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I started working for this company 8 months ago. There was a annual review and I got an "above standards" mark in my review. They give my a 1.7% raise which is almost equal to the inflation in the U.S. This basically means my income has not changed.

Does this type of raise mean that my company is not willing to pay more for the position I'm working for?

To be more specific I'm a computer programmer in Northern California with 140K salary. I am extremely "replaceable" because work that I'm doing can be done with a new employee without too much of learning curve.

closed as primarily opinion-based by jcmeloni, Jim G., CincinnatiProgrammer, acolyte, squeemish Jul 10 '13 at 14:07

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • You've been there only 8 months and are already getting a raise? Not bad! Many places I've seen would make you wait a year for any raise. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Jul 10 '13 at 5:38
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'Above standards' is HR gobbledegook. In Lake Woebegone every child is 'above average'.

There are two signals here, the first one is the 140K salary. If they gave you a review after 8 months and have decided to keep you at 140K, count your blessings. Average wages for programmers are more in the 90K area. In that respect at least, you are absolutely 'above standards'.

The second signal is the 1.7% raise. I'm used to seeing 3% raises after one year, so this is a shorter interval and a smaller nudge. I wouldn't take this too personally.

'I am extremely "replaceable" because work that I'm doing can be done with a new employee without too much of learning curve.'

Not even. Best guess is that there are about 500 million programmable devices in the US, including Desktops, Laptops, Servers, and Smart Phones. There are somewhere between 1.2 million and 2.0 million programmers/developers/database designers. You would be very hard to replace.

  • @JoeStrazzere - Having 400 programmable devices per programmer in the US may or may not seem relevant, but many programmers only deploy their code to ten or twenty machines. Both from personal experience and from the frenetic recruiting that I see going on, there would appear to be a lot more demand than supply. – Meredith Poor Jul 10 '13 at 16:14
  • @JoeStrazzere - in the context of this particular discussion, the $140K is interesting. While this is probably a 'normal' salary in MA, NY, and CA, it's a good chunk of change in southern states. The last time a recruiter approached me with numbers like that, it was for a largish bank, one that had had a reputation as being a miserable place to work. In other words, the money was 'golden handcuffs'. The bank was seeking programmers to develop code for regulatory compliance... – Meredith Poor Jul 10 '13 at 18:41
  • ...and wanted people that stayed around long enough to learn the regulatory environment and the software, such as it was, that already existed. When programmers quit after six months or a year, it isn't possible to get net forward motion. In this context, the specific programming tasks might be easy to farm out to someone else, but the business knowledge is expensive to impart. – Meredith Poor Jul 10 '13 at 18:44
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    let us continue this discussion in chat – Meredith Poor Jul 10 '13 at 22:42
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Maybe I'm dating myself here, but I have always been of the mindset that raises are based on responsibilities, and not necessarily on individual performance.

My experience with raises has always been that they come either at the end of a probationary hiring period (typically 6 months), or at the same time as a promotion with increased responsibilities. Having your pay adjusted to be commensurate with inflation seems to be just that - an adjustment.

I believe your HR department is making a small mistake in making the adjustment coincident with your review, and that's why you are feeling that your review was "negative."

You've been there 8 months, and got a positive review. That's great. Your company is adjusting your pay to compensate for currency devaluation (what most people think inflation is). That's great. I don't think the two should be tied together, and what you're feeling now is the reason why.

Were I you, I would spend another 8 to 12 months becoming the best employee in your group, and then approach your manager about a lead developer role, if your structure has such a thing. That would be when to expect a significant increase.

  • My opinions and experiences. Your mileage may vary.
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The 1.7% raise in less than a year isn't bad. It also may be very good. I have experienced the performance review chain for a number of companies that result in raises 4 months after the end of the review period. So the 1.7% raise 8 months later might actually be 1.7% after 4 months of work. Some companies will not even give an increase to any employee with less than 6 months of time with the company at the end of the review period.

If they do give one to a new employee they may be forced to keep them at the average or neutral level to be fair to the longer term employees.

It is also possible that the finances of the company meant that the average raise was essentially equal to inflation. Raises have been reduced at many company due to the economy the last few years. Some companies have even skip raises based on real or perceived financial pressures. Some have even realized that small raises will not alienate employees because of the tight job market.

Many companies at the end of the process let everybody know what the average increase was this year. Others will keep the who process secret. Both schools of thought have pluses and minuses.

I wouldn't be concerned, and would probably be pleased.

  • "Some companies have even had to skip raises." I would change that to "have chosen to" as many companies that were doing well chose not to give raises with the economy as an excuse since they didn't think people could leave. – HLGEM Jul 11 '13 at 19:18

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