I just found out I’m seriously underpaid — now what?

A reader writes:

I think I need a reality check because I just don’t know how I should be feeling about this. I work for a very large company (100,000+ employees). I started nine years ago as an intern and have been promoted twice since then. I’ve been considered a top performer, earned a stellar reputation, and have year after year of glowing performance reviews. My managers love me, my coworkers see me as a trusted resource, and I’ve even received awards for my work (like with an actual trophy).

I’ve suspected for the last few years that I’m being somewhat underpaid, but I wasn’t really sure how far off I was. I’ve only received three raises in nine years and those were pretty small; I’m now making about 14% more than I was as an intern nearly a decade ago. Management also makes a huge deal out of even small raises like they’re doing us a big favor: I got a merit raise last year and my manager gushed about how everyone else got 2% but I’m just so darn valuable I got a whopping 3%.

A couple years ago, my state enacted a pay parity law requiring job listings to include a salary range. My company managed to avoid doing this for the better part of two years by listing all openings for my role in a less worker-friendly state. But in the last two weeks, there were about 10 postings for my same role in other locations of my company, and those included the range (which was consistent across all of them).

My salary is in the bottom 25% of that range. If I just aimed for the upper half (not even the top end), I’m being underpaid to the tune of $40,000-$50,000.

I’m livid. For whatever reason, when I didn’t have the actual numbers, I could tell myself it wasn’t personal and probably not *that* bad. But now that I see it in black and white, it’s really hard not to feel angry and downright insulted. I live in a very high cost-of-living area and with all the inflation over the last couple years, I literally do not make enough to pay my bills anymore; I’ve been taking payday loans every single pay period for months and am drowning in debt. I’ve been casually job searching for about a year when I see a particularly attractive listing (and was trying to stay with this company if at all possible), but now I’m really cranking it up to find something better elsewhere.

Am I overreacting or off-base for thinking that my high performance should get me a salary higher than the bottom of the range?

Also, is it even worth addressing with my management at this point? I figure that a company that acts like a 3% raise is a massive favor isn’t going to even consider for a moment the sort of bump I would need to get to a fair salary. And I don’t want my manager to spend political capital for me only for it not to be enough for me to stay. But on the other hand, it seems like they’re never going to change if nobody calls it out.

Yes, it’s worth addressing it with your manager.

There’s enough of a chance that you’ll get a salary bump that it’s worth at least trying. Even if it doesn’t work, there’s value in raising the concern so that they’re clear on why you’re leaving when you eventually do. Also, there’s very little cost to raising it. You’re not asking for something unreasonable (your company publicized the salary range for your role so you have solid data behind the request, and they must have known there was a chance you’d see it) and you’re not going to look out-of-touch for thinking nine years of excellent performance should put you somewhere other than in the bottom 25 percent of the pay band for your job.

One important caveat: You didn’t say how long you’ve been in the role you’re in now. You’ve been at the company nine years, but you’ve been promoted twice. If you’re new to the job you’re in currently — if it’s been less than a year, say — it’s possible that it could make sense to start you at the bottom of the range for this specific job, since pay bands are generally based on tenure in a particular role, not at the company more broadly. It wouldn’t be uncommon to start you toward the bottom of the pay range when you were first promoted into the position, with the plan that you’d move to the middle and then the top of the range with time and experience, after you prove yourself.

That said, even if you are new to the role, I’m skeptical that would account for the discrepancy entirely. Nine years into your career, with glowing performance reviews and awards behind you, you shouldn’t be making only 14 percent more than you were as an intern a decade ago. You also should have been getting more significant increases with each promotion. Three percent is average when you’re staying in the same job and meeting expectations, but promotions to higher-level positions should come with larger gains, and it sounds like yours didn’t (and that’s before factoring in inflation with a cost-of-living adjustment).

Moreover, even if we ignored all that, we’d still have the fact that nine years into a successful career with multiple promotions, you’re resorting to payday loans to pay your bills. Your employer almost certainly isn’t compensating you appropriately.

Any chance part of the explanation is that your company caps how much of a raise you can get when taking an internal promotion? This is a terrible practice, but it’s not uncommon: Some companies will limit you to no more than an X percent raise when you switch roles internally, even if that puts you well below the market rate for the new job, and even when they would have paid much more had they hired someone external. That wouldn’t justify you being underpaid, but it might at least explain how you ended up here.

In any case, it sounds like you have all the data you need to ask for a (significant) raise. If you don’t get it, even after pointing out the advertised range for the role and your track record of achievement in the company, keep your job search cranked up. In fact, you might keep it up regardless. Unless you get a really compelling explanation of why you’ve been underpaid for so long, this is a company that’s much too comfortable paying you less than your work is worth. And even if they increase your salary now, I’m worried about how responsive they’ll be the next time you deserve a raise. But for now, let’s try to get you paid what you’re worth for however long you decide to stay there.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 157 comments… read them below }

    1. Random Dice*

      I cannot WAIT for the Good News Friday when this LW tells us about the new job with the massive crazy raise, where they actually respect and appreciate them.

      LW, we are rooting for you and your future great salary!!!!!

        1. Glen*

          there is somewhere north of a $50,000 spread in the salary ranges they’re advertising for the role. Shenaniganery is most certainly afoot.

      1. You deserve MORE!!*

        YES!! And please please – I’d love to hear an update! Sending you good wishes!

  1. Rick Tq*

    OP, it is time to leave, your huge company sucks and they aren’t going to bump you 3 or 4 paygrades now.

    The move from an intern’s pay to full time permanent employment should have been a significant bump 10 years ago, not a 3% token change.

    1. Brain the Brian*

      This. 10,000% this. Full-time employees should be making significantly more than interns. This was even more the case ten years ago, before the wave of paying interns really took hold and unpaid internships kept the market rate for even paid intern work artificially low. Whew.

    2. BlueWolf*

      For sure. I started in an entry level role at my company a little less than seven years ago. I’ve had two promotions since then and am now making basically twice the salary I started at. In all the years I’ve worked here 3% was the lowest increase I received on a yearly review.

    3. MassMatt*

      Right, after nine years only making 14% more than the intern salary is outrageous. It sounds as though the company is trumpeting increases that don’t even cover cost of living as great “raises”.

      Large companies often review their salary structure and make adjustments in order to reflect market conditions. This can help eliminate unfair disparities and improve retention. It sounds as though this company is long overdue for that, but it may never happen unless they notice rising employee turnover and difficulty hiring good candidates. Bad companies (large or small) will do whatever they can get away with.

    4. sara*

      Agreed. I went from an internship-type role (temporary entry-level position) to permanent role and my salary went up 50% (40k to 60k approx).

      Getting hired as staff should have been like starting from scratch as a new employee, salary-wise. Your staff salary should have been completely unrelated to your intern pay.

    5. Anonys*

      Does it also seem like this company lists an incredibly broad salary range in the jobs ads? I have often wondered if this is something companies do when they are forced to list the range – make it so broad that it becomes almost meaningless.

