Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




I need a pay rise


I'm considered as a star performer in the company
I work for.

I deliver robust & reliable solution on time (well most of the time anyway!)

I've also written design and programmed core
technologies in our internal system.

Basically I dont know how to ask for a pay rise,
basically I'm currently in a position where another
company is currently offering me 20% more than what I'm earning now.

I hate threatening people but do you think that would be considered as unprofessional to tell to my boss give me a pay rise or I resigned (I'm not bluffing I'm really serious about resigning if I dont get the raised)


Or should I just ask him a raise, if he says no, I just tell him as I resigned as I've just found a better opportunity

Please note : that I'm extremly happy with the company and the team in general, it's just the $money$ which is not  as good as the company down the street.

I've got very informal relationships with my boss, but I'm not comfortable asking him for more $$$, I've been working for the same company since 2 years now

What would you guys advice me to do ?

Afraid to ask
Thursday, November 27, 2003

If I may say so, you sound pretty angry with your current boss. When you give bosses an ultimatum they will protect their egos rather than do what they should.

Your boss will probably say "Okay then go to the other company" rather than give you a pay rise when faced with the "give me a rise, or a walk" scenario.

I would ask for a pay rise without mentioning another company. If you get the rise, great. If not, and you are certain that the other offer is still open accept it and resign from your current company. When your boss asks why you have resigned, you then explain that you had a better offer from another company. There's a chance that your current boss may try to match that offer - then you can take it from there.

Matthew Lock
Thursday, November 27, 2003

I would recommend approaching your boss very openly about this. Keeping everything in the open will avoid hard feelings.  Approaching your boss about it will be very sensitive though. Unless you handle it properly, it will wound your boss' ego and you'll be all out of options.

You should also make sure the other offer is solid, and that you're really interested in working there.  You don't want to use this other job as a bargaining chip if it turns out that you'd really hate it there, since it's probably a 50/50 shot that you'll wind up there.

Clay Dowling
Thursday, November 27, 2003

As Matthew says, ask for a rise without mentioning your other offer. You will only hurt yourself by mentioning the other offer because it comes across as trying to force your manager's hand.

Matthew puts it perfectly. If they cough up, fine, you're happy. If they don't, you know they're not worth staying with and you've got another option lined up.

.
Thursday, November 27, 2003

If you want to make the soft pitch, I would at least make some kind of reference to the fact that you're earning less than the market rate.  You don't necessarily need to shove the other offer down your boss's throat, but at least let him know that you are aware you have options.

The other thing I would do is think out in advance what you're going to do if your boss says no, or tries to stall you (a likely response I would guess).  You'll do better in the negotiations if you're prepared.  If you're ready to quit over this, you can have that steely gaze during the conversation.  If not, you can fold with dignity if the answer is no, and start planning your next move instead.  :)

Matt Conrad
Thursday, November 27, 2003

A classic example of how poor people (those who wage slave for others)  regard money as something mythical magical and difficult to talk about.

Rich people (least those who made their own money) deal with money in a matter of fact unemotional way.

"Hey Eddy, do you have a few minutes for me to talk to you about something"  "sure.."  "in your office."

"Yeah... I just wanted to talk to you about something, I am a obviously really happy here, I liked working on the wibbly doogle and I'm learning a lot, the people hereare great, Susan's great, Joe's great,  But another company has just offered me a job.

I know our staff reviews aren't for another 4 months but would really like to sit down and talk to you about how I am going here and what you see happening in the future.

The crux of the matter is that I am being offered more money and am not really sure what to do."

Say that calmly, looking him in the eye, I know it's hard.

Then....  I bet, being a boss, he simply says "How much are they offering you ?"

because to him it's not a massive emotional dilema, it's a practical matter. 

Your aim is to get a mini-review really soon where you present all the great stuff you did in the last 6 months, they agree and offer you a smallish raise.

braid_ged 

braid_ged
Thursday, November 27, 2003

oh yeah?

I need a martini with a b%$*& job!!!

who's your daddy?
Friday, November 28, 2003

Matthew's advice is sound except for one thing, which may or may not apply to your situation. Most large  companies have very strict guidelines about the size of raises they can give. 20% is probably about twice what your manager can give as a normal raise.  He will have more leeway in the context of a counter-offer to keep a key employee.

