how to ask for a raise (because you need to)

I’m regularly dismayed by how many people — particularly women — tell me they’ve gone their entire careers without ever asking for a raise. They haven’t done it because they feel awkward bringing it up, or aren’t sure how to find an opening to do it, or because they’re afraid they’ll sound greedy or like they’re over-estimating their own worth. Instead, they wait for their employers to offer them salary increases at whatever intervals their company choose to do that, if ever — a strategy that generally leaves people earning far less than if they had overcome their fears and spoken up.

So I am here to tell you: asking for a raise is a totally normal part of having a job! As long as you do it right, you will not look selfish, entitled, or presumptuous (assuming you’re working for a reasonably functional employer) … and you might end up earning significantly more money just by having a conversation that could be as short as five minutes long. I’ve got a guide to how to do it at New York Magazine today.

{ 136 comments… read them below }

  1. Grapevine in Tin*

    Anyone have advice for when you follow Alison’s guidance, provide qualitative and quantitative evidence of your contributions and how you exceed expectations and your boss consistently replies with, “But giving a raise wouldn’t be fair to your colleagues”? (all same level, with less experience and fewer contributions)

    1. Alex*

      This happened to me! So I got a new job. (Eventually, it wasn’t easy). But when I heard that, I correctly surmised that my boss didn’t actually want me to be promoted/have wage growth.

    2. constant_craving*

      I got consistent feedback that it wouldn’t be fair to give raises or promotions to some people but not others, even when work tasks were different. They then did eventually promote a few people to get around having to pay them for travel time (the promotion made them fall in an exempt job title). The only solution was leaving.

    3. MackM*

      I have been in a similar position several times. Paying me would be unfair to someone else, if you pay me more now there “won’t be room for raises” next year, I’m being entitled in asking for what I asked for, it would put me in a higher tax bracket and I would actually receive less money (lol), it’s easier to get a raise when you’re underpaid, being underpaid helps the company and 5% of my pay is in company stock so it’s actually better for me, all kinds of nonsense. In the past, I would continue the conversation politely and try to explain why I did not see whatever nonsense as relevant to my pay. In your situation, that sounds like it would be talking about your greater experience and contributions meriting greater compensation. I personally always found that the other party in the negotiation was acting in bad faith. I never got a good outcome from this polite approach. The other parties successfully stonewalled me out of what I was trying to negotiate for and I remained underpaid, because they declined to have a reasoned conversation.

      These days I respond to bad faith negotiation much more aggressively. I pretty much refuse to engage with the nonsense and pull it back to what we’re negotiating. To respond to what your boss said, I could see myself saying “I don’t decide what fair pay is, the labor market does. And I’m getting feedback that my labor is worth $XX based on YY and ZZ.” or even “Well I hadn’t considered collective negotiation. I’m surprised to hear you bring it up. Is that something you want us to organize?”. It’s smart-assy, it’s aggravating, and in my opinion completely appropriate here. I have had better results with this approach.

      In compensation negotiation, your and your employer’s interests completely conflict. That is why their gloves come off and you have to deal with adversarial tactics from people you normally cooperate with. That’s a hard switch for a human to flip. Does your manager tell your other coworkers giving them a raise would be unfair to you? Does your manager not see the obvious stasis that policy puts salaries in? They do.

      So pretty much, once the other party is negotiating with you like that, I consider them to be stonewalling you out and ignore the smile. Then the question is, how to negotiate while stonewalled? I have only been able to find a new job from there.

      Good luck!

    4. RedinSC*

      I found a new job when presented with that one. They weren’t going to budge.

      Then when I put in my notice, they said they would counter, and they offered me 50% less than the raise I was getting (which was significant). So I took my new job.

      I was the lowest paid individual in that job title, too, and going with the same amount that my new offer was would have still had me at $20K less a year than the highest paid person in my job classification.

      Sorry, but just look for a new job.

    5. gsa*

      My last good raise was 17%.

      I worked for a private company. Founded and run by three guys. They were profitable. They shared the books on a yearly basis.

      We had just tired a bunch of new project managers. We were not for bidden from talking about celery, but I think they figured out that the market changed and those of us hired earlier and found out there would be mutiny.

      Good company they taught me a lot about being in Project Manager.

      Celery was a typo, I letting it stamd.

  2. Staceyface80*

    It was because of Alison’s advice that I asked for a raise after working 3 years for a company where I took on more and more work with no increase in salary, got told it wasn’t in the budget after helping the company to organize a $50,000 retreat for the execs, and decided to immediately find a place where I would be valued. I found that place within 2 weeks of looking, as well as a 50 percent increase in pay. This site has quite literally changed my life.

    1. Random Dice*

      Me too! I got a 20% raise, over a decade ago, thanks to Alison. I made my case carefully, following her guidance, and it worked.

  3. Keyboard Cowboy*

    I have a question about this! I work at a Big Tech megacorp and they do raises annually as part of the regular performance review cycle – those raises include inflation (hopefully) as well as performance-based bumps. We also get raises automatically when we get promoted (and promotion eligibility happens on a cycle too). So as a result I haven’t been asking for raises at all, because it’s built into the system. Is that a mistake, and everyone around me is asking for and getting off-cycle raises? Or is this the exception to the rule?

    1. JustKnope*

      I also work at a very large company with the type of setup you’re describing, and we cannot get raises outside of the annual review cycle. However, you could use this advice to make a pitch for a large/larger raise ahead of the appropriate phase of the cycle to advocate for yourself within the normal system!

      1. Everything All The Time*

        Yep, it’s how my company does it. otherwise you have to go get a promotion. If you do ANYTHING outside your usual scope, or of exceptional quality, document it and bring it to a yearly review meeting.

        my ex-company wouldn’t give raises until you were ready to quit, and when I had an offer for my current company for 33% more for the same job, the ex-company said they could “re-evaluate on my anniversary for only a few dollars an hour more.” Took my offer for my new company, left a review on glassdoor about the pay discrepancy, and left.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      My company is similar with annual raises tied to regular performance reviews. There’s almost no scenario, save for getting promoted to a higher role with a bigger wage, that you’re going to get a raise outside of this cycle. As a result, I also don’t ask for raises, because we’re either getting them or we’re not, but it’s generally known when and why they will happen if we do.

    3. Affine Transform*

      I have also always gotten regular raises (except for one year), and I’ve usually been happy with the magnitude of the raise. At large companies that operate in this way, it’s not typical to just ask for a raise. Raises are tied to the review cycle, and you make your case for what a fantastic, raise-worth employee you are by writing a really good review input. I have seen people who were not happy with the magnitude of the raise they go ask for more, and in some cases, they get it. Those people were serious rainmakers, though.

