First, a little bit of background:

I've been in this company for a little over 2 years. We were a small team of 3 people managing and developing the tools for our companies (we are the HQ). Almost 5 months ago, one of our colleagues left and since then I am having an increased number of tasks. Over these 2 years I have learned a lot and now I'm faster and more efficient at completing tasks and am able to tackle more complex matters too.

Salary history

This job was advertised as "the minimum salary for this job is xx$". And since before this job I've done a one year internship and it was the first "real" job plus the fact that it was matching perfectly with what I've done for one year and it also was what I wanted to continue with, I didn't try to negotiate this minimum offered salary out of fear of not getting the job. Fast forward 1 year later, I was waiting for the first employee appraisal in the hopes that I will be able to get a salary increase. Unfortunately, the management decided they want to change the direction in which the company is going and my boss was let go. Shortly after, we got a new boss and nobody had his appraisal that year from the department. Waited almost another year for the next appraisal, for which I have asked multiple times, over a time span of 2 months, and finally had the meeting and at the end of the meeting finally asked for a raise.

Off-topic: The raise mentioned above is quite big in %, almost 30% but considering that even with that raise for my current experience I will be on par with the job market or even lower. I am not justifying my asked increase based on the fact that I've been doing this for over 2 years, but based on the market and what they would need to spend to replace me. I'd like to point out that I received a positive feedback in the appraisal and was told to keep up the good work.

Back to the salary negotiation

I didn't get a no from my boss for my asked raise, just that he needs to talk to HR. I was pretty happy back then because I thought that even if in the event in which I wasn't to going to get exactly what I asked for, I would be happy with even a slightly lower increase (20-25%). Now 3 months and a half passed and I have asked 4 times about the status of my request and stating that this is important to me not only due to the financial part but this would reflect how the company values me. Every time, I get more or less the same answer: still waiting for an answer from HR (my boss has a very important position in the company and probably he is not being honest as this salary increase should be very well in his power).

Notes:

This question is not about the %. As mentioned before, I didn't get a "no" for one second or a remark that it's too much.

I love working here and I have spend a lot of time to learn the specifics of this company, I would like to do everything in my power to avoid leaving.

The company is looking for months for someone to replace the colleague who left and they haven't been able to do it so far (mostly because with the set of skills asked, those people are already working as consultants and earning more). Note: the colleague which left the company, left for the same reason: asked for a raise and he got a "no". But at least he got an answer pretty fast...

Question

How should I continue from here? Should I try to be more pushy and ask again if he's (boss) happy with my performance and if the answer is "yes" then go ahead and ask firmly to have my situation finalized. Is it normal that it takes this long for an answer, or this would show a complete lack of interest for the employee? My goal is to at least get a "no" or a "yes", tired of waiting.

Edit: Probably not a duplicate of "How to approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid". I have already read that even before I had my first negotiation and followed the advices there to discus about my achievements and why I should I be getting a raise. Now it's a matter of done that and now what?

Edit nr. 2: Since I can't add a comment to Joe's answer due to the low reputation, I'll type additional info here. First of all, thank you Joe, long time reader of your answers here. My boss talked to HR for sure at least once, because there was also the discussion if they should change my contract type to have more hours included, to that HR sent back quite fast a "no" because I am not above a certain trigger that they are having. I know that they can't afford losing another team member because due to the specifics of the job, it takes 6 months to 1 year to get familiarized with all the custom tools and how they are built (can be faster for a fast learner). Now, I don't know why would HR drag this, the only reason I could think of, is they are first looking for a replacement for my colleague and once they have that they will say "no" to me.

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    As an aside - "I didn't try to negotiate this minimum offered salary out of fear of not getting the job" - many younger/newer professionals don't realize their value to their employers. I'm going to plant the seed now, but don't underestimate your own worth. If you've been doing a great job after accepting minimum, for such a long period of time, you might be surprised at what others think your are worth, though I'm encouraged that you picked a pretty good number as your requested bump. I'd say don't settle if they come in as low as 20%, though. – PoloHoleSet Aug 29 at 22:09
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    If you think they're trying to put you at a disadvantage by waiting for the new hire, you can put the ball back in their court. The only way to do this is to have a job lined up, put in your 2 weeks, and see what they say. Otherwise, if you just stay there and do nothing, you get nothing. HR is going to do everything they can to protect the company, not you. So use that your advantage during fragile times. – Dan Aug 30 at 16:51
up vote 27 down vote accepted

How should I continue from here?

Two years without a raise. Three and a half months after you asked for a raise, and four reminders about how important this was to you and nothing has changed. Your boss indicates that he is "waiting to hear from HR". Colleague left because he wouldn't get a raise. Not good signs.

