you need to ask for a raise — here’s how

I’m constantly alarmed by how many people tell me they’ve never asked for a raise. They feel awkward about initiating the conversation, or feel like they never get an opening to do it, or they’re worried they’ll sound greedy, or they just have no idea how one would ask for a raise at all. Instead, they rely on their employer to notice their good work and offer them salary increases — a strategy that can leave people earning far less than they could be receiving if only they’d speak up.

Please believe me when I say that asking for a raise is a very normal part of having a job — and you could end up earning significantly more money just by having a conversation that could be as short as five minutes.

At New York Magazine today, I’ve got a blueprint for how to do it.

{ 149 comments… read them below }

  1. Person from the Resume*

    I have never asked for raise because I have worked for the federal government my whole career. I was just notified of a time in grade pay increase on Monday.

    Thank goodness. Asking for a raise sounds like something so difficult to do. I’m so glad the system I’m in doesn’t require it.

    That said pay transparency of the federal government is amazing and if that existed for everyone I think it would make asking for a raise easier because employees could compare and have facts to back up their raise requests.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree (state-level here).

      My last job, we had yearly reviews with regular increases. However, I did learn that the COLA was not applied equitably in all offices, so staff in an area with a very low CoL were paid based on the CoL for the nearest metro area (about 2 hours away), so they ended up with higher pay than HQ (in an area where CoL has been steadily increasing). I never found a good way to broach this with management, so I just left. (They would’ve argued that we had better benefits. True at one time, but not by then.)

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, asking for a raise is just not done in my business/level of position At All and I think they’d laugh if I tried. (Especially since I’m the worst one here.) There may technically be some pay scale of raises, but literally nobody gets one except through COLA increases negotiated by the union.

    2. merp*

      Ha, yep, I’m at the state and we just talked in a meeting today about raises! Last across-the-board raise was received in 2014, and the one prior to that was 2007.

    3. triplehiccup*

      I also work in federal government and have essentially asked for a raise/grade increase to reflect my actual responsibilities and performance. My boss agreed and has put it in motion, starting with a temporary detail at the higher grade, which will involve a pay-setting process.

      1. Fed-o*

        In our federal office we caution employees that asking for essentially a re-evaluation of their position’s grade can and has resulted in a lower grade for their role. There’s no guarantee the grade level goes up.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        That is true. I am a GS-13 and will remain one unless unless I apply for a new job that is a GS-14. You don’t get promoted into a GS-14 for heard work. You have to apply for a new job.

        OTOH my first federal career was a military so I made my way through regular promotions until I didn’t any more. I didn’t retire, but I’m very happy as a GS-13 for a federal agency. There are opportunities for my same job as a GS-14, but I am happy with my level of responsibility and well paid. I’m not planning to trade more money for more responsibility which would also likely mean more stress and more hours.

    4. old curmudgeon*

      I also work in government, at the state level, and our raises are set by the legislature, not based on our actual job performance. There is no room for negotiation – your choices are “take it, or leave.” When we had a governor who despised state employees, we went for eight years without a raise. Then all of a sudden he had an election opponent who looked like they might actually win, and surprise! He announced that all state employees would get a raise! I’m at a stage of life where I am making plenty to cover my living expenses, so it’s not even so much the money. I just bloody hate being used as a political football.

      The biggest raise I have ever received working for the state was 2%, but that’s pretty unusual. 1% is more typical, given about every other year. And usually the announcements about the raises are made at the same time they also announce that state employees will be required to contribute more to their health insurance and pension costs, so in terms of actual increases to my take-home pay, I’m really close to where I was a decade ago.

      Eh, it is what it is. I’ve got job security out the wazoo, at least, so I’ve got that going for me. It could be a whole lot worse.

    5. Rez123*

      Yep, I also work for the public sector. Salary is that it is. There is a small increase every few years when they re-negotiste the collective labour agreement. Our managers have finally realized that our turnover is not normal and employees working the same job for different public sector employers make a lot more than we do and have taken it to the higher ups. So maybe in 15 years we will get salary that actually reflects the job!

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Yup, I work in public sector at the local level. Our pay is a matter of public record, raises are consistent and predictable based on the steps/grades in the pay table. It’s rare for the pay table to be revised, but on the plus side I never have to ask for a raise or wonder if there’s a pay discrepancy based on my gender. And you avoid the whole salary negotiation aspect of interviews: salary is right there in the job ad and there is zero room for negotiation.

    6. allathian*

      Yeah, I work for the government as well, although not in the US. My agency has non-negotiable pay bands, although there’s some leeway in that we can earn a performance based bonus, which can be up to 45 percent of the basic salary. In practice, this doesn’t work out, because there’s never enough budget to actually increase salaries. I’ve had a personal performance-related raise once in my almost 15 years at this agency. Three times my ex-boss actually fudged my performance evaluations to give me a worse score, because there were no funds in the budget for even a percentage point’s raise for me. She was very apologetic about it, but the fact that she lowered my score while we were actually talking made it worse. After the third time this happened, I decided that I’m going to settle for coasting along and hitting a straight meets expectations every time, so I won’t be disappointed again. I’ve basically accepted that I won’t get a raise beyond COLA unless I get a new job…

  2. Beatrice Christmas*

    I’m curious how truly common and normal successfully asking for a raise is. I watched a colleague ask and she got so much grief that I know I’ll never do it. I don’t think others would describe our company as toxic or completely disfunctional either. I’m just part of a division where cost control tops all other considerations. There’s also bias against support roles here no matter how amazing your performance is. Keeping the “talent” happy is a concern for other teams.

    1. introverted af*

      Yeah that bias against support roles is…discouraging. You don’t want to give me a raise/title bump? Ok, so like, why am I busting my ass for you?

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I don’t bust ass. You think I’m terrible no matter what I do, never gonna get a raise even if I was the office favorite, and I’m only paid till 5. I have no motivation for extra.

    2. merp*

      Bosses who feel that way should go 1 day without support staff and see how it goes, imo. That’s such an awful attitude.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Asking for a raise if you’ve been performing well and it’s been at least a year since your salary was last set is incredibly normal. It’s a significant problem that some readers here always worry that it’s not! If your company penalizes you for asking for a raise under those circumstances, that really is a sign that you are working somewhere with serious problems. (Saying no, fine. Explaining why it can’t be done, fine. Even explaining they never give raises or never for your position — problematic, but so be it. Giving someone so much grief that they’re miserable? No.)

      1. Nancy Hicks-Gribble*

        My coworker has asked not for a raise, but a performance evaluation (18 months since her last eval) and my boss instructed me to ‘gently encourage her to move on’ and tell her I don’t think her skills will be fully appreciated at our workplace. Because she asked to be evaluated. I was floored.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          Wow! Talk about bad management. Your boss refuses to be honest with her, but wants you, her coworker, to be the bearer of bad new?!?

          –> Bad management, right there! <–

      2. Lucious*

        Regrettably, for some people “asking for a raise” is might be a professional risk. Ideally it’s an open conversation. Realistically? It won’t be for a lot of folks. Especially if they notice signs of discriminatory compensation policies (example – female employees rarely get raises while the males get regular ones).