    4. Parcae*

      My read of Alison’s advice is that in this scenario, you should be initiating a discussion with your boss a month or two before this annual pay-setting. You want to advocate for yourself so that you get your fair share of whatever’s been allocated for raises. ;)

      1. nona*

        +1 – we do the raises with the annual review, but a lot of times it seems like mgmt already has a sense of how raises are going to go by the time they are solicting feedback and asking me to write up my accomplishments.

        So be talking to your mgr early/often about what you are working on (like during 1:1) and documenting in your feedback system (if that is an option) on, like, a quarterly basis, instead of just waiting until the end of the year to do a brain dump of what you’ve been doing. The quarterly basis also helps *me* remember what I’ve been working on throughout the year, instead of the recency bias of what I just got done with.

      2. SarahKay*

        I would say you need to do it considerably earlier than a month before their discussion with you. My company also does annual merit-based pay rises. Discussion with staff is in late Feb to early March, with the increase taking effect on 1st April.
        However, the managers have to have put their input in for who gets what by about mid January, so if you aren’t confident that your manager is aware of your work you need to have been talking to them in November-December.

    5. ThatGirl*

      My company is not THAT big – 4,000 employees or so – but I assumed that our annual merit increases and any promotions were pretty much it for raises.

      And then last week my manager told me I was getting a raise based on what a new hire (same role) will be getting – she said that the new person asked for more than I currently make, so it was only fair that my pay be a bit higher than the new person. I was pleasantly surprised, but it also makes me realize there clearly are other ways to get raises here.

    6. Heart&Vine*

      I came here to ask the same thing. My company does something similar but doesn’t consider cost-of-living. They just say “everybody gets the same percentage raise”. This doesn’t sit particularly well with me because a 2.5% raise looks very different between someone making $100k/year and someone making $50k/year. I’ve also noticed that, while everyone “gets the same percentage raise”, some people get changes to their job title. Not necessarily to their job description… just their job title. Which seems like a way for them to circumvent the “same raise” rule to get a bigger bump.

      I do keep track of all benefits I bring to the company but keep hearing “unless you are EXTRAORDINARY (and no one is), there are no exceptions to the equal raise rule”.

      Something tells me I won’t see a penny more unless I’m heading out the door.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        That’s a really crappy system and incentivizes you to look elsewhere, by which point you’re just as likely to take the new offer as bother with a counter.

        It also seems to incentivize doing just enough not to get fired. If I’m getting the same 2.5% that Guacamole Bob in Accounting is, why am I doing more than the minimum?

    7. I should really pick a name*

      My company gives annual raises.

      One year, in advance of them happening, I let my boss know that thought that I deserved an increase of $X (significantly more than normal) due to additional responsibilities that I’d taken on. I didn’t quite get $X at the annual raise, but it was close. (To answer your question, it was still on the cycle)

    8. Jaybeetee*

      I work for government, which is of course very regulated in terms of salaries, salary bands, step progressions, collective agreements, etc etc, which means asking for raises *mostly* isn’t a thing. Generally, to do it in this kind of workplace, you need to either make the case that you should be a higher step progression within a salary band (i.e. you started a new position at step 1, but you have three years’ prior experience elsewhere that should bump you up a few steps), or make the case that your position should be reclassified to a higher level (i.e. that position erosion that happens when you’ve been in a job for awhile and start taking on more varied or complex work).

      For both, expect a response in 6-8 business years.

      1. JanetM*

        @Jaybeetee — same here. We get raises generally in August (backdated to July). There are no across-the-board raises or COLAs, just merit raises, based on the pool allocated by the legislature. Raises last year ranged from 1% to 2.25% depending on annual review score. For a few years, the (non-recognized per state law) union was able to successfully lobby for a floor, so the lowest-paid staff got a flat rate raise that was higher than the percentage would have been, but the university has become more resistant to that.

        1. yala*

          You get yours backdated? Our raises don’t kick in until the next fiscal year (the July following the August review). But they do scale, so lowest paid employees get a 4% “market adjustment” every year, and then as you get paid more the percentage decreases.

          I’m stoked because I just found out they finally raised the minimum for our positions. So I’ll be technically making the minimum someone in my position would make despite being here for *checks notes* ten years.

          But on the plus side, it’s finally past the $15/hr mark.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        My spouse did the reclassification option, and it seriously took a full year to process. It was such a saga, I seriously cannot remember if they back-paid him the time between their original “due date” on the determination and when it actually happened.

        OPM makes me really appreciate my HR team is all I’m saying.

      3. just a random teacher*

        Yep, I’m government and unionized, so I have literally never asked for a raise because that’s simply not something negotiated individually. It’s bargained between the union and the school district, and the only time you can negotiate anything is when you’re first hired and they’re deciding how much of your previous experience counts toward vertical advancement on the salary schedule (which will move down a row each year after that until you max out) and maaaaaaybe which college credits count for horizontal advancement, although both of those parts are also pretty formalized unless you’ve got an unusual background.

        I know exactly how much money my raise will be each year of the remaining contract. Also, I don’t have to worry about the kinds of inequities that arise when my self-advocacy is seen as “pushy” whereas someone else’s is seen as “assertive” or hear about “but he needs the raise to support his family”, since everyone with the same number of years of experience and education level makes the same amount.

        Reclassification isn’t really thing that happens to teachers (all teachers have the same job description whether they’re teaching kindergarten or high school PE, except for a few kinds of specialists), but it does happen for some of the non-teaching folks, in theory at least.

    9. Don't Call Me Shirley*

      Annual review and you see the range for your role and level, no less. Asking for a raise outside the review cycle is “gumption”, not actually something useful.

      1. Chairman of the Bored*

        Everywhere I ever worked would give extra off-cycle raises to top employees who asked for them and made a strong case for it.

        This included the places where the standard line to the other ~80% of employees was “we don’t really do off-cycle raises”.

        1. nona*

          +1. Annual raises happen in March, but I know that my dept VP has a bucket of discretionary money he can use to give raises in Aug (I know, because I’ve gotten some). I never personally asked for anything to get those (mgmt made that call on their own), but it was a bucket that would be there if someone made a good case for their manager to take to the VP.

    10. Union nerd*

      I think a transparent system of raises and promotions makes it easier to work with the system and off-cycle raises wouldn’t be a reasonable request.

      I work for government where yearly COL increases are set and the criteria for performance raises and promotions are clearly stated. I can’t do much within that system other than meet expectations, except that I had a really good few years before an expected promotion point and used that to get promoted a year early. Their original feedback was “Work is of great quality and will be ready for promotion in a year” and at that point I took a risk and asked what was missing from my promotion case that I needed to work on in that coming year. Suddenly they took back their comments and put me up for promotion right away so my polite question worked! It was a small victory at the time, yet it was what I had available to me within the system and it means that every year I’m better off!

      I’m happy with our more rigid system because it means that minorities (women, BIPOC, disabilities, etc) are less likely to be disadvantaged when everything is clear and open.