Either your boss never really talked with HR. Or HR is intentionally dragging things out. Or nobody wants to deliver the bad news to you.

To me this says it's time to consider your other options.

Depending on the market for your particular skills, you could choose to update your resume and start looking elsewhere. Or you could just hang in there and hope for the best and maybe end up with no raise.

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    I feel like you are suggesting an either/or, which surprises me a bit compared to many of your other answers. I'd think that both - start looking around, and if they come to their sense and give the raise, retroactive to the meeting with boss, then the job search can easily be aborted, if OP is fully satisfied. If not, then they have a head start on what often is a long process. Adding this as a comment, since I don't think "what Joe says, but maybe do both" is a quality answer. – PoloHoleSet Aug 29 at 22:06
  • I've had a talk to my boss and he will push this topic again to his manager. He said I deserve an increase and he's willing to help me. Therefore, for now, I'll hang in there and hope for the best. I will continue to learn new things here and continue my development. Best case scenario, I'll get what I want, worst case scenario, I will be loosing some money but I'm still improving everyday and at least I'll take that with me at the end of the day. Hopefully things will go my way. – V2k Sep 3 at 11:20
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    @V2k You're ignoring this answer, that isn't in your best interests. You will be waiting forever. A company has tried to do this to me before. They're preying on your wishful thinking to keep the status quo and it's clearly working. Quit now, or quit later. There is no option involving a raise. Choose. – Nathan Cooper Sep 13 at 0:03
  • @NathanCooper According to my boss, I'll be seeing some kind of raise in one month. If I don't (or it's just a small raise), then this answer is definitely the way to go. – V2k Sep 14 at 9:50

From your question, it sounds like you're asking for a near 30% raise.

A raise this size for anyone is extremely unlikely

Two years without a raise isn't unheard of. It sounds like you're already significantly underpaid, and the company isn't doing anything to rectify this.

Being 30% underpaid is a huge red flag

Now 3 months and a half passed and I have asked 4 times about the status of my request

Your boss and HR have had plenty of time to process the request and at least give you a "no" answer. You should assume you will not get a raise based on the amount of time that has passed.

I love working here and I have spend a lot of time to learn the specifics of this company, I would like to do everything in my power to avoid leaving.

Especially since this is your first real job, you're assessment of the company and how much you love working there may not be as objective as it could be.

I'd update your resume, and go on a few job interviews. See what else is out there, and if a 30% raise is really doable for you. You can always say no to a job offer.

TL;DR

Perhaps you should start searching for a new job.

I've noticed a trend on this forum that almost every answer is "resign". But in this case I tend to agree.

Background

I am in a similar situation as yours. I have been working for an employer for 3 years, but no increase. Even after a promotion. So I finally asked for one and my manager was very agreeable and passed it up the channel.

It took him over a year and escalating 2 levels above him to just get an answer from HR. But I kept hanging on trying to be optimistic. Hoping that my hard work would be appreciated. Eventually they buckled and replied with "we don't give increases".

My manager continued the struggle and last month they conceded and gave me a 20% increase. It sounds like a lot, but they had been underpaying so badly that I am still earning less than half of what I deserve.

Luckily after being ignored for 3 months I could foresee how it was going to transpire. So I started searching for a new job. Tomorrow is my last day here and I am ecstatic to finally break free, but I wasted years and last hundreds of thousands of monies from being underpaid. I am so angry with myself for waiting so long to stand up for myself.

Don't make the same mistake I did.

  • I'm sorry for you to having to go through that. Have a look on the comment I placed on Joe's answer. I might be ending up in the very same place as you, but as I really like this place, I'm willing to take that risk. If it doesn't work out, then it will probably be a life lesson for me. – V2k Sep 3 at 11:23
  • @V2k If you like the place you must make sure it's a good place for you to be. Being ignored like that isn't a healthy relationship. Updating your CV and putting it out there doesn't mean you're going to go. It means you'll get a more accurate assessment of your worth on the market, and it will strengthen your hand in all future negotiations. People with money don't like people who appear subservient, and asking for 20% after 2 years on the minimum salary is not very much. You're not being perceived as important or your leaving as a threat. Start changing that. – rath Sep 14 at 10:04
  • @V2k And read this: Kalzumeus guide to Salary Negotiation – rath Sep 14 at 10:05

How should I continue from here?

Long story short, start looking for a new job if you haven't already.

I love working here and I have spend a lot of time to learn the specifics of this company, I would like to do everything in my power to avoid leaving.

I get from this comment that you're comfortable with everything else besides your salary at this company, but as you mention it is a big deal and you haven't received an answer in +3 months. Start looking for a new job and once you have an offer you would have a better hand in the negotiation.

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