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Ask HN: How do I ask for a raise?
202 points by lelima 22 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments
What do you think is the best approach?

-I'm a shy person regarding this question, I have a friend that his method is "I have another offer, can you matched? or I'll leave" and got a raise 3/4 times.




In my experience, by far the best way to get a raise is to find a new job that you think you will like as much or more than your current job and take it. In addition to the monetary benefits, this will open the door to meeting new people and take on new responsibilities. I've never regretted doing this, and more than once that action gave my overall career trajectory a huge boost, even when I already thought I was happy (which was the case most of the time).


When i was directly managing developers (now I manage dev managers), I always loved it when someone would talk about their expectations and targets. As a manager, there are usually many areas or topics that could be going in a better direction. and someone who is more engaged because they want to earn a higher salary in exchange for taking responsibility in some area of the team is a huge asset. If someone wants to earn a higher salary in exchange for taking more direct accountability for our outcomes (which can be in an IC or lead capacity), there's usually plenty of opportunity in the typical team, if the manager can structure it right with the various stakeholders and budget authorities. Just wanted to say, don't hesitate to start the conversation with your manager. I know some probably don't handle it well but some do. What I'd recommend is, a conversation based on the question "what would I need to be bringing to this team to hit salary level X". if the manager doesn't come up with an answer to that, well you probably should be looking elsewhere. but it might be the shortest path to what you want especially if you like your current environment.


I agree with you, but that’s only part of the story.

There are two ways to make more money in software development. Either take on more responsibility and be a force multiplier or gain skills/experience where the demand outstrips the supply.

During the first part of your career. Gaining experience to make more money without taking more responsibility is pretty easy. After that, you really do have to take on more responsibility or go into consultancy.


you're right. also, there's a type of responsibility i'm hinting at here that's less formal, more like: "this person can handle tasks of complexity X and is willing to do what it takes to create a quality solution", that is the nuts and bolts to my mind of a successful and high functioning team.


That’s what happened to me. I left a job as the dev lead at a medium size company with a small development department to work at a small software company where so specifically negotiated not to be a team lead. I told my now manager that I could be a lot more effective working across teams as needed as an IC and just demonstrating and mentoring the team leads who I felt were much more qualified than I was to be a team lead. They knew the software stack and they were all much stronger on the front end than so was. They all needed help with infrastructure and process.

I make more now and have more influence using relationship and expert power than I ever did with the role power I had before - the three levers of power in an organization.


Do all dev managers that report to you -- initiate conversations with you about how to increase their salary?


didn't see this until just now - no, not all.

The problem with finding a new job, as a programmer, is that you'll have to read and become familiar with a new codebase. Most programmers I know love coding, but hate reading other people's code.


“Indeed, the ratio of time spent reading versus writing is well over 10 to 1. We are constantly reading old code as part of the effort to write new code. ...[Therefore,] making it easy to read makes it easier to write.”

― Robert C. Martin, Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/835238-indeed-the-ratio-of-...


It certainly is true if you keep changing jobs all the time. :)


OK - so its quite clear then - you need to decide between getting a raise and staying in your comfort zone.

Even within the same organization - a raise would typically entail that you take on new or more responsibilities.


That’s… interesting. Stephen King advice for aspiring writers is to read a lot. I’s say same goes for developers. Even if you read a lousy code you can at least anslyse what makes it lousy and how can it be improved. Reading good code will reinforce the understanding what good code is and might give some ideas for the future. Hating reading other’s code is a sign if the still novice programmer. Imho, of course.


Reading code I perceive as "lousy" and sometimes stepping through it with a debugger has often been a great learning experience for me. Sometimes I even realize that I'm wrong, and "lousy" design decisions were actually chosen to solve some tricky problem. More often it was just written in a hurry, or written before more modern libraries were available, but reading it still helps me improve my brain's "pattern-matching engine" for next time I see something similar.


To expand on that, I really like this quote by William Faulkner, and I think it really extends nicely to coding as well:

“Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window.”


What area of software development are we talking about?

That a person functioning as a software engineer expects:

a) Not to need to read or understand other persons code

b) Not to need to learn how new codebases work

Sounds completely unprofessional and misguided based on my experience.


Especially if someone is looking for a raise. At least where I've work, the more senior engineers (i.e. the ones who have demonstrated that they should get higher pay) are the ones who are constantly evaluating new ideas and new architectures, reviewing other peoples code (in open-source, these people are committers, not just contributors), collaborating with other projects that integrate with ours, etc.

I get the point about everything being 100% new at a new job being more uncomfortable than the incremental newness you should constantly be experiencing. But still - if you do have a hard time justifying a raise, remember that you're asking the company to bet more money on your. Bet on yourself first, step outside your comfort zone a little, and try lead in a way you haven't much before.


It does and it is.

But the fact is that it's just much much easier to convert ideas to code than code to ideas. It's also much easier to convert ideas to English than English to ideas, so better documentation probably helps, but it still sucks. (E.g. consider reading any sizable IEEE standard. It's all there, carefully described, but it's still a lot of work to understand.)

So yeah, many people prefer writing code to reading code, me including.

And BTW this is one thing that my university didn't quite get right. They focused a whole lot on writing code, but not as much on reading. The latter of course proved to be much much more important in my daily job.

/diversion


Not being exposed to big unfamiliar codebases may be comfortable, but dealing with unfamiliar code is a skill you will most probably eventually need, as few jobs are eternal, and not practicing for years will make for a painful landing.


Is this a problem, or fundamental part of development at all but the newest of companies?


I wish I had done that. I would wait until the job sucked before looking for another. I foolishly thought loyalty in IT is rewarded. In some companies maybe, I just never found one. New guy would get the cool new projects. I would vote you up twice if I could.

As an addendum, I recommend you interview anyway. In this strong economy there is no risk. In a weak economy they might toss you since they know you are looking..


My finding has been the same. I got a match once. I would have been better off leaving to some place more promising. Early on in your career your current employer is almost invariably a dead end.

Advancement happens, but it's the exception not the rule. Strong organizational growth is a driver of the exceptions.


I seem to remember an article (or I did the math) that shows that it's financially best to pursue a new job in the tech industry every 2.5 years.

It's enough time to get value from meeting new peers and make valuable contributions that they will remember but not short enough that they will view you as someone who's continually job shopping.


About every 2.5 to three years sound about right. But that only works up to a certain point.


When does it stop working?

I've been jumping ship every 2-3 years, for the past 15 years, and it's been working out well for me.


As an individual contributor, there is a maximum amount companies are going to pay you based on the local market. A company in Dallas for instance isn’t going to pay you $200K as a software developer more than likely.


This is a good answer. Jumping ship frequently works very well until you hit the plateau for your local market. I don’t have the data in front of me but my job changes early in my career netted me raises of sometimes 50% but each subsequent one increased less on a percentage basis. My last job change was +0%. There is definitely an invisible ceiling in effect.


1. Become divorced from the outcome. Sit down and think what it is you'd like to be doing if you weren't doing what you are, because these things can always go either way. Make two plans.

2. Gather evidence FOR paying you more. You need more. Someone is getting more doing the things you do. You're doing more than what is expected of you. Things hinge on you. Make some evidence if it doesn't yet exist.

3. Gather evidence AGAINST paying you more, and prepare to refute it. Make some, if it doesn't exist yet and prepare to give up some things or distance yourself from some things. Get into your manager's head for that. Talk to them: say, if I (you) needed help with what you're doing, what would they be prepared to offer? Prepare using that.