    11. Adalind*

      Thanks for asking this as I’m curious to read the responses. My company (not Big Tech) does the same thing – annual raises, promotion raises, plus year end bonuses – and I’ve never felt the need to ask for a raise.

    12. amoeba*

      Same here – there will be a budget across the company (like, 3% or something – raises here tend to be low, but then inflation is as well), and then the raise will depend on your performance rating as well as your position on your salary band. So, better rating or lower in the band – higher raise. There’s an algorithm that suggests a number for everybody. There’s some flexibility in the system – so, in theory, you could give 20% more or less or something – but at least in my department, we’re very strongly encouraged to use the suggested value.

      The other way to get a raise is a promotion – and at least on the “expert” track, these also happen without asking for them (as we basically keep the same responsibilities and are just expected to perform on a higher level – we don’t actually do a different job between “scientist”, “senior scientist” and “principal scientist”!) So, if you have consistently good reviews, every few years you get a higher title and a – slightly – higher raise outside of the annual cycle.

      I think the only way to speed things up would be to apply internally for completely different positions (like, going from research into project management). Otherwise, no need to negotiate (and no point in it, either).

    13. Ace in the Hole*

      I think you really need to know your organization. Can you check with coworkers to find out if other people are getting off-cycle raises? Unless you have reason to believe that’s happening frequently, I think it would come across badly to ask for one in the situation you describe.

      However… you should be prepared to advocate for performance-based raises/promotions during your review cycle. While asking for a pay increase off-cycle might seem out of touch, it’s totally reasonable to ask for a larger annual increase than they’d normally give you. Or to push for a promotion (and associated pay bump) they might not otherwise have done.

      Just be sure to start early. This is the kind of thing that works best if you’re sounding your boss out months ahead of time.

  4. Silver Robin*

    Love having a guide for this! I tried negotiating salary when I got this last job thanks to Alison, and having a set of guidelines for continued discussions is great! My manager is the type lean towards raises as default which makes it easier, but still!

  5. Stuart Foote*

    This is probably a function of my own experience, but I honestly feel like asking for a raise is a waste of time. Just get a new job.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      That has been my observation as well.
      But I think Alison would say that one should have the conversation first. Even one time, at one job. There have been enough letters here about success, even if it’s only 10%, that it is worth a try.
      But I think one should expect a 90% of needing to leave.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I think mathematically you’re probably not wrong — the amount you get in a raise (let’s say COLA) is almost always going to be less than what you’ll make if you jump ship somewhere else that starts you at a much higher rate to begin with. And if your raise is less than COLA, then you continue to make less and less every year when you factor in the inflation rate.

    3. Parcae*

      I’ve had the same experience (asked for a raise with no success at multiple jobs), and yet I don’t think it was a *complete* waste of time. It gave me the information I needed: these people don’t want to pay me, so I need to look elsewhere.

      Now I work for the Federal government and everything is laid out for me on a nice, neat salary scale. Bliss.

    4. Silver Robin*

      getting a new job is a lot of work. Yes, the raise might be bigger, but folks might also be happy to stay where they are for just a bit more money. Maybe the benefits are better than anywhere else, maybe the commute (or lack of!) or the mission, maybe they are trying to build up longer stays on their resumes, or who knows what. They can still want a raise while having good reasons to stay.

      1. Aelfwynn*

        I agree. While getting a new job often does come with a more significant pay jump than a raise, there are a lot of other factors at play regarding whether someone wants to stay at the job they have or not. Other jobs may come with a higher salary, but lack the things someone likes about their current job. Plus, spending a few minutes asking for a raise is way less effort than putting resumes/cover letters together, finding a new position, interviewing, and starting out a position as a newbie. Everyone does those calculations differently depending on what they value most.

      2. Catherding Specialist*

        I was in this boat last year. I really liked the company where I work, but was frustrated with HR’s approach to raises last year. To my surprise, when I was interviewing elsewhere, I found that salaries for similar positions were much much higher than I’d thought (a recent explosion in demand for my type of work). I went back to my boss and said “Look, I’d really prefer to stay here, but this is the salary range I’m seeing now.” Within 48 hours, he’d gone to bat with the board for me, and I had the raise for me, and for two team members that I thought were being underpaid.

        There are definitely jobs I’ve worked at where they could not have offered me enough to stay, but I have worked enough places to know that this one, while they have problems (side-eyeing you HR dude), is definitely above average.

    5. The Shenanigans*

      There’s some truth to that. The best way to get more money is usually to jump ship. The trouble is that job-hopping has an impact on earning power, too. So I’d say a combination of asking for what you’re worth from the start, negotiating raises over the 2-5 years you stay at any one business, then moving on are likely the best bet for maximizing income.

    6. Prosecco*

      I was ready to leave my job last year. I sent out my resume, got a job offer for amount x (that was higher than my salary at my old job).
      Then I went to my boss, told him I had another offer and what my requirements were for staying (x+y, responsibility for a, b and c, …) and he agreed to all of them. So I got even more than if I had changed jobs.
      But… yeah, I wouldn’t recommend this, if you’re not really willing to leave.

    7. cloudy*

      this is a well known thing where i work (higher ed at a large institution). everyone on staff knows that if you want your salary to go up you have to change departments. the occasional 2-3% raise every few years will lag behind cost of living quickly with our low salaries. merit-based raises are pretty much exclusively reserved for faculty so the rest of us are sort of left to scavenge from the budgetary leftovers.

    8. NotAnotherManager!*

      Depends on how much you like your job. If you like everything but the money, ask for a raise. If you’re asking for a raise to put up with more crap that’s making you miserable, get a new job.

    9. Ace in the Hole*

      Getting a new job is a lot of work. It can be a big risk. There are many benefits to long-term tenure at a decent workplace, which can be difficult to quantify. You might like a lot of things about your current job (location, coworkers, work environment, etc). There may not be many employers in your region/field.

      If you’re mostly happy with your current job but want more money… why would you leave instead of asking for a raise? And if you’re not happy with your current job… why not ask for a raise AND look for a new job?

  6. Blanked on my AAM posting name*

    I asked for a raise for the first time ever last year (I have been working for over 20 years, so a long overdue experience!) after my employer posted a job in the department I work in that was comparable in level to my role but paid £2.5K more. I carefully made my case, noting the similarities between the new role and my existing one and, a few months later, got the full amount I asked for.

    As a neurodivergent woman it took a lot to convince me to speak up rather than just quietly feel unappreciated, but it was well worth the effort!

  7. Nonprofit321*

    I asked for a modest raise last summer, backed up by comprehensive spreadsheets with my colleagues’ salaries across the country who did my *exact same* job (in a large network of nonprofits). The first thing out of my bosses mouth when I asked was “we think you’re already overpaid.” That was the beginning of the end of a positive relationship between us. I doubt I’ll ever ask for a raise again because it was so stressful and humiliating and infuriating.

    Anyway, I’m in a new job now. And that particular nonprofit can have fun finding somebody else.

