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Ask HN: How to ask for a raise?
33 points by throwAwayFr 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments
I have been working as a junior software engineer in France for the past year for a consulting company. I have been integrated with 2 different clients for 6 months each.

I feel like I'm actually leading the projects I'm on and adding value.

However, since I depend on VISA sponsorship I have accepted a salary of 32K€ (before tax).

I have been working for a year and have ZERO savings, I can't afford vacation and I feel like I'm being exploited.

Should I ask for a raise? If yes, how?

PS: I work in the south of France[0] where most IT workers are depending on VISAs so companies are very aware of the situation.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophia_Antipolis

A 10% raise brings you to 35k, that very likely may be your roof for this year. A 5% raise only takes it up to to 33.5k, which doesn't really make that much of a difference unless you actually put away EUR 100 a month, which leaves you with 1.2k in the bank next year. Many people instantly spend the money once they have a bit more room to breathe, so that may not help much.

Regardless, I would definitely ask for a raise. To argue in percentages is something managers tend to do in your salary segment (where 10% sounds like a lot to some). That may come in handy later, though, when you've done this for a few years, where the same percentage will get you more substantial increases.

I'd ask for a meeting with your manager, and play the classic yes game. Are you happy with my performance? Do you feel I am contributing to the progress of the company? Things like that. And then end with a simple question that doesn't DEMAND more money, but simply states that you aren't sure what the career plan is, and having worked here for some time, you'd like to know what the next 3 or 5 years look like.

If things escalate, maybe ask him what his position looks like, does he get a raise from time to time? Don't say this in comparison to you, just to get a better idea of what long-term careers at this company look like. Framing is key, I think, and I'm just basing everything on imaginary situations here. You'll have a better feel.

MOST IMPORTANTLY THOUGH: Don't just demand more money. Make sure you do so with reason. You don't have to be extraordinary to deserve a raise. Your money is worth less every single year, your rent and food costs you more every single year (simply by inflation), so your company actually pays you less if they don't step your salary up with it. Mention all the things you are proud of, abuse this social phenomenon that your boss probably can't say much against it, as that would make it personal (I think I did a great job on this one project.... "no you didn't" isn't what he's going to say, is he). He may think nothing of you, but if he can't say it out loud, you'll have a chance at the upper hand. He'll say his budget is limited, people above him control the situation, etc. — just say: "what can I do, to help you get me on a career path that involves a progression of my salary?"

A nice explaination of a raise negotiation strategy you've written there. I like it very much.

Ditto. I think the positive framing you suggest is important.

It is possible that the supervisor is ok offering a raise but hasn’t offered if he/she wasn’t asked.

Thank you, I will lead with all the technologies that I mastered meanwhile, my leading role in the 2 companies, and how they are both very happy with my work.

I recommend both of these:

3 minutes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HqvbdOWpc8

5 minutes (see from minute 1:20 - 4:30) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKVK5rTrOlg

In short, figure out if you're an agreeable or disagreeable person and how that might play out when asking for a raise. Then when you ask for a raise, do it from a position of strength, which is to say, go into negotiations with solid reasons and a competing offer from another company.

In france salaries depend heavily on your years of experience (Junior, confirmé, senior...) so if you are just starting your career there is a tiny chance your boss will accept giving you a rise, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try and ask.

Seeing your colleagues doing same work and being paid more is definitely not a healthy aspect to live by. I was there.

You have two options: Ask for a rise, if you get it then continue working for the same company until you gain more experience.

If you didn't get it then change employer. Changing employer allowed me a rise of 20%

What do you think the yearly raise should be? (and should it be yearly?)

I feel like I'm being exploited

An important question to ask yourself is whether or not that would that change if you get paid a few thousand Euros more?

Chances are that it wouldn't. Really you're not looking for just a pay rise - you're looking for a promotion so you get recognition for what you're already doing. Talk to your boss about how you can make that happen.

Maybe its because I see people doing the same or less work as me, are getting paid (and therefore appreciated) more.

