to fill all along, for another 10k raise. The company just played themselves, rather than developing internal talent and offering a modest 10-15k raise over five years, they ended up spending five thousand more, losing a valuable employee for a few years, and having to do all that “here’s our environment, here’s our tool chain” training again when they could have developed internally.

        It seems in IT the bird in the hand is never worth what it would be cost to go catch one in the wild

  14. Ellie May*

    “In general. I’d say it’s smart to ask for a little more than you really want …”

    I would change the word ‘want’ to ‘deserve’ or ‘have earned’ or ‘think is in line with total market.’ This isn’t about what OP’s friend wants.

  15. Bella*

    I have gotten a 20% increase before, but I was actually surprised – had come into the meeting very passionate about why I should get 10%. In my case though it was partially because I had come into the industry with 0% industry knowledge, so I was more or less held back a level from where my years otherwise would have landed me – but after a year and a half I wasn’t a newbie anymore.

    I’ve always thought the advice of “if you want a real raise, switch jobs” is best, though, and has held up the most. And probably always will.

    1. Bella*

      should’ve noted as well, I’m not even sure it was 10% – maybe it was 15% – but I went into the meeting knowing what a lot of my co-workers made, how my work compared to theirs, what other people usually got when they asked for raises, etc., so that I knew I was in the right ballpark & would only argue with them if it was a certain amount under (in other words, I knew I was getting some extra $, just not how much)

      1. Wintermute*

        This just really highlights how the only person that benefits from not talking about salary with your coworkers are skinflint bosses that want to underpay their staff. And that’s BEFORE you get into the fact that if you’re all open with each other hiding systemic inequality becomes impossible. “Betting markets” like stocks and bonds only work when everyone has access to the same information, lack of that information only benefits bad actors.

  16. Anne of Green Tables*

    As mentioned, it’s critical to truly understand the basis for the ask in a realistic context. I had a coworker who had me take a look at his request prior to submitting it to his supervisor. It was well-written and had some supporting data, but that data was based off of a similar position title for a different line of work. The request was for approximately a 25% raise and was completely out of line with how the position was valued at the company, aside from the serious misunderstanding of the difference between the role he had versus the role he researched. What he also didn’t know, but definitely should have looked into, is how the proposed salary fit in with others’ salary. Asking for his salary to be raised above managerial level for a non-managerial job in a hierarchy-rigid company was a bad move. He went against my advice and submitted the request anyway. Not only wasn’t the raise request granted, but the perception that he was out-of-touch and pushy negatively affected his standard yearly raise.

  17. Green Goose*

    Background: My first full-time job post-college was a year contract at a large company. Employees had to be invited back for a second-year contract.

    Wakeen and I started on the same day, were the same age, and it was both of our first jobs so we ended up becoming close work friends. Our company was okay, our branch was in a great location and there were some great perks to work there (like free housing) but we also worked really hard, long hours, did not get raises and had to work two Saturdays a month. It was the type of job that was competitive for young, fresh out of college types but people tended to move on after a few years because there was no upward mobility and the long hours/weekends eventually got to people.

    I was happy to get a second contract and knew that there was no room for negotiation but Wakeen took it as an opportunity to create a list of “demands” for him to stay on. He asked for a salary increase and no Saturdays, both of which were not possible and our boss told him that they would not be offering him a second contract. We were both bummed because we were hoping we could continue working together that second year but he kind of shot himself in the foot.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yes, demanding is never a good play. However, are you positive there was no room for negotiation of the salary in the renewed contract? Or did they just build in the increase and that was acceptable to you?

      Sometimes, you know, you can always ask politely “Is there any room to negotiate X in the contract?” without being specific as to a number you’re looking for or acting like you deserve it.

      There can be a bit of a finesse to doing this, but some places respect you for asking provided it’s something appropriate to ask about they may have the power to change. Generally, that includes salary, vacation time and maybe WFH on occasion, or in your case possibly something related to the housing.

  18. Audacious*

    I asked for a whopping (think +50%…) raise in my first job out of college, when I was moving from a paid internship into a full-time position.
    My reasoning: “I’d like to be paid $XX,000, because that’s the average cost-of-living in this area.”
    My boss’s response: “Unfortunately, due to your level of experience, I can’t justify paying you… the living wage for this area.”

    Surprise surprise, that job only ever seemed to get worse.

  19. mgguy*

    I’ve actually asked for a $41K to $50K raise a couple of times, and after a few times of being told “no-we want to do it but HR won’t approve it” I finally did $48K, which I’ll call close enough.

    In my case, my argument was “My work, what I’ve accomplished, and the amount of money I’ve saved this department especially by saving you all making a $10K service call every week to manage the things I do on basically a daily basis.” I backed up that number by pointing out that my predecessor was making $55K at retirement(public university, so salaries are a few mouse clicks away), I had more assigned duties, and basically was asking to be classed at the same salary grade he was realizing that I would be at the low end of that grade and not the high end. Finally, it did work.

