Author Topic: Negotiating job offer (previously: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for.)  (Read 13142 times)

Jack

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EDIT: I got a job offer from a different company! Skip down to: http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/got-a-raise-but-not-as-much-as-i-hoped-for-what-now/msg670688/#msg670688

I've been working at my current job for about a year and a half now. It is my second "real job" out of college, but my first as a software engineer (I double-majored and was using my other major in the job before this one). I also have some prior "unofficial" programming experience (internships and such). Because I had not been working as a computer programmer for a couple of years before getting hired and therefore figured I'd be perceived as "rusty" and a bigger risk, I willingly accepted a relatively low starting salary to get my foot in the door.

I had been trying to work up the courage and find the right opportunity to ask for a raise for a couple of months now, and was planning to ask for something like 15%. However, today the company beat me to the punch and gave me an unsolicited 3% raise.

I think I deserve better, both because I feel like I have proven my initial competence and thus no longer need to accept being underpaid, and because I feel like my programming skills have increased at a rate faster than inflation. What should I do now?
« Last Edit: May 22, 2015, 10:30:54 AM by Jack »

Alabaster

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2015, 07:18:32 PM »
That's a tough situation. In the next year or two, I plan to take my salary and compare it against what I could reasonably expect elsewhere. If its not competitive, then I'll pursue a job somewhere else. I'll leave on the best possible terms but note in my exit interview that non-competitive pay was a big part of why I chose to move on. (There are other reasons I might move on including if I don't feel I'm being challenged to grow enough, lack of opportunists to take on more responsibility, ext) I plan to repeat the process every couple of years.

Honestly, I expect I'll have to move several times in my career. I think its difficult for companies to really stay competitive on an individual basis. They are more comfortable with giving raises based on inflation or some range based on how the company as a whole is doing. As long as the company can provide a reasonable rational as to why they gave me the periodical raise that they did, I'm fine letting that slide for 2-3 years between moves even if it doesn't keep up with the market. The reason being that I expect many companies want to see your willingness to stay for awhile and give them a good return on the initial investment they made bringing you up to speed with their system. If they can't give me a good rational for the raise I received, then I'd have to move on. Respect is huge for me.

That's just how I think I'm going deal with it. Very non-confrontational, but I don't really like conflict. :P
« Last Edit: March 31, 2015, 07:27:59 PM by Alabaster »

Jack

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2015, 07:35:48 PM »
I should probably also mention that I'm somewhat actively looking for a new job anyway. My current job is at a well-run company with a laid-back environment and therefore not bad, but it's also not in the industry I want to be in (I want to write engineering software, not medical billing software) and involves a long, unmustachian commute. I actually had an HR phone interview for a position with a CAD company within biking distance (i.e., the perfect job) last week, and I'm hoping to hear back about a second-round interview soon...

That said, I would like to improve this raise situation if possible. Would it be weird to go talk to them tomorrow morning and say something like "I really appreciate the raise, but I was hoping it'd be larger...?"

By the way: one factor that's increased my level of intimidation is that the person who controls raises is my boss's boss, whom I hardly ever interact with. I hear she's nice, but still, I have no idea how much she's aware of my work or accomplishments or how she'd react to my request.

Thedudeabides

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2015, 07:49:17 PM »
This can be a complicated situation because every employer handles things very differently.

My advice would be to approach it from two directions:
1) learn as much about how your company handles compensation as possible
2) try to determine your market rate

Once you are armed with the information from #1 an #2, then you can proceed to have a conversation with your boss.

Details on the above:

1) while most companies handle this differently, most companies determine how to fairly pay an employee by diving jobs into levels and then having pay ranges within these levels. If your company has different levels of software engineer, then there are likely pay ranges associated with each of these levels. Finding out about compensation levels can be somewhat tricky, so asking around initially is probably not advised. However, if you can determine your level and where you rank within that level, then you can at least begin to determine where you fall within the range. Opening conversations you could have would be asking for direct feedback on what you could do to reach the next level as well as what you need to work on. You can also ask if your manager thinks you'd be a candidate for a promotion to the next level and when promotions occur. Some companies promote throughout the year, while others promote only at certain times of the year. This is an important detail because if it is the latter, you need to realize that your manager's hands may be tied until the next promotion period. There can also be different types of compensation adjustments. Sometimes companies offer "cost of living" adjustments. If they do, then sometimes managers may have more discretion to offer this at any time (again, all companies are different) If your manager isn't interested in giving you feedback or doesn't appear to be interested in helping you get to the next level, then it may be a good indication that it's time to look elsewhere for growth. It's also helpful to know if the manager thinks you're performing well. If they don't, then you probably shouldn't expect a raise.