4. Spend at least two weeks doing the above. Then schedule a morning meeting with your manager, right after lunch is best. This will be hard, better have shuffle the world around you in your favor. Good luck.

0. Read some of this https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19542087 if you get stuck.


And when it doesn't work, find another job that pays more and leave. Don't wait for a counter offer; a counter offer is just them admitting that they indeed didn't pay you what you're worth, and they're only willing to do so now because you're forcing them. That's a lousy basis for a work relationship.

Find a better job and leave. You wouldn't be the only developer for whom that's the primary method of advancement.


I've noticed a few companies seem to be the ones many of my former colleagues flock to, and they rarely stay there for very long. My suspicion is that these companies know they need our specific talent, and use pay (or a similarly narrow carrot) to poach them when they have little else to offer. Then it turns out to be not worth it for one reason or another, and they quickly leave. Sometimes these people seem to go through a series of very short jobs at the same set of companies before settling somewhere else. When I speak with these former colleagues, usually pay or rate of advancement is the key driver, and often they're someone I'm not surprised wasn't advancing or getting raises quickly.

I agree about counter-offers being a lousy basis for a work relationship. It's like getting married because someone says "propose-or-we-break-up". But also don't just chase a minor raise at the cost of all else. Know what you're genuinely worth. Be almost as suspicious of someone who's offering you more money than you're worth as you are of someone who's offering you less money than you're worth. It could be a sign that they're struggling to retain people or attract people, and are throwing money at the problem (money's not always the problem). It could be that they have unsustainable growth, and aren't watching expenses and are just trying to increase headcount. It could be your current employer is an exploitative jerk, but just be aware.


This isn't necessarily true. You're worth what someone is willing to pay you. Until you actually receive a superior offer, neither you nor your employer knows that you're worth more than you're being paid.

Obviously there are employers out there who are underpaying their employees, but just because you find out you aren't being paid as much as possible for your skill set doesn't mean your employer is trying to stiff you.

That said, you should have a pretty good idea of what you're worth, and if you don't then that's on you. There is basically zero risk in going out and interviewing even if you aren't looking for a change, and it's a great way to establish the market for yourself. That market can change rapidly (at least while you're in the lower/middle of it).


> You're worth what someone is willing to pay you.

Or you're worth what the value of your work is. There are different ways to define this.

Are things that are free automatically worthless?

The idea that you become more valuable to your old employer only once there's another employer willing to hire you, is bizarre. Your work for your old employer doesn't change. How can your value suddenly change? Your old employer was clearly underpaying you because they could afford to. Only when you get other options, are they forced to pay you what you're worth.


By bringing up alternative offers, you’re effectively calling for a re-evaluation of your value. There’s naturally little incentive for your manager to re-evaluate when the expected outcome is higher cost; there’s clear incentive to re-evaluate when it’ll go lower. So it’s only natural that, leaving your pay solely to the discretion of management, your pay will go down over time.

The problem is not realizing you’re in an antagonistic relationship with your employer, when thinking about wage. This wasn’t as much an issue when the general path was as a salaryman, staying in DEC for fifty years, following strictly defined promotional paths. But today’s tech expects job-hopping, and there’s no clear timeline for re-evaluation or promotion. It now just occurs somewhat randomly, when you bring it in, or when they do. Putting in your 5 years and expecting a natural re-evaluation is no longer sufficient.


You're calling for a re-evaluation of your value by asking for a raise.

If I realise I'm in an antagonistic relationship with my employer, I leave. I don't want to spend a significant chunk of my life dependent on someone I have an adversarial relationship with. That just doesn't sound healthy.

By only re-evaluating my value when I'm about to leave, and not when I ask for a raise, the employer reveals it's an antagonistic relationship, and that's a good sign it's time to leave.


When it comes to pay, it’s an inherit property: you’re looking to max out your pay, and they’re looking to minimize. You negotiate to a middle ground. By antagonistic, I don’t mean that you’re in some kind of never ending battle to the death; but your goals/incentives clearly do not align. Obviously an actively malicious HR is a different story, but ignoring that, it would be naive to pretend you’re aligned, and leave your fate to a person/group who should not be acting in your best interest.

Your employer is not your agent. He doesn’t work for you.


> Your employer is not your agent. He doesn’t work for you.

No, but I work for him. If an agent working for me would also be an antagonistic relationship, then what use is the agent?

A good employer cares about more than just what their employees cost. At the very least, happy employees are productive employees. Employees that don't feel appreciated are not happy employees.

An employer who will only give you a raise after you've found a better offer elsewhere is a bad employer.


If you’re happy, and oblivious to knowledge that you could be paid higher elsewhere, why would I as an employer bring it up?

More notably, if you’re happy, why would I initiate the re-evaluation process to even find out whether you could get paid better elsewhere?

Would you come and tell me that you’ve been overpaid after self re-evaluating? But you expect me to come and tell you that you’ve been underpaid?

What’s the incentive here? You’re happy not knowing, I’m happy not knowing, what’s the problem? That you might find out in the future that you could have made more money for the last year, but your employer didn’t do the research and offer it you out of his own goodwill? The onus is clearly on you; you’re the only one with anything to gain. If the employer does it for you, then you can be grateful, but it would be absurd to be irrated by his not checking into how he could possibly hurt himself to help you.

>If an agent working for me would also be an antagonistic relationship, then what use is the agent

It depends which part of the relationship is adverserial. There is really no relationship where all your goals are aligned — you position your payment system to align specific components, but you should still acknowledge there are misalignments. Your travel agent is paid to get you good flights; but at the same time, he might make additional money by favoring specific airlines (with perhaps some, but minor, cost to you). There’s nothing wrong with this scenario — you’re just not fully aligned, but both parties still see benefit, so its still worth striking the deal.

In the same fashion, you as an employee are looking to make money (and don’t expect an infinite amount of it) and your employer is looking for work to be done. You dont try to find/create work to do for your company (unless you’re in sales), and the company doesn’t try to find ways to make you more money.

And thats fine. Obviously there are caveats (you can look better / earn promotions by doing more than you were requested, and the company can hand you bonuses you weren’t expecting, increasing moral), but its not part of the core relationship. It’s something the other party can be grateful for, but it would be absurd to expect it, because, well, who told you it was someone else’s job to improve your situation at cost to themselves?

Its the same kind of thinking that leads to absurd situations like putting 30 hours extra per week for free in gamedev crunches, and then being offended that it didn’t really get you anything. It’s not EA’s job to tell you that you’re doing something stupid (not that I agree with the request in the first place, but the entire gamedev industry is so problematic because the employees keep doing stupid shit in the unfounded belief of their all-benevolent employer).

An enployee that doesn’t look out for his own needs is a foolish employee.


> If you’re happy, and oblivious to knowledge that you could be paid higher elsewhere, why would I as an employer bring it up?

Aren't we discussing the situation where an employee asks for a raise and it's refused? So the employee is already aware that something is missing and is bringing it up. If the employer ignores it, that's a recipe for unhappiness.

But even more than that, some employees are bad at asking for a raise for a variety of reasons, and might be unhappy about their pay yet feel uncomfortable bringing it up. There's a risk that it's easier for them to look for another job instead of asking for a raise directly. The employer giving them a raise without being asked for it, can prevent that, and make the employee happier and more likely to stay.

