how to ask my company to pay me more if they want me to stay

A reader writes:

I’m a 27-year-old woman, working for my first company. I got a job here almost five years ago, fresh out of college, and have moved up the ladder fairly quickly. I’m highly regarded, very involved in the organization, have great relationships with my coworkers, leadership, and clients, and earned a spot in our president’s club this year.

As with so many other organizations, we’re seeing tons of resignations, and my workload is going to significantly increase. Other companies have approached me, but I’ve mostly said I’m not interested. I really like my company and believe I could have some great opportunities in a few years if I stay.

However, I’m making below the industry standard for my role, and lots of organizations approaching me have noted a base salary $10-20k higher than mine. I’d like to ask my company to pay me a little more to keep me. I’m the only person left with my skill set, and think they don’t want to lose me.

Can I negotiate with my company and ask for more pay without them questioning my loyalty? How do I approach that conversation? A good point of entry that I have is that I’m likely to take on a lot of work from a coworker leaving in about a week.

Yes! I’m not a big fan of looking for a counter-offer in most situations — here’s a post about how it can backfire in ways people don’t expect — but this isn’t that. Instead, you’d be essentially saying, “Hey, I really like it here and I want to stay and I’m being approached by employers offering a lot more than I’m making now. Can we work something out?”

In fact, you could even use that exact wording. Or you could say: “I’m really happy here and I’d love to stay. I want to be transparent with you that I’m being approached by other organizations offering significantly more money, to the point that it’s starting to feel irresponsible not to talk with them. But I’d really prefer to stay here. Can we get my salary up to market value — I’m hearing $X and $Y from the jobs approaching me.”

You don’t need a specific opening to have this conversation, like the fact that you’re about to take more work because of your departing coworkers. You can just ask for a meeting and say it. But you could also use that opening if you want to, framing it as “This is especially on my mind right now because of the impact on my workload from Jane and others who have left.”

Personally, in that case I’d add, “But I’d bring it up regardless, because I do want to make sure I’m being paid in line with the market” because I think that’s worth stressing … but that’s up to you.

{ 66 comments… read them below }

  1. Erin*

    I did this last year. We had a new budget that included the same 3% bump that we get every year. I talked to the treasurer and said “can we talk about this” that turned into a new position job offer. Even after the offer came through I asked for more and got it! Now I just have to do ALL the work :)

    1. CH*

      I did this in the last year, too. I brought it up to my boss as a combination of being the highest performer on the team (with demonstrated numbers) and being underpaid for the market (and for my organization) and that I’d like my salary to reflect the contributions I’ve made to the organization. It took about 6 months, but it resulted in a 15% salary increase. I had never asked for more money before and was scared, but I learned they’ll never give it to you unless you ask! Be polite but firm in understanding your value.

  2. Valkyrie*

    I just did this successfully! I’ve worked for a small company for years, left and then came back remotely during the pandemic. I took a pay cut to return, but it made sense in the grand scheme of things. Two weeks ago I sat my boss down and told her I needed a 50% pay increase or I’d have to give notice so I could make finding a new job my new job (I know this is not typically advisable, but I have some irons in the fire and felt confident we’d be OK if she said no).

    She asked me to give her a week, which I agreed to. We had a meeting the next Monday and I was convinced she was going to say no and that I’d have to leave. Well, she said yes! I was just given a 50% raise which brings me to $5k over where I was when I originally left.

    This isn’t a long-term solution, I don ‘t like WFH I miss people, but we both know this and I feel great about successfully advocating for myself.

  3. KSharpie*

    Be prepared for them to blanche. There is every chance that they won’t respond well to you being approached with other offers, even if you haven’t been seeking them out. Are you prepared to interview and leave if they say no?
    I gave my old boss the quote of what the place I was interviewing with was offering (33% raise and moving benefits) when they’d denied a cost of living raise for me to move to help open their new office and he tried to get me to stay for another 7 months to “See if they could work it out in my yearly review.”
    I was interviewing and ready to leave for many reasons, pay was just the easiest to point to.

