53

I've been a junior web developer at a company near London for 9 months now. When I was offered this job (after a long interviewing process), the recruiter told me that I would be paid 20k per annum during my 6 month probation period and that I would get a salary increase if I passed probation. It wasn't written anywhere; I have no proof. That's what recruiter said when he called me to pass the message from the company that they want to offer me a position.

It's now been 3 months since I passed probation I have yet to receive the promised increase in salary. I feel like I'm doing a decent job and I know my boss is happy with my work so far, but I am reluctant to ask him about the increase.

How to approach this issue? I am on good terms with my boss, he's a cool guy and I don't want to spoil our good relationship(plus it's my first programming job) but at the same time, I was promised something else by the guy recruitment agency.

  • 6
    Welcome to the workplace. I'm glad you found an answer to your question so quickly. In the future, you may want to wait for multiple answers before you pick a best one. Waiting tends to encourage more answers. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Mar 20 '18 at 12:25
  • 7
  • 5
    Just out of curiosity is 'the recruiter' a company staff recruiter or an independent third-party recruiter? In my experience if the latter and it's not in writing then per the above experts you're screwed, as many third-party recruiters can be less then ethical and it looks like you're learning that lesson now. – Jim Horn Mar 20 '18 at 19:05
  • Did you have your own written record of the recruiter having made you the promise, and (not that this is strong, but) can you now email the recruiter and confirm in writing a) that was what the recruiter offered? b) that the company knew that and authorized them to make it? (because they might dispute that too, or they might be unaware he said that, and he may have just made stuff up) (This bait-and-switch game is played all the time). – smci Mar 21 '18 at 3:04
  • 7
    Has the company ever acknowledged in writing that the recruiter offered that? Even indirectly, e.g. references to "pay review after probationary period". What does your contract say about the probationary period anyway? – smci Mar 21 '18 at 3:07
141

You should ask your boss about the increase.

I know, this is the last thing you want to hear. But there is no other reasonable option. If you don't ask, then you definitely won't get the pay rise. At some point in your career, you'll need to learn how to start uncomfortable conversations. Now is a great time to begin!

It will be easier if you can ask your boss for some one-on-one time. Something like "Hey, I'd like to run something by you, when would be a good time to talk privately for ten minutes?" And it will be easier if you rehearse the conversation a little bit beforehand (the same way you'd prepare for a job interview--you've already got through an interview, so you know you can do this!)

Personally I've never lost a job because of asking for better pay or conditions. The worst thing that's likely to happen is that they just say no. And on the other side, when managing staff, I've found that I respect people who can professionally ask for things (even if I have to say no): they are demonstrating confidence and an awareness of their own value. You won't spoil anything by having this conversation.

Good luck!


Edit in response to comments:

The recruiter's initial promise may be non-binding, or even unknown to the employer, but it's still worth having this conversation. You've passed your probation, so presumably you're more experienced and more valuable to the company then you were when you started. Your preparation might include listing some examples of where you've added value.

  • 65
    This excellent answer might be improved by making a mention of the fact that any form of salary increase or compensation doesn't exist unless you have it in writing, preferably writing signed by both parties. Even when made with the best of intentions, in the corporate world a verbal promise is unfortunately worth less than the air required to say the words... – Cronax Mar 20 '18 at 13:15
  • 4
    Further, I think this is a great situation to be in when learning "to start uncomfortable conversations." @lip3k has stated that he's on good terms with the boss and is doing good work. – dwizum Mar 20 '18 at 13:21
  • 4
    I'd rather know that someone was unhappy with their compensation before they start looking for another job. Of course, I might not be able to do anything about it, but it's better than being surprised when they hand in their notice. – Roger Lipscombe Mar 20 '18 at 16:22
  • 3
    @R.. In the UK (which isn't at-will), that just leaves the employer with two employees. – Roger Lipscombe Mar 20 '18 at 18:07
  • 6
    "The recruiter's initial promise may be non-binding, or even unknown to the employer, but it's still worth having this conversation." Not least so that the employer is aware of the recruiter's tactics and can make an informed choice about whether to continue using the recruiter. – T.J. Crowder Mar 21 '18 at 18:19
19

If the recruiter was external to the company you work for, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was either:

  1. a direct lie to sweeten the deal for you (and so he gets his commission) or
  2. the recruiter said that meaning it is not unusual for a junior developer passing probation to get a raise shortly after

I've had a number of promises made to me by recruiters over the years, I now ignore anything the recruiter says and, if important to me, ask about it during the interview to get a real answer.

At this point, you're in the company. Have a chat with your manager (you're having regular 1 to 1 meetings I assume) and ask what the process is for raises. However bring it up with evidence of all the good stuff you've done in those 6 months.

I wouldn't like to guarantee you are due a raise, that's up to the company and your manager. However 20k isn't a lot in London and so long as you've not been slacking off I would hope the company could sort something out.

Maybe not immediately, might not be for another 6 months, but you should be able to discuss with your manager.

  • 4
    oh the stuff I heard from recruiters: like that guy saying I should really accept 6k per annum less because the company is offering complementary fruit and that could be an easy 50EUR a week saved for me – viorel Mar 22 '18 at 13:21
8

Given that...

It's now been 3 months since I passed probation I have yet to receive the promised increase in salary

...you know that what you were told is not the literal truth! Assume that (exactly as DaFoot said) it was a statement of likelihood, rather than a guarantee. Whether or not you assume bad faith is up to you.

However - most companies have a system of annual pay review, which is sometimes related to some kind of performance review process. Instead of getting too hung up about the inaccurate statement that was made, perhaps you could talk to your boss (or HR) in more general terms about what the company's process is here.