If you wait until the employee is unhappy enough to start looking elsewhere, the employer is already too late.


>Aren't we discussing the situation where an employee asks for a raise and it's refused?

I was only talking about the scenario before the query occurs, and that the onus is on the employee to research and bring it up; my opinion on if its refused (and the alternative option is worth the trouble of change; whatever that worth may be), then it would be absurd to stay (you have a better option.. the only reason not to switch is guilt, probably misplaced)

I don’t know how much this mistake has cost us. I get the feeling that most of our conversation can be invalidated, and we’re likely very much in agreement.


I think you're looking for the word "adversarial".


You’re right


> When it comes to pay, it’s an inherit property: you’re looking to max out your pay, and they’re looking to minimize.

While I can understand what drives this statement, I believe it's fundamentally flawed (from both perspectives).

A business is attempting to minimize and maximize many things simultaneously. One of those should be maximizing employee "happiness" for the purposes of retention, productivity, etc. Similarly, they are attempting to mimimize costs. The employee is also working to minimize and maximize many things at once. And, similarly, one area they work to also maximize is their own personal "happiness".

So, at a fundamental level, the employee and a good employer should both have they employee's happiness as a stated goal of something they'd like to maximize.

Happiness (personal and professional) can mean many things. And, an employer has many levers they can pull to help improve an employee's happiness. Sadly, one of the fundamental problems that exists in a typical employer/employee relationship is that there are very few things that an employee feels they can discuss with an employer in an attempt to maximize their own happiness; salary is typically at the top of that list.

When an employee finds their happiness tanking, it could be for many reasons. And, salary could be a cause of the unhappiness. For example, maybe the employee has taken on considerably more work in the past year and doesn't feel fairly compensated for it. But, it's quite often been my experience that the issue is actually something else entirely, and the employee is just grasping at one of the only levers they see available to pull on in the hopes it will make them happier (spoiler: it rarely does).

An example (true story) would be the Day Care provider used by the employee is no longer an option, forcing them to look for new Day Care options (highly stressful), and they are either farther away and/or cost considerably more.

An employee wouldn't typically feel comfortable bringing this (personal) problem with their employer, and instead simply ask for a raise without stating that it's to cover the increased costs (after all, this is the employee's problem). But, because they did bring up the root problem, the employer was able to discover it was an issue for many of the employees. They then found it was more cost effective to team up with a local Day Care provider within a few blocks and help provide subsidized Day Care for all the employees within walking distance. It had the benefit of dramatically improving the employees' quality of life, retention, peoductivity, etc. Likewise, it was cheaper than giving everyone raises and not actually solving the root problem.

To the OP, my recommendation would be to think through the fundamental reason why you want a higher salary. There's nothing wrong with wanting more money, and if that's what it is, go for it. But, it means you will likely need to switch jobs. If the raise, however, is a means of trying to fix something else and make you happier, think through what that is and be open to working with your employer to come up with solution together (which might be a raise!).

You may be pleasantly surprised.


> Your work for your old employer doesn't change.

I kind of wish that was true. What I do now is almost completely different from what I was hired to do at my current job. Other people leaving, me getting to inherit their projects and responsibilities on top of my own, and yet my boss (who is also brand new because my previous boss resigned recently) wants to get settled and get to know me before recommending a promotion.

Yeah, I'm not waiting that long. For him it might have only been a few weeks, but for me it's been over three years.


Did all of that change because you got an offer from another company? Because that's the issue we're discussing here: whether it's the other offer that makes you more valuable, or the added responsibilities.


I see you have some experience with this.

It does go one of two ways, not always "when it doesn't work". But many times your salary will indeed be capped in some manner you're not aware of.

Be prepared to lose this negotiation, but don't go in thinking that you will. That will set you up to fail.


This whole discussion, however, is divorced from how healthy companies function.

In healthy places, what it takes to promote someone to the next level and his or her progress on that is a regular subject of discussion in his or her scheduled 1-1s with his or her manager.

So this whole tree which assumes that what the next level is, what that looks like for a specific employee, and that employees progress on attaining that level are entirely unknown seems just strange.


> I see you have some experience with this.

I don't, fortunately. But it's a recurring topic, and the conclusion at the end is always the same: counter offers are "too little too late", and possibly even a trap: maybe they just want to retain you for long enough to train your replacement, after which you will be fired and the new job you found will have been taken by someone else.


This is true for large companies. For cash-strapped organizations (like startups) they could really want you to stay but would rather not stretch themselves thin unless they were forced to.


I got smaller raises by negotiation, I got bigger raises by changing jobs; but the most satisfaction I got was by realizing that I perceive the whole thing as rotten and changing occupations altogether. Your own mileage may vary.


What do you do now?


As I've written elsewhere I do "an honest day's work" type of gig, specifically I go up and down a rope for purposes of tree-trimming and construction. I enjoy it very much. Never got to use my athletic build before that, so that now I feel like a master of two out of three domains: physical and intellectual, in my life. Spiritual is in development :)


> Gather evidence AGAINST paying you more, and prepare to refute it.

THIS.. this part is very important.

Also remember to have a BATNA

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_alternative_to_a_negotiat...

another key point is don't settle for 'we will review this next quarter' or something along those lines which is just their strategy to play for time.

The only argument AGAINST this is that if they have a clear review process outlined when you joined the company.

Most companies want to batch up these operations so that they're not constantly reviewing salaries at unusual times.

My point is that if they ARE reviewing you don't let them punt on the decision.

IF they do then start looking for a new gig.


I recently got a raise by asking for it and it was the first time I did something like that. It was a great exercise and a good learning experience. A few things I figured out:

Rather than stating that you have another offer, you can research what people in your field are making. When I asked for a raise, I put together charts and graphs of what people are making in the industry in order to justify the raise.

Instead of saying you would like 150k per year, ask for a very specific amount such as 152,400 so that it seems like you've really calculated this number.

Ask for a range rather than a single number, such as 152,400-161,100. They will likely offer something at the lower end of the range but next to the higher number, the lower number look a lot lower than it would alone.

Be prepared to ask for intangibles if you don't get the monetary compensation. You can ask for your own office, more vacation time, to work from home, etc. But don't ask for these until after they have respond to your request for more money or they may default to this instead of more money.

Understand the mindset. Even if you don't get a raise right now when you ask for it, you are doing yourself a great service by asking for more. You are showing that you feel you are worth it, which translates to a lot of respect from management. Even if you don't immediately get the raise, there is a good chance you'll get a lot more of a raise at your next review just because you indicated that you aren't afraid to ask for more and you have confidence in your own ability and value.

Management would rather have a good employee ask for a raise than just go out and find another job without giving them the opportunity to discuss it.


A good employee would rather have their employer make proactive efforts to retain them, than to constantly expend their own energy just to get fair compensation.

The employer has 365 opportunities a year to "discuss it", but most somehow only manage to have a one-sided discussion once per year. I have never been asked "are you happy with your current compensation?" by anyone other than recruiters for other companies. I have frequently volunteered "I am not happy with the apparent reduction in non-salary benefits in comparison to last year" (mostly due to the health insurance plan).

As long as I have to ask for more money in order to get more money, I might as well go ask someone else, too. Getting a new job is very much like asking for a raise from someone you haven't met yet. So if I am already at that point, there's no particular reason why I'd ask my current boss first. They could have given me a raise any time they feel it is appropriate, yet somehow did not.