      Like, OP says she is in the bottom quarter of the listed range and to get to the upper half (but not the top end), she would need 40-50k more. From that, I would assume, the difference between the minimum and maximum of the range could be as much as 80k to 100k. For some (senior) roles that might make sense, but OP is resorting to payday loans and only earns 14% more than her intern salary, so I would assume she currently makes well under a 100k.

      Thisis of course purely hypothetical but say, if OP currently makes 55k and the listed salary range was 40k to 140k, that would be in line with her statements regarding being in the bottom quarter of the range currently and still being only just in the upper half with 40k to 50k more. And surely that would be a ridiculous range for a single position?

      Maybe I’m not thinking correctly about the math here and her statements would also work with a more reasonable range?

      1. Cynan*

        This stuck out to me as well. My suspicion is that the letter writer’s employer is listing a ridiculously broad range because they don’t want to list a range at all and are only doing it to ostensibly comply with the law. I live in a state with salary transparency laws and it seems to be a fairly common practice on the part of employers here.

        1. Anonys*

          I always think just listing a ridiculous range would be an easy way to get around those laws so interesting to know that actually happens. Still think transparency laws are a good thing overall tho.

      2. Paulina*

        I’m wondering whether the range has to be based on what employees actually make, or whether the upper half is essentially fictional in order to attract interest.

        Either way, however, it’s quite wrong for a full employee’s salary to be only a small bump up from internship pay, especially if they’re essentially attaching the salary to the person rather than to the position. Being promoted should have meant OP had their salary adjusted to the new position (and not in a “wide range” way). This company has set things up in a way that undermines keeping good employees, and deserves to have them leave.

      3. HersheyKiss*

        Yes, I recently apply for a job that had the range listed as roughly 50k-100k. After speaking with a recruiter, the range for this specific role was 70-75k. That huge range was actually for all mid level employees across the gigantic company!

      4. blackberry*

        This probably isn’t the case here as she’s been taking payday loans to cover bills, but it is absolutely normal to have these kinds of spreads in already high-paying jobs (such as in tech). If $40k is only say 20% of the total base salary it makes sense to list a range that size or even larger.

    6. TeapotNinja*

      No, it’s not.

      You have a conversation with your manager instead outlining what’s happening and wait for the response.

      If you don’t like the response, then you leave.

      There’s a very slim chance a 100,000 employee company is run in a way that people are underpaid in this way especially if said employee raises the issue.

    7. Artemesia*

      Absolutely. Hope this is old and you have a new job. But don’t wait for a conversation with the boss to get your search cranked up on high. You don’t have to jump till the right things comes along but you probably are never going to be fairly paid here so see what is out there.

    8. JR*

      This is EXACTLY the kind of OP who writes an update 6 months later saying “I finally got out and I’m SO glad I did! I’m making more than double my previous job, and I love the new place so much! I didn’t realize what I was missing after too long at the old place!”

      OP, I’m hoping for this for you!

    9. Sloanicota*

      I’m so sorry for OP. It’s always the best people who learn this lesson too late. You have to be proactive in your career and not assume the company is going to take care of you; even well meaning companies will generally exploit you to the extent they think they can get away with and consider it lucky for them. The time you were promoted from intern was the time to advocate for yourself, and every year since then :( I hate that we don’t tell people this explicitly enough, and that conscientious motivated employees are the most likely to fall victim to it (I was once hired on at 20K over what the other employee in my role was paid, and once I got there it was clear to me that she was running the whole place and the best employee they had. She had also been promoted from temp and was punishingly underpaid).

      1. RVA Cat*

        I feel like this is a trap that people who were good students easily fall into. It penalizes smart, conscious employees who don’t play politics.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Yes! Good students, at virtually all educational levels, are accustomed to consistently being rewarded with good grades. They know that if they do the work up to their usual high standard, their report cards will be filled with A’s.

          Then they get out of school and enter the work world. They continue doing the work they are assigned at a consistently high standard, just as they have always done, but the rewards may or may not come and may be only loosely based on their effort and output, or not at all, depending on whether they have a shitty employer or are lucky enough to work for a non-shitty one.

          This is just one of the many ways that school doesn’t really prepare people for “real” life and one that can have very significant impact on some people’s lives. :-(

    10. What The Freaking What*

      Not rewarding loyalty is such a thing with big companies. Over a decade ago, I was hired in fresh at a large media org after they did a massive restructuring. The brand new department that I joined had about 2 (out of 10) that were existing before the restructure. They discovered they were making more than $15K less for the exact same work and were rightfully pissed. All the new people (men and women) made more-or-less the same.

      It turns out that there is some weird rule that existing employee’s pay can only go up a certain percent no matter the job. Not surprisingly, both left within a year.

  2. Haijlee*

    My company has a 10% cap when moving to new roles internally. Its a terrible practice and has hurt a lot of long-term employee salaries in the long run. There is an understanding that if you want to be paid fairly at my company, you need to leave and then come back to a higher role. Sad but true. I’m sorry you are going through this.

    1. Brain the Brian*

      I’m sure that cap doesn’t apply to promotions into executive roles, either; you know those people are going to get hefty raise and probably stock options and a guaranteed golden parachute to boot. What a scam this system we’ve designed is.

      1. Sloanicota*

        To be fair I’ve worked at plenty of places that basically never promote internally into executive roles, neatly side-stepping that pattern; the senior people always come from outside. It’s brutal for that “assistant director” type level who has been a loyal employee for ten-plus-years and runs the whole ballgame for (to continue a metaphor) peanuts

        1. Brain the Brian*

          Likewise. I can think of exactly two people where I work who were promoted into executive roles, and one of them was on the heels of the untimely death of her former manager. Lots of people stuck in middle-management here, and we wonder where the “bloat” in modern capitalism arises. *eyeroll*

    2. DistractedDeveloper*

      I used to work at a company that handled promotions like this. People said the easiest way of moving to a senior position was to leave for a year and come back, instead of trying to tick all the arbitrary boxes needed to be promoted internally.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        Lol did we three all work at the same place? The same has been said about my former employer for many, many years.

        1. DistractedDeveloper*

          Unfortunately, I think the problem is just that common. At least the convulated checkbox system at this company came together with full salary transparency and automatic raises for each promotion title change as well as intermediate steps (such as “1-star junior” to “2-star junior”)

          1. Sloanicota*

            These companies know that inertia is very powerful. A significant portion of employees are going to decide “better the devil you know” and never go for an outside role if they have an “almost-good-enough” situation, so the company makes mad bank on salaries.

      2. Sarah*

        I work for a company with a 5% internal cap and they are hard and fast on it. It is absurd and we lose great people, while paying big bucks for truly mind bogglingly bad external hires.

        1. Jiminy cricket*

          My jaw is on the floor. A promotion — and all that entails — earns you basically COL?