        I think it’s a reach to say asking for a raise will be an unobtrusive experience for even most employees. I’m of the thought it’ll be a case-by-case thing. Some people can just ask and it’ll be no big deal, while others might need to pursue a raise by working a different job.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I am telling you with every bit of expertise I have, it’s really not a risk for most people. For some people, in dysfunctional environments, sure — and that’s a sign of that dysfunction. But it’s an incredibly normal part of doing business.

          1. BRR*

            It’s really…disheartening to see so many people here push back against asking for a raise because as you’re saying, it’s incredibly normal. I was very apprehensive to do it my first time but after I saw that even my awful manager who seemed disconnected from reality wasn’t surprised by it.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yeah — every time this comes up I am deeply bothered by how many people don’t realize this. What’s more, some of the comments here are going to discourage other people from taking a completely normal action to get more money for themselves. It’s disheartening indeed.

            2. Quiet Liberal*

              It is sad to know people don’t feel they can ask for an increase and that some employers are jerks about even being asked. Businesses increase their prices to keep up with costs all the time, why would they not factor in salary increases to keep up with the cost of living? Employees work to pay for their living expenses, don’t they? However, I am one of those scaredy-cats that wouldn’t consider asking for a raise until I started reading this blog. It was super hard to do, but I did ask for a raise after a couple of years without one. My boss said that it was way past due and apologized for putting it off because she had been so busy. I ended up with a very nice raise, retroactive twelve months, which was when I was due for it. I had no idea, but was thrilled!

        2. Qwerty*

          This is unfortunate, but true. The first time (only time?) I “asked” for a raise, I got reprimanded and put on the “risk” list for employees that might be leaving. I was surprised when managers on other teams started talking to me about my value and trying to convince me to stay at the company. I wasn’t even formally asking for a raise, just expressed surprise at how small an increase I received with my promotion and pointed out that market rate in our area was paying higher salaries for their trainees with zero experience.

      3. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        The key here is “performing well.” Back at ToxicJob, management kept moving the goal posts so you were never performing well enough for them no matter what you did.

    4. Heidi*

      If a company gives people grief over asking for raises, is openly biased against supporting roles, and prioritizes cost over employee satisfaction in every situation, that sounds a little toxic. But maybe there are outstanding benefits and rewards in other domains that can offset the negatives.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yikes. So is there a lot of turnover, or do you have people making the same amount they made 25 years ago? Either extreme sounds like a red flag to me

        1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

          Lots and lots of turnover. Only a couple people were there more than a few years, and they got bonuses and other perks that the boss just doled out when he felt like it.

    5. Aggretsuko*

      I suspect it is not that common as it used to be. It probably depends ENTIRELY on situation, though. If your business isn’t amenable to it, then it’s not.

      1. DiplomaJill*

        I have asked for a raise twice and gotten it both times. It was scary but I felt really empowered by having done it, and baked when they have me the raises I asked for.

        For the first I prepared with info about how I was contributing and doing more than the role I was hired for, and I got a $15k bump.

        For the second I had heard that the company was not very forthcoming with raises. I had been interviewing, and shortly before my review turned down an offer for the same position for $8k more. I started a conversation about that number — leading with that I had turned it down — but that the number was “eye opening.” They matched it.

      2. Alternative Person*

        The situation thing is so important.

        Due to the way my industry (particularly in my locality) operates, raises are not common. In some ways its been a race to the bottom on salaries/wages for the past ten or so years. I’m lucky in the sense that I work for a decent company that gives regular COLA boosts and stuff like OT/special admin duties with very good rates and development opportunities, but the conversation of non-COLA raises doesn’t mesh with the company’s pay system so it’s a non-starter. It’s unfortunate, they’re losing good people because of this and related reasons but what can you do? My plan is to get as much as I can out of them in the next few years and keep an eye out for good opportunities.

  3. Sans $$*

    I would love to ask for a raise. At my first professional job was told up front there was a merit freeze and no money for raises (public academia, $$ is public info so it wasn’t a game), so I moved on after a few years…. only for the pandemic to hit and my next workplace to institute a merit freeze before I hit 1 year. My early career earnings are about as stagnant as they can be.

  4. Lady Municipal Employee*

    I am just starting to think of asking for a raise, but I am unsure of how it will be received due to the field I am in (local govt) and COVID which has had some impact on our hiring, as well as how the Union I belong to plays into. If anyone has as similar fact pattern here I’d love to hear about a time anyone has asked for a raise in local government. While I believe I deserve on merit and quality of work, another factor is they moved an entry level position out of my team, so I am picking up a lot of that slack for various reasons (I held that role prior, I am more responsive than my colleague with the same title)

    1. Free Meerkats*

      Except for about 18 months after I got out of the Navy, I’ve worked in government since I graduated from high school in 1974. Navy for 7 years, 18 months other, large city 4 years, small city 3 years, mid-size county 1 year, mid-size city 30 years to present. All city and county jobs until 6 months ago were with union representation.

      You’re in a represented position in local government, it’s near 100% your title has a set salary with steps based on longevity. I’d bet money there’s no process available to get a raise outside of that paradigm. And you’ll look out of touch to ask. If you want a raise, you’ll need a different title.

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      It’s important to know how your particular agency handles pay increases. Do they even have merit increases? Or is it 100% based on seniority (not uncommon in public jobs and union positions)? Also check to see if you have a publicly available pay schedule that lists the pay range for each position/grade and steps within each grade. If you have good relationships with some more senior coworkers, ask them how it usually works. You could also ask your union rep.

      I’m in local government (non-unionized). The way my employer does it is everyone gets an automatic 1-step raise every year until they hit the top of their pay grade, unless there are extenuating circumstances. A step increase might be denied for serious performance issues or budget freezes (which would need to be documented by management). On rare occasions someone with exceptional performance might be granted a 2-step increase… I only know of this happening once in the last 5 years. The other option for a raise is to be reclassified/promoted to a different title with a higher salary band – for example, if you’ve been working as a Technician I and get promoted to Technician II. However, for that to happen there either has to be an open position at the new level or the board of directors has to approve the change. It’s not terribly uncommon but it’s the kind of thing you and your manager would need to justify to someone who isn’t familiar with your work. I’ve done this in the past by bringing it up at my annual review as a goal for the coming year, since I was nearing the top of my salary band.

      But every agency is different, so definitely suss out how it works with your employer before you make the request.

    1. Jessica*

      Yes, and also, dear reader, if you are a man, and you believe in equal work for equal pay, TELL YOUR FEMALE COWORKERS WHAT YOU MAKE.

  5. SnowWhiteClaw*

    How do I ask for a raise if the most that my company gives is COL? I usually get a COL raise every year but that’s not enough for me any more.

    I have worked in the same position for over 3 years and have an MS and BS in my field. I get paid about the same as new cashiers at Target and I’m tired of it.