What I did recently was risky, so YMMV.

I asked my boss for a raise last year around performance review time. I explained that I had taken on a lot of responsibility, I cited some projects that I led, and I enumerated how I had impacted our team since I had joined. I really was the top producer on my team at the time. He explained to me that I was already being paid more than any other engineer in my department, and he negotiated a small raise for me that year- 6% instead of the normal ~3%. I was disappointed.

This year, I decided to up my game. I continued to go above and beyond at work, and then around performance review time I interviewed at a couple companies in the area and got two written offers for 20%+ more than I was making. I handed those to my boss and explained that I really enjoyed working for him, and for this company, and that I don't want to leave, but I believed this is what I was worth.

He immediately submitted me for a promotion, and I'm hopeful that the raise will come with it. I should get the results in the next 2 weeks.


I recently went through some interviews and was trying to line up offers at the same time but what ended up happening was one would come in, and I'd still have a week or two process with the other company. Even telling the 2nd company I had an offer or one coming soon to speed things up made it impossible to get two offers at the same time. One offer would sit for a week and that seemed to be as long as they were willing to wait, so my question is how did you line these timetables up so that you can get more than 1 offer without risking 1 expiring?


The best way I've found to handle that is while scheduling the final interview. The one that's further along, ask for the in-person to be a week later then they'd proposed. Try to schedule the two in-persons at the two companies within a week of each other.

The other (risky) way to handle it is to say "I understand that you need a timely response because you may have other candidates you need to get back to. If you need a response this week then unfortunately I'll have to withdraw from consideration, as I won't be able to get back to you by then." Of course, you have to really mean it, and you have to be ok with them going ahead and withdrawing the offer.


That part was luck. These two companies both got me through their interview process at the same time, and they both gave me about a week to respond as well.

I'm also in a unique situation- I think I am actually sort of hard to replace, as I live/work in a smaller Midwest city. My manager has no interest in hiring a remote developer, and we've been struggling to hire people for the past year or so.

I don't think I'd try this at every company or in every city.


What city if you don't mind me asking? Trying to move outta one of the "Tech hubs" in the US and move somewhere where the rents/lifestyle is more manageable :).


Be prepared to let an exploding offer explode.

As a candidate, there's not much you can do about companies that won't interview additional candidates or extend offers until after the previous top pick refuses their offer. It ultimately comes down to whether the company is hiring the right person to fill a specific position, or whether they are hiring a good candidate and then finding the right position for them to fill. The former is willing to leave runners-up candidates in limbo while their top pick has an offer in hand. Doing that necessarily extends process time for other companies in the same market. And it can produce deadlocks.

On Monday, Candidate A interviews at Company X, and Candidate B interviews at Company Y. On Tuesday, B interviews at X, and A interviews at Y. On Friday, X extends an offer to A and tells B that they are still interested, and Y offers for B, and tells A they are still interested. But both A and B want to compare offers from X and Y. X and Y both want their outstanding offers to be accepted or rejected before making another one. The companies pressure the candidates to decide quickly. The candidates expect that the second offers will be coming in any day now, because the companies keep saying they are "working on it".

Now we have a game-theory problem. Companies play the odd rounds, Candidates play the even rounds. Company moves are "offer X", "reject", or "pass". Candidate moves are "offer X", "withdraw", "pass", and "rejected". When a company enters the game, their first play is all "reject", and for each subsequent round they play, they score -1. When a candidate enters the game, their first play must be all "withdraw" or "pass", and for each subsequent round they play, they score -1.

If a candidate plays a round with no "offer X" moves, they may leave the game, scoring 0. If a company plays a round with no "offer X" moves, they may leave the game, scoring 0. If a company plays a round with an "offer X" AND the candidate has one matching "offer X" and all other moves are "withdraw" or "rejected", the player may exit the game, the company scoring VALUE(COMPANY,CANDIDATE)-X and the candidate scoring X. If the company meets applicable exit criteria after all candidates exit, they may also exit with no penalty. The output of the VALUE() function is not known precisely to the company prior to scoring, but an approximate value somewhere within 0.618 and 1.618 of the actual scoring value is freely available during play.

So if the playfield is populated with companies that only have one "offer X" out at a time, with a lot of "pass" moves, how does one counter that as a candidate?

One that comes to mind is for the candidate to stay in the game when they could otherwise exit, exploiting that fact that companies only score when candidates exit. Accept the expiring offer, and simply don't start work for that company until after other potential offers come in. If a better offer comes in, change the previous one to "withdraw" and exit with a higher score.

As with other games that can be reduced to simple rules, this one can produce complex strategies which may involve alliances, deception, cartelization, and secret signaling. And repeated consecutive games may enable strategies that are not possible in single games.


>He explained to me that I was already being paid more than any other engineer in my department,

Every time a manager has said this to me it was a lie.


Even if it’s true it’s not a good argument. You deserve to be paid market rate and if other people in the department are willing to settle for less, that’s their problem.


Just tell your manager you need a moment and want to go see how much your coworkers make. Then go to your co-workers tell them how much you make and that you want a raise and ask them how much they make.

I generally tell people at jobs how much I got hired for within 2 days of joining a company.... there are no down sides.


There are plenty of downsides if your pay is higher than someone with seniority because they aren't gonna like the “new guy” being paid more. Then that will cause animosity between them and their boss for bringing in outside talent instead of feeding the mouths he already has. Then your boss will be annoyed with you for already creating a headache in your first week

As a manager it's astonishing to me that someone would lie about this. People talk about salary.


And yet every manager I have ever had asks me not to discuss salary with other co-workers to prevent them from getting jealous. Usually in the same discussion where they tell me I am the highest paid one.

This is usually a few weeks before I have an offer for 40% more.

I think they lie because they know they are going to lose me anyways so it's a gambit with a low probability of success, but no additional penalty for failure.


I've been told this and I'm pretty sure it was true, and I was underpaid, and everyone else was underpaid worse.

It's a lame argument even when it's true.


I was told this is one of the only ways to get a substantial raise at any sizable corporation. It does however run the risk of running your employer the wrong way.


This strategy should be implemented only if you are absolutely willing to leave if they say no.


The other risk is they say, "Hey, let's appease this guy for now while we find his replacement."


This strategy works because you proved you can get offers from other companies. If you lose your current job you can just get offers again.


> If you lose your current job you can just get offers again.

Maybe, maybe not. I'm just saying it is an added risk, especially if one of your goals was to stay at that company, but with additional salary.


I don't think there is enough evidence to prove this claim but yeah, it's possible. It really depends on the size and culture of the company.


or even sabotage the next promotion if at all soon.


YMMV of course, but this can and has backfired. If you're going out to the market and getting offers of employment you should be fully emotionally committed to leaving your organization. An individual manager who has a close relationship with you might "get it" in terms of this approach, but from a succession planning and HR perspective unless the business is aware that they're offering substantial below market rate and they are truly supply constrained, this tactic will not end well for you.


"I have another offer, can you matched? or I'll leave"

Using a strategy like this can work but it also carries the risk that your employer will just say "Bye then." Everyone is replaceable. If you like your current role or you don't actually have another job to go to I wouldn't use this approach. Instead, try to overcome your shyness and just ask. It only requires a one line email to initiate the conversation (eg 'I would like to schedule a meeting to talk about my current salary.'). The simple fact is retaining a good employee is far cheaper than hiring a new one, so most managers are happy to chat about it.