    1. WellRed*

      Just think if you hadn’t asked you’d probably still be there not knowing how much they undervalued you. Good riddance!

    2. Estimator*

      That happened to me to- my position didn’t merit a higher salary according to my boss. Only 3 months later he hired a guy with less experience to do the same job at $10k more. That’s when I knew that the boss was only going to ever see me as an admin even though I was managing $50 million of projects each year. I left and and 2 years later make more than double that salary.

    3. Not in Charge*

      Mine is doing this too! Like, they offered competitive(ish…my salary is the median for my role and area) salaries upfront, and think that should be enough apparently forever, or that they can just replace folks with cheaper versions with no loss of quality. Like?

  8. maringe*

    Very good advice for those of us who work for local, state, or federal government. There is no way to ask for a raise, let alone get one, other than getting merit and COL raises, or making a better salary in either another department or elsewhere altogether.

    But it’s a price I’m willing to pay for job security.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      There is a process at the federal level to be reclassified or to petition to be credited additional experience to get a step/grade increase, but it’s a royal pain in the rear and takes forever. My spouse did reclassification and netted about a 10% raise (over a year later), which is probably the biggest and only substantial raise he’ll get with the fed. It balances out with the healthcare costs, flexibility, and pension.

  9. H.Regalis*

    Government workers: Do you all ask for raises? Have you ever? Fed, state, county, city/town/village; basically anyone who is a public employee.

    I have never done so, but part of that is because I’ve worked in sectors of government where that wasn’t a thing: There were raises for longevity and COLs, but that was it. Like a lot of people who are not white men, no one has ever advised me to ask for a raise; but I’m not sure if this is a public-sector thing, a systemic issue, or some of both.

    I worked with a particularly miserable person whose advice in all situations was “Don’t try to stand up for yourself because they will smack you down harder, and trying to stand up for yourself makes it your fault when that happens, you know.” I know their advice was a wet sack of garbage, but I don’t know what good public-sector advice looks like.

    1. Watry*

      I’ve never bothered either, because it isn’t happening. That said I’ve been very fortunate (in public employee terms) in that we get a 3% COLA most years, and recently-ish they did a reclassification study and a lot of us got major pay bumps out of it. Trying to pass the accompanying tax hike was something of a nightmare, though.

    2. spcepickle*

      I think the answer is it depends. I work for a state government. We are bound by salary bands and union contracts. There is no way for me to give merit based raises no mater how much someone may deserve it. When I promote or bring someone in I might be able to start them at a step higher then I initially offer but never outside the salary band for the position. The union contract says everyone gets two step increase on their anniversary till they reach the top step, most of my people reach the top step within two years of starting work.
      I tell people to get involved with the union to push for COL increases, but if you want more money you need to get promoted or go work for a city.

    3. apricot*

      I work for a county. At my last evaluation I asked if it was possible to be given a higher increase in pay instead of the usual one step up, and stated my case for how much more efficient I am and that I take on a lot if responsibility for my unit. For our county that means a letter from our department head has to go to the main HR for the whole county to be approved.

      Not sure if it was even worth asking because the supervisors in our department drag their feet on anything we ask for. I still haven’t gotten an update on it….

      I always just assumed we were bound by the salary bands set in our union contracts.

    4. Alpaca Bag*

      I’m a contractor for a state government who had never asked for a raise before and has been paid the same amount for the last 4 years. Because of this site, I asked for a raise last year, and was told that the way the contract works is that my pay will never change. I love the work I do and the team I’m on, but don’t want to stay at this pay rate until I retire. The team is all contractors, so becoming a “real employee” would mean getting a different job.

    5. Nesprin*

      Government adjacent- there’s no point asking for raises for us, except as part of promotions because our systems are rigid. Everyone gets a once a year COLA + a merit raise which is calculated by stack ranking and some ridiculous arcane math and that’s it.

      It’s worth asking anyone you think is reasonable what the raise system is at your workplace and to check databases if your salaries are publicly listed to see if you can justify moving into a higher bin/par with peers etc.

    6. fanciestcat*

      In local government, there are three theoretical paths you can take to get a raise that I know of, aside from getting promoted:

      1) Convince your supervisor to advocate for you to skip a step within your salary schedule. I think this would only really work if you found out a coworker was at a higher step than you for reasons other than seniority and you could argue on equity grounds. Just feeling like you worked harder than others wouldn’t be a strong enough case.

      2) Band together with others with your job title, if there are any, and during contract negotiations make the case to your union and management that your classification is underpaid and needs to be moved up the schedule. This is probably the best option.

      3) If you have capital, and you’re confident multiple positions are underpaid compared to the surrounding area, suggest that the City is due for a salary survey.

    7. Madame Arcati*

      I work in (non-US) government. Asking for a pay rise is not a thing – not because of culture but because it is literally impossible for anyone to grant it on an individual basis. Pay rises, even small ones on line with cost of living, can only be granted by a decision from the actual government. They apply to the whole department (possibly at certain levels but usually not). Looking back over 20+ years (I once did all the maths) I have had four or five years with no pay rise whatsoever and more than that with less than 1%. The biggest I’ve ever had (absent getting promoted) has been just shy of 5%. There is literally nothing I can do about that. Don’t get me wrong there are other compensations like good employment rights, non money benefits like leave, a decent pension and in my case certainly an extremely interesting and fulfilling role. But in my world asking for/negotiating a pay rise is as alien a concept to me as if I were asking for it in flanian pobble beads to be paid into my golgafrinchan bank account…
      (Interestingly I looked at the salary survey and found one person with a similar job title to me, about half the years of experience, but in DC. Their salary was something like 3 or 4 times what mine is…but then again, see above benefits apart from pension, and add national health care…probably breaks even!)
      Anyway solidarity to all you my siblings in government/other public sector work where pay increases fall as manna from heaven with equal unpredictability!

    8. Peonies*

      It definitely depends. Many government positions have pay ranges and rigid schedules related to time in the position for raises. But not all.

      I once worked for a state entity that was not bound by all of that and put together a strong package for a substantial pay raise. I was being paid around $16 an hour and the information I presented justified a raise to $25 and hour. My boss went to bat for me and I got $20 an hour.

      So you just have to know what the rules are where you work.

    9. Govt Worker #1111*


      I think the biggest thing in government work is that you get a raise in an entirely different way than in the private sector, and the biggest thing is learning about all the processes in place that you can use to increase your wage.