    1. Kimmybear*

      View them as separate. A very simplified version: A COL is because the gallon of milk got more expensive. A raise is because you are doing more/improving processes/leading more people/bringing more experience or education.

      1. SnowWhiteClaw*

        Our raises are limited to COL only. So the COL raise is a raise, and there’s not an option for more of a raise.

    2. KHB*

      Are there promotions available that would make sense for you to ask for? If so, that’s a good way to frame it: “I’ve been doing excellent work in the X position for three years, so I’d like to talk about whether it would make sense for me to advance to the Y position.”

      If that’s not an option, then your only route to making more money may be to change jobs entirely.

    3. RussianInTexas*

      My previous company limited any raise at 3.5% for the top performer in the department. Once per year.
      That was that, there were no raises unless you got promoted, but that didn’t happen often. I got it once in 14 years, and most of my coworkers never got promoted.
      On the other hand, it was a company that offered really good benefits, so people stayed anyway.

      1. SnowWhiteClaw*

        Yeah, I’m in about the same situation. Raises are capped even if you are a top performer, and no promotions are possible for me.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          My old manager straight up said that the budgets were set months before anyone had any kind of reviews, so your performance score didn’t matter anyway (except when it was bad).
          The managers tend to rotate who gets the “extra” increase from year to year.

        2. Anonymous Hippo*

          In that case it sounds like you have to move on if you want more money. Sometimes they have more flexibility than they actually do (a lot of times companies with these hard limits miraculously come through with a offer after you give notice, but for me at least, that’s too little, way too late. And that’s the price they pay for their policy.

      2. TardyTardis*

        Yes, older people especially are trapped by benefits, especially if they have pre-existing health conditions or someone in their family does. There’s no guarantee that an older person will get a job even as good as the one they leave, and the gap between insurance policies can literally be fatal/bankruptcy-inducing.

    4. I'm just here for the cats*

      That’s rough! I’m in the same boat (without the MS). I actually make less per hour at current job than past job. But the benefits are much more affordable so I take home about the same.

  6. Sled Dog Mama*

    I wish I had this list two years ago when I was asking for a raise. I did what you say but it would have helped to see it all laid out so neatly, and I wish I’d known it was ok to give a number upfront.
    The we had weekly one-on-ones with the boss and conversation went something like
    Boss: anything else?
    Me: Well I’ve been here 2 years and in that time I’ve gotten x, y and z certification, my reviews the last two years were excellent and I’ve taken on extra projects a and b which you have said you were pleased with.
    Boss: Yes. I’ve been very happy with all your work.
    Me: as you’re aware [Professional organization] does a salary survey each year and with the experience and certifications I’m contributing the survey says I’m underpaid. In light of that I was wondering if we could revisit my salary.
    Boss: Hmm…raises are coming up let me see what I need to do.

    a month later he emails me that he got me a 10% raise (still quite a bit under market)

    1. Sled Dog Mama*

      I should have said this was a place that officially only did COL increases. Although they were called Merit increases.
      Just because they say one thing officially doesn’t mean they will never give a raise.

  7. AnonyMiss For This*

    I just got a tiny, CoL raise last month, and ironically, it brought up some seriously bad feelings about my work, the cuts that have been made, and my future here at all. I almost wish I’d not had a yearly review.

  8. LCH*

    the job i’m in now is the first one where i ever asked for a raise. i was 37 at the time. i was rejected BUT a year later after the next annual review, they did bump up my salary 10% instead of the usual 2-3%. so i’m sure the idea was percolating in the brains of my immediate supervisor and maybe his supervisor since the time i asked up to the time they gave me the raise.

  9. J.E.*

    I’ve only worked in the public sector, specifically public higher ed. and there’s never been any negotiating because budgets are so tight to begin with. There is a salary range depending on what the job is and how it’s classified. The only reason I received a raise this past year is due to getting a promotion which came with a (very modest) pay increase. Working in higher ed often means going years without a pay raise or even a cost of living increase, so I find it fascinating that in other industries people can get a raise for doing a good job (only half joking here)!

    1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      I really appreciate you sharing your perspective – I am working in a specialized secondary educational institution that often pretends at being higher ed. I was starting to doubt my perception of the workplace norms and general feeling that asking for a raise would be Simply Not Done(TM).

      You mentioning controlled budgets and the lack of COL increases just helped validate for me that I am not off the mark in my thinking. Thanks!

    2. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

      Thanks for sharing your perspective! I work in a similar field (specialized secondary education) and whenever advice about raises or COL increases come up here and in conversation with my friends, I always get uncomfortable when I try to apply that thinking to my workplace.

      Your comment has helped validate to me that my impression of my workplace/field norms would discourage that approach. And if I want a pay increase, I will definitely need to switch fields (or possibly employers, but an industry switch would give me more opportunities to advance).

      1. Ms. Hagrid Frizzle*

        And whoops on the duplicate comments – I thought the first one hadn’t gone through :(

      2. J.E.*

        Usually, the way to a raise in higher is moving to a different role in your department or a different department. A big part of it is that my home state has been cutting back on the amount that the legislature gives to higher ed. I think something like 60% of my university’s budget used to come from the state and now it’s like 25%. Declines in enrollment also have a big impact on campus budgets.

        We have annual reviews, but they don’t decide raises, plus if there is going to be campus wide increases in pay, it usually only happens around the start of the fiscal year, which for us is July 1. That means if by some miracle there would be increase in pay, that’s the only time it would usually happen. It’s unlikely in the middle of the year they’d announce everyone was getting a pay increase. Also, one word in your job title can determine the salary range. For example if you’re a Marketing Director, Marketing Coordinator, or Marketing Specialist that can have bearing on what you’re salary is.

    3. LCH*

      this is good to know. i’m currently looking at a job in higher ed that has kind of a low starting salary (a wide pay band, but this job starts on the low end). so i’ll be sure to ask about this if offered the position.

    4. BRR*

      I’m curious though, have you asked? I work in public higher ed as well and the general office attitude is there isn’t any money and budgets are tight. However after a slightly rough, but manageable, 2020 we’re hiring again, others have been promoted, and some people are very overpaid for their positions (and I’m not talking leadership). If they can find money for other things, I can at least make the case for a raise.

      1. J.E.*

        At my university, you have to wait 60 days after any position is vacated before it can be posted. I guess that’s to see if it really is needed. The library has had a significant permanent reduction in budget and has had to cancel multiple subscriptions to save money. I can’t say if there are positions on campus that are overpaid. They’re trying as much as possible to make reductions in other areas to stay within the reduced budget without having to eliminate positions when someone leaves or retires. We’re not the big flagship university in the state, so we already don’t get as much funding.

  10. awesome3*

    I only got partway through the article before reaching my monthly limit, lol. I only go there to read Alison’s articles, but I guess they add up!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m pretty sure that they’ve reduced the number of free views. Which is fine of course but that’s why they seem to run out so much faster these days.

  11. Everdene*

    I work for a charity and in general merit raises are not a thing. This year due to covid we didn’t even get a cost of living raise.