    3. NeedRain47*

      This seems like the way in a lot of places. They’d rather have you leave. I don’t really get it b/c paying me 10% more is still cheaper for my employer than paying a new hire 20% more, which they’d have to do to get someone competent.

      1. The Original K.*

        Not to mention the lost productivity by having the role sit open, plus the cost of recruiting. It’s incredibly short-sighted.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          And training costs! Nobody comes into a new role knowing everything & being 100% productive.

          1. Jolene*

            My former employer was so absurdly penny wise on this BS. They ran off so many people on principle that they would never give X raises. Never mind that they couldn’t hire a competent person for X. They seriously would sit with positions open for MONTHS on end (and losing money by the day) on principle (these people were themselves millionaires), just waiting for that candidate who didn’t want more than peanuts. It was very “you can’t let the inmates run the asylum!” principle BS – meanwhile money is flying out the door.

      2. HotSauce*

        Not to mention it is costly to hire and train new people. Even if they are quick learners there is a loss in productivity until the new hire gets up to speed.

    4. GoodDawn*

      My company does the same with a cap on promotions, which is an asinine practice. I surely did leave and come back to $30K more than I would have gotten from a promotion. They could have saved us both 1.5 years of being gone and paid me what the job is worth in the first place.

    5. Wilbur*

      My company has a standard 8% raise when getting promoted, but due to the timing I would get my annual raise also. Then they said the 8% would be too much with my annual raise, so it was reduced to 6%. Had a great year, was feeling good about my annual review. I was then told that although my performance was great, giving me the correct rating (exceeds) would put my annual raise in a band that would be too high when combined with my promotion (5.5% vs 6.5%). So they downgraded my rating and gave me the highest raise available for that rating. So many ways they could have handled this better. They could’ve given me the correct rating and just lowered the promotion raise. They could’ve just given me the extra 1%. It’s not like the raises are good most years (1-2%). I guess I’ll just look forward to them sharing results from the employee survey where people feel like recognition is poor and they can explain that recognition is actually just “attaboys” and raffles for swag.

      1. Random Dice*

        I hope you’re looking. That is an incredible way to turn more money into a deeply insulting slap in the face.

    6. anomnom*

      “There is an understanding that if you want to be paid fairly at my company, you need to leave and then come back to a higher role.”
      Swap “university” for “company” and we work at the same place. We’ve lost people over it; so short-sighted. If I have to leave to get fair compensation, why would I ever return? We’re at the bottom of our conference in football, approval for remote work is a constant battle, and we named our groundbreaking research facility after an anti-science politician.

      BRB. After re-reading that, I need to go hit up Indeed…

    7. kiki*

      My old company had this too and it even applied to jobs in completely different departments. So if you were working in customer support but had been attending university in the evenings to study stats and then got a job at the same company as a data analyst, your salary for the data analyst role would be capped at 110% of your pay for a customer support position. But customer support and data analysts make pretty different salaries! Any other data analyst hired would be paid nearly double what you would be paid as an internal transfer. And then your increase was capped year over year too. So folks who were transferred internally would often be making 50% of what an external hire would make. It was so messed up.

    8. HotSauce*

      What an asinine policy. The only thing something that is guaranteed to do is push talent out of the company.

    9. WheresMyPen*

      Can someone explain the purpose of this cap because I really don’t get it? What advantage could there be?

      1. xstalline*

        Often it’s to keep departments within the same company from drifting into a bidding war over trying to retain/poach an employee. Not defending it — in fact I loathe it — but it’s the company line I get when trying to retain (or simply fairly compensate) someone above the standard 10%.

  3. Snow Globe*

    I’d also add that 3 raises in 9 years seems off. While many small businesses don’t have regular performance and salary reviews, it is very unusual for a company of that size not to have annual reviews with merit pay increases (even if the increase is small). That tells you that fairly paying their employees is not a high priority.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      yeah, I work for a smallish (about 40 people) nonprofit and we get raises way more often than that. Nobody is getting rich but it’s pretty clear that raises are a priority.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Yes, everywhere I’ve worked did annual reviews and merit increases. They weren’t always big, but I always got something.

      And on the opposite end of the spectrum, I recently had my manager advocate for me to get a raise to pay parity without me even knowing it – a position opened on my team, the new person asked for more than I’d been making, and my manager took that opportunity to argue that that was what the market demanded and I deserved a small bump above that. It wasn’t $40k big, but I still appreciated it!

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Agreed! This is one of the few times online where someone is complaining about being “underpaid” and it’s very true. OP needs a change. IMO it’s getting harder to find what salary suits YOU and YOUR history because most advice is geared towards an average or different markets or companies, and the internet is filled with people supposedly making $100K at 26 WFH three hours a day, giving skewed ideas about what regular pay is.

      As to your comment, it is strange. Like they forgot about OP or something or have them classified into the wrong job in the HRIS or something

    4. Chirpy*

      Heck, I get (small) near-yearly raises in retail, which is not a field known for good pay. An office job with 10,000 plus employees should be doing better at this than my mid-sized regional retail job.

    5. All Het Up About It*

      Agree. I think THIS is the problem and why the OP should move on. Not because her current salary is in the lower 25% of the salary range for similar positions. I was already aghast when she says she makes 14% more than she did as an intern after nine years and multiple promotions. I was expecting to hear that her salary wasn’t even in the posted range. The fact that it is, makes me think that the company is probably one of those that posts the range, but always brings people in at the bottom. THAT’s the reason for moving on, not just because you aren’t in the highest part of the salary range.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup, I’d also not necessarily assume they’re planning to pay any new hires anything but the bottom of the salary range. But the fact that you make barely more than as an intern by itself is more than enough to search for something new, regardless of whether or not they underpay your colleagues just as badly or not!

    6. Parenthesis Guy*

      Especially if raises are at 2-3%. If raises are like 10%, then that’s a different story.

    7. DJ Hymnotic*

      In the corner of the faith-based nonprofit world in which I began my career, three raises in nine years would’ve been two more raises than the norm. In lots of nonprofit workplaces–and I think especially in faith-based nonprofits–employers will lean **hard** on an employee’s sense of purpose or calling as a way to eschew regular merit raises, so the only way to get a meaningful raise is to leave.

      A lot of those employers can be penny-wise and pound-foolish, and when they begin searching for a replacement after someone leaves, they learn that they will have to offer substantially more money than they had been paying their now-former employee.

      Anyways, all of that is to say that I imagine this pattern of foregoing significant raises for incumbent employees followed by having to offer more money to attract outside talent is way more common than it should be.

  4. DistractedDeveloper*

    I know from experience how disheartening it is to find out your employer has been happily underpaying you for years like this, but OP might actually have pretty decent chances to get that raise.
    Just because a company is paying as little as they can get away with, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re willing to let OP walk away over this — especially when their track record is 9 years of exceptional performance.

    1. Don'tbeadork*

      OTOH, if OP can find a like (or better) job at a company that isn’t going to start giving them the shaft right off the bat, why not jump ship? Their career may have already taken a hit with that embarrassingly low salary for someone who’s won awards for their work.