I don't know what a promotion or recognition would look like, or how i might ask for one?

are getting paid (and therefore appreciated) more

I'd be willing to bet many of them feel exactly the same way you feel. They'll feel they're under-appreciated and unrecognised for what they do, and they'll think more money will change that. It won't. How much you're paid is not a sign of how well you're appreciated.

I get what you mean. But I honestly think I'd feel at least a bit better if i was financially doing better.

You have no leverage. You need to find and accept another (much better) offer.

I agree. Eg suppose you try to negotiate for a raise with your employer and they refuse to play along. What are you gonna do?

Probably better results to spend all your effort cultivating alternative options- who else would give you a job? How much would they pay you?

It's trickier if your visa is tied to your employer. Stating the obvious: that's not a great position to be in if it makes it much harder for you to switch jobs.

edit: it might also be useful to read about negotiation

e.g. the book "getting to yes"

"The Art of Letting Other People Have Your Way: Negotiating Secrets from Chris Voss" -- https://www.fs.blog/2018/01/chris-voss/

Yes, you should ask for one. Be straightforward when asking, and make the case that you're now a more valuable member of the company. Cite that you've become the de-facto project leader. You could also say you want a promotion, or at least a change in title, if you feel you are no longer in the junior role.

You may also want to take into account the political situation in your company. Who makes decisions on raises and promotions? Is there a process in place? Is what you do visible to them (and how could it be more visible)?

OP here, this thread has probably died, but I thought I'd inform you how it went.

Last night, I had my yearly meeting with my boss. I talked about all the progress I have made, my critical contributions to the project I'm in, and kind of hinted that the client would be stuck if I left the team in a short notice.

He straight away gave a number of 37K, I took it.

That probably means he could have gone to 40k with a bit of huffing and puffing :) but it’s still a pretty good yoy raise.

It depends on where you're from. If you need a VISA I assume you're not from the EU. If you immigrated from a wealthy country, then go for it. Worst case you go back home. But if going back home is a problem, then you'll probably have to either bite the bullet and save harder (You can probably save 10k/year or more in france with that salary if you try hard enough) or "ask nicely" for a raise, but don't expect much.

Patio11's podcast on salary negotiations might offer some insight on discussing raises, https://www.kalzumeus.com/2016/06/03/kalzumeus-podcast-episo...

Holy shit, patio¹¹, get sound dampening. Sounds like you recorded this in a 50-yard-long school hallway!

P.S. Thanks for the transcription.

IMO, €32k is decent for a junior position with 1 year experience.

Isn't that the average wage, generally?

That translates to roughly 1950€ per month, before taxes.

You dont ask for a raise. You get exactly what you deserve.

Hear me out:

No one ever gets a raise before they start doing the extra work.

It is always a case of "wow, we better give Alice a raise since she's doing so much and it would suck to try and replace her with someone else at her current pay".

I disagree with this, if you start going above and beyond on your work consistently people/co-workers/the company will get used to this and it becomes your baseline. Why pay more for someone already doing the work?

Achieving above your pay grade for a long period can also place you in the tricky situation of management agreeing to a raise if you up X/Y/Z, if you're already performing to a high level without monetary recognition then you're in a tough spot.

All this leads into why lots of engineers struggle to get raises within the same company and then with a few career hops will instead double/triple their salary.

The cost of the lost productivity from domain knowledge within companies leaving with engineers who can't get raises must be far higher, especially as going out into the current hiring market means you'll probably have to pay equal or more for a similarly skilled but without domain knowledge engineer.

Oh, please. Have you even read anything that OP wrote?

The OP specifically said that he feels like leading the projects and adding a lot of value. 32k in euros before taxes is awful. No one will give you anything unless you ask for it. Exploiting VISA workers is a common thing - he is afraid he is being exploited.

It is always a case of "wow, Alice is working like a superwoman for that shitty salary, thank God we have her on the team, because other people would have been a lot more expensive".

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