    1. Kevin Sours*

      Honestly, any place that has a bad reaction to an employee getting approached with inquiries is telling you something very important about themselves. Good businesses want the sort of employees that have other options and are willing to roll with the implications of that. It’s possible that they’ll say no, that’s pretty normal (and then you need to figure out how to respond to that) but actual blowback is a huge red flag.

      1. RedFlags*

        THIS. I’m in the middle of a bit of a ridiculous situation because I told my boss that while I wasn’t actively looking, I was getting emails about comparable, industry-adjacent positions offering salaries in the range of $X to Y (about 20% more than I’m currently making) and would they be open to revisiting my compensation. They said sure, but they’re busy so let’s talk in two months. Well guess what happened shortly thereafter–a very interesting opportunity popped into my inbox and I followed up. I think current boss suspected something was up so they set another meeting with me earlier this week–to offer a raise to the exact low number of the range I provided. I made the (questionable and now regrettable) decision to tell them I’d been approached by another firm and wouldn’t want to accept a raise before exploring the new opportunity more fully and HOO BOY. If I wasn’t actively looking before, the way they’re handling this is definitely pushing me to. I don’t have an offer in hand yet but things have been promising–cross your fingers for me!

        1. Can't think of a funny name*

          Sorry it’s going that way…I had a similar conversation with my boss b/c the first raise offer he presented wasn’t good enough so I said I was going to continue exploring my options…a few days later he came back with a much better offer which I accepted. Good luck!

  4. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

    Good luck! And please let us know how it goes–I, for one, would love to know!

  5. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    I would make sure they are not only bringing you up to your current market value but for the market value of the extra workload.

  6. Can't think of a funny name*

    I just did this. I got a 25% raise! I told my boss I was interviewing and had multiple recruiters with jobs paying much more than I was making. It took some back and forth with upper management but we got to a good spot. I was clear that money was my only issue, I was otherwise very happy with my position.

    1. Can't think of a funny name*

      Oh, and I said some variations of the things that Alison mentions above like that I was doing myself a disservice to not at least entertain the possibility of moving on if I was so far under market but that my preference was to stay.

  7. Sauron*

    This is very helpful – and I’m at a position where I need to do this. Have taken on a lot over pandemic – including the full job of one former teammate. I’m starting to get some offers but I truly do like my current team. I’ll try one of these scripts with my boss and see how it goes.

  8. anonymous73*

    I like the way Alison worded it. It doesn’t sound threatening as in “I need this much more or I’m out”, but lets them know that you are looking to leave if they don’t give you what you deserve. You should still prepare yourself for them to act irrationally and take it as a threat. If they act reasonably, but still say no, you need to start talking to those reaching out to you.

  9. This is a name, I guess*

    Oooh oooh! I successfully did this. I’ve been approached by recruiters for jobs that paid $20,000 more than mine but with less responsibility. I leveraged that into an in-role promotion (Manager to Associate Director, in nonprofits) and a $25,000 raise.

    Essentially, I told my boss that I noticed my compensation no longer matched the median for my title AND that the work I’m producing no longer aligned with my job title. I said that I’m willing to take a slight pay cut to stay at my current company (because my boss and work-life balance are awesome, and changing jobs risks losing the level of flexibility I have), but that I’m receiving a lot of offers from recruiters that pay $20,000 for less responsibility. I then asked to discuss: 1) next steps in terms of title; and 2) rematching my salary based on my current title and on a promoted title to the current market. I framed it as, “I don’t want to leave, so please don’t make me by underpaying me.”

    I also have a fairly forthright and open relationship with my boss, so I also said, “Let’s be honest, you won’t be able to find someone half as good as me for what you’re paying me now, especially given this market. I’m overperforming in my role, and you’ve been getting an awesome deal for my work, which is totally find. Let’s find a way for me to stay at COMPANY, because that’s what I want.”

    I also made the case by looking at job posting for my sector and doing my own salary match.