      1. DistractedDeveloper*

        For sure, OP should start looking for a better opportunity like yesterday! But in case the search takes some time, it’s still a good idea to at least try for the raise.

      2. Ellie*

        OP has been taking payday loans to get by. They should argue for a raise as well as searching for a new job. Whichever lands first will help get them through until something they really want crops up.

    2. New Jack Karyn*

      I disagree. OP now knows that this company lowballs, and will keep someone at a low salary for years. That’s not going to change, even if they do give her a big bump right now. They’ll try to claw that back in other ways. They’re cheap, and they’re not going to change.

    3. münchner kindl*

      I disagree, because it’s such a big company.

      I would expect a big company to have procedures in place already: yearly automatic CoL raises, plus regular reviews for merit-raises.

      And of course a normal entrance pay when OP started as regular employee after being an intern.

      Plus they deliberatly went around transparency law.

      And, just as employees should regularly check what their pay range is in general, so a well-run company HR would regularly check the current ranges to be sure that no older salaries are lingering in the system too low compared to recent hires.

      A small company may not have the bandwidth to do this on their own, so employee pointing it out can help.

      But a big company who doesn’t follow the usual (normal) steps to keep well-paid employees does this deliberatly to underpay their employees. You cannot make upper mangement see how this is penny-wise, pound-foolish by driving away good employees, so OP should directly go to searching and leaving. (Good luck OP on finding a better-paid place).

  5. MadCatter*

    This right here is why pay transparency is so important. OP I hope you get paid what you are worth, either there or somewhere that will treat you with respect from the start.

    1. DistractedDeveloper*

      So true! Management became a lot more receptive to my request when our closest competitor published all their salary bands the month after I learned my new junior team member was making >10k more than me.

  6. KatKatKatKat*

    This comment is your reminder to ask for a raise if you haven’t had one in the last year.

  7. RunShaker*

    this is horrible. Please talk with your manager about your pay gap. Do research to see where you should be and list out your accomplishments. In the end, if your company won’t provide you with the pay raise that you need (market pay), it is ok to job search. This is business, you have to take care of your financial needs and go with a good company that sees your worth. I know you’re struggling and I hope you can find a better way instead of taking payday loans, asking your manager or finding another job. I hate these companies and feel they take advantage of people. Start looking now for new job while you’re speaking to your manager. You deserve so much more.

  8. Goldenrod*

    “Any chance part of the explanation is that your company caps how much of a raise you can get when taking an internal promotion? This is a terrible practice, but it’s not uncommon: Some companies will limit you to no more than an X percent raise when you switch roles internally, even if that puts you well below the market rate for the new job”

    This is how my company used to do it, which is terrible…It means that if you were originally underpaid at the organization in your first role then you have to forever underearn. I had a hiring manager specifically tell me she couldn’t give me more than a $6,000 raise, due to this practice.

    Fortunately, it’s now *illegal* in some states to base your salary on your previous salary. So even if you are switching roles within an organization (so they know what you are paid), they aren’t supposed to look at your previous salary to determine their offer. This is because of DEI (women and minorities tend to be underpaid, and it’s not fair to lock these groups forever into lower salaries).

    I know Washington is one of the states where this practice is now illegal….

    1. Purple Jello*

      Not only did my former company do this, but after they gave me the (minimal) promotion raise, they prorated my annual raise. You literally had to have an offer in hand and be threatening to leave to get any type of additional money out of that place.

      1. MikeM_inMD*

        And if it takes “an offer in hand” to pry more money out of your company, you might as well just leave.

    2. Paulina*

      This seems insane. For an internal candidate, you know what they’re really like and should feel more free to pay them what the position is worth, unlike an external hire who might simply interview well.

    1. RVA Cat*

      All the energy they used to earn awards needs to go into their job search. This is exactly the time to “act your wage”.

    2. Owlet101*

      Yeah. The moment OP was having to consider payday loans it should have switched to a serious search.

    3. oranges*

      Payday loans are so dangerous. The fact that OP is getting them regularly is a huge red flag. Those business are predatory, unsustainable, and basically highway robbery. They don’t exist to dabble in and out. As OP is already realizing, they’re trapped in a cycle of dependency.

      Get thee a new job immediately!

    4. Boof*

      I am really curious what kind of nibbles the OP has already been getting. Not meant to sound critical of the OP, just a little surprised they didn’t get a heads up on how much they were under paid by the casual job searching.

    5. Blackbeard*

      OP should raise the issue with management AND at the same time start seriously looking for another job.

      They have been seriously underpaid for years, and fully of resentment for this crappy company. I don’t see much of a future there.

  9. Alex*

    My experience is that this sort of things happens at big organizations. The same exact thing happened to me, and it wasn’t exactly that I was being “underpaid” according to my salary band–I could never make it out of the bottom 20% of that band even though I worked there for over 10 years and won actual awards for my work, same as you. I took it to management and they just said “that’s just how it is structurally.” And what they meant was that no one got above that 3% max raise every year, but the band was continually re-evaluated and increased. They made it so it was literally impossible to get even into the upper half of that band, but posted it to recruit people.

    So, I left for a new job.

    1. Alex*

      Sorry that should have said “underpaid” when compared to others in the same position, but…

  10. Brain the Brian*

    OP, do you have any evidence of pay discrimination along protected class lines? For example, are you a woman at a company that hires mostly men for your role (and pays them at the listed rates, which are way higher than yours)? If so, that could be another angle to explore.

  11. E*

    I would recommend leaving, even if you speak with your management. Sometimes you get stuck in a bad place at a job for any number of reasons and the only way out is to move. A similar situation happened to my husband, he was hired at a fortune 100 company at an entry level position right out of college and quickly was promoted to the next level. Since he was still pretty inexperienced he was at the bottom of the pay band for the new position. After a few years even with good percentage raises he was behind new hires (who came with experience) that were coming in at the midpoint of the salary range. The company caps the percentage raises without a promotion. The only way for him to get to the proper pay was to leave. Fortunately he was able to stay at the same company and just change departments but you may need to leave altogether.

  12. Spearmint*

    I’m confused about the pay band. You say that the difference between the bottom 25% and the mid-high (not even maximum) is $40k-$50k a year. That means the range would have to be ridiculously large, like $40k-$100k. Are your sure that’s the real range, or is that just fluff the company puts in the ad to get around these laws requiring the salary to be posted?

    1. Mill Miker*

      or the top of the band is where it needs to be to hire into the roll, and the bottom was brought down to include current employees, so that people in LW’s situation are still technically in the band, and can’t make the argument they’re below it.

      1. BasketcaseNZ*

        Yeah, this would not surprise me, that only existing staff exist in the bottom half to 2/3 of the published band.

    2. DistractedDeveloper*

      In addition to padding the top, maybe the bottom of the range was lowered to include OP.