      From Big to Small, here are the ways to get an increase in my experience in unionized, govt work:

      Biggest: Organize to get big wins at the negotiations table.
      – affects the who bargaining unit
      – involves lots of organizing work (getting people who aren’t union members to join, organizing actions, lots of strategic thinking about how the negotiations team bargains, and how to pressure the people who have the power to give you bigger wage increases

      Department wide or ‘type of work’ based: in my unions this has been called “reclassification”. Basically, they realized everyone doing X type of work was underpaid and did what is call a “Hay Audit” to reclassify the folks doing this type of work. I.e. all the Llama Groomers across three departments get their job audited, and become Exterior llama Scientists or Principal Llama Maintenance Specialists

      Job-title wide: My current union has a process for someone in X job title to say, on behalf of everyone in that job title, that our pay range isn’t appropriate. So you aren’t disagreeing with your job title, but just the pay range it is assigned to. I.e. Llama groomers formally make a request for a pay range reassignment study, because the llama groomers at the City make $15-20, but there is really high turnover because llama groomers at the State make $25-$30/hr. The pay range for that kind of work has shifted and the employer needs to adjust to the new market rate.

      Person-based: in my current union this is called reallocation. You are formally a llama groomer, but in reality the work you do is Principal Llama Maintenance. After doing the work of this higher position for a year, your supervisor updates your position description, HR does their thing, and you get formally moved up to this new job and pay rate.

    10. Ace in the Hole*

      Local government employee. Pay is not negotiable – everyone with the same title and same years of experience gets the same pay. So I haven’t ever asked for a raise the way most people mean it… but that doesn’t mean there’s no way to ask for more pay. Options depending on your situation:

      1. Apply for internal openings. Often, promotions aren’t automatic. You need to apply as an internal applicant.

      2. Ask for a title increase in your series. Make sure this works with your org chart and job classification. For example, if your position is listed as Llama Groomer I/II/III… if you’re currently a Llama Groomer I but you have the experience and duties of a Llama Groomer II, ask for the higher title (and associated grade increase). I have done this successfully. What helped most was printing out the job description and literally highlighting everything I was already doing to show it covered almost all of the higher level tasks/qualifications.

      3. If you’re not part of a series, or your org chart doesn’t provide for grade increases in your position, you could try to get your position reclassified to a higher title or get your title reclassified to a higher pay grade. Basically, you’re saying the job title doesn’t accurately reflect the duties and/or that the work is not equivalent to other positions at the same pay grade. Be prepared to make an airtight argument about why you’re misclassified, including comparisons to other positions. If you have a union, get their advice.

      4. Raises for everyone! Most challenging but perhaps most worthwhile is getting the entire pay table adjusted upwards. This pretty much requires collective action and I don’t know how you’d approach it at anything other than the smallest local government level (small town, JPA, etc). We did this recently in two ways… first was a formal compensation study several years ago that resulted in a completely new pay table. Second was after the pandemic, when we were able to get a much larger than usual COL increase approved by showing we were out of step with recent inflation.

  10. Emily*

    I have been treated like I’m greedy and overestimating my own worth both times I’ve asked for raises. (And both times, I was able to quickly and easily find jobs where I made more than what I’d been asking for, so I definitely wasn’t.) And it’s true that these weren’t highly functional workplaces, but a lot of workplaces are unfortunately like that.

    I was still a really good exercise for me. I’m glad I did it. But I also 100% knew I was leaving if I didn’t get the raise (and in the second case, I had an offer already). Which makes it a lot easier.

    1. Prospect Gone Bad*

      As a Director, I get why you feel that way. But at the same time, asking for more money usually does put a person under the spotlight. Maybe their work is OK for $70K but they want $85K and they don’t realize $85K-earners take a bit more responsibility and give better reports and generally take more ownership of projects.

      Most people have a list of things they can improve. At the same time, there is more to the workplace than going down a list of self-improvement items. Half the time, I’m just trying to keep us in business. But if someone suddenly wants more money, you bet those items are going to also be put on the table.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        I don’t understand how this is responsive to Emily’s comment. Her work was worth more, because she was able to get higher-paying jobs elsewhere. It sounds like her previous employers tried to manipulate her emotions, so that she would accept not getting a raise. That’s not cool on their part.

      2. Emily*

        I mean, cool story, but if I’m worth substantially more in the market than I’m earning at my job, I’m going to leave. Your choice is whether to handle that in a patronizing way which assumes I’m deluded about my worth, or a non-patronizing way in which you say pretty much anything else. My suggestion is the first, because everything is a small community and people talk.

  11. FrozenArchivist*

    It’s not always possible. I’m in a unionized environment with a pay scale based on experience and classification. I’m at the top of my range and classification, and no chance of promotion. That’s fine with me…I make good money, good benefits, and I wouldn’t want to get promoted beyond supervising 1-2 other people. But….asking for raises isn’t always possible.

    1. Sam I Am*

      Fair point but there are..
      (Published on Mon, May 17, 2021 9:00AM PDT | Updated Mon, May 17, 2021 9:11AM PDT)

      As of the dates shown below, there were 23.7 million full-time and part-time employees of our Government, including:

      4.0 million federal employees, of whom 8% (excluding armed forces) work part-time;
      5.5 million state employees, of whom 29% work part-time; and
      14.2 million local government employees, of whom 23% work part-time.

      Out of over 130 million workers, your position is the exception, not the rule.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        So that’s close to 20% of workers employed by the government. Plus an additional 8 million (6%) for private-sector workers represented by unions. That means at least one in four American workers are in a similar position.

        Not the majority experience, but not what I’d call exceptional or unusual either.

    2. JJLib*

      Exactly. Asking for raises isn’t always possible. I used to be a teacher (both unionized/public and non-unionized/private schools). We had a fixed contract for the year’s pay, and public schools had/have pay scales based on education and experience, so any raises came about through that.

      Now I’m in higher education (staff position). Universities (at least mine) set their budgets in the summer but only finalize them after the fall enrollment census (about 2 weeks into the semester). Merit and COLA pay increases happen on an annual schedule of the 1st of the month after the fall enrollment census (at least for staff; faculty have semester/yearly contracts) and not at other times of the year (because that wouldn’t have been budgeted for). I did get a pay increase along with a title change a couple years ago–which again was tied to that annual schedule.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, I’m a teacher in Ireland. The Minister for Education (or maybe just the government) sets our salaries. I certainly do not get to speak to the minister to ask for a raise (even though I actually did work with her before she became a minister).

        I much prefer it that way. Our unions negotiate wages for the entire profession, so there is no such thing as getting more because you asked.

        I have no doubt I’ll go my entire career without asking for a raise, because I don’t need to and really have no even way to do so.

        These, by the way, are our salary scales, in case anybody is interested: I’m currently on level 9. Basically, each year you go up a level.

      2. Fran*

        Yep, staff at Higher Ed in Canada here as well and we have fixed salary bands and no way to get a raise. If I want more money I need to find a new job at the university with a higher pay band (love what I do but it doesn’t pay enough)

    3. Julia*

      Agreed. I make good money and have good benefits for our geographical area. Our company doesn’t do individual raises and we don’t get a raise every year. I would estimate we get raises about every 3 years and they are usually fairly decent. I actually received a $6000 raise last year and was told they felt I deserved it.