2) what is the market rate for your position and skill level? This can also be tricky as there are usually many aspects to total compensation: base, bonus, stock, etc. So, when looking at sites that advertise salary, take this with a grain of salt. Also, since software can be highly specialized, there can be a lot of ranges for pay. Another approach would be to attend local meetups and once you've met people you feel comfortable with, ask them what the typical salary ranges are for their company (obviously tread lightly here since it can be a sensitive topic). One way to approach this would be to ask them what kind of offers they've been seeing lately in the market. Sometimes this level of indirection can be helpful in breaking the ice. Everyone is curious, but it can be difficult to engage in the topic since it is somewhat taboo.

Once you're armed with the data in #1 and #2 AND you feel comfortable enough with your manager to broach the topic, then spend some time laying out your argument for why you should receive a raise. For example, if you know that your manager thinks you're performing well,  you know that you're eligible for promotion, and the informal market research you've done suggests that you are a candidate for a raise, then you can go in and have the conversation. Explain your case and ask your manager what their thoughts are. Remember never to get emotional or visibly angry. Listen as much as possible and ask clarifying questions. Remember that it may take several conversations before you have a breakthrough. If you like your current position, then I would advise against taking in a competing offer initially. Instead, try to have the fact based conversation first. Make sure to listen very closely to everything your manager says as it will give clues as to how internal compensation works. If you have another manager you're friends with, ask them for details on how the compensation works. The more you know about the compensation structure, the more you'll be able to structure your argument.

Also, remember to be patient. Realize that it will likely take several conversations and remember to listen as much as possible. Make sure you make your intentions and expectations as clear as possible to your manager. The more they know about what you expect, the more they can help you.

This is never an easy topic to broach, so be as prepared as possible and make sure to keep the conversation amiable.

Best of luck!

james2code

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2015, 08:00:16 PM »
Definitely ask for the 15% if you feel you are underpaid.  I am a programmer in Atlanta as well.  I more than doubled my pay the second year of my career.  That was in 2000 though and had to become a consultant to do it.  But should be easy to push your salary up in the early years.  Be willing to walk once you have some experience.  However, don't switch companies to often once you reach good pay levels.  My client has me screen developers and I always turn down candidates that continue to job hop.  It's usually a good sign of a mediocre developer.

anon-e-mouse

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2015, 08:06:42 PM »
You will never get what you don't ask for.  Be prepared to explain why you deserve more and look up the average salary for your actual position.

Sounds like you don't have much to lose by trying.

aschmidt2930

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2015, 08:21:23 PM »
In most cases, your best bet is switching companies. It can be done, but large raises (not accompanied by a large promotion) are somewhat rare. 

h2ogal

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2015, 08:33:11 PM »
Hi There!  I've been in IT Mgmt for around 15+ years, and if I can share some experiences in hope this will help you.

One time, about 10 years ago, I went into my CIOs office for a meeting.  This was in a financial services company with an IT dept about 700+.  The CIO was bummed.  I asked what was wrong..."Well", he said, "Dan just quit."  Now Dan was a young SW developer, nice guy, hard working, but not a star, just a regular competent guy.  I was surprised the CIO even knew who Dan was....  "I don't know why he just didn't ask me for more money...I could have easily given him $10K more if he just asked me." the CIO said pointedly.    I got the impression that he was telling me this because he wanted it known.  (Dan didn't work for me, he was in another department.)

Several years later I left this company myself, not because of $, but because I wanted a change.  My boss basically said, "Tell me how much you need to stay."  But it was not about $ so I told him that.   

At my current company at least 4-5 developers have recently "moved away", while keeping their full time jobs.  They just said, basically, each in their own way, "I don't want to come into the office, anymore."  (one couldn't take the cold weather here, ones wife got job in another state, another wanted to be near extended family, etc.)   We kept them all, and let them work remotely, after they moved out of state.

Im just sharing this to demonstrate, that if you are a good developer, have a good work ethic and a few successful projects, and if you have been at your company 3 years or more, I will bet you that you have much more power to negotiate than you are even aware of.

Here is a tactic I recommend.   Apply for a few jobs elsewhere, and when you get an offer tell your boss that an ex-colleague called you out of the blue with an offer.  Tell the manager that you really like your current job and company, and have no desire to leave but the offer is would really much better salary, and ask if the manager can do anything.

If they cant do anything you can stay or you can leave and try your luck elsewhere.

I hope it works out for you.

Jack

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2015, 09:33:52 PM »
This can be a complicated situation because every employer handles things very differently.

My advice would be to approach it from two directions:
1) learn as much about how your company handles compensation as possible
2) try to determine your market rate

Once you are armed with the information from #1 an #2, then you can proceed to have a conversation with your boss.

Also, remember to be patient. Realize that it will likely take several conversations and remember to listen as much as possible. Make sure you make your intentions and expectations as clear as possible to your manager. The more they know about what you expect, the more they can help you.

This is never an easy topic to broach, so be as prepared as possible and make sure to keep the conversation amiable.

See, that's kind of the problem: I'd been planning to do just that, but I feel like the company has forced my hand. I think that unless I speak up pretty much immediately, I'll be signaling my tacit approval of the 3% raise and would need to wait another year or so for the next opportunity. I mean, if I take my time about it then I feel like they'll say "You want another raise? But we just gave you one!" and the longer I wait the more likely that is to happen (unless I wait a really long time).