If you work for a company with such formal compensation guidelines, then your better off saying pretty much exactly what you've posted here: "I've done great work here, I've enjoyed it, I've learned a lot from you, I look forward to doing more great work, but opportunity has come knocking and it's a big enough pay differential that I simply cannot turn it down. I really hate to put you in this spot, but can you bump me up 20% so I can continue here without shortchanging my future?"

Any manager who doesn't respect that isn't worth working for. He's probably out baselining his salary against the market on a regular basis, too. Nonetheless, managers typically don't have nearly the freedom people think they do and he may not be able to match it. There's other kinds of compensation, though, so be prepared to deal: vacation, training, bonus, company matching of 401k contributions, it's all part of the package for employers.

Don't think of it as an ultimatum. Lay your cards on the table with confidence that you've got a damn strong hand. Be flexible.

Lastly, a nice place to work in this industry is hard to find these days. Most guys I know wouldn't even blink about giving up 20% to work where they got stuff done and enjoyed it, too.

Jim S.
Friday, November 28, 2003

I want a pony.

The Effervescent Elephant
Friday, November 28, 2003

20% is a big pay difference. but you can't compare the jobs on salary alone. How will a new job change in light of:
1. The commute
2. The people you work with. Will the new people be 'great to work with'?
3.  Will you enjoy the projects you work on.
4. Will you still be learning
5.  Minor, tiny things like working hours, dress code, free coffee (or not)

Basically you could get 20% more but the place could suck to work for.

You might already know the answers to these questions, though. I'm not trying to disaude you from changing jobs just from comparing on salary alone.

Gavin van Lelyveld
Friday, November 28, 2003

Umm it doesn't matter if the other company sucks, it doesn't matter if you wouldn't consider working there for gold, girls and goodies.

What matters is whether its an equivalent job with equivalent responsibilities because then you can take it as a valuation of your worth in the market.

If that's the case then you can take it to your boss, who likely won't be able to meet the 20% but will be able to meet you some way along that line (given its economically feasible).  At the same time you talk about other ways of making you feel more comfortable staying there and  staving off such head hunting.  This might include stock options (though they're waste paper until they're sold), but might have less tangible benefits such as sabbatical leave, greater responsibility or whatever turns you on.

Whatever it is, its not a problem.

Simon Lucy
Friday, November 28, 2003

Oh, for goodness sake. Go and see your boss. Tell him you want to stay at the company but that £6k (or whatever 20% of your salary is) is a lot of money to turn down and see what he says. The early poster is right, bosses are much more pragmatic when it comes to money.

Mr Jack
Friday, November 28, 2003

Heres how I, personally, handled a similar situation.

Sit the boss down, make sure his nice and comfortable.

Tell him how much you enjoy your job, how well you get on with everybody and how fulfilling you find the work.

Wait for boss to agree.  He should mention how valued you are as a team member.

Then tell him you have a problem.  Your being head hunted.  Somebody else has offered you 20% more to work for them.

You really don't want to leave your current job, because you enjoy it so much.  However, you have to practical and you need that extra money.

Look helpless in the face of this dilemna and wait for your bosses suggestions.

If anybody is interested, they offered to match, but I took the new job anyway :)

Ged Byrne
Friday, November 28, 2003

And come on, we want follow-ups here!

æøå
Friday, November 28, 2003

How about if we set a day when we all ask for pay rises together, around the world? Say 10 percent.

A global co-ordinated operation.

Say Mar 1, 2004

.
Friday, November 28, 2003

Something that worked very well for me was to send my boss an email, stating that I wanted to discuss my progress and remuneration and asking to set a date and time for a meeting. That way he didn't feel ambushed and he knew what to expect in the meeting, so he came prepared with his review comments and salary offer and I brought mine.

The main reason I did that was because I felt embarasses / shy to ask for more money - the poor / rich / power comment up above was very applicable.

By the way, try to avoid 'I need / deserve a raise' and go for 'I would like a raise and I feel it is justified because...'. Deserve is quite strongly worded.

Astarte
Friday, November 28, 2003

Quite frankly, you don't need to give a reason. Just state 'I want more money', 'I want X more money' or 'I don't think that is not enough money' as appropriate.

Worth has no place in the programming lark, you are paid what you can blag, not what you deserve.