Alternatively, find a job at a company like Basecamp, where everyone gets the same salary for doing the same job and raises are calculated by looking at whole market for the role and increasing everyone's salary to be in the top 10% of the going rate. Basecamp employees effectively get Bay Area wages regardless of where they live without needing to be good negotiators. It's an good model that I hope more companies adopt.


> Using a strategy like this can work but it also carries the risk that your employer will just say "Bye then." Everyone is replaceable

"I'm frequently contacted by recruiters suggesting that I have enough experience for roles in this area paying 20% more, but I'd much rather stay here" is a much lower risk approach of conveying the fact you have good reason to suspect you're being paid below market rates for your current experience and skillset. Not least because it saves you actually needing to have a firm offer...

Of course, the employer is also less likely to say "bye then" if the focus of your meeting is demonstrating what you've done well that's saved/made the company money, how you've improved your productivity since the original pay package was determined and additional responsibilities you'd be willing to take on rather than you explaining why you might leave.


Ironically, in my area, I'm above market already (at the top 3% or so), at which point it's been easier to ask for other things (an extra week of vacation time this last job cycle).


Or they 'match' the fake offer but they now consider you a risk to leave and hire your replacement.

12mths down the line you get replaced because why pay two people.

Businesses care about continuity over people, they don't care who does foo as long as foo gets done.



I would strongly recommend against the "I have another offer, can you matched" strategy. For starters, you've just revealed your cards: that you are talking to competitors or that you don't have much interest in working in your current spot.

If you want a raise, ask for a meeting with your manager and layout a few good reasons why you need a raise: you've worked there without a raise for a year+, you've tackled on more responsibilities and executed.

Generally, to get a raise you need to meet some sort of expectation or goal. Sometimes managers are bad at setting those goals - so do it for them. Don't tie those goals to money beforehand. Wait til the goal is reached then review your performance. Most managers will find it hard to turn you down.


> I would strongly recommend against the "I have another offer, can you matched" strategy. For starters, you've just revealed your cards: that you are talking to competitors or that you don't have much interest in working in your current spot.

This is not really / always true.

In the Bay Area people are always talking and you could easily just say you went to lunch with friends and they basically gave you a verbal offer and that you weren't directly shopping but it just fell in your lap.


I agree to that. It's an easy ball for your supervisor to say that you should work at the other company then.It's way better to say I want to work here, but I need a raise.

Tell them that you like to work for this company and are willing to stay for the next time. This is valuable for the company.


For starters, you've just revealed your cards: that you are talking to competitors

I see it as: guys, I could have resigned, but I love working here so much that I'd rather stay.

And also, please, when discussing your goals with the manager, mention the salary raise. What you have to do for a pay increase may be different forum what you have to do for, say, a new title. The surprise at the next review may be quite unpleasant.


More is said when you say less. If you just lead with "I love working here" you will create a lot less resentment than saying "I could have resigned"...

Also - I am not suggesting not to discuss a salary raise early on. I am suggesting not tying that raise to some performance goal. Keep it open...


What if I meet my goals, and and got raises that I find too small?


“I love working here, and because of that I need to let you know that other opportunities are becoming financially better alternatives. Would you reconsider the maximum salary that you think I’m worth here, so that we can keep working together?”


I think this is the best answer. It shows you _want_ to work there still which your boss will hopefully appreciate. Pretending to already have an offer could come back in your face.


This is going to be more or less my strategy when I ask (rather soon). I do love working where I am. The only problem is that other offers are starting to come in, and I know that they'll be offering a lot more money. :(


Your profile says "Data scientist working on one of the big four".

Typically at a big corporation, you get raises at the designated annual review cycle. Those raises are adjusted inside of Human Resources' pre-defined "salary bands" for your title.

If you want to get a raise outside of the annual review, or get raises higher than your band's ceiling, you either...

- Get a promotion. This means you need to demonstrate to managers that you can take on more responsibility and want to be compensated higher for it.

- Get another job offer with a higher salary. The company may match or exceed it. Or they may not.

Either way, you have to convince your manager to go to bat for you so the company will approve your raise.


I have a good relationship with my manager, but I feel it hard to break the ice with Salary topics. It really hit my nerves


>I have a good relationship with my manager,

That's fine but that isn't what I wanted to emphasize.

My point is that if you're at a Big Corporation, both you and your manager are embedded in a bureaucracy. Your manager can't single-handedly wave a wand and get you a raise on his own. He/she has to convince his superiors and Human Resources to get you a raise.

You need to imagine what your manager's bullet points would be to argue on your behalf to convince the company to increase your salary. What are your leverage points?

E.g. your role in data science work is crucial to release a $200 million product on time in the next 6 months. If you leave, everything falls apart.

On the other hand, if you have no leverage and want a raise outside of the annual review cycle and while doing the same work with no promotion... that's a harder sell for your manager.


To put another lens on this, if your manager goes to his boss and HR and says I can't lose Ralph, he's indispensable... Likely his boss and management will criticize him for building an org which has indispensable people in it.


> I have a good relationship with my manager, but I feel it hard to break the ice with Salary topics. It really hit my nerves

At various times I've had a lot of anxiety regarding my job, especially when I was feeling financially vulnerable.

Regardless of how you handle this particular situation, you might try to work on the anxiety issue. You might consider a few trial session with a professional counselor. The human psyche can be pretty non-intuitive, and a good counselor can teach you a lot about how yours works. It like discovering a (partial) owners manual for your own brain, if you find the right counselor.


Don't ask for a rise then. Ask for an early performance review discussion to check how you are doing, if you are hitting all kpi,etc...

So, ask for the meeting that will decide if you are getting a rise or not, instead.


That could be because they don't want to discuss this topic. It's like trying to hit on a person who doesn't want to be hit on - pretty hard, likely a 'no'.


In my experience, I've only gotten an offer of a raise when I threatened to quit.

First Raise:

I asked for an entire year for a $5k bump in salary to meet market standards. My performance, work ethic, etc was all well beyond my pay. After consistent denial of raise and being told "keep up the good work and in 3 months we'll review again" - I went job hunting. I found another job, got the letter of offer.

The next day I walked into my bosses office, dropped the letter on their desk and said "I'd like to stay here, but I'll need a salary boost. In the event you still cannot give me one, I'll send you my resignation letter promptly this afternoon."

Three hours later, the two meetings are done, the new job offered a $25k boost in salary + position change to management. My current employer's retention offer was $35k boost + no position change. Since I didn't care for the position, more the financial aspect, I accepted the retention offer. I was also told, "don't expect another raise unless it's a promotion"

Sometimes, you just need to step on their toes, put them in the hot seat. If they value you, they'll make a retention offer - if they don't, then have fun at your next job.


How long ago was that? What were your salary increases (%) in future years at that company?

I'm asking because it doesn't seem reasonable to say "don't expect another raise" and expect people to be happy.


It was 4 years ago. I have since moved on from said employer. They had been engaging in some questionable business practices, and I had moral issues remaining there. I had never received any raise since then.


Scenario A - it's a startup: I strongly discourage you from taking "I have another offer" approach first if you really like your current job. I've been on the other side of the table so many times and I can tell you that by doing this you immediately destroy all emotional capital and sense of loyalty with your employer. If you really like your job - I'd simply talk to your manager and say something like "I really enjoy working here and I've done X, Y and Z since my last raise. I think my current salary is below the market. What can I do to get a raise?".