I have a feeling that my chances are best if I go talk to the boss literally tomorrow morning, ASAP. I just don't know what to say.

Definitely ask for the 15% if you feel you are underpaid.  I am a programmer in Atlanta as well.  I more than doubled my pay the second year of my career.  That was in 2000 though and had to become a consultant to do it.  But should be easy to push your salary up in the early years.  Be willing to walk once you have some experience.

That's kind of what I figured. And I feel like, at this point, that I do have at least "some" experience -- 1.5 years of "real job" programming (plus another year of "real job" unrelated work), an internship, a couple of years as a part-time undergrad research assistant (doing programming), 5 MOOC classes, the first semester of a graduate degree, etc. (Two of those MOOCs were done after I started working here, and the grad school started in January, so they weren't factored into my value before.)

I wonder if I should ask for the "Associate" to be removed from my "Associate Software Engineer" job title...?

(And since you're also in Atlanta, I'll ask you: I (currently) do full-stack* "well-rounded" web app development using .NET. What do you think I'm worth?)

Here is a tactic I recommend.   Apply for a few jobs elsewhere, and when you get an offer tell your boss that an ex-colleague called you out of the blue with an offer.  Tell the manager that you really like your current job and company, and have no desire to leave but the offer is would really much better salary, and ask if the manager can do anything.

Nah, when I get a better offer I'm just going to take it. I took this job in the first place because it was reasonable and the expedient choice at the time (as my wife and I were double-unemployed and I didn't have the luxury of waiting for a perfect opportunity), but the plan was always to work here just long enough not to look like a job-hopper and then find a longer-term (i.e., 5+ years) "dream job" somewhere else.

However, I would prefer to be paid what I'm worth until that happens, and I'd like a bigger number to tell HR people when they insist on asking about my salary history.

(* By that I mean everything between SQL -> business logic -> website code, but not necessarily managing servers and configuring environments. I also don't mean to imply that I'm anything close to an expert at any of it, obviously.)

chasesfish

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2015, 05:15:03 AM »
Jack - as a former Atlanta resident, I would say hold off on these conversations and just find a better position closer to where you live (or that you can move to).  If you're in tech, there has to be opportunity in Alpharetta.

I've always thought Atlanta is a great area for someone to accumulate a lot of wealth if they can live/work in one of the northern suburbs and still earn a big city salary (Alpharetta, Buford, Kennesaw).  Housing compared to a lot of the country is really inexpensive as long as you don't have to drive that horrible commute. 

Jack

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2015, 07:08:35 AM »
Jack - as a former Atlanta resident, I would say hold off on these conversations and just find a better position closer to where you live (or that you can move to).  If you're in tech, there has to be opportunity in Alpharetta.

I've always thought Atlanta is a great area for someone to accumulate a lot of wealth if they can live/work in one of the northern suburbs and still earn a big city salary (Alpharetta, Buford, Kennesaw).  Housing compared to a lot of the country is really inexpensive as long as you don't have to drive that horrible commute.

I live between downtown and Decatur. I'll reluctantly drive to Gwinnett or Cobb, but there's no way in Hell I'll work in Alpharetta -- it'd be more than an hour each way.

Anyway, that's not the kind of advice I'm looking for -- I need tactical help, not strategic. I'm planning to go talk to the boss about this TODAY. What should I say, and how should I say it?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2015, 07:18:41 AM »
I think your statement that you came in potentially rusty, but you feel you've proved yourself, is what you want to go with. I'm almost always in favor of being straight with people; it's easier.

Your boss doesn't think about how much you make day-to-day. They just care that you've been doing the work. If you've been delivering, but still paid like you'll hopefully work out, they'll be able to take a look at that and see that you're right.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2015, 07:18:51 AM »
What are you going to do if they say no- because 15%???!!!  That's insanely huge.

Unless you have another job you are ready to go to- it is highly unlikely that will happen. 


ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2015, 07:21:09 AM »
What are you going to do if they say no- because 15%???!!!  That's insanely huge.

Unless you have another job you are ready to go to- it is highly unlikely that will happen.

Put it in dollars. If you're making $50k that's $7500/year. Won't sound like that much to somebody who's making substantially more than you.

neo von retorch

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2015, 07:30:35 AM »
It's hard for me to relate. Maybe I've typically been underpaid. But when I started building web sites, I got raises without asking, and was very grateful for them. My first raise was $4/hour, out of the blue, 3 months into my first job. I was just in love with coding and I wasn't worried about money. Now, 16 years in, I try to eek out a little more with each new job, but I might still be underpaid. I know my friend from college does what I do, but she makes a lot more than me. I do feel she's more focused and diligent, and she did get one of her big breaks by taking an advantageous contract job that paid a lot more, but otherwise I think we contribute similarly to our employers.