  10. Decidedly Me*

    I did this! I was getting approached by recruiters with positions with similar titles/responsibilities, but the pay was a lot higher than where I was at. I was happy where I was, but the gap was large enough that it would have hard to turn down. I talked to my boss to see what we could do to close the gap. I received a raise the same week getting me closer (on the lower side of a reasonable range) and another a little later (end of year) that brought me more fully in line.

    It was a weird conversation for me to have, but my boss didn’t make it weird or make me feel bad/wrong about it. I felt very supported and I don’t think they had realized how far off I was (only one in my role, moved up quickly, with decent raises each time, but clearly not enough).

  11. Amanda*

    I did this 2 years ago and it was nerve-wracking, but definitely paid off. I was given an immediate bonus and following an extra performance review 3 months later, received a 17% raise. It never hurts to ask, so long as you have the skills and reputation to back it up.

  12. gsa*

    I think your own words are pretty good with a few tweaks:

    I’m making below the industry standard for my role, and lots of organizations approaching me have noted a base salary $10-20k higher than mine. I’m the only person left with my skill set, and think (Company Name) wants to lose me.

    I think by using the company name it keeps it more like a business decision, which it really is for both of you.

    Good luck. From the few people the term doing so far, this looks very doable.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I think this is a case where the asker’s identity makes a difference. There are plenty of studies showing that women are more likely to get the raises or promotions they ask for when they *don’t* emphasize it being a simple business decision and instead emphasize qualities that people associate with being feminine, like wanting to do their best on behalf of their team, caring about the performance of the company, etc.

  13. Katie*

    One of my direct reports did this a few years ago and not only was it appropriate, it was appreciated! As part of our people management, we identify “flight risks” and this employee was definitely on the list as someone we could not afford to lose. With a recruiter’s email in hand, I was able to quickly make the case to my boss, and the employee had a matching raise plus a spot bonus within a few weeks. Honestly, I felt grateful that my employee trusted me enough to give me the chance to match before she started seriously looking. Any good employer will feel the same way!

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I love hearing this side of things! It makes sense that a good employer would want to know about this and be given the chance to fix it before the employee is forced to look elsewhere. Because by the time they get to that point and go through the hassle of applying or even interviewing for other jobs, it’s almost too late and at least one foot is already out the door.

      How a manager responds will be truly telling – if they don’t see this as the gift it is and respond poorly, then all you do is push the employee more out the door. Why would someone stay with a lower salary and a crappy boss?

  14. irene adler*

    I did this inadvertently last year.

    My boss retired. We don’t replace; we divide up the responsibilities among those who remain (small company – struggling to survive). I just dove in; took on stuff because it all had to get done. Turns out, I have some mad regulatory skills.

    The CEO very happy with the results. Starts telling ME I’m underpaid (who does that?).
    (FYI: secretly, I found the list of salaries. AND a salary search conducted by CEO (Salary.com, etc). Yeah, I’m so under paid my salary is well below the lowest salary cited. Ouch!)

    During this conversation, we talk about how things are really crazy out there with biotech companies hiring like there’s no tomorrow (that’s gonna reverse itself in a few years. Yikes!). I point out that, daily, recruiters are approaching me with all sorts of jobs that I am totally unqualified for (like pharma jobs where I have no experience whatsoever.). To illustrate the ridiculousness, salaries start at like $120K -$140K or more. Well over twice my current salary. I give a dismissive wave of my hand to this.

    So he gives me a $10K/year raise. Didn’t expect that. I think he was a bit bothered by my recruiters story.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      At first I was like, recruiters are approaching you with salaries double your current one and all you got was a 10k bump? Keep looking! But then I actually used my reading comprehension skills and saw that it was for jobs outside your expertise/experience level, and just that offhand mention of jobs you couldn’t get was enough to get you a ~20% raise. So def congrats on the effortless raise!

      …On the other hand, the CEO was jumpy enough to give you a 10k bonus without asking, it couldn’t hurt to see what else is out there at your actual level skill level/in your industry – you might be worth more than you think!