      I did actually ask for a title change a few years ago because I feel my current title doesn’t really reflect what I do and it was denied. The reason stated was they like to keep the titles same across the company (we have 3 locations). I was disappointed and I told them so, but I don’t feel the need to leave otherwise. I just keep my resume updated in case I ever decided to leave.

    4. nm*

      In my region unionized workers can be paid more than the union contract amount–it’s just the minimum. Very interesting to see that that is not how it works everywhere!

    5. BRR*

      So then this article doesn’t apply to your situation. Not everything on AAM is going to apply equally to everyone across the board.

  12. Underpaid admin*

    Any tips on how/when to bring this up with a new manager?

    It’s been more than a year since my last pay raise, I’m absolutely underpaid, and regularly get praise for my work, but my past manager had a very “you’re lucky we pay you at all” attitude and after seeing their response to other coworkers I wasn’t about to waste my time when I knew they were on the way out anyway.

    I really want to bring this up with my new manager but I don’t know if I need to wait a certain amount of time until they are more familiar with my work.

    1. Reality Check*

      Honestly I wouldn’t wait. It’s been over a year, you’re underpaid, and inflation to boot. (I know, not technically their problem, the inflation). But I’m inclined to believe you’d be doing that manager a favor by flagging the problem for them.

  13. Baron*

    My organization has brought in a (questionable) policy where they offer massive raises to all employees – all you have to do is ask your supervisor to sign off (and the supervisor is required to sign off). Even in these circumstances, I would say that 80% of women on staff were deeply reluctant to ask. And I suspect that the organization brought in the you-have-to-ask-your-supervisor policy, rather than just giving everyone the raises, because they knew many of us wouldn’t ask. This way, the organization gets to play the hero without having to actually part with any money.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Wow, that makes me so sad. And what a policy designed to harm your most conscientious, modest employees who probably work very hard for little credit already!

    2. constant_craving*

      If this is a policy disproportionately impacting women, then it’s beyond questionable and straight up illegal.

      It really would be great to see everyone just go ahead and ask though.

  14. anonymous state employee*

    I wish I could ask for a raise. I work in state government, and our pay rates and raise amounts are decided by legislative fiat, which is entirely based on politics. I’ve gone as long as four years without any increase at all in my gross pay, while at the same time being charged hundreds of dollars more per month for my benefits (also determined by the legislature). Because, you know, “those lazy good-for-nothing state employees are just sucking on the public tit and we’ve got to stop giving them raises so we can give tax breaks to all our big corporate donors instead.” Well, they don’t actually say the second part out loud, but that’s what it boils down to.

    I work for an agency that does vital work supporting my fellow citizens, and I am proud of the work that I do. I feel as though I genuinely make a difference in their lives. But according to the legislature, I’m lazy and greedy, and I should be more than satisfied with getting a 1% pay increase MAAAAYYYYBE every other year, if I’m really lucky.

  15. Anon For This One*

    Ha, I remember this discussion the first time it came around. I posted a comment that everyone should ask for a raise (under an old user name) and a bunch of responses were negative – and then Alison came riding in on a white horse to defend my position haha. I felt like I won the AAM lottery!

  16. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I am kinda grateful I work for a union shop where the COLA raises are hard coded into the collective agreement and there are no secrets about anyone’s salaries.

    That said, I do wish there was wiggle room for experience in the salary bands. Someone who is classified as an AA with 20 years experience should earn more than a 20-something with three years experience but ended up in the same salary band. And there is no reward for being a high performer. (But you DO get noticed when you are….)

    I’ve asked for raises: Once I was told I was at the maximum of my pay grade, which was not published or shared with anyone – too bad. Once I was told, oh, okay, but you have to work an extra half-hour a day to get that raise. I refused. I felt my work spoke for itself and promptly started job hunting. And once, when I learned that I, as a high performer, was making markedly less than a less than stellar performer with the same job title and duties, I was told by Director #1 “What can I do?” followed by Director #2 promising me they’d look into it as there was a desire for fair pay across the job titles and finally Director #3 telling me my pay was raised, but nowhere near what the other worker was earning and with no input from me. Yes, I went thru three bosses, as the company loved to tweak reporting structures regularly, to get what I thought I should be paid.

    Get what you’re worth.

  17. Elle by the sea*

    Just out of curiosity, what if you aren’t a stellar performer, your work duties and workload haven’t changed much and your company only gives performance based raises (there are many companies and many employees like this), should you ask for a raise? If so, how? I believe that anyone who does a solid/ok job should have an increasing salary over time, as living costs are increasing drastically.

    1. Sloanicota*

      In this case I would ask for a raise intermittently (so not aggressively every year, or not push for more than the COLA/standard increase if there is one), but I’d probably ask for a more modest raise every second or third year, and I would lean on comp pay bands more than how much more I’ve taken on. Or if I did anything good, I’d use that opportunity and not mention the lukewarm stuff. Ultimately it’s up to the company to either manage people out, or explain what they need me to do differently. If they’re happy to keep someone on, they’re still benefitting from the stability and institutional knowledge they bring to that role, and there is inflation to consider too.

    2. Frankly, Mr. Shankly*

      This is my dilemma- I work for a micro-manager who will never be happy with my performance. In my first 6 months I made a significant mistake and I am never going to live it down. Not to mention that the job itself is completely dead ended and not how it was presented in the interview… so I’m actively looking and fighting the paper ceiling despite almost 2 decades in my field. I’m hopeful if I can move jobs I’ll get more money.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      If it’s been a while since you got an increase, it’s likely that the market has changed for your position (as COL has increased). Do you have any sense of what others are being paid for similar work or the going rate to be hired into your role is? That would be a good place to start, and, if it’s more than you make, you should at least be due market pay for your position and experience.

      I don’t love the idea of only giving raises to stellar performers. Maybe larger raises, sure, but someone who comes in and does their job solidly is still valuable to have and can’t stay at the same pay in perpetuity.

    4. Random Dice*

      No. If you’re not a good employee you shouldn’t ask for a raise. That just will put a spotlight on you and make it more likely they’ll lay you off.

      1. amoeba*

        Eh. But most employees are, in fact, average, this is why it’s the average! If only stellar employees were ever getting COL (!) raises, everybody else would just lose money every year with inflation. That’s… a bad system.

        Obviously, don’t ask if you’re on a PIP or something. But if you’re just solidly mediocre, at least COL raises should definitely still happen!

        (In our company, the ones with “meets expectations” get roughly the middle of the available “raise band”. Which can be slightly above or below inflation, depending on the inflation rate. I think that’s fair.)

  18. Elspeth*

    I think getting the timing right and having supporting data – both about your own performance and about the market – is key. I had a tough conversation with one of my team members recently when she asked for a raise, using some shaky market data. She didn’t mention anything about why her performance should get her a raise – just pointed to the market data. She is a good worker but not exceptional. She was asking for an off-cycle adjustment, which is tough anytime. Even tougher when I consider that her salary has increased ~32% since she started working for me 3 years ago, including a promotion two years ago. So I’ve been pushing to increase her salary to get her where I think she should be. I want to do right by her but I do feel that she is paid fairly at this time. I’m sure it was tough for her and I certainly don’t begrudge her doing it.