    3. A*

      Some places have crazy pay bands. A very large company I experience with has 2 designations for each position – a job title and a job level, so you can have a Llama Groomer job pay band of $45k to $150k because the $45k is a junior person and the $150k is a VP. Totally different actual work done by 2 people with the same “title”. Needless to say it was difficult to figure out what anyone actually did.

      1. Anonys*

        I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem to not have many distinctions in titles (my current company doesn’t either) .But I think its BS to state salary ranges that are meaningless (unless the company you mention also posts the range for the individual job levels, not just the whole range for the title title).

        If I am applying to be a Llama Groomer with about 3-5 years of experience doing relatively junior to mid level work, I want to know what the range is for that specific position and would assume where I fall in the range would depend on if I am more towards the 3 or 5 years, additional professional qualifications, etc. I don’t want to know what I could earn as a theoretical VP with 10+ years of experience, higher level duties and the associated responsibilities.

    4. Coco*

      This is my question. Is that range even accurate? That’s a huge range. Your company already has a history of trying to dodge pay transparency laws. I wouldn’t trust this at all. You can try to ask for pay information from your coworkers. But company culture suggests that pay transparency is discouraged. Big yikes!

    5. BRR*

      I was also confused about the pay band. I was going to add a caveat to my own comment but decided against it since I’m pretty sure the OP is being underpaid. But my caveat would be that with some employers if the pay band is very large, they only hire at the lower end of the range. A previous employer’s policy was something like offers should be around the 25th percentile and you needed approval from someone very high up to make an offer above the 50th percentile of the pay band. I think my band was around $50K-$90K (and no it wasn’t because of drastically different skill sets candidates would have).

    6. Anonys*

      Yes, this is what I am confused about as well! I speculated a little about what a possible pay band based on the limited information provided by OP could be in a comment further above before seeing there is already a thread on it here.

      The company seems reluctant to post pay ranges based on the fact they avoid listing the positions in states where it is required, so my speculation is that having a ridiculously large range is so that employees can get around that requirement – make it so large, it becomes essentially meaningless.

  13. Lily Rowan*

    Definitely ask for a raise and look to leave, BUT: is it possible that they are providing the huge range as an advertising technique, and don’t intend to pay *anyone* above the bottom of the posted range?

      1. NeedRain47*

        nah, they’ll fill them just fine with people who have less experience or who happen to be in a circumstance where they need a job ASAP. It’s a successful technique if you want a minimally qualified candidate instead of a great one.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Not necessarily — my job hires at the bottom of the band, but still has good salaries (not saying this is true of the OP’s job).

        2. AngryOctopus*

          Also people who need a job/have less experience will come in at the bottom of the pay range but think that they CAN get to the top of that range (or else why would the company have published that number). So it can keep a junior person chasing an impossible number for longer than they should.

    1. Melicious*

      It seems more likely the opposite (as someone else has already suggested) that they need to hire near the top of the listed range to get people to accept offers but have majorly lowered the low end of the band listing to dodge the intent of the transparency law. If they posted the real range, LW and her coworkers may be well below it.

  14. DC*

    You should absolutely do something about this. I was in a VERY similar situation about a year and a half ago. The only difference is that I’d gotten regular raises, but they just weren’t keeping up with inflation, and I found out that a newer, much more junior employee was making more than I was. I applied for other (external) jobs, but then also applied for an internal job, which I got, got a raise out of, and then switched back to my old position just as MASSIVE salary increases were happening department-wide, so I really lucked out in that my company had realized that long standing employees were all getting screwed over and made adjustments so as not to lose most of their long term employees.

    In this situation I would bring up the job postings to your manager and have a conversation about your salary and the difference between it and the listed salaries, but I would also be applying for external jobs in the meantime.

  15. BRR*

    It’s 100% worth addressing with your manager. I’d save copies of those job postings to have on hand and combine that with Alison’s other advice when asking for a raise. Determine what your salary goal is because you will likely be asked what salary you are looking for. I would aim a little higher than your actual goal and say something like “$x based on the company’s market rate for this role and my own performance at the company.”

    Also, a key thing to keep in mind the entire time is that your manager’s viewpoint of “3% is a massive favor” is not a fact, it’s an opinion. Your attitude should be “3% is the average raise and that’s before factoring in your performance or promotions.” That’s a fact, not an opinion.

  16. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

    Oof, LW, I am really sorry. That is a gut punch. I definitely agree with AAM’s advice to address this with your manager and management but here’s the thing: you work for a company that does not seem to prioritize paying people what they’re worth in the market. They have given 3 raises in 9 years (this is not the norm when I’ve worked for large companies). They have made a big deal about providing a 3% merit increase because they’re giving others 2% (depending on the year this took place, it happened during a time when workers’ salaries were going up significantly, which further shows this company is out of step with the market). They chose to post job openings in other states to circumvent pay parity laws.

    Even if you get your big bump that puts you closer to midpoint for your salary range, you’re still working for a company that has very little intention of keeping their employees within market ranges and actively avoids pay parity guidelines. I think it’s time to look for a new job.

  17. Chairman of the Bored*

    “And I don’t want my manager to spend political capital for me only for it not to be enough for me to stay.”

    I manage people and would have no problem with doing exactly this for any of the people on my team. This is very much an inherent part of being a manager.

    Advocating for fair pay for my team is one my most important responsibilities to them, and one of the reasons I can in turn expect them to do the things I ask them to do.

    That the larger company may not go along with my requests doesn’t change my obligation to fight the good fight for my people every single time.

    1. Pyanfar*

      ^This! 1000%!! “my obligation to fight the good fight for my people every single time”

    2. Random Dice*

      Yeah but some people take it personally.

      My former manager considers it a bridge permanently burned if someone agrees to let him match their new job’s salary but they leave anyway.

      I don’t get it, there are other things that could make the other job more attractive, and the match might be exact rather than enough to compensate for the other good things about the other job.

    3. Elizabeth*

      I considered the conversations I had with current employees after we started posting pay ranges to be a feature, not a bug. If you trust your immediate manager, give it a shot.

    4. Ellie*

      I’m a manager and I have no problem with this either, and have done so on many occasions. Sometimes you lose the person anyway, but at least you know that you’ve done everything you could to keep them. And it preserves the relationship (with me – not necessarily the company) if they ever want to come back again.

  18. learnedthehardway*

    It’s possible that the ranges advertised are to capture attention and/or are meant to reflect the fact that the role could be made more or less senior depending on the experience of the hired candidate.

    But if you’re in the lower 25% of the pay band, and you’ve been in the ROLE (not the company, the role) for more than 2 years, odds are that you are underpaid. Keep in mind that roles can have a range of experience – ie. you could start as a junior llama groomer, progressed to intermediate level, and later to senior, and ALL could have the same title. So that may be part of the situation.

    I would talk with your manager and HR about the situation. If their explanation is that you’re paid as a junior llama groomer, and you’ve been in your role for 2+ years, I would argue that you are really an intermediate llama groomer, and should be paid as such. If you have been in your role for 4 years or longer, you should be paid as a senior llama groomer. All this is assuming you have good performance in your role, of course.