If you're valued there - you'll get a raise. If not - time to start looking for a new job.

Scenario B - it's a big company: Just find another job. In most cases they have BS rules like "3% salary increase per year maximum", but it depends on the company.


My approach has been changing jobs.

You shouldn’t have to ask for a raise. Your company should know your value. If they don’t, go to a company who does. Don’t bother with a counter offer because you’ll have to do it again and again. The company has already demonstrated they don’t value your work appropriately. Asking for a raise isn’t going to change that situation.

Your only leverage is your willingness to leave, and you’ll only really have that if you have an offer in hand. And by the time you have that offer, you’ve already decided you’re leaving even if you don’t know it yet.


I've been subscribed to this weekly email newsletter for about 2 years now. https://fearlesssalarynegotiation.com/

The tips I learned helped me plan a negotiation strategy during a new job offer. it's not perfect, but it helped remove a lot of doubt from the process.


+1 for fearless salary negotiation. Just gone through an application process and it's earned me thousands. Haven't read the raise (as opposed to negotiation) content, but sure it's good.


If you're shy, a way to get a raise that might sound easier is to back it up with data, in a written format.

This allows you to prepare it well (which avoids the "losing the track") and helps by adding a backbone to what you are saying. Hopefully that gives you more confidence to speak out.

* Made the release process 15% faster * Implemented 4 new features that impacted 50k customers * improved documentation ....

Whatever it is, make it yours and find things that matter to you.

It will also help you proud about it. It might sound a little formal, but having printed a one pager with a few bullets (or even a one page ppt) can help you find the confidence needed (and you won't feel like an imposter because it is rationally built).

Of course, adapt the method to something that will help you :), but it helped my shy gf a lot to have a strong foot against her more vocal boss :).


Be direct. Whether you're shy or not employment is ultimately a business deal (as many have mentioned already). That being said, it does require interpersonal skills.

I disagree that you have to move on to advance in your career. A lateral move _is_ the fastest route, but if you're happy with everything but your compensation you should tell your boss. One way to phrase it might be: "How are raises managed at Foobar Widget Corp?"

Part of a manager's job is to help you navigate your career at your company. If you're confident that retaining you is best for the company (and that salary is really the only downside to your job) you should be able to communicate that. In person would be best, but there's nothing wrong with writing down what you want to say and reading it.


> "I have another offer, can you matched? or I'll leave"

Did this, got raise. I had an offer and other company offered me more, but I decided to stay anyway. It's been a year and I don't think I'll get another raise any time soon. I really regret about mine decision.


You don't have to have a reason to ask for a raise at least once a year.

You should get a raise of around (at least?) 5% pa. 2% being general inflation, 3% for more experience.

The whole thing about pay being tabu is a mindgame played by your employer. Remember the person whom you are making the ask to has all the information, negotiates pay 10 times (maybe 100 times) pr. year.

You are really being a sucker if you don't ask. And you are not doing any favours to your fellow coworkers.


If you get told no, it's very important to ask why. Because then you have something actionable to work for, and you can reference that conversation next time you ask. For example if they say you don't have enough responsibility, then you can ask for more.

Saying you have a competing offer may work in a big company, but in lots of smaller places that would immediately mark you as unloyal if you tried it more than once.

As always leaving implies you live somewhere with lots of jobs on your doorstep, and that you have the flexibility to pack up. That might not be the case, or you might actually (shock horror) enjoy your job. Depending on your industry, jumping ship may require a lot of preparation. You know the drill: that means whiteboard practice, waiting for weeks to bounce around HR folks, all day technical interviews and so on.

The subtle method is to ask for more time off (or other perks) so your effective salary increases. I would rather have an extra 10% time off than 10% more pay. At a smaller company working from home may be an option too.


If you get told no, it's very important to ask why

Right. Alternatively you can ask "what can I do on my side to make my salary higher". The management tends to get less defensive and now open with such approach.


Moving diagonally to another company is generally the best way to increase your earnings. You should get one or more offers from other companies. The more options you have the less shy you will be because you have alternatives if your current employer says no. Newer companies also have less leverage because they need to fill the vacancy.

Once you have options you can have an honest conversation with your current manager to say that you're not satisfied with what you're currently earning and would like to earn 'x' based on the market rate for that role/your skills. Expect some potential push back / negotiation on that figure but have a minimum raise you want to get in order to consider it a success.

If they do not want to give you that minimum, then be prepared to take one of your alternative options and go elsewhere. Their loss. So shop around because at the end of the day, it's mostly just business.


I never understood what is the motivation for keeping the salaries in industry secret. It seems to reward precisely the wrong kind of behavior!


Transparent Salaries do lead to wage inflation see how CEO salaries went up after those where published.

"What That Idiot Hardcastle at International widgets is on 2 Million, I am worth more than that."

The other reason is that it might expose direct or indirect discrimination.


I think you’ve answered your own question. Salaries are secret largely based on the stigma that employers have put around publicizing them, because it allows employers to act from a more advantaged position.


But this system is allowed to continue only because the employees admit it. I guess it is not illegal to disclose your own salary. Or is it? Can an employer fire you if you disclose your salary?

In academia, even while the salaries are rather meager, at least they are public and equal to everybody (depending only on your position and seniority, according to some public tables). We could very well do with a bit of wage inflation!


In the US, for private-sector employees, not only is it not illegal, it is a protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935. Your employer cannot forbid or fire you for discussing salaries or job conditions.

(IANAL)


Just for a little background, I’ve been working for 20+ years as a software developer but I was a “dark matter developer” until 2008, so my career progression over the last 10 years has looked about like that of someone who just graduated from college in 2008 and worked in a major metropolitan city.

A few things:

Don’t threaten to quit. You don’t want to have an antagonistic relationship with your employer.

Your value to the company is s combination of your generic skillset that can be replaced at market value by someone coming in off the street, your institutional knowledge, and the amount of additional value you add to the business. If you aren’t at least getting paid the amount you can get by switching jobs, that should be an easier conversation. Just speak to them honestly. Explain that this is the market rate for developers with your skillset and that is what you should be making.

There are really only two replies that they can give you. Either their assessment of your skills don’t match what you believe or they don’t have the budget to pay you what you are asking for. In the first case, if you believe their assessment is fair, ask what you can do to improve. If either you don’t think that their assessment is fair or they don’t have the budget, you have to decide whether to stay or look for another job.

As far as the other part, your institutional knowledge and the value you bring to the company, you have to have numbers to back you up - that you either made the company money or that you saved the company money and explain why you feel you deserve more.

Now, the reason I mentioned my background. For the last ten years none of the advice I gave you has actually worked for me. But also during the beginning of your career, you will find your market value will rise dramatically and most companies HR practices aren’t setup to give the dramatic percent raises you can get every two or three years by switching jobs (again not referring to West Coast salaries, just big city wages in the US). Your best bet is to switch companies.

Later on in your career, the job hopping strategy isn’t going to work. You have to be able to emphasize the business value you add and/or work toward promotions increase responsibilities.


Most of the replies here paint the discussion as you against your employer, represented by your manager. In my experience things are a bit more nuanced. Even when your manager trusts you and knows your worth, he often does not have the authority to give you the raise you both agree you deserve. In that context, taking a day off to interview with another company and not hiding it from your manager may actually give him useful arguments when he has to argue for a budget increase so he can give you that raise.