    Recently I brought up my pay grade with my manager – I was terrified! Due to internal shuffles she didn’t know what my grade was and was suprised by it. She has now submitted to HR that my title, grade and salary are all reviewed. The fear was unnecessary. I’m very much hoping the result will get me into the Friday Good News post soon.

  12. Yellow Warbler*

    My company’s processes are designed to prevent asking for raises, it’s obvious. Budgeting is done in late summer/early fall, reviews are done at the end of December, an “adjustment” of 1-2% goes into effect for the first paycheck in January. So by the time your review rolls around, the money was already divvied up for the next 12-14 months. Ask for a raise any other time of year? You’re reminded you just got that bump at the beginning of the calendar year, and you need to wait for your review. And the cycle repeats.

    1. Generic Name*

      Can you have a discussion re: a raise at the beginning at the beginning of the budget cycle? Use last year’s review and anything additional you’ve accomplished in the 6 months since. Keeping a file of kudos is wise. Don’t ask for a performance review. Stick to compensation and ask to have the conversation because you know they’re setting the budgets for raises then. If they still give you the same “wait until your review” conversation, then yes, they are not open to discussing raises and you can decide if you want to maintain your employment there.

  13. Goose*

    A few jobs ago, my workplace sent out COL increase letters with a “your salary is X but due to [mediocre benefits] you should see you salary as Y!” I always thought that was incredibly demeaning.

    1. Jay*

      At OldJob, when my contract was renegotiated for the first time in four years, I got an offer letter than said “Your productivity is benchmarked at 97% of the national standard. Your salary is benchmarked at 28%.” I knew I was underpaid. Seeing it in black-and-white like that, knowing the institution knew full well how bad it was – even for a relatively low COL area – to say it was infuriating is a serious understatement. I almost quit on the spot, and I had one foot out the door from then on.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I got that letter out of cycle w/o a COLA or merit increase.

      All it did was drive home what a poor value our benefits package was, because it certainly wasn’t worth what the company claimed to spend on it.

  14. Red Wheelbarrow*

    I’m wondering how this applies to an ongoing freelance situation that’s kind of like a part-time job. Normally I charge per hour, and every few years I tell my clients I’m raising my rates, and it’s fine. But I have one client–a small scholarly journal–that has me do all their editing, billing quarterly, for a flat fee. (I inherited the billing procedure and rates from the previous editor.) It breaks down to a decent rate per hour, but it’s the same amount as when they hired me over 5 years ago. Sometime after the pandemic simmers down, I’d like to raise my rates. But this work relationship feels more like a job, and it seems weird–as if I should be asking rather than telling. I honestly don’t know if they can afford to pay more, and I definitely can’t afford to lose their business! (I don’t think they’d fire me for asking, though–they seem to like my work a lot.) Has anyone else negotiated this kind of situation?

    1. SEH*

      In a case like this, I would inform them of the new rate you want to charge (don’t ask!). Best case scenario, they just say ok! If they come back and say they are unable to afford the new rate and you would still like to do this project for them, at that point you can let them know that you have a good relationship with them and would like to continue with the project, so you are willing to keep them at the original rate and perhaps negotiate something else they can do at no/low cost that would be of benefit to you. As an example, I’ve taken freelance jobs for lower fees before with the caveat that they provide free advertising space for me in their publication for a set amount of time. Just an idea that allows you to tell instead of ask but still be flexible!

    2. Yellow Warbler*

      Has your efficiency in their work increased over time, and/or can it increase further? (Just asking to get a metric for whether you think you’ve decreased your time spent, and thus upped your hourly earnings.)

      I’d try to find some info on their funding/budget before deciding. May be hard, but not necessarily impossible.

      1. Red Wheelbarrow*

        That’s a good point about efficiency! I’m not paid by the hour, so my hourly efficiency doesn’t affect the journal, but I do slightly more work now for the same price (I’ve agreed to do some minor website edits), and I’ve had each issue printer-ready well before the deadline. Also, I do more detailed and precise work than the previous editor. So I think I can make a case!

        1. Red Wheelbarrow*

          And yes, I initially missed your point–my efficiency has definitely gone up, resulting in a better hourly rate, which is one reason I haven’t asked sooner.

    3. boo bot*

      I’m a full-time freelancer and have done some of this. I think you could tell them something like, “I need to raise my rates this year; with my other clients I’m charging $X. I understand you might not be able to match that, but would $Y be possible for you?/can we talk about what’s possible for you?”

      That way, if they can’t pay you more, at least they will know they’re getting a discount!
      You’re also reminding them they’re a client and not your employer; demonstrating that you’re willing to be flexible; and guiding them toward negotiating an amount, rather than giving an opening to say “no” right away.

      1. Red Wheelbarrow*

        This is great advice. One is an hourly rate and the other is a flat fee, but I can translate one into the other based on my work records.

    4. DiplomaJill*

      Give them lots of notice. Maybe even give them an extension on the old rate.

      “I’m increasing my rates effective July 1, and wanted to give you early notice. Since you may have budgets in place for the year already, I’m happy to maintain the current rate for 2021 but will need to move you to the new fee structure January 2022.”

      The other thing you can do is define what you can do for the same amount that they’ve been paying.

      “I’m increasing my rates effective July 1. I know budgets are a concern, so I understand if you can’t increase your budget midyear. What I can do within the current budget is: x, y, z [define quantities, rounds of revision, turnaround time, all that]. Let me know if there’s something else that would be more helpful than x, y, and z, and I can take a look at restructuring to fit that in the budget instead.”

      Good luck. These conversations aren’t fun but are fine.

  15. Blueberry*

    I’ve only worked for small businesses who equate asking for a raise to asking the owner to take food out of his children’s mouths (while they play travel baseball and drive a brand new Jeep). My last boss would only give me a raise if I “earned” it by working 12 hour days (quit that one ASAP) and gave us grief about having to pay payroll taxes on our earnings like he was running a charity.
    Current job has its issues, but I just got a surprise massive raise so I can’t complain too much for the amount of work I actually do.

  16. Cat Tree*

    I already get a yearly raise of 3-4%, so I wonder how that factors into the advice to not ask for a raise within 12 months. I’m in kind of a weird spot career wise. I’m at a senior level individual contributor role and I really like it. The next logical step is to move into management, which would include a big pay bump. I want to do that…eventually. I don’t think I will be ready to do that for a few years though. I’m worried about my pay stagnating. I could find an equivalent role in another department which would bring it’s own pay bump in addition to the annual standard raise. But I like my job and my department, and don’t want to move around just for the sake of finding something new.

    I consistently get good performance reviews and work on two things that are definitely beyond the strict scope of my job. I could definitely point to those things to request another raise, but what about the timing? Should I try to request a bigger raise during my annual review, or bring it up several months ahead of time so it can be arranged during the normal raise period? Or should I aim for 6 months between the annual raise?

    1. Bostonian*

      I’d suggest bringing it up a few months before when regular increases happen. You can frame it as, “I know yearly compensation decisions are coming up, and I was hoping for an increase of X because Y.” To give you an idea of how early: as a manager, I have to enter in yearly ratings (which need to be excellent to support a substantial pay increase) 3 months before compensation statements are released. I have to submit my proposed compensation for my direct reports about a month after that.