  19. The Bill Murray Disagreement*

    Oof, LW, I am truly sorry. That is a gut punch and you are not overreacting.

    I agree with AAM’s advice to address this with your manager and management but here’s the thing: you work for a company that does not seem to prioritize paying people what they’re worth in the market.

    They have given 3 raises in 9 years (this is not the norm when I’ve worked for large companies). They have made a big deal about providing a 3% merit increase because they’re giving others 2% (depending on the year this took place, it happened during a time when workers’ salaries were going up significantly, which further shows this company is out of step with the market). They chose to post job openings in other states to circumvent pay parity laws.

    Even if you get your big bump that puts you closer to midpoint for your salary range, you’re still working for a company that has very little intention of keeping their employees within market ranges and actively avoids pay parity guidelines. I think it’s time to look for a new job.

  20. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    This is an employer who will pay you as little as they can get away with, even when you’re their favourite unicorn. That will be true for as long as you work there.

    Job search *hard*.

  21. Captain Swan*

    I wonder about the rest of the job ad. OP indicated that there are multiple openings for this role. I wonder if they wrote one description with a huge pay band range to cover a junior, mid level, and senior designation. Like we need 5 of these types of people and there can be a mix of skill levels, so let’s write one position description and then figure out the skill level mix depending on the candidate pool. That would possibly account for OP being towards the bottom of the range. But the only way to know is ask the manager.

  22. Falling Diphthong*

    I literally do not make enough to pay my bills anymore; I’ve been taking payday loans every single pay period for months and am drowning in debt.

    OP, this is so not normal. Completely aside from the expected salary for your position–if you found out you were right now toward the upper end of that range, but it still meant you had to take out payday loans(!!!) to eat, it would be time to find another job. Not casually look, and not stay with this company that doesn’t pay you enough to live on.

    As first commenter notes, it would be normal to get a very large pay bump when you go from intern to regular employee. They felt ignoring that norm wouldn’t be enough to cause you to look elsewhere.

    You need to value you. Don’t count on this company to do it.

    1. mreasy*

      Yes, OP, regardless of your company’s usual payment structure, taking our payday loans to cover your bills is not something you should have to do as a FT employee. I am so sorry you’re going through this and I hope you get a hug pay bump when you leave these scavengers.

    2. The Original K.*

      Exactly. OP, you don’t make enough money, period, and you need to go somewhere that pays you enough to live. Payday loans are a recipe for financial disaster – do everything you can to get yourself out of this situation. If your employer won’t do it, you need to go elsewhere and I’d still ratchet up the job search even if you decide to press your employer to be paid what you’re worth.

      1. RVA Cat*

        This. Payday lenders are loan sharks and should be illegal. It’s cruel that the OP has been underpaid their whole adulthood so they never got the chance to build up credit.

  23. Captain-SafetyPants*

    The company I left this spring has that terrible practice of capping raises for internal promotions that Alison mentions—this company capped it at 8%. They refuse to budge on this, no matter what the circumstances. I watched from afar as their very best IT Project Manager was offered a promotion to the position her former boss had just left—at about 20% less than they would have offered an outside hire. She doesn’t work there anymore. Then the same thing happened to me. I don’t work there anymore either. They are hemorrhaging top performers but don’t seem to care at all.

  24. H3llifIknow*

    PLEASE talk to your manager. They should be advocating for you with upper management and HR. And they HAVE to know that you’re underpaid. I mean how could they NOT? I took a paycut to take a position with “BIG FIRM YOU WOULD KNOW” and I loved the job, but after about a year, I was talking with my manager, in another state and asked if the firm generally gave bonuses or raises for those with an advanced degree. He said, “You didn’t have a Master’s when we interviewed you, did you? And I said, “No, but shortly afterwards, I completed my MS and earned two relevant industry certs, and I’m still making less than Beavis and Butthead (my peers) are.” He said, “Let me see what I can do.” I got a $15K boost, 3 months later. It took time to work it thru the hoops, but I did get it!

  25. Kayem*

    My partner’s facing this exact thing. Their position is already massively underpaid and with CoL raises not matching inflation, they’re now earning 80% less than when they were hired. Partner’s income paid the monthly bills at first while mine took care of everything else. Now mine is needed to cover what partner’s income no longer covers, which takes that much more away from other necessities.

    Partner’s bosses act like they work super hard to get raises for everyone. But the raises are BS, so either the employer is the problem (which means time to look elsewhere) or the bosses are bad at negotiating for higher pay (which means time to look elsewhere).

  26. Third or Nothing!*

    OP, I was in a similar position last year. I was with my previous company for a decade. It was my first job out of college. By the time I left I had doubled my salary, but the only reason was because I was hired at a criminally low salary.

    My brother in law had been trying to convince me to apply at his company, so I found a job that was a perfect fit for my experience. My new salary here is 40% more than I was making at my old company! And I’m in the entry level job for my department! AND I got a very nice raise after only 6 months!!

    Step up that job hunt, OP. You deserve better.

  27. CSRoadWarrior*

    Time to leave and fast. Start searching and once you get an offer with a great company that is willing to pay your worth and at least within the range, put in your notice immediately. It is unlikely your current company will bump your pay up 3 or 4 paygrades.

    And I speak from experience. But that is a story for another day. My point is, don’t stay and let this boil over either. If you keep sitting on it, eventually it will likely not end well. Start searching and leave as soon as you can. But make sure your future company pays you what you are worth before jumping ship and do your research. I can’t stress this enough.

  28. Lizy*

    Good lord, OP, I’d get out AND bring it up with your manager. I just did a VERY quick calculation and I’m making at least 20% more than I was 9 years ago. LastJob was a slight step down, which I expected, but this one is a slight step up from 2 jobs ago so if I’m going off this job vs. last job, I’m making more than 40% than I was 2 years ago. I honestly figure myself to be an above-average performer – not AMAZING but definitely not “just ok”. So… yeah. Get yourself some money.

    Along that line, how would one go about finding pay info (like what others get paid) within your company if you’re all remote??

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      My jaw dropped at 14% over 9 years and 2 promotions – especially when one of those was going from an intern to full-time employee. I’ve been at my company just over 5 years and am making about 30% more from when I started, with one promotion. And none of my raises were anything crazy!

      FWIW I’ve worked at tiny 10 person companies all the way up to huge international conglomerates, and I’ve received a raise every year at all of them. One miniscule raise every three years is completely terrible and way outside the norm.

      OP this company doesn’t deserve you, sending you all the luck to find something where you’ll be appreciated and compensated appropriately soon!

      1. DistractedDeveloper*

        14% really is nothing at all when you factor in the promotions. I got the same increase switching companies this year and that wasn’t even a title change or any additional responsibilities.