    1. Sloanicota*

      This sounds like a productive, valuable conversation to me, even if it’s not easy. If an employee incorrectly believes they’re being underpaid it’s good to talk about that. And ultimately if they can find what they think they deserve somewhere else, you’re saying you can live with that.

  19. Pivot!!!*

    higher ed, so you know:

    My uni had done an equity study, and positions like mine at similar schools in the same state had much higher salaries.

    I was also doing much more than the role originally called for and had been there over five years. When I asked for a raise, my supervisor said I should quit, they’d list my job, and when they didn’t find anyone better, maybe they’d relist the position for $1k more.

    I now have a new job in a new industry making 30% more.

  20. Sam I Am*

    A great big thanks to Green for her work on this issue. I know it’s helped me in the past, which of course impacts my future.

  21. Somewhere in Washington*

    I asked for a raise, which prompted a discussion around all compensation where I work and ended up resulting in a comp study for each position and massive raises (8% – 35%) for everyone. I personally ended up with an almost 23,000 a year raise.

    While I am not union, we are a union environment and reworked all pay-scales for union and non-rep employees alike, giving raises mid-contract period for our unionized employees.

    I found comparable agencies in our market and like-markets and had that data handy showing I was significantly under paid for my position and used that to start the discussion. As for our unionized employees, we (HR) track comparables to help with contract negotiations, so we already had the data to show our yearly COLA’s (cost of living adjusments) were not keeping up with other agencies.

  22. Reality Check*

    So true what Alison said about women being so reluctant to ask for a raise (and advocate for themselves in general). We have got to get over this.

    1. Emily*

      Every time I’ve tried to negotiate salary or ask for a raise, I’ve gotten a weird/hostile/dishonest set of responses. I suspect this is gendered. I have no problem advocating for myself, but I wouldn’t do it if I weren’t comfortable having an offer pulled or needing to quickly find a new job.

      1. Reality Check*

        In my experience, you would be the exception (in advocating for yourself). From what I’ve seen over the decades (and no it doesn’t seem to be getting better), 80-90 % of women don’t stand up for themselves. I’ve seen them seethe in anger, cry, become physically ill, quit the job, ANYTHING other than speak up. It makes me really sad.

      2. No Tribble At All*

        Yeah, I (white lady engineer) have only gotten raises in regular reviews. When I’ve tried to negotiate in interviews, I was literally laughed at.

    2. H.Regalis*

      It’s not that simple. Women, POCs, etc. do need to ask more, but we’re also more likely to be turned down and/or face repercussions in ways that white men don’t. I don’t have a perfect solution for this, but it’s not like all our trepidations are just silly nonsense. This is a systemic issue.

      1. Reality Check*

        I didn’t say it was silly nonsense, but we do have to start somewhere. If there is one thing I am 100% certain of, after decades of painful experience, doing nothing gets us exactly that. Nothing.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        I mean, I manage a team that leans heavily male (engineering based and barely gets female applicants at all, despite advertising everywhere when we do hire). No one is comfortable bringing up money. No manager ever gets excited at a request for more money. No one automatically gets approved for more money.

        This is one of those cases where the intersectionality makes sense in another context but in actual practice, all it does is create a false dichotomy, where if only women followed the lead of the white men, they’d get more money. But it’s ignoring that they also jump through hoops and have to prove themselves to get raises. I’m not sure why commenters online always acts like some groups just get awarded huge raises easily. It doesn’t help the cause

        1. saskia*

          No one said white men get raises ‘easily,’ just that they are more often rewarded when they ask, and that they’re more likely to ask.

      3. Affine Transform*

        Here’s a funny thing:

        When Black women negotiate for more money, they do not (collectively) face the same repercussions that white women do. It has to do with stereotypes and acting according to type. White women are typed as selfless and self-sacrificing for the good of others, never for themselves. Asking for more money goes against this type. Black women are typed as angry Black women. When they ask for more money, they are acting according to type. So, racism cancels racism, in a super weird sort of way.

        I want to add that I don’t have any information on whether Black women actually get more money when they negotiate. I only have information on how Black and White women are viewed when they negotiate.

      4. Random Dice*

        Exactly. “Women need to do this behavior that statistically has a decent chance of being actively punished due to cultural misogyny” Is really a neat bit of victim-blaming.

  23. BellyButton*

    What I have learned from asking for raises over the years; when your work is valued your manager goes to bat for you and is completely transparent as to why a raise may not be possible at that time. When your work is under valued, they won’t go to bat for you and they make it 100000% clear why they won’t give you a raise.

    Every time I was denied a raise it was because I was undervalued and they made feel so awful when I did ask that I knew I had to get out of there.

  24. HW*

    I was recently promoted, and told that it would not come with a raise as my responsibilities essentially would not change. I was pretty bluntly told that the budget allowed for either hiring someone else for my former team, or putting that money towards hiring my new role but it would only allow for one. Our annual reviews come up in another 6 months or so, so I accepted the role on the condition that my compensation would be reviewed at that time (and understanding that I received a good raise this year). I’m left wondering though, was there something else I could’ve said to make a better case? I ended up increasing my supervision resp this year too, so I wonder if I missed out on pushing my case more.

    1. BubbleTea*

      If your responsibilities didn’t change and you weren’t paid more, how was it a promotion?

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      just thinking about it stresses me out
      not as much as feeling underpaid even

  25. Box of Kittens*

    My company doesn’t do COL raises ,so I used Alison’s advice to ask for a raise a few weeks ago. Partly thanks to her advice and also my husband’s encouragement, I asked for an above average raise but feel confident in it based on my performance and the fact that my current salary is below market rate. When I asked about a raise, my supervisor suggested putting me on for a promotion instead. We are without a department head right now so the process is a bit slow and confusing, but I’m really proud of myself for asking and feel comfortable following up until I get an answer.

  26. Usagi*

    Has anyone in a healthcare administration role with a large company ever gotten an off-cycle raise? Could you share your story if so? Besides bad retail jobs, I’ve worked for two major hospitals/medical centers, and both just flatly do not give merit raises besides the once-a-year bump based on your review score.

    Company 1 was always 2-4% (until they financially spiraled, then int was 1-2% and I left).

    My current hospital is one of the best in the region for benefits (at least recognizing all federal and state holidays and giving three weeks of vacation and 1.5 wks of sick time, not amazing by euro standards but I’m in the US.) We get more like 3-6% per year at the annual review time, but “Ask for a raise” raises are still just flatly not done. Can anyone with a similar background share?

    Maybe once you get to management level it’s different? But for admins/etc, they just openly don’t do it.