  17. Janie*

    I used to work for a pretty rigidly structured healthcare organization. They categorically did not do individual raises. You got usually a 2% raise each year (unless you didn’t meet expectations in your evals, which was quite difficult to do) and periodic market adjustments. No internal promotion. Is this uncommon (I ask as I am applying for new jobs :) ).

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I think that is common for some sectors. I spent 12 years in a private university setting and pretty much everyone got the same % raise (except for the union folks; that was dependent on the contract). There was no promotion track. It was possible to get the position reclassified, but that was based on structural changes in your job responsibilities, not your performance. I left for big pharma and was had no idea what to expect for promotions. Got two in my time at my last job and was surprised by both of them.

    2. Sled Dog Mama*

      I think I used to work there too.
      I have found that to very much not be the norm, even across healthcare organizations.

  18. RC Rascal*

    I applaud the article but I think this is also a “know your office, know your industry, and know the outlook” issue.

    Back in 2007, my neighbor, who was an account manager at an advertising agency, asked for a raise. She made her case and got it. By the spring of 2008 the agency was falling on hard times financially. Guess who got laid off first? She did. (Turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the place folded entirely about a year later; she was able to find other employment before all her colleagues hit the street.

    Myself, I planned to ask for a raise back in 2016 when I was facing a massive expansion of my duties due to a retiring direct report who was not being replaced, in part for budget reasons. I also decided I wanted an expanded title. I began with the title portion of the conversation and my boss took it very poorly and became extremely antagonistic, so I did not follow on and make a case for the raise. (I figured titles are free; if he won’t give me that he isn’t going to be open to paying me more). (Just to be clear, I wanted to ask for a 5% increase and my report made $100k, which was actually more than I was making. I was extremely underpaid in the market for my title/duties).

    1. BRR*

      You definitely need to gauge the situation, like I didn’t ask for a raise last year because my employer had to furlough everybody for 3 weeks at one point or another, but I don’t agree with your first point. If the company wasn’t doing well, your neighbor’s salary is very likely not making or breaking their budget. I was laid off in 2019 and thought part of the decision was I was getting an ok salary. Looking back, I would have been laid off no mater what. I’m glad I asked for a raise because I was able to earn more while employed and got a better severance because it was based of my higher salary.

    2. Rosalind Franklin*

      “Know your office, know your industry, and know the outlook” – so true!

      I have a report who keeps asking for a raise. The issue is – we have a lot of folks at his level, it’s a very regimented intro level role. All of my reports are within a $1 range for hourly pay. I’m super happy to be at a company that is regimented this way, because it reduces disparity in pay for women and minorities. And there are really easy paths to promotion! Which he has not availed himself of! Nor is he particularly a high performer (which I’ve also told him). So him asking repeatedly for a raise, which I’m sure he’s being advised to do from external sources, comes across REALLY poorly. He’s not showing me that he understand how the office/industry works.

    3. vlookup*

      Honestly, a reasonable boss at a functional workplace shouldn’t penalize you for just asking for a raise. They might say no, but IMO there’s something wrong if your boss flies off the handle when you diplomatically raise the subject.

      1. RC Rascal*

        Your first sentence is correct. However, there are a lot of bosses and offices that aren’t reasonable.

        Secondly, if it wasn’t for a non-disclosure agreement, I guarantee I could tell stories about that particular boss who would short list him for Worst Boss of the Year.

  19. SEH*

    I’m feeling very stuck when it comes to asking for a raise – I have been in my role three years, never gotten a raise, and significantly underpaid the entire time. The issue is, it is a grant funded role and I am actively seeking to leave. It may be possible to have the grant adjusted, but it would be a considerable process, and I don’t feel comfortable asking my boss to go through a complex process to get me more money only for me to quit soon after (a raise would be too little too late to get me to stay). The flipside is, though, I have been trying to leave for a long time now. Here I still am. I worry I’m shortchanging myself by not asking if I end up being stuck here longer than I would like. Any thoughts?

    1. LCH*

      what kind of organization? does the grant have cost sharing from the org? i don’t really see why they can’t throw in their own funds if the majority of the project is being paid for from outside funding. but you would know your own organization. all my jobs since 2009 have been grant-funded at universities and NFPs, and i’ve at least gotten COL raises.

      1. SEH*

        It’s part of a healthcare organization (this facility is senior living) that has its own internal Foundation. So, my position is funded through a grant via the Foundation while everyone is paid through the organization as normal.

    2. Rowan*

      To address the guilty feelings about the considerable process – if you got the raise and then left, you would potentially be making it easier for them to find someone else to fill the role, as now there’s more funding for it (and the person who takes over for you would also be better off!).

  20. DangerMouse*

    I’m wondering whether it’s reasonable for me to ask for a raise (or additional benefits). I’m on base + production, so if I work more and make more money for the company, I’m essentially giving myself a raise. So if I’m consistently being a high producer, would it be fair to ask for a higher base as protection against lean months (it’s already very generous), or could I ask for more vacation days or more money in the education bucket? Or is the fact that I make production good enough, and I shouldn’t ask for anything more? I have no idea what the norms are.

    1. WellRed*

      I can’t answer your question, but if you work more to make more you aren’t really getting a raise. You are just working more.

  21. anon for this*

    I’m in higher ed, so it is somewhat different. However, I am paid well below what people in my position are paid at similar institutions. I had a serious conversation with my boss about this.

    They told me I should consider quitting and that when they couldn’t find anyone as good, maybe they could re-list the position at a higher rate of pay. Surprisingly, I was not thrilled with that idea. Go figure.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Wowwwwwww. Not that I expected a good answer to that, I just didn’t expect that OPENLY of a bad one.

    2. uncivil servant*

      Oooh, that would be maddening. I work in government and I’ve had to have an unpleasant chat with a staff member who felt that she was capable of doing work at a level we don’t have in our org chart. She kept saying that she could get paid more at other departments where they have that classification. I had to suggest that she apply for those jobs.

      But being told that your job COULD be at a higher rate, just not as long as you’re in it, would really rankle.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      I work in higher ed too for state univeristy (support role not teaching). Whats the best place to look up your pay versus other institutions?

      1. anon for this*

        Sorry, I just know how to find it for my state. My institution had also done an equity study which helped back up the numbers.

        1. LCH*

          mind boggling they did an equity study but then didn’t adjust the pay bands? what was the point?

  22. TechWriter*

    Crying in Major Tech Company here. We don’t even get COL. We *maybe* get annual “focal pools” from which our managers can divvy up money. Sometimes we get handed RSUs as a “sorry no focals, but please don’t leave” gesture. We have had no focal pool for the past two years; my manager would love to give us raises, but her hands are tied because the decision is made at least three levels above her. No word on focals this year either, even though we’ve had a great year (telecoms are doing pretty well in COVID times).