meyla

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2015, 07:51:07 AM »
I just wanted to offer my experience. I am at my first job out of college in Norcross. I have been working here 3 years now, and I started this job with a much lower salary than I probably should have. That is my own fault - I didn't understand what I was worth and what I should ask for. So after 2 years at my company, I had taken on a ton of added responsibility and I had really made myself irreplaceable. I went to my boss and told him that. "I am doing the job that 3 people were doing when I started. I think that, while a 40% increase in pay sounds extreme, it's average for our area and I have proven that I deserve at least average." It took a month, but they gave me what I asked for plus an extra week of vacation. I think if you are really worth what you're asking for, and your company believes that, there isn't much to discuss - they either offer you what you deserve or you move on. Be straight forward and honest, but understand that they don't "owe" you anything and you are free to leave at any time.

olivia

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2015, 07:59:44 AM »
What have you done specifically to earn a 15% raise?  That's a large increase and you've only been there for a year and a half, so if you're not a standout employee I don't see why you should expect that large of a raise. 

Do you have any hard salary data to back up your request re: you being underpaid or any money you've made or saved the company?  Or are you just asking because you want more money and think you deserve it? 

wtjbatman

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2015, 08:15:32 AM »
My raise was 2.3% because, in the words of our HR, "You are already near the top of the payscale based on your paygrade." So I'm being punished because when I was offered the job last year I asked for a higher wage based on my experience, and then once they made their offer I didn't think it was high enough so I successfully negotiated a 10% increase. Awesome. Clearly they want me around for the long term!

So, no answers for you OP, I just feel your pain.

Thedudeabides

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2015, 08:31:51 AM »


See, that's kind of the problem: I'd been planning to do just that, but I feel like the company has forced my hand. I think that unless I speak up pretty much immediately, I'll be signaling my tacit approval of the 3% raise and would need to wait another year or so for the next opportunity. I mean, if I take my time about it then I feel like they'll say "You want another raise? But we just gave you one!" and the longer I wait the more likely that is to happen (unless I wait a really long time).

I have a feeling that my chances are best if I go talk to the boss literally tomorrow morning, ASAP. I just don't know what to say.

It depends on your company and how your company handles comp. Your boss may or may not have the ability to do anything and without first doing to research to understand your market value, then your best argument will be that you feel like you should be paid more. This is not as strong of an argument as, "I feel like I should be paid more and here's why"

Be patient and and learn as much as you can about how comp works. Approach any conversation with facts and data to back up your position and you will increase your odds of success. I've sat on the other side of the table more times than I can count.

You mentioned asking for the associate to be removed from your title. I would suggest approaching it from a slightly different perspective. Ask what the next level is (if you don't know) and ask your manager what it would take for you to reach the next level. That is essentially what you're asking when you ask for the associate to be removed from your title.

Also, before approaching the conversation I would again recommend finding out the market rate for your skill set and how in-demand it is. I don't know the Atlanta market so I can't comment here.

Jouer

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2015, 08:59:11 AM »
I remember thinking I was underpaid in my first year or two out of university. Looking back....I was probably a little underpaid, but not by much. So keep that in mind.

Having said that, sometimes it takes a move to a new company to get better pay. In my 20s I moved every 2 to 3 years for promotions and better pay.

More concrete help for today: ask for the raise but like others have said, use dollar amounts, not percent. Present your case. If they do not offer you more of a raise, do not sulk out of the room; thank them very much for listening. I once presented my salary expectation at an interview and the HR person straight up told me it was more than some more senior analysts were making. I accepted the job at lower salary (because of other reasons). I kicked ass at that job and became their go-to-guy for all their advanced analytics. So....after 6 months they realized I was better than the more senior analysts so they gave me what I had previously asked for. The lesson: even if you don't get it now, doesn't mean you won't get it later - just need to kick some ass.

JLee

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2015, 10:34:32 AM »
What are you going to do if they say no- because 15%???!!!  That's insanely huge.

Unless you have another job you are ready to go to- it is highly unlikely that will happen.

I got 15+% twice last year (two promotions). It's certainly possible.

I remember thinking I was underpaid in my first year or two out of university. Looking back....I was probably a little underpaid, but not by much. So keep that in mind.

Having said that, sometimes it takes a move to a new company to get better pay. In my 20s I moved every 2 to 3 years for promotions and better pay.

More concrete help for today: ask for the raise but like others have said, use dollar amounts, not percent. Present your case. If they do not offer you more of a raise, do not sulk out of the room; thank them very much for listening. I once presented my salary expectation at an interview and the HR person straight up told me it was more than some more senior analysts were making. I accepted the job at lower salary (because of other reasons). I kicked ass at that job and became their go-to-guy for all their advanced analytics. So....after 6 months they realized I was better than the more senior analysts so they gave me what I had previously asked for. The lesson: even if you don't get it now, doesn't mean you won't get it later - just need to kick some ass.
It might also be worth asking, if denied, what would be necessary to raise your income to that level - additional training/certifications, projects, etc.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2015, 10:36:26 AM by JLee »

darkadams00

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2015, 11:08:57 AM »
The level of pay (salary and bonus) is attributed to several factors, some of which you can impact (personal contributions such as initiative, value add, intellectual property, time to completion, additional revenue) and some you can't (department/company goals, size, profitability, comp policy, benefits).