    2. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      I had this happen this year and I didn’t even ask!
      I think I must’ve been identified as a flight risk and I am one of the only people in my department who knows a particular product really well.

      I got a 23% raise which was roughly $20k more per year. It does also come with some expanded duties, but nothing I can’t handle or isn’t a fit.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The difference is that you’re not saying “I’ve been interviewing and I have another offer that I’m going to take unless you can give me more money” (which many employers hear as “I have one foot out the door, if not more, and I might go looking to leave again in a few months anyway”). You’re saying you don’t want to go out interviewing but you can’t ignore the recruiters approaching you with more money.

        1. yo*

          Yeah, it kind of is. But the point, I think, is that companies understand that putting a bit of money toward neutralizing a mild threat is worth it for a good employee. A more four-alarm threat might feel like you’re creating drama and thus it’s not worth it. All a matter of cost-benefit.

        2. Kevin Sours*

          It is. But there is a difference between these people approached me offering $x and I went through an interview process got a firm offer for $x and I’ll take it if you don’t match in terms of immediacy of threat and perceived level of commitment.

          And one of the other factors in the counter offer scenario is that the company failed to do anything about it when it was just at the “we are paying below market and the employee wants a correction” stage. If you *have* to go out and get an offer before they start dicussion a raise then that tells you something about what you are dealing with.

        3. McS*

          It doesn’t have to be. It can be “this is where my market research is coming from and this is how I know I’m being underpaid.” It doesn’t make sense to go through a whole interview process to find out your market value, but you do need to learn it before asking for a raise and identifying your source lends credibility. It’s especially helpful in a situation where things are changing rapidly (market or your responsibilities) and you genuinely think your employer is underestimating your market value.

        4. Very Social*

          I think there’s a big difference between “I want to leave, here’s how you can prevent that” and “I want to stay, here’s how you can make sure I do.”

        5. Lab Boss*

          I’d think of it like the old adage “a stitch in time, saves nine.” There’s a hole in the employees satisfaction caused by their pay, but if it’s dealt with quickly and early it leaves things looking good for the future. By the time an employee has gone through job hunting and interviews and has offer(s) in hand the hole has gotten so big it’s worth questioning whether the repair is even worth it.

        6. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          It’s a mild threat for sure.
          There’s a difference in the amount of effort. If you’re just getting interesting emails about interesting jobs that seem to pay more, you’re being totally passive, just reading them and thinking that yes, you’d find plenty to spend that extra money on. You haven’t made any effort to leave the firm, because you are happy in your role. Or maybe you’re so pressed for time, in between your job and your kids and maybe other responsibilities you can’t just shrug off while you interview. Either way, you’ve not made any effort, and if your boss says no to a pay rise, you’re still going to have to invest time and effort into applying to those dream jobs in those emails.
          The person who’s already started looking and interviewing and has got to the point of considering offers, has already invested a fair amount of time and effort to get to that point. There ‘s the sunk cost fallacy where you start thinking that given the number of interviews and tests the potential employer has put you through, it’d be a waste to not accept their offer.
          The person who’s already got an offer may very well have reasons other than salary: it is often said that people don’t leave jobs they leave managers. So the manager comes back with a counter offer, the person thinks oh yes that sounds good, but a few months later they are still grappling with all the problems and then they see the other firm is still advertising and think to hell with this, I’ll reach out to them again.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      I know exactly what you mean, because I used to work at a company where TPTB would say “If you don’t like it here, then go get a somewhere else. It will take us five minutes to replace you, and ten minutes later, no one will remember that you ever worked here.” I’m sure that if an employee had said “Hey, I really like it here and I want to stay and I’m being approached by employers offering a lot more than I’m making now. Can we work something out?” the response would have been, “Go take that other job! And don’t let the door hit you on your way out!”

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        In that workplace, it would’ve been better to take the other job without bothering to talk to management before resigning. You’re describing a job whose only purpose is to pay the bills until a better job is available.