    Most recently, when I decided to leave after getting an offer that would offer me things my current employer never could(Tenure!), my supervisor asked for the opportunity to make a counter-offer. I asked for $60K. In a sense, that was a “shoot for the stars” number because it was such a big jump over what I currently make, but there again also had some grounding. Another person in our department has a similar set of responsibilities to me for one component of my job(same thing, but working with different courses than I do) but has less experience and less education to support that. Furthermore, that person has no part in my other responsibilities, which require an advanced degree in my field and a ton of hands-on experience. That person makes $60K, so again I said “I’m asking for that number because that’s what Jane makes.” My boss agreed that it was a resonable request. Unfortunately, the counter was $53K, so I handed in my resignation.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      UGH! Good example of when staying doesn’t benefit the employee.
      And it makes you wonder why they didn’t go to $60 if they were paying Jane that for lesser duties and education? Grrr!

      1. mgguy*

        Here’s the thing-I think that my boss wanted to give me the $60K I asked for framing it in the simple context of “that’s what Jane makes.” Our jobs are not exactly the same-she basically takes one slice of my responsibilities and does it full tine, but it’s the slice of my responsibilities that requires the lowest level of ability/knowledge. In fact, I DID her job in with my other duties before they hired her(her position came into being when they built a new building and upped the enrollment enough that they could justify a full time person).

        I also hear the excuse of “Jane teaches also”…ignoring the fact that she teaches first semester freshman level classes that I could and have taught before, and that before resigning I taught a significant portion of an advanced senior level class that Jane could not have even touched.

        I don’t mean to jump on her because she’s great at what she does-I just look at the wide swath of my duties(compared to her narrowly defined role), the difficulty/complexity of what I do relative to her(and the education and experience required to do those tasks) and get a bit bitter over the over $10K gap.

        There were/are a lot of I like about that job, but I feel secure in making the right decision to move on(even though I haven’t officially done so yet).

  20. Sleepless*

    Somebody in a FB group of colleagues posted recently that her company was suggesting they might switch her to hourly pay due to slowdowns, at $X per hour. Some quick math showed that was a correct prorated amount for her yearly salary. A couple of people indignantly posted that independent contractors in out field usually make $X + %30 or so, and she should ask for a raise, by golly!!

    Independent contractors, who turn around and pay their own taxes/insurance/business expenses. Not equivalent to salaried employees at all. I cringed, wondering if this person stomped in and demanded a 30% raise during a slowdown. Yikes.

    1. Wintermute*

      The loss of flexibility going from salaried to hourly is probably worth something, but I would attack that from the angle of PTO or benefits not wage, especially in today’s environment.

  21. Lissajous*

    I have managed to negotiate a significant raise (20%), basically by doing what Alison describes:
    – When I started at the company I had five years experience. When I asked for the raise, it was three years later, and in my field the difference between five and eight years experience is a lot. I wasn’t asking for a raise for doing the same work as when I started, I was asking because I was doing a higher level of work.
    – I had data from three or four different salary guides about where my role’s salary should sit.
    – My field can involve remote work – all the time, none of the time, or in my case, some of the time. And the salary guides split out all of the time and none of the time. So I pointed out that because I was remote sometimes (and when I was remote, it was usually three weeks on, theoretically one week off but that was usually in the office sorting stuff out), I should be at the high end of the city band and the low end of the remote band.

    This was during a time when we (and the whole industry) had been a bit rough financially and were turning a corner. Response from management a few days later was “all approved, it wasn’t a hard argument to make!”

    So it can be done, but it has to be in good faith and with good arguments to back you up.

    Of course the industry took even more of a down turn the next year and everyone who wasn’t laid off took 10% cuts, but I was still in a better position than if I hadn’t got that raise in the first place.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Good job! 20% is a good chunk for a lot of places, but it sounds like you had everything well documented and were being super realistic with finding similar roles and ranges.

  22. GradBoss*

    I would also suggest everyone know and thoroughly understand their company’s performance review and compensation policies/approach before making these kinds of asks. I had someone ask me for a 15% raise and it was so outside of the ballpark of how our company’s entry level salaries were valued AND it was after her performance review had already been finalized so it made no sense whatsoever. She gave us data for the job that her masters degree was in but she wasn’t performing that job function so there wasn’t anything that we could do except tell her that is was never going to happen and to have a great day.

  23. Paul Pearson*

    Ick… I’m inclined to think reach for the stars and be burned. I think the perception of being unreasonable, entitled or simply ignorant and having poor judgement is really high. I’m also not sure it’s even the best mindset to approach wage negotiations with – rather than “I say 10,000 and you try to haggle me down” like you’re at the market I think it’s far better to be able to say “I do X Y Z amazingly. I would like a raise of B because this is what I’m actually worth”. It’s less… combative and has less of a sense that you’re competing with your manager to win something

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think instead of saying “what I’m actually worth” do some research into the role in your area and come back with market value.

      “I am highly-skilled in A B and C. I would like to request the consideration a raise of X% because market data for this area is suggesting these skills and similar roles and experience levels generally earn a salary range of Y to Z.”

      The percentage you’re asking for should not exceed the max salary you’ve found in your research of similar positions. If you’re 2-3 years into your career, you can’t place yourself as a 10 years experience director without seeming out of touch, but you can make a case to move to being considered mid-career level.

  24. Introvert girl*

    Hmm, I wonder what you as an employee can do when your company freezes raises for the rest of the year due to the uncertain future we have before us, but has actually gained thanks to the corona virus (a 250% growth year to month).

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