If you're not hearing formal/informal news on a regular basis that your dept/company is profitable at or above expected goals, then there may not be lots of money to pass around. If you're in a well-established dept with a high ceiling, then the ability to move upward may be near infinite but with a lot of smaller steps along the way. If your company is sinking a large percentage of comp into benefits, then the salary pool might be broad (lots of employees) but shallow (less difference between top and bottom). And there are also indicators that signal the company is doing great and has extra salary to give.

If you're not a star performer as indicated by your manager, the raise you mentioned is very much in line with what someone of your experience would get with the stated tenure at our company. But if you can identify with the top of your department at your career level, then you might have a concern. After all, that would mean the lesser performers would get near 0%.

In short, company profitability is important. I've received a smallish raise when profits were down and a much higher raise when profits were up--for the same level of star performer work. :) And if management doesn't think you're a star performer, then you have something to work on besides questioning why you didn't get rewarded highly for making the B honor roll.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #22 on: April 01, 2015, 11:49:47 AM »
What are you going to do if they say no- because 15%???!!!  That's insanely huge.

Unless you have another job you are ready to go to- it is highly unlikely that will happen.

I got 15+% twice last year (two promotions). It's certainly possible.


Promotions are different from raises.

Cathy

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2015, 11:58:15 AM »
If I were you, I wouldn't focus on the percentages. It doesn't matter whether the raise is 5% or 15% or 200%. What matters is what you can get for your services on the open market, which could easily be two or three times what you are being paid now, since there is such a huge range of wages in software engineering (anything from $50,000 to $1,000,000 per year is all on the table).

If the employer doesn't believe that you can get what you say on the open market, you may have to prove it by getting an offer from a competitor.

However, unless you are prepared to leave, you have no leverage, and the employer knows that. So, since you've said you like the job and aren't prepared to leave, there's not much you can hope for. You may want to change your mindset to drop any notion of loyalty. That will put you in a much stronger negotiating position.

Also, as per my usual recommendation, you should read the book "Secrets of Power Negotiating" by Roger Dawson.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2015, 12:00:52 PM by Cathy »

driftwood

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2015, 12:11:29 PM »

Anyway, that's not the kind of advice I'm looking for -- I need tactical help, not strategic. I'm planning to go talk to the boss about this TODAY. What should I say, and how should I say it?

How did it go?

Jack

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2015, 12:16:51 PM »
So, since you've said you like the job and aren't prepared to leave, there's not much you can hope for. You may want to change your mindset to drop any notion of loyalty. That will put you in a much stronger negotiating position.

Where'd you get the idea that I'm opposed to leaving? I must be spectacularly bad at communicating, because I certainly never intended to convey that impression.

Earlier, I wrote:

I should probably also mention that I'm somewhat actively looking for a new job anyway. My current job is at a well-run company with a laid-back environment and therefore not bad, but it's also not in the industry I want to be in (I want to write engineering software, not medical billing software) and involves a long, unmustachian commute. I actually had an HR phone interview for a position with a CAD company within biking distance (i.e., the perfect job) last week, and I'm hoping to hear back about a second-round interview soon...

Admittedly, I don't have a better competing offer in hand (because if I did, I'd already be giving notice) and for that reason I'm not prepared to quit on the spot if the boss says no. However, the plan is to leave in months (or sooner, if I'm lucky), not years, whether I negotiate a better raise or not. If anything, I would lack leverage for the opposite reason: if I had to, I'd be willing to take a pay cut to work on a more interesting project and/or have a much shorter commute, so there's no (realistic) amount of money the boss could offer to keep me here long-term. (I'm not about to tell the her that, though!)

In my case, the majority of the expected value of the raise would not come from the difference in actual pay at this job, but instead from the increased bargaining power that having a higher salary history can give me when negotiating for my next job.


Anyway, that's not the kind of advice I'm looking for -- I need tactical help, not strategic. I'm planning to go talk to the boss about this TODAY. What should I say, and how should I say it?

How did it go?

I haven't actually done it yet, partly because I've been waiting on y'all to give me more advice. I'll talk to her at the end of the day (unless I chicken out).

Cathy

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2015, 12:18:58 PM »
Where'd you get the idea that I'm opposed to leaving? I must be spectacularly bad at communicating, because I certainly never intended to convey that impression.

There are many of these threads and I must have mentally confused two of them.

That said, since you have some free time now, I urge you to read the Dawson book right now. It's only a few hundred pages and you can read all or most of it in a few hours.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #27 on: April 03, 2015, 11:49:05 AM »
What happened?

Jack

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #28 on: April 03, 2015, 12:17:37 PM »
What happened?