Mr Jack
Friday, November 28, 2003

Not true, Mr Jack.  You absolutely need to give a reason.  Not necessarily a valid one, mind.... :^)

A pitfall to watch out for - don't complain about your pay relative to other people in the company.  It's pretty irrelevant to your position in the company, and your boss will treat it as such.

And don't present it as what you want.  Make your presentation about what you're worth to the company, on how much money you make and save them.  Focus more on how much you make them if possible - revenue tends to look more impressive than savings.

Never stray from a tone of absolute calm and reason.

Arrange a meeting as wanting to talk about your career and progression within the company.  Talk about how you intend to improve your skills and worth to the company (ask for support of some kind, even if it's just for a book fund - this keeps it relevant to the meeting.  But make it clear that you regard it as your responsibility and that the work will be yours).  Treat it as a negotiation - you want something, so first of all you explain how the company will benefit in return.  Sell yourself as an investment for the company, like any other investment.

Don't mention the job offer unless your boss asks you how much you were thinking of.  Then you could say that someone you know at this other company has been trying to recruit you for an equivalent job at 20% more.  Not technically a lie - you met this person at an interview, right? :^)  Whatever you do, make sure that you don't give the impression that you actively sought this other position.  *Do* give the impression that you're not even considering going, but that you feel this is a fair figure.  You want to make your boss feel that you're working on the same side, and saying that you've applied for work elsewhere is going to destroy that and make the whole negotiation adversarial.

If this doesn't work and you wouldn't mind going to this job, then put things in train to leave and start at the new place.  *Don't* do this unless you're prepared to actually leave....  Explain why you're doing this.  Never couch it as a threat. 

At this point they might try to outbid the other company.  Then you have to decide whether their reluctance to pay you extra makes it worthwhile leaving anyway - you don't want to have to resign every time you want a raise....

Anecdotal evidence, so it's not really worth the electrons it's written on, but I've managed three years of 20% raises doing this in a company which laid off half its staff in that timeframe and limited rises to 2% for almost everyone else.

JP
Friday, November 28, 2003

Anecdotal evidence again; but I have found I get a pay rise when asked for whether or not I give a reason. My two largest payrises came from:

1. Moving company. Obvious really.
2. Being offered a job elsewhere on more money and telling my (then current) boss. "I don't want to leave but six grand is a lot of money". He even thanked me for coming to him.

But I've accumulated a few grand from simply saying asking for more without any reason.

Mr Jack
Friday, November 28, 2003

The problem with telling your current employer that you've had a better offer at another company is that a lot of times your current company will match (or better) the offer and either keep you around only long enough to replace you or (if layoffs happen) you'll be one of the first laid off.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't ask for a raise - just don't use another offer as your leverage.

By using another offer, you've let your current employer know that 1) you've been looking for another job and 2) you're prepared to leave for another job.  By giving you the raise, your current employer has bought some time to find a replacement so they aren't left shorthanded - as soon as they find your replacement you'll probably be gone.

I've seen this happen at several prior companies. Including one where it worked several times for the same guy. It worked until he got a new boss who just congratulated him on his new position, waived the two weeks notice, and showed him out the door. In this case, however, the guy didn't really have a new position - he was just using a made-up one as leverage...

RocketJeff
Friday, November 28, 2003

braid_ged hit it on the nail.

Don't demand. Discuss. Like other posters have said, work compensation is more than just about the monetary $$.

b-g's way means you give  your boss an open ended question. That is how you negotiate.

He might offer you more money. He might map out your career more clearly (promotion??). He might indeed offer you other incentives.... 'Look, how about we offer you 10%, and subsidize you further education?'

Tapiwa
Friday, November 28, 2003

RocketJeff,

1. Always say you were 'head-hunted', or called by 'a recruitment agent', or otherwise deny any job-hunting involvement. Jeez.

2. Any boss who thinks you wouldn't leave for more money is just plain stupid. 95% of all staff WILL leave a company for more money.

Mr Jack
Friday, November 28, 2003

1. If you're to the point of knowing that the new job pays 20% more then your current one, then you're a lot further into the search then just talking with a recruiter.

2. If it's significant money, of course most people would switch. But, most people *aren't* actively looking for a new job - that's the difference.

A pervious post mentions using "my friend is trying to recruite me" line - that's probably the bert bet. It shows that you can get more money without showing that you're actively involved in getting a new job.