If there isn't any process to adjust salary annually, that's a bit of a red flag when it comes to the company - due to inflation, it would mean that your salary is constantly decreasing in real terms, while as a keen developer honing skills relevant to your current position, you'd rather hope for regular opportunities to increase your salary to match those skills.

6

" am on good terms with my boss, he's a cool guy and I don't want to spoil our good relationship"

You're just looking for the right language to get this done.

That's a smart attitude. Here's the language you need:

Hey boss, look if you have a moment I must tell you about something. It's been three months at my awesome job. Thanks for that, you rock, it's incredible![1} Did you know that Jacky Smith[2] explained I would be getting a raise at this time, after the three months? I've been a bit worried about it, and I don't want to bother you with this but can you[3] advise me what to do? Should I[3] talk to Jacky Smith again, ask someone in our accounting or? Again I don't like to bother you but what to do?

At [1], you have a fantastic job; as preamble it never hurts to pile it on thick with your boss. Just tell him frankly what a great guy he is and how good your manager is and how good the job is. Enthusiasm never hurts. At [2] use that party's full name, do not refer to them as the recruiter, whatever. (It's not your problem - at all - the relationship between the company and that entity. They did pay him in some way so he represented them. Don't get in to whether that person is a 3rd party, company employee, contractor or whatever. Refer to that person by name as if any other team member.) At [3], the overwhelming technique to master in all negotiations is "ask questions", it completely turns around the negotiational cosmos.

Make it a problem, you're struggling with - after all you don't want to be distracted from your work - a problem that you need your boss's help with. Briefly state the situation (a few words) and "put yourself in his/her hands", ask your boss "what to do".

Good luck!


If the result is negative? You can easily get another job if it doesn't work out. Note that after 12 months, you'll very likely want to change jobs to push ahead your salary, that's the norm, so this will be a great stepping stone to that.

3

@AirOfMystery's answer covers your options already- it can't hurt to give your employer the benefit of the doubt. I only want to add the importance of preparing for a negative response. In my first programming job I was in almost exactly the same boat. I was hired at a low rate (it is a fact that sometimes you have to undervalue yourself to get your foot in the door) and told by my soon-to-be-boss rather than the recruiter that if I passed my probation I could expect a payrise.

It wasn't written down in the contract, but he gave me his word! (I was very naive).

3 months later I passed my probation, but no payrise materialised. When I mentioned it to my boss, he shockingly had no recollection of ever promising me a raise so there "wasn't anything he could do".

This was the man who seemed genuinely surprised when I quit to go work elsewhere and offered more money for me to stay. A quicker-witted version of me would have given him my word I'd consider it.

The sad truth is that if it's not in the contract, consider it a lie. Some things you MIGHT be able to fight given enough time and legal resources but if there's anything important enough to fight for, it's important enough to fight for it to be in the contract in the first place and it's not unacceptable or rude to not take someones word for it.

  • 3
    And the real lesson is to get all promises written in to the offer letter. – holdenweb Mar 21 '18 at 10:51
1

This is close to some of the existing answers, but seems to be a slightly different tack than most are suggesting.

You were told to expect a pay increase by the recruiter when you were hired, once you were out of the probation period. You're out of the probation period, but you've gotten no pay increase.

There are several possibilities here, not all of which have been noted elsewhere:

  • The recruiter knowingly or unknowingly lied, and that's not how this job works;
  • Your boss is trying to get away with not giving you the increase;
  • Your company has some sort of wage/salary freeze on, so no one's getting increases right now;
  • You should have gotten the increase, and there's been some snag in the process so it has gotten through (anything from the boss legitimately forgetting, to a snafu in HR, etc.);
  • As far as your boss is concerned, you haven't completed the probationary period.

In any job where there was some sort of probationary period, I generally had a meeting with my boss when that period was over, confirming I had successfully completed it and was off probation. And, at that point, if there was a salary increase involved, I'd be told that was going through as well. If that hasn't happened, that last possibility is one to consider.

It's entirely legitimate to talk to your boss for a clarification of the current situation. Are you officially considered off probation? Was the information provided by the recruiter false? Should you have gotten a salary increase?

If the recruiter is giving new hires false information your company would want to know. They probably paid that recruiter to find you; if what the recruiter says makes new hires less likely to stick around because they feel they're not getting what was promised, they're going to want to bring that up with the recruiter.

If a legitimate mistake happened, your boss is going to want to know. For that matter, if your boss was trying to get away with something, this gives them an out; they don't have to say they were trying to screw you over, they can say it was a mistake.

If there's a freeze on salary increases, your boss probably wants you to know that; if you hang in, you'll (theoretically) be paid what you're "worth". No guarantee that's true, but odds are in any reasonably large firm that the situation would be announced.

Finally, if you're not off probation, you want to know. Was the probation period longer than you thought? Has some perceived problem caused them to extend it? If they aren't actually happy with you, you want to know why and what you can do about it; and, maybe, you want to keep your eyes and ears open for other opportunities (or even actively seek another job).

I'd go to the boss on the assumption that the situation may be different than you think, just looking to understand the way things are actually done in the company. You don't have to propose a reason why things are not the way you were lead to believe; just explain what your understanding initially was, and ask how things actually work.

-1

I'm also a developer in the UK albeit more senior than you; we're like gold dust to employers, seriously. Also UK employment law is really strong, you have to basically commit gross misconduct to be let go.

Just ask; the worst that can happen is they say no.

  • 1
    If you have been in the job less than 2 years your rights are far less than most people believe, saying that you are very unlikely to get fired for asking for a raise. – mattumotu Mar 22 '18 at 11:52
  • 1
    Good developers may (depending on skills/circumstances) be like gold dust. You may or may not be, don't assume you are, and even if you are your boss might not know that – mattumotu Mar 22 '18 at 11:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.