I didn't get a chance to talk to the boss until today. I mentioned the facts that I felt I'd been hired at a discount and that I felt my skills were improving rapidly, but didn't talk about the MOOCs or grad school and didn't press the issue too hard.

She told me she'd talk to my supervisor about whether I was ready to be promoted from "Associate Software Engineer" to "Software Engineer." Her tone was a bit non-committal, so I'm not sure if that'll happen immediately or several months from now.

netskyblue

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #29 on: April 03, 2015, 12:22:16 PM »
What are you going to do if they say no- because 15%???!!!  That's insanely huge.

Unless you have another job you are ready to go to- it is highly unlikely that will happen.

Put it in dollars. If you're making $50k that's $7500/year. Won't sound like that much to somebody who's making substantially more than you.

This, exactly.  The smallest raise I ever received (I've had 3 in my 9 years here) was 12.8%.  The largest was 20%.  All of them were $5k/year or less.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #30 on: April 03, 2015, 12:45:17 PM »
good luck jack. plenty of IT opportunities in Atlanta.

zinethstache

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #31 on: April 03, 2015, 02:11:15 PM »
I've been in IT for 25 years. 18 of it for one company, well two, but in the same building. On a few occasions I've had to call their bluff on a raise and/or job offer. I do it rarely and only with good reason. If your company is noncommital to your blatant "I am not paid enough" notice, they are giving you the green light to job hunt. I am SOOO not a grass is always greener and I just recently told my boss that I am concerned about my team, to the point I am thinking about going to check out the market (in my case there was a specific job in the company that looked appealing and I mentioned that job as a case in point) boy did that get them hopping! The more you can convey that you know your value and that you like the company, but have to look out for your own best interests, the better your results should be.

On each occasion I've had to pull this card it worked every time. The most recent issue was not pay related it was more that I am doing 5 people's work with no help and that is going to make me leave, likely sooner than they had planned (they would be screwed as I am the only SME left for this particular environment)

Do your research and stay positive. Believe in yourself, that will get you most of the way there.

pagoconcheques

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #32 on: April 03, 2015, 02:54:56 PM »
http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

This is more about opening salary negotiation, but lots of good stuff. 


BlueHouse

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #33 on: April 03, 2015, 09:31:46 PM »
I agree that every company has different processes and the bigger the company or more formal the HR department, the smaller the raises.  I've worked for startups where all I had to do was email the CEO and ask for a "review" and then the next day I'd find his business card on my chair seat with a note that said "you're doing a great job.  effective immediately, you'll get a raise of $10,000."  After I realized that he hated any kind of confrontation, I got the same kind of raise each year, or more often if I asked. 
But then companies with processes or pay grades have guidelines they have to follow and that's the kind of thing I think everyone should walk away from - especially when young.  When you're young, you need to job-hop.  There's no shame in it.  When anyone asks why, you can say "for the money.  I couldn't turn down the offer".  The only way to make real substantial salary increases is to go someplace new.  In addition, new places give you new experience and let you try things you may not have ever had the opportunity to do before. 
These days, I'm a consultant and I can tell you that when I go in to a new place, I'm the expert and everyone respects my opinion.  It doesn't matter that I say the same things that the employees have been saying.  Once I say it, it's right.  Management never listens or trusts their own employees.  They want someone that someone else wants.  And they want to believe in someone because they charge a lot of money.  You know that phrase "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence"?  You can benefit from that by making people believe that you're that green grass and for the right price they could have you. 
Jump and jump again.  When you feel that you're being paid fairly, it probably means you're paid over market value. 

JLee

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #34 on: April 20, 2015, 03:06:18 PM »
http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

This is more about opening salary negotiation, but lots of good stuff.

That's an excellent article. Thanks!

mm1970

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2015, 11:20:07 AM »
Quote
See, that's kind of the problem: I'd been planning to do just that, but I feel like the company has forced my hand. I think that unless I speak up pretty much immediately, I'll be signaling my tacit approval of the 3% raise and would need to wait another year or so for the next opportunity. I mean, if I take my time about it then I feel like they'll say "You want another raise? But we just gave you one!" and the longer I wait the more likely that is to happen (unless I wait a really long time).

Nah, you can ask again later if you want.  But I'd do it now.  Do the research, and go in with "I've increased my responsibilities and output with X,Y,Z and I think the going rate is $XXX.  I'd like a raise of 15%."

You can follow that up with "What additional work would it take for me to get there."  Shows initiative.

devan

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #36 on: April 21, 2015, 07:24:06 PM »
Nowadays, as a software engineer if you are any good and you think you are underpaid you are most likely very underpaid.
Look around and try to get offers from other companies.
Your current salary does not have to be relevant to your new one.

When they ask you what you are currently making, you don't have to answer that, from my experience if you're trying to get more than 20% of what you're currently making - the best answer is to give the range you are looking for (giving the lower end of the range as the minimum acceptable pay bump that you want)

I was in a similar dilemma a few months ago, got a 5% raise, asked for more, didn't get a yes, a couple of months later found a better job with a much higher pay.

good luck.