        And they said 3% for a merit raise. In my experience, merit raises have usually been 5-10%, excluding promotions.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah, I know I’m not the norm exactly, but I’m currently making 100% more than I was 10 years ago. I get why maybe some of the 3 raises in 9 years might’ve been massively putting on the brakes due to pandemic…but if they top out at 3% at this job it’s not only not keeping up with inflation, it’s completely ignoring it exists. OP’s employer is crap.

  29. I should really pick a name*

    Even if you get a raise, you shouldn’t stay. A company that’s willing to pay this far below a living wage is not one you should want to work for.

    And yes, you should still ask for the raise, even if you’re planning to leave.

  30. El l*

    Personal experience: A firm that underpays you actually believes that they’re paying you market rate. They just measure “the market” more narrowly or more selectively than they should.

    That’s why it’s so hard to get even a normal compensation. And that’s why you’re going to have to leave – to some place that assesses the market correctly.

  31. Ann Onymous*

    Letter writer, your career progress sounds a lot like mine – I’ve also been at my company for 9 years (although I started as a new-grad full time hire, not an intern), consistently stellar performance reviews, 3 promotions… but I’m making 95% more than my initial starting salary. Definitely talk to your manager, and if things don’t improve, I’d seriously consider looking for a company that doesn’t just say you’re doing great work but also puts their money where their mouth is.

  32. Sammmmmmmmm*

    Considering over the last 9 years, cost of living has increased almost 23%, your actually making less than you did in your intern time.

    You can ask, but it’s really time to move on regardless. They have been underpaying you for a long time!

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      The online inflation calculator I used said that what a dollar would buy in 2014 would now take $1.28. That’s TWICE the OP’s salary increase of 14%.

  33. cme_runfast*

    Huh, I wonder if you work for the same company that I do! In my experience, once you are hired in, there are very few ways to get any sort of substantial increase other than to promote, which is hard to do. Unless you negotiate pretty hard at the beginning of employment (and even then, it’s a very narrow window we can offer), you will only advance the 2-3% each year, no matter what. There is the annual incentive plan (bonus), but that doesn’t amount to very much unless you are in management. Full disclosure, I am in management.

    The only way I see people advance in my industry is by leaving, taking your valuable skills with you to a higher paying competitor. Then, I have seen people come BACK to our organization at a much higher salary. It doesn’t make sense to me since our work calls for very highly specific skills that we have trained people to have, but that’s the way it goes. If someone wants to leave due to salary, I have very little ability to offer more money. It’s not good for business continuity, but there you have it.

    So, OP, take your experience and skills to a competitor and negotiate more money based on that value you can offer. You are most definitely worth more to a different company, and as long as you continue to work for your current company, they will continue to pay you what they can get away with.

  34. HonorBox*

    OP, start job hunting and do so aggressively! You’re criminally underpaid and you have data to show it. Chances are, because you’re a stellar employee, you’re going to find something elsewhere that comes with a huge financial benefit. But in the meantime, do talk to your manager. You don’t want to wait, because you don’t know how long job hunting will take. And if you get a pay bump and still find something that pays more, your manager should not (even though they may) take it personally. Part of their job is to be the conduit for their team members. If a bump in pay still doesn’t get you to what someone else offers, that’s the company’s fault and not yours.

  35. Owlet101*

    Yeah. The moment OP was having to consider payday loans it should have switched to a serious search.

  36. Jessica*

    Inflation in 2022 was 6.5%.

    A 3% increase in salary isn’t a raise. It’s an inadequate cost of living adjustment.

  37. Susannah*

    Oh, LW, I feel ya.
    I really hate to say this, but you have to go. Very unlikely they will I’ve you a $40K raise – I bet at most, it’s $10K, which will mean you are still underpaid, and then I imagine they will use the “bi” raise to justify measly increases in the next few years.
    I’m afraid you’re being hit with Star Intern syndrome – they love you, they hired you from internship, love your work. But STILL see you as the “star intern” they don’t have to treat/pay like everyone else. And they won’t get out of that mindset until you leave.
    I wish I had been reading Alison back when I was offered a raise to keep me, when I was offered a higher-paying job elsewhere. I stayed – and I could have made more money, turns out, at the other place. I had other reasons to stay, I suppose, but it always bothered me that they could only “find” more money in the budget when I was going to leave.

  38. ProducerNYC*

    OP, I was in a job like this for over a decade. I loved what I did, but I was making about 15-20k below my coworkers, including those who had far less experience (and some were actually not that great at their job). I saw bad workers get promoted and rewarded, and I was constantly told to hang in there, you’re crucial to the team, etc, but at the end of the day, there weren’t enough reasons to stay. I found a pivot (still in my industry) that is TRULY 9-5, M-F, and the first weekend I felt like my brain switched off (in the BEST way). My other job was producing, so I was constantly on call, working over weekends to fix guest cancellations, etc. Less than a year in, I was making more than I ever made at the old job, had great benefits, supportive coworkers AND managers, and I almost feel like that wasn’t even me, it was something that happened to someone else. I hope it’s not long before you find a job that appreciates you and SHOWS it in your paycheck!

  39. tamarack etc.*

    Good lord. OP, do what you have to do. For comparison, I’m an academic, and in a non tenure-track research position (ie, I *know* that I earn less than I could in the private industry, and also I’m not among the best compensated academics even). Yet, since being hired after my PhD, I received one promotion (in under 4 years) and earn 22% more than I was hired at. Given the constraints of this particular niche of the job market, that’s at least decent.

    But 14% more than an *intern*, in the private industry, after 10 years, is outrageously shameful.

  40. I Am On Email*

    OP if you are reading this I am rooting for you! I hope we have an excellent update by Christmas telling us you’ve either 1) got the appropriate pay bump or 2) have moved to a new company for proper pay!

  41. NewJobNewGal*

    This is where I was 6 years ago. I was getting the feeling that I was underpaid, but when I started researching then I was blown away by how poorly I was paid. And same thing, the company made a small raise seem like they were gods granting a heavenly blessing on the most worthy. And staff were working side jobs to get by. I had 2 extra jobs.
    That is not a company to work for. The end.
    My salary DOUBLED when I moved to my next job, and I had HALF the responsibility I managed before.
    Are you ready for this? I now earn 3x what I earned back then. It breaks my heart to remember how I financially struggled at that job. I could have left years before and saved so much stress and been in a financially better place now.
    Do Not Wait! Take care of yourself. Find a job that values you!

    1. NewJobNewGal*

      Oh, I forgot to mention that I did talk to my boss about a raise. I got a 4% raise.
      I would have needed a 70% raise to get into the lowest band for my job.

  42. OP/LW*

    Hi all! You’re making my day with the supportive comments!