RocketJeff
Friday, November 28, 2003

I just started down the same path, I just asked for a 50% pay increase (I really screwed up my negotiation at hiring, I did not understand the full breadth of the job I was being hired for). I did not mention anything about the offers I currently have lined up. I like the work I do a lot, the team is not perfect, the owners are a bit unreal at times, but the work keeps me very interested and quite happy. I just want some more $$$ in my pocket on par with what is being offered else where.

I ran into several problems formulating my pitch for a raise, first the company had no performance reviews this year so no chance then to ask for a raise, also I have never been provided the information to see how my work effects the bottom line, or how it even adds into the total income of the company (the owners keep that very much to themselves). So I was left making the pitch solely from meeting current market salary. I took each of the 4 main jobs I do and put them into salary.com, then did a weighted average for the 4 different salaries for how much time I spend doing them (my job is a real hybrid). I then I showed the median and 75% pay levels and said I would like a raise of X amount which was between those two figures. I kept the tone very cordual and non-threating and only once mentioned that my request was based on a desire to meet my current markey worth.

I hope next week to see how it all turns out.

Usually Named
Friday, November 28, 2003

For God's sake, do NOT listen to the people who tell you not to mention that you have another offer. 

First off, you should never be afraid to tell the truth.  You did nothing wrong here and you boss will appreciate your telling him about it before you quit (unless he's a complete bufoon, and in that case, it doesn't matter what you do).

Second, it's a HUGE bargaining chip.  You just say you have another offer at 20% more.  Now your boss knows he needs to counter offer to keep you and really, you don't even need to ask him to.

Third, if you ask for a raise WITHOUT giving a concrete reason, you'll look like you're motivated by money, and your boss will never look at you the same way.

Again, just tell the truth and let your boss/company make the next move.

David
Friday, November 28, 2003

No David, you don't get it. If you present the other offer, your boss will - correctly - interpret it as you trying to pressure him.

Bosses don't get pressured by underlings so he will refuse if he can, or agree under duress and get even later.

Also, if you're presenting the other offer, that's when you look mercenary, because you're more or less telling him you only care about the money.

No. It's much better to give him a clean chance to give you a raise, and then have options if he doesn't.

.
Saturday, November 29, 2003

An angle that no one has considered: once you threaten to quit, and you're given a raise and kept, what do you suppose the perception of your boss will be ?

IF you're ever in a position where you have to give your boss a choice of EITHER/OR I quit, then its better long term to quit. Because s/he will remember that. Far easier to make a fresh start at another place.

deja vu
Saturday, November 29, 2003

Do NOT mention the other job until you've been hired there.

Your value to ANOTHER COMPANY does not change your value to YOUR company. They pay you based on what you're worth to THEM.

Mentioning another offer will just be seen as a pressure tactic. How would YOU respond in the boss's place?

What IF you mention the job and then...it falls through?

Now you may have "egg on your face" because it looks like you were bluffing. Or maybe your boss thinks you're disloyal and will get rid of you.

PUT YOURSELF IN HIS POSITION
Your Boss's job is to get X work done by hiring and managing folks like you.

It's his job to pay as LITTLE as he can and YOUR job to get as much money as you can.

I'd ask for a raise, etc. I'd be pretty stern and confident about it ("steely eyed gaze and all") and have SUPPORT for your raise (not "I was offered..." , but rather your value to the company).

If you don't get it, then take the other job.

INTERVIEW THE OTHER COMPANY
IT took me years to realize that hiring companies will "inflate" the quality of the job. A programming job turns out to be more tech support, etc.  So, make sure you know what you're getting into before you jump ships.

Entrepreneur
Saturday, November 29, 2003

The other interesting point in this game is that you have more value to another company if you're currently employed.

That way, the boss gets his jollies because he or she has lured you away from someone else. They're happy to pay more for this.

.
Saturday, November 29, 2003

There is also the perception that unemployed people are less skilled than those who still have a job.  Which is probably true on the average; if you pick a random unemployed person and compare them with a random employed person, the latter is likely to be the better one more than 50% of the time.

But looking at those sort of generalized averages is useless when you have their individual resumes in hand and have the opportunity to interview them.

T. Norman
Sunday, November 30, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home