    That said, I REALLY should have taken this advice earlier in my career. I kinda just… twiddled my thumbs waiting (rookie mistake, imposter syndrome and my first career-type job) and by the time my boss was like “wait, you’ve been here X years now?! We need to promote you”, I was still at the bottom of my salary band, and they couldn’t bump me up to the promotion-level salary in one go without using the entirety of that year’s focal on me. So they did it in phases.

    I haven’t had an adjustment in a few years now though, and I’m basically performing at the next title level anyway, sooo I ought to be due for promotion and raise in 2021. Guess I’d better start bringing it up in my 1:1’s soon.

    1. Lucious*

      Don’t kick yourself too much about your earlier career years. You could have asked proactively and been told variations of all the lines I’m sure we’ve all heard;

      “It’s not in the budget….the compensation committee must approve and they already met this year ….next years plan is set…..the department can’t afford it (just ignore the Directors new oak furniture) ……the Chairman has to sign off on raises…..”

      My favorite?

      “We value you in ways outside of financial compensation”

      1. irene adler*


        “The company owners believe we are over-paid as it is. So, whatcha gonna do? There’s no convincing them otherwise.”
        “If we gave you a raise, your expenses would just go up.”

  23. Midwest*

    Different username than I usually use, just in case.
    I asked for a raise and even had market research reports showing that I am underpaid for my position and location. I also had a lot to back up the reason for a raise based on projects I’ve done and the skills I bring to the organization. I was told that based on the market research my own company has done (and won’t share with anyone) that I am being paid fairly for the area and that raises will only occur during our annual merit raise evaluations. I did get a good merit raise but I am thousands of dollars under what I should be making. However, I do really like my job and the people I work with and we get an insane amount of PTO which we are allowed and encouraged to use. So as of right now I’m willing to deal with it but at some point, I’ll probably move on if I can’t get my company to realize I am worth way more than they’re paying me.

  24. RussianInTexas*

    Last three people who asked for a raise in my company were fired shortly after for non-performance.
    So there is that.
    Yes, I am about to start looking for a job.

  25. SunnyGirl*

    I have asked for raises. It was an anxiety-ridden event each time.

    Was told: It was never remotely likely. (After I announced I was leaving for a better paying job and cited the pay for a reason.)
    You’re at the top of your pay scale (which wasn’t available to staff).
    Could you work an extra half-hour per day to get that raise? (After I was I told I had been doing well.)
    And, “What do you want me to do about it?” (This after I pointed out the disparity between three of us at the same job title with widely varying skills and experience (I had more). That was Director #1. I followed up with Director #2, who asked HR. Then Director #3 confirmed the raise. It still was not on par with with the others but it was better.)

    So thankful to have raises as part of the collective agreement.

  26. Lemming22*

    I work for a private company that is relatively small. I started at what I now know to be much lower than I should have. This was corrected with a significant pay adjustment before I brought it up (rare!), resulting in a 32% pay raise. Less than a year later I received a major promotion with a relatively modest raise. I mulled over it a bit because I felt like it would be really bratty to bring up pay again after receiving such a large bump but I eventually brought it up. I ended up receiving 45% raise, which was A LOT BETTER than anything I could have imagined. It turned out, really seriously, they just hadn’t thought too deeply about how much I was being paid and also realized that I was becoming very marketable to their competitors/the role had evolved a lot since they last looked at numbers. These numbers are abnormal but it is also a reminder that especially in smaller companies without pay bands or a lot of standardization somethings things that are important to you like pay aren’t as front of mind for others. So bring it up!

  27. Anon for this*

    There is also the difference between having a unique role, like being “the llama wrangler” for the company and talking about what llama wrangling is worth, on the one hand, and being part of a large stable of people with the same job role, on the other.

    If I’m a second-year teapot painter, then whether I should have a raise depends on whether I’m producing at a level more typical of a third-year teapot painter, say — and that’s hard to know (much less demonstrate), so I guess it’s fortunate that raises at my company are tied to yearly performance evaluations.

    Also, if you are *the* llama wrangler, then you and your company are also more able to redefine the role over time (e.g., the llama wrangler also does IT now! Let’s revisit the compensation), whereas the duties of one second-year teapot painter wouldn’t vary that much from another’s.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Very good point. “If we gave you a raise, we’d have to give EVERYONE a raise and you’re all at the same level” has also been brought up.

      Given the general insecurity of life, and then pandemic, we just accept the lack of raises thing. That feels as quaint and old fashioned as rewatching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation when he throws a fit over the bonus.

  28. Rage*

    I was with my former employer for almost 15 years. I was slated to transition into a new role (one I’d done before, but only part-time; this would be the first time they would have somebody doing it full-time and I was excited). But first they had to find a replacement for my other duties. Hired somebody, starting salary $4K per year MORE than I was currently making.

    I asked to revisit my compensation and was told no. One week later (4 days before Christmas), I was “let go” because “this new client doesn’t think you can fill the role properly”. In reality, they just filled the role I was going into with somebody at minimum wage. That was 5 years ago. The company still exists, but they are a shadow of their former self and they lost a number of large contracts.

  29. I'm just here for the cats*

    I’m curious, has anyone worked where there was a strict pay plan structure and been able to ask for a raise. I work for a state university, so money things can be iffy. We have a set starting point and then each year we get a small increase. This year it was .25 cents per hour. It is structured by your title, department, status (full time/part time, or academic year) and how long you have been at the university. It is the same throughout the entire system. On one hand I understand why it’s like this, because it is more fair. But it also doesn’t allow any negotiations. And my counterparts in other parts of the state get the same amount (I’ve checked). I’m lucky that I live in a small city and can share the expense with family. But I couldn’t imagine having my small pay in one of the larger cities that other branches are in.

    I wonder if there is a way to ask for increase in pay with this type of system.

  30. Pikachu*

    I asked for a raise once. Compared to market rates, I was underpaid by about $20k. Pulled all kinds of data from and others, including some sort of paid local salary database that my dad had access to as CHRO of another company.

    I was told that all of that data isn’t real or reliable, so they wouldn’t factor it into the decision. Then, I was told that my work doesn’t directly increase revenue so they could not give me a raise at the time.

    I was in marketing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  31. Honey-Roasted Peanuts*

    I would like to know more about asking for a raise when your current salary is higher than the norm. I had a performance review once where I had the opportunity to ask for a raise (my first time). (Quick note: this company is not known for giving raises unless asked.) I guess it technically worked since I did get a small bump (sort of COL raise), but it was a horrible experience. I didn’t have a manager at the time so I had my review with the head of the company where I received kind words about my work all the way up to the raise discussion. Before the meeting, I did look up ways to ask for a raise and tried to use the advice here but it went wrong very fast. I was not the one to bring up a raise but once I said I was interested, I was called unreasonable. I leaned on the fact that I had taken on more work in the last several months, which was pitched to me as a “side task” but turned out to be a whole new job on top of my normal job. This new job was not in my job description and just fell in my lap. I used this as my main reason because I knew my salary was already considered high for my industry. The head of the company asked me if I ever looked up my position on salary websites (I did) because I’m already making more. I said that I’m taking on other work that is considered a position in itself, but that was just met with more “but you make more than similar positions in the nation.” The company is now remote and has employees in multiple areas so my company is also having trouble figuring out how to pay everyone with different COL (basically, they say they don’t pay lower COL areas less, but that means that people in higher COL areas won’t make more). I shouldn’t get into too many details but in the end I had 3 conversations (2 with the head, 1 with the head’s right-hand man) where I was told that I make more than either job does nationally (even though I’m not doing one of those jobs, I’m doing both), that anyone else would be happy to do my job at my salary, that the company could get someone with more experience that would be happy to do my job at my current salary, that I don’t need to live in a high COL area, that my whole department is too inexperienced to warrant the salaries currently being paid, and other comments that made me feel deeply unvalued. In some weird way all of that ended with “but we appreciate your help on x so we’ll give you $x more.”