    A couple clarifications based on a few questions I saw:
    1. The promotions were straight vertical (i.e., up to the next IC level in the same role)
    2. Yes, the posted range is very large, which is pretty typical for this company’s listings, but the range matches up with what I’m seeing on similar jobs in the same industry
    3. Like a bunch of people noted in the comments, this is also one of those companies well-known for the whole “leave for 18 months and come back if you want more money” thing

    I hope to have a real update in the relatively near future, but here’s what’s happened in the couple of months since I wrote in:

    I found an internal document about positioning employees in range and used that to very clearly lay out exactly what I was seeing. I made a simple Powerpoint slide showing the positioning guidance, ranges, and my historical salary side-by-side. When I had my annual review (which was excellent again), I kind of segued from my manager’s praise like, “I’m so glad to hear that my work has been so impactful and that [Company] wants to keep me. I do have one thing to bring up…”

    He was really receptive and told me he thinks I might actually be eligible for an equity adjustment (which I was not aware was even an option), so we’re waiting to hear back from HR on that. Ultimately, I don’t think they can get to a figure that I can justify staying for long-term, but a bump would certainly help in the meantime.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I once pointed out to a manager that I was in the bottom 10% of my band by comparison to the industry standard in our geographic location…while getting excellent 4-5/5 reviews and praise, and having years of special knowledge on our system.

      They gave me a 35% raise. It still rankled that I had to point that out to get it, but they did in fact raise me to where I should have been. I really hope your current employer comes through for you on the appropriate scale to bring you into alignment with where you should be.

    2. Ellie*

      You need to up the intensity of your language. Tell your manager that you’re considering going elsewhere and that you need a response from HR this week. They will move faster, and be more generous, if they think that they will lose you. You owe them nothing after being underpaid for so long.

      I also work at one of those large, “leave for 18 months and come back if you want more money” companies and my salary has quadrupled since I joined here 20 years ago. And I didn’t join as an intern, I worked somewhere else before that. You’re valuable, you need to act like it. Any decent manager will not hold that against you, and those big, sluggish companies can move fast when its in their interests to.

    3. Manglement Survivor*

      Oh, I hope you get the equity adjustment very soon, and I hope you come back and share what happened with us!

  43. Firecat*

    Just for a counterpoint to the BS this company does, I went to my company to ask for an extension moving. I started with the sentence “I personally feel like I’m fairly compensated but it’s hard to find a house.”

    Their response was that they had actually reevaluated the salary band because enough people were having trouble finding housing and they bumped the pay band 14%. So even though I was still in the pay band after the bump, I was still bumped 14% anyway to keep my place in the band. They then also granted my extension to let me save a higher down payment.

    There are good companies out there! Good luck OP!

  44. Michelle Smith*

    I am deeply, deeply upset by this letter. LW, you deserve so much more than how you’ve been treated. I am begging you to please update us when you’ve found a better job or gotten a parity raise, because being underpaid by as much as a full-time salary in many jobs??? That’s appalling on levels that is hard to put into words. I don’t even know you and I’m furious about this. No, you are not overreacting even slightly.

  45. TG*

    If they can underpay you they will – it’s the nature of business….sadly. You’d think great work would earn the rewards but it doesn’t. I’d ask about it and see what happens but prepare for a job search. You have nothing to lose asking and everything to gain if they don’t give you a serious raise, and you leave. Good luck and update us!!!!

  46. Ranges are bullshit*

    I work in recruiting for a Fortune 500 company that hires in multiple US states with compensation requirements for job postings. I can absolutely say that our our ranges are ridiculous huge and our legal departments requires that we post the entire range even though we would absolutely NOT hire someone at the top. Typically we hire people in the 25%-50% of the range as that is what we consider most competitive with the market. It is also the same range used for the live time of the role, so we hire people lower with the expectation that they will get raises/bonuses and still be within range (still not at the top). The range is so high to legally protect us from ourselves, in case there is a sparkly rainbow candidate who really does need all the bells and whistles and still would need raises.

    I absolutely expect OP is underpaid based on all the other info given (only making 14% more than she did as an intern after 9 years and 2 promotions- that is ludicrous), but wanted to share for everyone else that the ranges posted, especially by large organizations are bullshit and likely extra huge bc of advice of legal.

  47. triplehiccup*

    personally I would immediately crank down my effort at work to an acceptable minimum and focus like hell on doing anything necessary – applying like crazy, working an unrelated side job – to get out of payday loan debt.

  48. MorningBell*

    I am so sorry, OP – 100% agree you should bring it up. I experienced something similar some years back. After several years in a role where I was excelling, I did some market research and discovered that salaries for the role I was in at comparable companies in the same city were much higher (to the tune of $40-60k higher on average). I asked for a raise from my boss, who responded poorly – told me the job market was soft, the company didn’t give raises like that, I was asking for a raise too soon (after three years at the company…), I didn’t have a firm offer elsewhere and needed that to negotiate a raise, etc. It was a discouraging and incredibly demoralizing conversation. However, my boss said I could put together a written request making my case and they would bring it to their manager. I did this and the request went up the chain for review, which took months. In the meantime, I started job searching (for many reasons, including the pay, but the nature of my boss’ response to my request was definitely a factor). About four months later I found out – incredibly – that management approved a raise to bring my salary up to market rate. It was a big raise given how far below market pay I was! It was too late though – fortunately for me, by that time I was in the final stages of interviewing with another company. I got an offer at this other company for even more than my new salary at my current company (after the raise)! So just about as soon as my boss told me the raise was finally approved, I gave my notice. There was massive guilt tripping by my boss for this – and I did feel bad about the timing – but it was the company’s fault, and I was much, much better off moving on.

    I’ll add: asking for a raise was incredibly hard. I am very non confrontational, and a people pleaser (and – surprise! – female) and emotionally it felt like stepping out of line asking for a raise, even though intellectually I knew it was the right thing to do. I was a nervous wreck, and I’m very proud of myself for doing it. And it was successful, even if it took over four months to pay off and I ended up leaving anyway! So even though it was painfully uncomfortable for me to do, it was worth it.

  49. Boba Feta*

    So I’m pretty late to this conversation and don’t now if this will get seen but having read through the OP’s situation and all the replies I’m just dying of curiosity about my own situation.

    Caveat: Academia.

    I’ve been in my role for four years and am now eligible to apply for promotion (very typical timeline here). According to my math, I’m now earning roughly 13% more than my starting salary because of annual merit/COL bumps (this year’s raise hasn’t come out yet because annual reviews only concluded last week and we don’t see our next year’s numbers until contracts renew in August). In addition to the typical annual increase, I also anticipate some kind of additional bump if the promotion process goes well (which I expect it will).

    But now my question, from having read some of the numbers posted above, is whether 13% over four years (in academia) is something normal, criminal (remember – ACADEMIA), great, or something else?

    Any other academics out there willing to contribute some anec- to my -data?

  50. Manglement Survivor*

    Tell your manager that you have seen those ads and you need to have your salary raised appropriately. Aim for the higher end of the salary band. Tell your boss if they are unable to pay what you are worth, you’ll consider quitting the job and applying for one of their job openings you mentioned that have an acceptable salary range. And then also secretly look for jobs elsewhere as well.

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