      2. Caroline Bowman*

        That’s such a bullish attitude! Then again, I have worked at places where the staff were woefully underpaid and the whole schtick was ”but this is MORE THAN A JOB”, it’s a wonderful, happy place to work (which it actually was, very fun, nice people, interesting stuff to do and learn, no question) and NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT MONEY, which is true, but then that’s easy to say when as the owner / one of the directors, you’re absolutely raking it in and have all the flashy toys to prove it.

        Because they were located very close to an area where extremely high salaries are the norm for the various jobs… they kept losing staff. They’d train them well (all levels, some specialised, some fairly generic), give them some good experience and then lose them at around the 1-2 year mark. This drove them mad. My suggestion (HR) to, you know, raise the salaries was met with ”but it’s ONLY MONEY, that DOESN’T attract good candidates”. And on it went, possibly forever.

        Still, they did well financially, so maybe their method worked. Glad I got a better-paying job though, on account of silly things like ”my mortgage” and ”wanting to pay my bills”.

  15. Khatul Madame*

    LW, I recommend you use percentages rather than absolute numbers. If you are below $100K, 10-12K difference translates into an impressive percentage. It can also be more easily compared with your annual raises if those come as percentages.

    1. Lab Boss*

      That can backfire though- saying “I’m 12% below market rate” emphasizes how severe the problem is, but on the flip side “I want a 12% raise” can make the bosses backpedal because of how big of a number that seems like. I just had a similar conversation to request a raise and they tried to reject my request out of hand based on how high the percentage was, which I had to counter with “that extra x% you’re telling me is impossible is about $3,500/year. Are you really saying that’s impossible to get past?” It made it a lot harder for them to dismiss my ask as an impossible one.

  16. Dona Florinda*

    I used a pretty similar script last year and it worked! I was very careful phrasing that I was being approached by companies, not the other way around, and that even though I wasn’t planning to leave, I would have to consider if my pay couldn’t match the industry’s standard. (I said it in a very diplomatic tone, of course) Got a decent pay bump around a month after that.

  17. OyHiOh*

    I shared how I got an impending raise/promotion in a thread earlier this week, but it’s relevant here as well.

    I’ve been at 3/4 FTE for about six months (and at 16 hrs/wk for about a year before that). I love my job and organization but I always have my ear lightly to the ground and about a month ago, I had something like 4 or 6 really good potential jobs cross my path in the course of a week.

    All of them were full time/salaried, each picking up a different thread of what I do right now (I wear several hats in my current role), all of the salaries were close to double what I make right now.

    The organization I work for is tiny (less than a dozen employees) and has a very flat structure. For the most part, we have our bubbles of responsibility and we’re trusted to get our shit done within our bubbles and collaborate where needed with others. So, having an informal, chatty/friendly relationship with my executive director – and being very confident he wouldn’t take it out on me negatively – I marched into his office and laid out what I’d seen and was applying for, and also what his timeline was for making me full time.

    “Hey, you’ve made noises about making me full time, what’s your timeline for that?”
    “Why?”
    “Because in the past week, I’ve seen the following openings come up and I’m interested, but I really like OUR Organization and I’d rather stay here if the timing can work.”

    He asked a few questions about specifics, went and played with the budget for a few minutes, and offered a full time/salary/benefits package due to start in June (damn grant timing). Depending on your relationship with your leadership, you may be able to really straightforward.

    I’m still applying for jobs anyway. There’s a potential for someone else to come back with a great offer (if I could wear 2 hats instead of 4, that’dbegreat) and I’d consider that very seriously.

  18. Letter Writer*

    Thank you SO much Alison for answering this, and thank you all for all the success stories! It’s slowly giving me the courage to ask my own company about this. I have a great relationship with my boss, and think he would take this well and hopefully will be receptive – I know my company pays low kind of across the board, but I would stay for SLIGHTLY below market pay because I get such great flexibility here and have a name for myself (which was hard to build as a young woman in tech!). But I hope he’ll be able to offer at least a little closer to market.
    Again, thank you so much for all the success stories and advice! If anyone has words of wisdom on growing the courage to actually say these words, that’s appreciated too.