Catbert

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2015, 11:05:08 AM »
Jack, whatever happened???

Jack

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Cathy

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2015, 07:32:53 PM »
Are you willing to relocate for more money, Jack, or are you still only interested in the Atlanta area?

Also, did you read the Dawson book?

Jack

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #40 on: April 23, 2015, 10:02:40 AM »
Are you willing to relocate for more money, Jack, or are you still only interested in the Atlanta area?

Also, did you read the Dawson book?

It would take a LOT more money to convince me to relocate, for a few reasons:
  • I'm a native Atlantan, and reasonably proud of where I live. I'm also somewhat politically active and invest quite a bit of energy into this city.
  • I work to live, not live to work. Why should I have to upend my life just for a job?
  • I've made long-term improvements to my property (e.g. planting fruit trees) and I'd like to stick around long enough to reap the (quite literal) fruits of that labor.
  • My wife and I got down-payment assistance from the city, which stipulates that if you move within 10 years, you have to not only pay back the amount of assistance you got, but if the property has appreciated then you have to also pay a pro-rated percentage of the increase in value. If I relocated for a job, I'd need a large signing/relocation bonus (something like $35K-$50K) to compensate for that.
  • Even if the relocation were to a high cost-of-living area I'd want to be paid enough to afford the same standard of living I have now, which means a 3-bedroom single-family house, with a workshop space and yard, near the center of town. As I understand it, that would require an obscenely huge salary somewhere like Silicon Valley.

I haven't had a chance to read the Dawson book yet. Since the issue appears to be moot (for now), I wasn't in a huge hurry.

Thedudeabides

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Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #41 on: April 23, 2015, 06:42:32 PM »
It's good to see your reasoning outlined.

One question I would have is whether or not you would be open to temporary change if it meant greater opportunities down the road and the possibility of returning to Atlanta. If the answer is no, then the options are more constrained (and I say this absolutely with no judgement).

For #4, does the city require payback even if you have renters in your house? I would say that it's not inconceivable that relo/signing bonus would cover that amount.

However, even with a relo, it would be difficult in most cities to meet the #5 requirement in most high COLA tech hubs.

Jack

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Re: Got a raise, but not as much as I hoped for. What now?
« Reply #42 on: April 23, 2015, 11:31:03 PM »
One question I would have is whether or not you would be open to temporary change if it meant greater opportunities down the road and the possibility of returning to Atlanta. If the answer is no, then the options are more constrained (and I say this absolutely with no judgement).

Maybe. I just feel like, between telecommuting and the fact that Atlanta ought to be a large enough tech hub in its own right, that it shouldn't be necessary.

For #4, does the city require payback even if you have renters in your house? I would say that it's not inconceivable that relo/signing bonus would cover that amount.

I believe that renting out the house would trigger repayment of the amount of the grant, but would not trigger the "percentage of profit from sale" clause.

Honestly, I have no plans to sell this house anyway... even if I did decide to move, I'd keep it because it would be a profitable rental.

However, even with a relo, it would be difficult in most cities to meet the #5 requirement in most high COLA tech hubs.

Don't get me wrong, I could consider adopting the "truly urban" high-rise condo / public transit lifestyle... but it really would be a lifestyle change (I'd have to give up gardening and DIY, and stop being a car enthusiast).

Jack

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Re: Negotiating job offer
« Reply #43 on: May 22, 2015, 10:28:04 AM »
I should probably also mention that I'm somewhat actively looking for a new job anyway. My current job is at a well-run company with a laid-back environment and therefore not bad, but it's also not in the industry I want to be in (I want to write engineering software, not medical billing software) and involves a long, unmustachian commute. I actually had an HR phone interview for a position with a CAD company within biking distance (i.e., the perfect job) last week, and I'm hoping to hear back about a second-round interview soon...

So anyway, I had the third-round interview with the company mentioned above on Wednesday, and yesterday they made me an offer! Now I just need to figure out my negotiating strategy. Without going into too many details, all the terms of the offer are better than my current job: better 401K match, more days off (a few days less PTO, but more company holidays), the ability to choose a health care plan that includes an HSA, a bonus (which my current employer doesn't do), tuition reimbursement (also which my current employer doesn't do) and higher pay.

My question now is when I make a counter-offer, how much more salary should I ask for? Here's what I know:

  • The current offer is about $5k less than the median according to Glassdoor, etc. for the position / years of experience (sort of -- I have only two years of "official [full-time-job] experience," but also have a lot of school/hobby/work-in-other-industries "unofficial" experience that I'm counting a fraction of)
  • When I asked the HR person about it, she said that the offer was in-line with what they pay their similarly-experienced employees.
  • When was interviewing with the CTO, before I got the offer, he mentioned a ballpark number of about $5K more (i.e., close to the median), which suggests that they're at least that flexible.

