I'm 29, hired into current engineering firm 3 years ago with 2 years of experience prior. Due to the quality of the firm and number of applicants against me, I decided to offer coming on with a lower title and salary than my experience level to land the job. I believe one should prove their worth and production before reaping the benefits.

So for the last 3 years I kept my head down and churned out exceptional work. Each end of year I received the maximum percent cost of living raises, which told me the bosses knew and understood I was underpaid.

Finally, I formally submitted an out of cycle major raise. My boss and I sat down and he understood the issue. He even helped research and decide on a percent to request. It came to a 50%-55% raise. My boss said it should be fine because based on all company hr info, research, etc. It is what I should have been making for a while now.

Issue is our firm was a small private company in the past, however it since has been sold to huge nation wide company. The original owner and all bosses are still here and they run their own ship 99.9% of time because we always make profit. They all approved the exact amount I requested and then it went to corporate. Hr came back and said they have a strict policy of only moving up 2 position titles at a time. My bosses argued but hr would give no explanation. So I only received a 20% raise and a higher position title. They gave me some bs resolution of giving me a 5% raise every 6 months to get me to what I was requesting, but that will be another 3 years to attain that!

What would you do? I'm working on a new request, listing any options I can come up with. Ex) ask to fire me and immediately rehire me going through all the red tape so it would not be a raise. Ex) ask for remaining 30% in 6 months and maybe give up a perk like reset my vacation time back to a new hire.

My firm wants me to get raise and has run all the numbers. Corporate is the problem! Thanks

  • 3
    Unfortunately, you may have to go get a competing offer from another company and ask to have your salary matched. But if you gone through the emotional swing of deciding to look for another job, you might just decide to take it. Either way, you come out ahead.
    – selbie
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 3:22
  • 6
    "I believe one should prove their worth and production before reaping the benefits. " Don't confuse "proving your worth" with "take what they give me". In the immortal words of Deion Sanders, "there's what you are worth, what you negotiate for, and what you get."
    – selbie
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 3:23
  • 2
    I decided to offer coming on with a lower title and salary than my experience level to land the job - That seems shortsighted, and if I may be so bold, a bit foolish. A company will pay you what you're willing to accept. You've done yourself a huge disservice in this situation. My guess is that you'll likely not ever get what you're hoping to get or what you think you're worth at this company. Your best long term goal might be to look for employment elsewhere where they'll pay you at or close to what the market rate is for your industry and experience.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 6:03
  • Are the proposed 5% raises based on your current salary or are they compounded? Would you also receive a cost of living increase if you took this deal? Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 12:23
  • 1
    Others have good insight into strategy here, but I want to echo @joeqwerty: never sell yourself short. It sounds like you're awesome, so make those companies pay for your awesomeness!
    – dlev
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 16:58

2 Answers 2


Find and get an offer at another company, then hand in your resignation with excess notice making it clear that the only reason you are leaving is due to HR.

Either they reconsider or you leave, but given the attitude it may be worth moving on.

  • 3
    It's possible from what the OP said that it was a different part of Corporate that blocked it. At several places I've worked, corporate finance insisted on weighing in on any raises over a certain percentage, ranging from 10-20%. For all of those companies, it was understood that meant any raise over that threshold would be rejected unless it were accompanied by a justification that explained to finance why it was a good idea in terms they accepted. "This is a star employee with an offer letter starting at over their asking amount." was only accepted at one of them. Otherwise I agree.
    – Ed Grimm
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 6:45
  • And informally make it clear to your boss what you are doing and why. I don't normally recommend saying anything, but I think this is an unusual case, in that have a good working relationship with them. But get another offer first.
    – Justin
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 11:48

If you are exceptional (in employers' eyes), you will absolutely find another company that doesn't underpay you. The only exception is if you're working in a niche field that is currently unwanted (very rare).

Check(!) your benefits/insurances, and how good you feel at your job before considering quitting. Enjoying your tasks and workplace is worth a lot! And can't be counted in money.

Before you quit, make sure you have some way of demonstrating your work skill. Demonstrating actual work done comes under a Non-Disclosure Agreement in most countries, and you will break this agreement and make legal action possible against you if you show it to a new employer. You may mention all your work, and your new employer may believe you, but all of this must be informal.

It seems like you want to stay with your employer, and that your employer understands you. They should know all the ways in which to hire you, but one option is to get re-hired by contracting, or starting your own company and this company paying for your services, rather than being your employer. (All Corporate I know of would heavily prefer this, if they don't, they don't want profit!)

I definitely don't recommend contract work agencies, as you are at the mercy of whatever either party can find that doesn't fulfill the contract, and you are out of the loop. For direct contract work, you need to really scrutinize the contract.

Starting your own company means that you will have to handle some paperwork, but most of the economics can be outsourced to cheap services now. The most important thing is to not neglect getting private insurances for benefits, and there are cheap services for that as well.

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