    1. Shenandoah*

      Thinking about the cost of stalling on conversations like this helps me, LW. Like, 20k divided by 365 is about ~$55 a day. And obviously, you wouldn’t see all of that money in your paycheck, but a 10-20k raise is the type of money that you will FEEL in your paycheck. Think about the types of things you’d like to do for yourself, what types of stresses that money might relieve.

      And really – you have nothing to lose! Either they give you a nice big raise or they don’t and you go find it somewhere else.

      1. Cheesehead*

        YES to looking at it that way! It really drives home the point of how much money you’re leaving on the table. A few decades ago, I was making a pretty low salary and I was eligible for a level promotion and the minimum raise that went along with it. At the time, the minimum raise I would get with the promotion was $1000. I asked my boss about it, and she “forgot” that I was eligible! So when her mistake is pointed out, you’d expect her to crunch the numbers, right? Wrong. She just waved it off and said “Well, we’ll look at it in 6 months.” Umm….no. I figured that her blowing me of had just cost me a minimum $500….the amount of that raise that I would have made in those 6 months. I was young then and didn’t stand up for myself enough, and if I had the personality then that I do now, I would have pushed more. I may not have gotten my raise that I felt I deserved, but it lit a fire under me and I was gone 3 months later. My only regret is that I was trying to remain professional, so I didn’t tell her that her refusing to consider me for a promotion/raise when I was eligible (and paying me at the very bottom of the range for the position despite me going really above and beyond) is what sealed the deal and made me look elsewhere.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        And you’ll easily make a name for yourself in the new place. For starters, they’re paying you more because they respect your skill set.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      Watch out of getting the runaround though. A lot of companies will ask for time, make promises, and then fail to deliver. Sometimes it’s deliberate exploitation, sometimes is simply not making dealing with an unpleasant task a priority. Honestly it doesn’t matter much either way. If they stall you need to start talking to the people offering you what you are worth. And then read Alison’s article on counter offers.

    3. Can't think of a funny name*

      I have a great relationship with my boss and he was very happy that I came to him and asked for an adjustment rather than just leaving and not giving him an opportunity to fix it. Don’t tell them you’d be happy with slightly under market…keep that in your head :) Good Luck and report back!

  19. Chelsea*

    Absolutely bring this up. As a manager, I would much prefer to have this conversation, especially if I am not aware that the market has changed, than to have to replace a great employee.

  20. Stripes*

    Thank you for posting this. I’m going through something similar and I know my current job wouldn’t be able to match the numbers I’m hearing from potential job, I just like current job. I’ve been tempted to float it by them anyway. I have never really asked for a raise, so this is very helpful.

    Hopefully one of these things pans out for me though, it’s difficult working 40+ hours a week and still somehow being broke because you’re not paid market value.

  21. ThisIsTheHill*

    I did this several years ago. I worked at a public company, so my boss told me to review the job descriptions similar to mine & their salary bands (all available on our intranet) & to write up a proposal. Got a promotion & about 10% raise to bring me up to market as well as making sure my duties more closely matched my job description.

    On the flip side, my current employer has been getting a ton of flack for their wages across the board. They’re reviewing every job description & performing market studies. Mine happened to come through a few weeks ago; I was about under the minimum of the new band, so got a surprise $12k raise.

    Best of luck to you, OP!

    1. LikesToSwear*

      My husband’s employer recently completed a compensation study and he ended up with a ~$13k raise. Between 24% – 25%. He’s still under market for his skills and duties, but is now at about what I would expect for a local government employee. Especially when you add in the pension and other benefits (he’s been there over 25 years, he gets an insane amount of vacation).

  22. Aitch Arr*

    I did this last year and I ended up getting a market adjustment and later a promotion.