You are correct, but I would never tell a manager I was interviewing unless I had an offer letter.


i have been lucky to work with managers i could trust enough for that sort of things.


You want leverage more than you want technique. Not leverage in the sense that you're going to be cutthroat. You just want to you know what you're worth. If you make 100k, and some other company is willing to offer you 130k, then you can prove you're worth at least that.

The request for a raise isn't a fight: your employment is an agreement. You believe you're worth a certain amount, and some employer has to agree with you. Whatever number you both agree on is your paycheck. If you don't have leverage in the form of proof that you're worth more, it might be too easy to get caught up in emotion. This advice depends on what sort of person you are. I'm pretty shy too, and I don't like asking for things like raises. The point of getting another offers is to help depersonalize things. "Hello sir, I have another offer for this much, but I'm very happy at this company. I can't ignore what's best for me and my family, but I wanted to check if there was something we could do to keep me here."

That approach won't be best for everyone in every situation, but the point (as other posters have noted) is to depersonalize it to the extent that it's just about the money. If your current employer is affronted, you can be prepared to really change jobs. This might mean really waiting to ask until you've gone through an interview, etc.


It’s easy. Understand how much you are worth to the company - and I do mean in dollars. This is what management understands. It’s the hard truth, but the dollars don’t lie. How much revenue do you individually generate for the company each year? (Hopefully you understand your employers financial model well enough) How much do you know about the operation, team structure, processes, technology. What is the cost of replacing you? It is measurable in dollars and this is how manamgent thinks. If you know how much you generate in revenue and what your replacement cost is, you have the information to determine your salary. Learn this, know it inside out, then request a performance review. Also important to consider how much you are willing to sacrifice to switch roles. Different team, different projects, different projects, etc. You need to know where you actually draw the line before you walk in. I’m saying this from the recruitment side.


You need to ask the following questions (to yourself): - Has your salary increased with inflation? - Has your job changed to include increased responsibilities? - Do you feel others are getting paid more than you for the same roles with similar experience?

If the answers above are no then its unlikely you would get a pay rise.

Unfortunately I have to agree with a lot of the people below, the best way of securing more money is to find a different job with a different company. Asking "I have been offered X - can you match it?" is a sure fire way to have confidence in you reduced.

If you feel you are capable (and the company can support it) then by all means ask for a promotion and a salary package that matches it and your wants.

New jobs mean new challenges and new learning experiences - this should also factor into your decision, the ability to work at something modern you are interested in on the job is a perk many people dismiss!


It is a very emotional subject, so beware that both parties are prone to making mistakes at this stage.

Go discreetly, say "Hi, I need a raise, please consider this amount and tell me if this is acceptable." and pass a paper with the amount written on it.

Anything more or less will be unprofessional and will probably lead to more headaches than needed.


Please no one do this. No paper or props necessary


Why would it be unprofessional to say the number out loud?

I’d say the most dangerous part of the approach you’re recommending is that it doesn’t provide any context for why the raise is justified to the company.

This is only an emotional subject for the person getting the paycheck; it’s not emotional for the business, and it’s only emotional for the employee because of years of ingrained stigma about salary.


Why would asking for an evaluation from your superiors be dangerous? I think that was just random.


Nothing in this comment thread seems to ask for an evaluation.

Asking “I’d like $x, is this acceptable” invites a Boolean response. Either they think it’s acceptable or not, with neither you nor your comp lead discussing why.

If you want to know “how would you evaluate my performance / accomplishments / etc”, ask that. If you want to know about a raise, start by telling your comp lead why you feel it’s justified, rather than leaving it up to them to define.


I don't think this is true, asking for a higher wage will implicitly prompt an evaluation. No other words are necessary to complicate the situation. If you start justifying your request, you are already playing some sort of defensive game. There is no need for that and I don't believe it is professional to do so.


The easiest way to get a raise is to change companies. You can then ask your current company to match, but in my experience (from the company side) this never works out in the long term. You'll be branded (at best) a hired gun and not trusted beyond "work for hire".

For a less dramatic increase you can change jobs internally but the impact to your take-home is far less significant. You can also play off any goodwill you've banked (like history of quality work, extra dedication, etc) to ask for more vacation, training budget, etc. Try for things that can be part of your new regular package; ex: an extra week of vacation each year vs. a one-time 2-week bonus.

The short answer is test the job market, get a better offer and take it.


My reasons for asking for a raise:

1) Your responsibilities have increased 2) You have become an integral and important part of the team/project, so it would be costly for them to replace you 3) Your skills have improved

The second and the third point rely on the fact that you'd be probably able to get a better salary elsewhere. The first point is mostly about fairness. By assuring that you're treated fairly, they can be sure that you do your best. The second point is the least likeable reason for me, because in that scenario you're not making the judgment from your perspective but from theirs (by realizing your salary potential by not screwing them).


At most organizations, whether public sector or private, you only get significant raises on your initial hire and if you change positions/job titles.

It's hard to get a big raise without taking on more or higher-level responsibilities.


Employees create value for the company they work for. If you can demonstrate that you are more valuable than what they're paying you now, then it's a pretty straightforward conversation.

One way to do this is to find out what others will offer you on the market, as others have suggested. Another is to identify how your work pushed company/team/individual metrics in the right direction. Being able to say "My work on [this project] led to a 25% decrease in churn" demonstrates your ability to provide monetary value to the company. If they want to keep making more money, they would be wise to keep you.


One thing that worked for me is “how can I be more valueable?”

Worked for a company for a year and loved it but was in a bit of a rut. After talking to my superior I ended up taking on an additional role but making more.


Don't be shy, employers often need you more than you need them because the cost of losing an employee and having to rehire and train is incredibly expensive.

I think the best first course of action is to organise a meeting with your manager and just clearly state the salary increase you're after. Always back it up with evidence as to why your worth the raise. Often the more direct you are and the less you say the better.

If that doesn't work start job hunting and get an offer that you can take to your employer and use as leverage.

Don't get too loyal because companies often aren't loyal to their employees.


I've found more success clearly stating the increase I need to stay with the company without submitting reasons why I am worth the raise, except maybe saying that you believe your market value has changed.

I feel like if you start talking up specific points, you create things that can be argued back against and shot down while avoiding the main discussion of how much you are prepared to sell your skills for, and whether the company can pay you that much.

If you're prepared to leave and feel your market value matches the increase you're asking for, make it more of a demand than a negotiation. If you do want to keep this position, don't tell them why you deserve a raise, let them tell you why you don't deserve one, and counter their reasons instead of laying your cards down first.

Not a huge thing, but don't underestimate how much it can change the conversation.


Not sure where I read it (perhaps "Hire with your head" by Lou Adler) but asking to match salary might not be the way to go. If you (think you) know how much you should be making then ask for that, perhaps adding a bit to it to have room for bargaining.

You should also know why you are staying (do you actually want to continue? is it still exciting to you?), if yes, then it will be much easier to explain what you have to offer. Otherwise, even if you should get more when compared to others, you might feel teethless when asking for it.


This works really well, but you need to have an actual offer for this to work.

Otherwise it's a bluff and if they call it, you end up with the same salary and on a list of unreliable employees.