    1. Usagi*

      I think what I’m getting at is, my current company is one of the best in the region for actually seeming like it cares about staff. But individual raises still aren’t a thing.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        many companies are like this, with a formal review time that focuses on performance review and goal setting. promotions or pay increases would happen at the beginning of the next cycle. that would be the time to ask for any (merit) raise or adjustment above and beyond COLA.

        if you ask too soon after the previous cycle ends, you will get “oh we just did that try again later.” or close to the performance review time gets “Hey that’s coming up”

        so try asking at performance review time! early in the quarter before the new raises take effect. new raise takes effect January 1? ask first week of October. and follow-up!

        1. amoeba*

          Might even be earlier than that! Maybe my company is exceptionally slow, but we have to put in the performance rating (which decides the raise) as early as October – for a raise that takes effect in April.

  27. Peanut Hamper*

    I would add that it’s not just women, but a lot of POCs, and that this hits female POCs especially hard. Intersectionality is a thing and it has a huge impact.

  28. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Re: #7, I just want to emphasize that it’s important to be very clear that you are asking about a salary adjustment. A colleague/friend of mine went into our boss’s office to ask for a raise. She had great supporting material and I helped her prepare. When she was finished, I asked about the conversation… and she never explicitly said anything about a salary increase or more money. She asked questions about her advancement and her future, but at no point did she say, “I would like my salary to increase/be $X, how can we get there” or similar.

    We often do ourselves a big disservice by not speaking plainly when there’s something we want and we deserve to have.

  29. DameB*

    I went from SAHM to full time worker in a near panic after the 2016 election (my husband was in an agency targeted by Trump). I’ve got very niche skills and knew I was being wildly underpaid but I wanted to have a second income in case his entire agency got shut down (which was threatened).

    My company is a British one and it seems to be against their policy (I’ve been told this is the UK norm) to give anything other than COLAs if you haven’t also gotten a promotion. It took me years to get this out of them, while I asked for raise after raise. My manager wanted to give me a raise but the higher ups stalled her. Finally, last summer, I was very blunt that I needed a raise if they wanted to keep me.

    I got a nice 20 percent bump that moves me from criminally underpaid to merely underpaid.

    1. BubbleTea*

      I’m not aware of it being a UK norm. Public sector roles often have strict pay scales but even then, you can advocate for being moved to a different band on the scale. Private companies can and do give raises.

  30. Anon in Canada*

    Asking for a raise isn’t always possible. Obviously, government jobs and union environments are the obvious suspects, but there are also some positions in non-union private sector workplaces where pay is set in stone.

    Job #1, small-ish company of around 200 employees, would negotiate raises for higher-ups, but for the entry-level position (around 75 people), there were no raises, period. Everyone had the same base pay (adjusted annually based on increases to the minimum wage), plus some performance-related bonuses (also the same for everyone), but they never allowed anyone in that position to negotiate an individual raise. Company policy did not allow for it.

    Job #2, company of 80,000 people, did not negotiate individual raises with anyone. Anyone in a particular position was paid the same starting pay (Canada wide, whether in downtown Toronto or rural Saskatchewan!) They did have a formula to give performance-based raises, which most people got, and adjusted pay for inflation – but you couldn’t just arbitrarily ask for a raise outside the performance parameters (which was done automatically). Again, company policy.

  31. Chirpy*

    I’ve never been able to negotiate a raise even after changing jobs. Current job recinded the raise we talked about after I’d already moved to a higher cost of living city to take the job. (Previous job was the same company in a different location.) They did eventually give me one “big” raise (I think to make up for it, I was probably underpaid even by the old standards), but mentioning raises gets me a “we just can’t do that” talk, and maybe a candy bar. They’ll have to hire 2 people to replace me when I quit though….

  32. Baska*

    I work for a small charity (of the 15 or so employees, only 1 is full time — the vast majority work 10 hours per week or less). We’re compensated reasonably well as far as charities go and receive an annual cost of living increase. But I KNOW there’s no money in the budget, because I help the Board PREPARE the budget! I feel guilty about asking for a raise, first because literally no one else gets merit raises — there’s only been one in the eight years I’ve worked here, and it was to me — and second because I legit don’t know where we’d take the money from in our budget to give it to me. Either I’d be taking away from programming, forcing us to decrease staffing, or chipping away at money for infrastructure. I know the Board would love to give me a raise (they adore me and are terrified that I’d leave), but they can’t. It makes it so hard for me to want to step forward and ask for one.

  33. Llama doctor*

    Women asking for a raise is viewed negatively compared to a man. Knock out of the park, well, you were too abrasive so no more money for you. The unlicensed llama care assistants that were loading trucks 2 months ago, don’t like the fact you, the llama doctor with ypur advanced degrees and 2 decades of experience, don’t ask their opinion on the diagnostics and treatment plan, no raise for you. Perilous at the least.

  34. Numbat*

    raises “aren’t a thing” in my job, but I asked anyway, and got about 3000 dollars a year extra. that’s not nothing, and it was well worth the few minutes of feeling awkward.

  35. Sagegreen is my favorite color.*

    I work for a call center and raises were usually only .25 a year. We haven’t been given a raise for two years now, and apparently they just don’t do them anymore. I’ve asked my direct supervisor who has no answers as he’s not in charge of them and the project manager who says she has asked but gets no answers. I stay at this job because I don’t think I could learn another one that easily due to medical issues. Any suggestions? I’ve been at this company for almost twenty years and make under fourteen dollars an hour.

    1. Calli*

      you can make more remotely training AI or, honestly, doing lots of other things. many states now have minimum wage close to $14/hour, so look for remote jobs in those states that allow WFH from your state. honestly, you could probably just make more at a different call center. another idea is looking for a customer service position at a payroll company. they tend to pay fine and be stable jobs.

  36. Rosacolleti*

    We review our staff salaries annually and try to at least give inflationary increases. Is this not normal or is this about people not asking for a raise outside of the normal salary review?

  37. Sue Smith*

    I did this before even finding Ask A Manager. I was hired for a job, say, Llama Wrangler. I did it well and had experience in it. But as a “hobby” I also learned the visiting Vet Tech role. In my past 2 jobs, I learned Vet Tech skills and got better. In this company, I became an expert Vet Tech and people all over the company asked for assistance. I did both roles (one basically gratis).

    So I wrote a “proposal” to my boss. He knew my value and appreciated it. I showed all I had done, big, HUGE Vet Tech projects, plus the daily inquiries of Vet Tech stuff, in addition to the Llama Wrangling. I showed the salary of the Vet Tech position separately from Llama Wrangling and asked for a significant increase.

    The CEO balked but my boss pitched a slightly lower number but could unilaterally give me a full extra week of vacation and move me to the next tier of how vacation is calculated.

    I took it, and having that extra week of vacation a year was worth $2500 less salary a year!!

Comments are closed.