  23. Ben*

    I like this approach, however as a manager at my company (and this is probably a comment about my company), I have a lot more leverage to negotiate on my employee’s behalf if they have an offer in hand. During annual reviews, if they express dissatisfaction with the salary I will encourage them to seek competing offers. Part of this has to do with my company’s structure with government contracts requiring industry-competitive pay (not industry-leading pay). I tell prospective employees during interviews we do not offer the highest salaries compared to the industry. So I deal with a lot of disappointment regarding salary, but I am upfront about it before they decide to join.

  24. Not that Leia*

    Do you think that similar language would work for title/position bumps? I’m feeling frustrated with a lack of (previously promised) official advancement at my current job, even though I’m doing higher level work, and I am also getting recruiting inquiries about higher title positions….

  25. Here we go again*

    My only advice is to look at all the benefits like health insurance, PTO, retirement savings, and work load, and crappy commute. You really need to do a side by side comparison.
    Because sometimes employers pay more because their insurance sucks or they expect 60 hour work weeks which works out to be way less per hour than what you were making at the first place.

  26. Just a Manager*

    I’m a manager and would want to know if someone thought they were underpaid. We just had someone on my team who came to me about their salary, and I got them a substantial raise. At the same time, I’ve seen it go wrong when it’s presented as an ultimatum. When that happens, many times, people get their back up, and while it shouldn’t becomes personal.

  27. Manchmal*

    I’m in this position. I’m in academia so getting a new job is much more difficult than in other fields. But it’s also a huge pain for the department especially when they can’t be 100% sure they’ll get the line again. But I have realized that I’m underpaid in comparison to coworkers in addition to the very hot market. I did bring it up and am waiting to hear a response!

  28. Catherine*

    I know I didn’t write this letter, but maybe someone is reading my mind. I am going through this exact situation right now and it’s definitely causing me a fair amount of stress. This letter and all the comments are really helpful!

  29. Pdweasel*

    FWIW, LW, since you mentioned wanting to be loyal to your company: you owe them what’s stipulated in your contract—the time you’re contracted to work, and the tasks your job entails done to the best of your ability and in a professional manner. You do not owe your company your free time, your mental or physical health, or your financial stability. If they can’t or won’t pay you what you’re worth for the job(s) you’re doing, there’s nothing wrong with packing up & moving to a company that can & will. That’s business!

    If they want unwavering loyalty at all costs, they can get a dog.

  30. Lab Boss*

    I just did something very similar (negotiating the salary for a planned promotion rather than my current job). One bit of advice for OP is to be prepared for what may seem like a negative reaction. Even the most supportive bosses get used to the status quo and you’re asking for it to be disrupted in your favor, and that’s probably going to take them aback at least initially.

    My boss and grand-boss like me and we have a great and friendly working relationship. As I laid my case out they were all smiles and compliments and support- until I got to the number. Dead silence. “Are you sure?” “Please explain how you’re justifying that big of a jump?” I hate confrontation and was mortified that I’d over-asked and torpedoed my reputation but I pushed ahead with the documents I’d prepared to justify the request. Later that day my boss pulled me aside and let me know that my request was a big one, but wasn’t unreasonable- that they’d both reacted like that because they were surprised (I’m not usually a negotiator) and trying to figure out how they might make it work, not because I’d done anything wrong.

    Still waiting to see how the budgets shake out for next year to see if it was a success, but that kind of reaction in the moment is something to be prepared for.

  31. PMPM*

    I did this last year! I was interviewing casually to see what market rates were, but I didn’t really have a desire to leave my current job. I had an offer for a 50% raise and I asked my boss for a 25% raise and got it, including a title bump. I framed it as: “I was recruited to talk to them and I have no desire to leave but a 50% pay raise is hard to turn down. I don’t need you to match that, but I do need X.”

    I didn’t need them to match it because the company with the offer was throwing up red flags all over and I didn’t want to take so much extra money and then also have a horrible working environment. The extra 25% was more than made up for by being able to have great work life balance at my current job.

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