    I know this company is very toxic so hopefully more normal places would be different (and I do not plan on asking for another raise for a long long time) but how are you supposed to ask for a raise when you make more money (the industry is known for low-pay) than the norm? Also, the more I remember this experience, the more I kick myself for still working here. Even though I technically “won,” the way I was talked to and belittled made me feel like I lost.

  32. beans*

    My boss called me out of the blue a few days ago to offer me a 10% raise (standard COLA is 2%). I was so glad because I’ve been at this company for about a year and a half and haven’t received any performance review or anything – I had started trying to figure out how to broach that conversation since I don’t have too much direct interaction with him. But in the end I didn’t need to!

  33. Bloopmaster*

    I’m a contractor supporting a government organization (I’m not a government employee). Who do I even ask about a raise?–the manager who oversees me day-to-day at the government org I support, the government contracting officer who is responsible for the management of my contract but isn’t my boss, or someone (HR?) at the very hands-off contracting firm that employs me? I know that before I received an initial offer of employment there were negotiations between the contracting org and the government org about what my fee would be (that also determined what my salary would be). I am part of a 5-year contract, which means that the contract won’t be renegotiated for ~2 more years and the contracting company that pays my salary won’t be getting any additional funds for my work unless more is negotiated at that future time. Does that mean it’s in bad taste to ask for additional money from the contacting company in between contract negotiations? Should I ask my manager or contracting officer to support my firm’s case for a rate increase the next time the contract is renegotiated?? If so, how far in advance of the contract renegotiation should I start on this? Am I in danger of causing my firm to lose the contract if I become too expensive? I’d love to be proactive about this but I don’t know how to start the ‘raise conversation’ given these circumstances!

  34. WantonSeedStitch*

    I work in a non-faculty position in academia. In our office, we get annual increases (very modest ones) in line with our annual reviews if we are performing at a satisfactory level. They’re slightly larger if we are deemed to be performing at an exceptional level. Every few years, our HR does a market review of salaries for our job area, and makes adjustments upwards for those who need them. Unless we can demonstrate that our rate of pay is markedly lower than the market rate for our position, it’s unlikely we’d get anything by asking. Frankly, I know that our annual increases are better than most people get, though, so I’m not complaining.

  35. CW*

    Back in September I got a 6% raise, and I didn’t even ask. During COVID this was a gift in itself, but I do have to credit my stellar performance review I got a month prior. That was most likely the reason.

  36. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I had a co-worker with whom I was really tight (still am). We were completely open with each other. She wanted a raise. I cheered her on, boosted her, worked with her on how to make her case, gave her some tips on language to use (the president was my direct boss so I spent more time with him). After the meeting I asked how it went and as she was telling me (she was not quite sure how it went), I said, “Did you actually ask for a raise?”

    No. She never actually asked for more money. She asked about her future and her performance and she talked about her contributions, but she never posed the question. I wasn’t shocked– I think a lot of people, women especially, are afraid to outright ask for what they want– but it was a huge lesson in remembering that supporting material is important, but you gotta make the actual argument at some point.

  37. ScottM*

    I get a raise every year, dependent on my performance review (always excellent, except for one year and thats a whole other story). Been with the same company for 30 years. Never asked for a raise. As far as I can tell, I’m pretty well paid for my role.
    Do most jobs NOT give a pay raise every year?

    1. TechWorker*

      I don’t know about ‘most’ companies. I’ve had two experiences:
      -yearly salary review, where almost everyone gets a raise. If you had stayed at the same level and not particularly progressed or taken on more then it might be a tiny cost of living raise.
      – 6 monthly salary review where you may or may not get a raise, (so it could be 6-24 months between raises depending on performance). To get a significant raise you really need a promotion.

      I’m now in the latter category, and raises have also been paused indefinitely due to the pandemic soo…

    2. RussianInTexas*

      From my personal experience of 2 jobs, no, unless you mean a COL increase.
      My current job have done neither for the last 3 years, the previous capped it at around 3% for COL, regardless of your reviews. There was no merit increase.
      A friend I talked to on Saturday said her company have not had any adjustments for about 5 years.
      Her and I (I am in a customer service and paid poorly and she is an engineer and paid well) now literally make less money than when we started these jobs.
      So YMMV.
      I am looking now, she is tied to her employer due to them sponsoring her green card.

    3. ScottM*

      I guess technically it isn’t a ‘raise’. Its a merit increase, or a cost of living increase.

      Still I’m around the middle/upper end of the salary range for my jobs in I.T. (Hard to tell – the titles are so vague)

    4. londonedit*

      In my industry (book publishing, UK) no they don’t. We usually get a COL increase each year (though I’ve worked for companies that didn’t even do that) but getting any kind of pay rise above and beyond that is like getting blood from a stone. There’s very little money in the industry, for a start, and then you also have the ‘Hundreds of people would kill to have your job; aren’t we all doing it for the PASSION and the LOVE OF BOOKS?’ attitude. It’s well known that the only way to get a pay rise where I currently work is to also get a promotion, and that involves jumping through so many hoops that a lot of people just don’t even bother. I’ve managed to negotiate for a better job title in the past, but often that’s instead of a pay rise.

  38. CSD*

    So here’s a question I’ve always had – I think this was partially addressed in a letter but wanted to hear other’s thoughts on it.
    I’m getting a raise every year at review time – generally speaking, it’s somewhere between 10-11% raise on the base, and my bonus goes up by a few K every year, assuming we hit our targets as a team. Even this year, when we didn’t hit our bonus level (because 2020), I still received a 10-11% raise on the base. I’ve always been kind of embarrassed to ask for a raise on top of that, like maybe I’m being greedy or whatever, but I know I’m their top performer, I’m trusted with the biggest and most impactful projects, and I’m pretty senior at the company.
    Should I still be asking for a raise?

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Honestly, I think not at that point. My company usually does max of 3% raises. If you get a promotion, a few K more. We didn’t do any raises or promotions last year because of covid. If you’re getting significant raises and are happy with them and they come on the regular, I don’t see a reason to ask for more.

      If you were underpaid and these raises weren’t getting you to market rate, then yeah, that’s something to think about, but that doesn’t sound like what’s happening in your case.