Obviously, you need to be very tactful and polite when asking for a raise, and generally blame it on financial/life circumstances beyond your control that force you to look at other companies despite of really liking it here and never wanting to leave otherwise... or some such.


I would offer something in return for the employer, because if you take their side it is illogical to give you more just because you would like to. You can tell your employer that "I would like to take more responsibilities" and actually take it even before talking of any raise, then try to ask, at this moment you have proven to be valuable and trustworthy. Earn your raises and direct them for your own growth.


Do you have regular one-on-one meetings with your boss? The 1st step is to ask. That is when you'll set the goal posts to get the raise. They may give you some objectives to work on or be satisfied with your performance already and give it to you. If they're not willing to seriously discuss the matter, that's a red flag and you should probably consider job hunting.


find another job offer that is willing to pay you what you feel you are worth and then approach your CEO and ask for the raise stating why you feel you deserve higher compensation. If they flat out turn you down, then state that you have another situation that is willing to pay you what you feel is fair compensation for your services but also state reasons why you'd rather stay working there.

If they still aren't trying to give you what you want, than say thank you for the great experience working there but you must go where you receive the most benefits.

Also its worth asking for compensation in vested preferential stock if you anticipate there being a substantial increase in the company's evaluation down the road. Though remember that you have to actually buy the stocks out of pocket when the time comes to execute your stock option. Which if you are barely covering your overhead now you should be careful anticipating actually having access to the money at that later date


Its really not the CEOs job to ensure that everybody gets paid what is moralistically fair to the employees because he has a fudiciary responsibility to the share holders to maximize the return on their investment.

What this means is doing whatever is necessary to retain valued employees and yet also try and make that profit to revenue ratio as high as possible on their quarterly report. Or at least make it look like that ratio will net positive in the near future.

What this means to you is that if your CEO is actually willing to let you walk, assuming he's not bad at his job, you need to really consider whether they can afford to pay you (and everyone else for that matter) more while still being able to reach their quarterly goals.

Thats why you might want to consider asking for stock options instead because if the CEO is focusing on increasing the companies valuation, chances are you can make even more money down the line.

In conclusion don't just expect that a CEO who is negotiating hard with you, is only doing so because they are trying to cheat you. They might actually personally agree that you should probably get paid more but they probably feel that way about themselves as well.

Stock is always the last ditch best effort to try and get the compensation you feel you deserve. Plus it reassures the CEO that they don't have to worry as much about losing you to the competition. At least not for a couple more years, and who knows. Maybe by then the company will do so well you'll be in a much better position to negotiate for a promotion.


The best way to find out if a company values your work enough to offer you a raise is to interview for other jobs, get an offer and hand in your notice. They'll soon offer you an increase if they want you to stay. It puts you in a strong negotiating position too.


If you hand in your notice, you might as well leave.

Managers are people too and can get really grumpy at your 'oneuppance'. They may give you a raise just to fire you a few months forward, making you lose your currently better offer (If you handed a notice, that was actually what you transmitted - "I want out").

Happens a lot more than one might expect.


If you're genuinely underpaid then make preparations to leave and find somewhere else.

Changing workplace every so often will help with your shyness anwyay, plus a lot of folks find more varied work more stimulating.



I just ask every three months how I can have a bigger impact on the company. I then say "Let's talk compensation." And just make the case. Normalize the conversation.


The current job market is tight. Every company has an interest in keeping good employees. Just ask for a raise in a polite email or meeting.


yeah the only way i ever received a raise was changing jobs. i guess it was because I knew what the answer would be if I asked for a raise: "do not have the budget." or "you have not met x expectations". whether that would be true or not, its usually a sign to move on.


Did he actually have another offer though?


Yes, was 20% more. But he said it was about 40%. They matched.


If you are in the position where you feel as though you are underpaid, there are several possibilities:

  A. Median salary or cost of living has gone up in your locale.
  B. You have taken on additional responsibilities.
  C. Your individual job-market value has permanently increased.
  D. None of these.
In case of A, wait until the annual review has completed. If your salary is not adjusted appropriately, notify the company through normal channels--by telling your manager--that the annual pay adjustment apparently did not account for changes in the local market, and that the company's compensation may be becoming less competitive. Don't ask for an individual raise. Ask that the compensation for all same-locale employees in your work group be re-reviewed, using survey data for your locale this time. If you, specifically, don't get a raise within 30 days, start looking for other jobs. At the exit interview, say only that you are leaving because you got a better offer elsewhere. By this time, you can't say anything else helpful to you or the company, so don't. If you do get a raise, ask around your peers to see if they got one also. If they did not, stop to seriously assess whether yours is a "squeaky wheel gets the grease" company or a "the nail that sticks out gets hammered down" company, and maybe still go job-hunting if you feel paranoid enough.

In case of B, you should be offered a raise by the end of the quarter in which you took on additional responsibilities. So on 1Jan, 1Apr, 1Jul, and 1Oct, think about whether you were given any additional job duties during the previous quarter. If you were, and you did not get a raise, meet with your manager to determine whether those additional responsibilities were intended to be temporary or permanent. If the former, ask for a bonus. If the latter, ask for a bonus and a raise. Don't mention a specific amount, other than "a fair amount for what I have been doing," so they make the first offer. If they lowball, counter it once, and then immediately accept whatever their next offer is. If that was still too low, go job-hunting.

In case of C, you need to build a case for a raise, and ask for a specific amount of additional compensation. If you earned a new degree or certification, or professional society membership, my approach would probably be to ask about updating the internal company resume, and mention that the changes will reflect an increase in value as an employee. Discussions of salary adjustments might get deferred until the next regularly-scheduled review, which seems reasonable to me. During that process, make sure to ask whether the additions you made will be considered in the final results. It is reasonable to also ask for a one-time bonus for resume-worthy achievements. If you don't get a raise that meets expectations, go job-hunting.

Case D seems most difficult to me. You'd basically just be saying "I want more money for the same amount of work". Don't say that. Instead, say "I want to do a little bit more work, but get a lot more money for it." In other words, ask for additional hours, additional duties, or promotion to a job title that has a higher pay-to-work ratio, and then after getting that, renegotiate pay as in cases B or C. Even if all you get is a change in job title with no change in pay, make sure it is a title that gets paid more at other companies. Then, when you go job-hunting later, you can get higher offers.

Your best alternative to negotiated agreement is always to take whatever the company offers and live with it while you are searching for other jobs.

I'm not a fan of telling my current employer that I have a competitive offer. I'd just resign, and take the offer. It's not really my job to do employee-retention work for the company. I'd be sure to mention that the only reason I'm leaving is a better offer, and that I would consider working for the company again later, if that were to change.


Your friend has either gambled - and it payed off (He did not have another offer) Or he did have another offer in which case he negotiated from a leveraged position.

Allow me to be all internet-meta-psychologist. You are having difficulties with this because you are not ready to gamble your current position, as you do not have another offer lined up. You like the positive outcome of the gamble (a raise) but cannot stand the negative (loss of job).

You should only bluff if you are ready to be called on it.

I would concur with a lot of other advice here and perhaps add a little from the book "Never split the difference".

I would probably start as others said with explaining how much you like being there and enjoy your work. But with the market is and what other people in your position gets paid either there or other places you are having a hard time not looking at other career opportunities. So you would really appreciate your managers input on how he could help you stay in your current position and not be forced to look for other opportunities.


Why do you think you deserve one? Answer that, we can help you more.




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