I was thinking of asking for $10K more than the offer, and hoping they'd counter at that $5K mark (or higher). I'm also planning to negotiate on a couple other points, such getting my tuition reimbursed retroactively for the grad school program I started in January, participating in the 401K plan immediately instead of 3 months after start of employment, and getting my internet access reimbursed since I'll initially be working remotely (until they open their new Atlanta office).

What advice can y'all give? Is $10K too wide a margin on a high-five-figures offer?

(By the way: yes, Cathy, I have now had a chance to read the Dawson book. It turns out I've actually been using several of those closing tactics during the hiring process already, without even realizing it!)

Cathy

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Why are you using the median salary as your reference point for what you should be paid? Are half of software engineers better than you?

The reasonableness of your counteroffer is determined by what the market will bear for your services, not by how close it is to their initial offer. If you are worth $200,000 per year, then you should ask for that.

It's highly unlikely you can negotiate the terms of the plan commonly referred to as a "401(k)" plan.

Beyond that, I don't have any other specific advice since your post is vague about most of the details.

CommonCents

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Re: Negotiating job offer
« Reply #45 on: May 22, 2015, 01:01:33 PM »

I was thinking of asking for $10K more than the offer, and hoping they'd counter at that $5K mark (or higher). I'm also planning to negotiate on a couple other points, such getting my tuition reimbursed retroactively for the grad school program I started in January, participating in the 401K plan immediately instead of 3 months after start of employment, and getting my internet access reimbursed since I'll initially be working remotely (until they open their new Atlanta office).

Agree it's what the market will bear.
401k participation they likely can't change.  Do you want to waste time negotiating a non-negotiable?  Maybe better to eliminate in order to appear more reasonable.
Tuition retro reimbursement likewise may be tough but worth an ask.
Internet reimbursement makes a lot of sense.  Might also want to negotiate an office allowance (e.g. printer ink, paper, pens, chair) as well that's triggered if the opening takes a long while.  (My sister pays for her own office supplies.  Been work remotely about 8 years now, with the company since 1999.  It's unfortunate.)

curler

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I agree a lot with CommonCents.  Keep in mind that compared to a 10K salary change, the internet being covered is much less substantial.  I would probably stick with the tuition and the salary in the first go around.  I don't think $10K different is too much to ask for.

Jack

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Internet reimbursement makes a lot of sense.  Might also want to negotiate an office allowance (e.g. printer ink, paper, pens, chair) as well that's triggered if the opening takes a long while.

The HR person volunteered that they'd be paying for my office supplies. The only issue about that is that she said that I'd order the supplies through them and then they'd be shipped to me. That struck me as a cumbersome arrangement, so I suggested it might be better just to let me buy stuff and submit receipts for reimbursement instead. She said she'd ask about it.

I haven't thought to ask about a chair... on one hand, that might be an interesting idea since the one I'm using now is a $10 Ikea piece of crap; on the other hand, it seems like it might be more hassle than it's worth.

I don't think $10K different is too much to ask for.

Is it too little?

By the way, another thing that I've thought about asking for is that (like most companies, I imagine) they have a graduated PTO policy, where you get more days off per year the longer you work there. I was thinking of asking if they could not "reset" it and take the time I worked at my current employer into account so that it would bump up to the next tier in 3 years instead of 5.

relena

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are there stock options at your current company? bonus?

I would write a really long negotiation email with references to glass door and some other salary websites to show what the average salary for your job title is. definitely read up on negotiation websites. there's a really good one on lifehacker (can't provide link due to website being blocked)

I don't think I would ever ask for retroactive tuition reimbursement. There's no reason for why a company would reimburse you for that. you didn't work for them at that time.

I always ask for more vacations days and telling them something along the lines of, after vacation I feel well rested and ready to work. I have never been able to get more vacation days from a company even though I want them. After I get the denial about more vacation days. I counter and ask for more money.

I also asked for higher title at this job since that's what I really wanted.

Btw, I successfully negotiated more than my previous job and i was laid off & unemployed from the previous job at job negotiation time. Know what you are worth and fight for your salary. It also helps that you never reveal what you made at your current company.

CommonCents

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If you're already getting the office supplies, great.  I wouldn't worry about the chair specifically, I just meant it as an example of supplies.  If you are getting everything else of your supplies, then no need to chase down the pennies, and lose the dollar in the process annoying them.  Right now, you're setting out the relationship so you want to be careful to appear reasonable while negotiating. 

Yes, you can always ask for better PTO.  If you do, ask to be credited with time rather than start with more time.  If you start with more time, you may not get a bump up to the level after that when you otherwise would.  e.g You ask for 3 weeks instead of 2.  Normally you'd get 3 weeks after 5 years, and 4 weeks after 10.  They give you 3 now...but then at the 5 year mark you get nothing.  But, if you had asked to be credited with 5 years of working, then at the 5 year mark you move up to 4 weeks.

But the key in negotiating is not to ask for everything.  Instead, hone down on what is important to you and how it benefits the other party.  Understanding their interests will allow you to be more successful in a negotiation.  So you asked for the $10k, they reject it and offer $2k.  You suggest $3K and PTO instead.