  39. TechWorker*

    Question for other managers – are salary and raise decisions actually down to you? I manage a small team, inc one manager who themselves manages a small team. But I’m not at the level where I get any direct say over the raise my employees get, that’s done across maybe like 50ish people to make it ‘fair’ (so you go up a level or two before you reach someone with that many reports). I do ofc do performance reviews which feed into the decisions. Is it unusual for first online managers to have no budget control?

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Not a manager, but I remember my manager was talking about it.
      Big company, so he was the lowest managerial level.
      He had zero control over budget or raises. The budget was set way before the review time, and he had a wiggle room around 0.5% for one person. Reviews didn’t matter.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      I’m a manager, and I have literally no say at all in what my reports are paid or the raises they are given. We don’t even have a formal review system (I had to make one up on my own, just because if felt wrong not to have them, and then go and specifically ask my boss to give me one). Raises just pop out once a year (COL) or totally randomly on merit.

      In my previous job, I did have a formal review process, and our COL were based on your designation (Below, On Target, Above) and from there they would split up the pot (let’s say 2%, 4%, 6% respectively). But your average had to be the average…ie even if everyone was spectacular, you couldn’t give them all Above, so my two reviewed reports I would just switch back and forth each time, so in essence, not really any control there either.

    3. NotSoAnon*

      I work for a much smaller company and manage a team of around 10ish direct reports. I report directly to the president at our org and he reports to the owner/ceo.

      The way my boss and I do raises are generally at employees annual reviews and I make recommendations for a salary increase/raise/bonus (depending on the department budget and the reasoning behind the raise). My boss discusses with the owner and will let me know if it’s approved. He has never not approved one of my recommendations, but he has come back with a “I want to go with this number based on x/y/z). Not everyone gets a raise, it truly is based on performance and meeting/exceeding expectations. We also sometimes do no bonuses in addition to or in lieu of a raise for excellent performance that was not expected. Like when we had a major event occur that disrupted business and some team members went above and beyond what was necessary to ensure things were handled. It had a direct impact on our ability to retain clients so they got really nice bonuses.

      I know this probably isn’t common in larger orgs. I started entry level and the first year my salary increased by almost 20%, the following year I got a promotion and another 30%, the third year I got another promotion and ended up at double my initial salary when I had started. Into my second year of managing the department and got another raise. I’ve never had to ask for the raise, but I did push them on the second promotion into management and came prepared with a list of all my expanded job duties, project highlights, etc.

      I think it really depends on how the org is structured and what the size of the org is.

  40. E Liz*

    I always wondered if the way raises were handled at Old Job (medium-sized private company) was normal.

    First, all raises (and promotions) were given to everyone at the same time, once a year, following annual reviews. We knew the week, sometimes the exact day, that raises would be announced, and everyone just waited to get a call from their manager on that day. If you got a promotion, you were told about the promotion and the raise at the same time. Second, there was no asking for/arguing for a raise or negotiating the amount – either you got one (and your manager called and said you got a raise of $X), or not. Is this the norm?

    1. E Liz*

      I should add that pay was quite competitive for our industry, so there was never a huge issue of people being underpaid, although some of the benefits weren’t great (and work/life balance was hit-or-miss).

      1. CSD*

        I would say that’s somewhat preferable? At least you knew when you would know the news, but it doesn’t sound like it precluded you from asking for raises otherwise? Plus if the pay was fair for the work and in line with the industry.

  41. hayling*

    For some reason I found it much easier to use the phrase “compensation increase” rather than “raise” when I asked for one. I did it after my second biannual review, and got it!

  42. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Anyone in academia ever successfully asked for a raise? I feel like that is such a thing that is Not Done, but I can’t tell if I’ve gotten some warped ideals.

  43. gentle weasel*

    I get that your compensation is supposed to reflect your responsibilities, so if your responsibilities increase, so too should your pay. But what if your responsibilities increase in a “step into the breach” context, and you don’t want to retain them going forward (especially at a “many hats” type job)? Is that just something you count as a favour to your employers and move on? In the past year I’ve done a lot of oversight of interns—not in my wheelhouse. I had a slight pay increase in the summer but it was smaller than my first raise and no particular “reason” was given (whereas the first one involved a conversation and seemed tied to specific projects etc). My supervisory work has been acknowledged and appreciated but I actually dislike doing it and don’t feel qualified for it, and have made clear that I plan to disengage myself from that as much as possible going forward. Even if part of the answer is that I should have spoken up earlier, what should I have said? I feel like if I had tried to negotiate for something higher, or instigated the raise conversation myself, I’d have been signalling a desire to keep supervising going forward.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      IMO, being the kind of employee who will “step into the breach” is something worth compensating to a discerning employee, even if the plan is to allow you to step back after a point in time. Not everybody has the ability or desire to do that, and it is valuable to a company.

  44. Finland*

    I recently had my performance evaluation and, in lieu of a bonus award or time off, I asked for a step increase. My manager told me that it was not guaranteed, but I took the risk anyway and I got it! So, I essentially gave myself a raise even though I work in the government. I recommend that anyone who gets a high performance evaluation to take advantage of the quality step increase (QSI) if it’s offered in your agency.

  45. Plinkyplanky*

    Here’s something I’m wondering… My boss is US based and manages a global team; in general, he doesn’t have a lot of awareness of regional differences affecting our team. Is there ever a time where it’s possible to flag to him that because of the difference in tax rates, a 2-3% salary increase won’t have any impact for me? (I’m taxed around 50%, and the highest raise I will see this year is likely 3%. This equates to about $50 extra in my take home pay per month. This is less than COL adjustments locally.)
    It seems like he thinks he is awarding me something impactful, but that isn’t really the case.

    Also a little bitter as our whole team is non-sales and therefore on low salaries, versus sales makers on massive salaries. The company just doesn’t value us… and yes I am hoping to leave!

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      I probably wouldn’t mention the tax rates, and focus more on the COL adjustment being different. Yes, that’s due to tax rates, but people get all bent out of shape about taxes, so I’d not make that the sticking point personally.

  46. Amy Farrah Fowler*

    This is so timely. I have some questions, especially about the “if your salary has not been visited in the last 12 months”. My employer did pay cuts related to COVID and when that happened, I approached my manager and let her know that I understood the situation, but that I wanted to position myself for when pay was restored to be able to move up to the next step in my role. We talked about some things I could be doing to work towards that. Our pay has now been restored. How long should I wait to bring this up with my manager? I get that we’re all probably still figuring out what the future is looking like, and for me it’s less of an “I want a raise now” and more of a “how am I doing on this progress? Are there other things you’ve thought of that would help me be in a better place for this?” Is that something I can do now/soon? Should I wait longer?

  47. Willik*

    I asked for a raise with a company I had been working for for ten years. I pointed out that I had worked there longer than anyone else in my position, took on the most responsibility, and was being paid less than everyone else at my level. They said they could not offer me a raise “it’s just not in the budget”. I left and they hired someone for the wage I had been asking for, and they had zero experience in the field. So that was fun.

Comments are closed.