This is my first time asking on stack, so I appreciate any help.

Here's my situation: I was hired as junior software engineer right out of college, where I was basically on a 1 year trial period in the company. I was paid pretty low but it was kind of expected and I didn't mind then, because I was fresh out of school.

After 1 year, I excelled in the company and was offered a full-time position as a regular Software Engineer. They gave me an increase upwards of $30000. This was phenomenal and brought me up to base pay/market value for my area. This happened around June last year (2018).

This years raise cycle/reviews occurred during April and although I got a bonus, they said it was too soon since my last increase to be given another raise. If I had received a raise, it wouldn't have processed until May-June 2019.

Do you think this is fair? To me, I see this as now I have to wait until next raise cycle in March/April 2020 to be given a raise. I am unsure if I should mention anything to my manager.

I'm leaning toward asking for a meeting to explain, nicely, that I didn't realize the last increase was going to come at the expense at the current raise cycle, and also asking to negotiate on it.

  • "Do you think this is fair?" Whether or not it is fair it may just be the company policy in which case it will be difficult for you to negotiate anything.
    – sf02
    Apr 5, 2019 at 20:24
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – gnat
    Apr 6, 2019 at 4:34
  • 1
    They're ripping you off. You should leave immediately.
    – Fattie
    Apr 6, 2019 at 15:40
  • Work is about more than the paycheck, especially as a programmer since most likely you're financially comfortable. The difference you'll feel between $100k and $120k is much less than the difference between working with interesting technologies (or not), working with good colleagues (or not), having a work-life balance which suits you (or not), etc.. Of course you can move every 6 months and get pay rises each time, but you'll be much happier if you find the right surroundings and enjoy them for a while. You can still move for a better opportunity, but don't do it just for an extra $10k.
    – Phueal
    Apr 6, 2019 at 22:31
  • "If you enjoy your job, you'll never work a day in your life."
    – Phueal
    Apr 6, 2019 at 22:41

4 Answers 4


Should I negotiate an increase after being skipped on this years raise cycle?

I would not.

Even if you are already making 200K, a 30K bump is still 15%, which is 5 times greater than a standard raise.

I totally understand the frustration you have with being left out of the raise cycle. Your raise is, as you say, essentially a new offer -- usually that's the only time you get a raise that big, when you switch jobs. Once you're in a job, your employer has less incentive to raise your pay, as you've experienced.

If you need a salary increase now, then there's no harm in looking around. The only problem with that is when you change jobs too often, employers start to wonder how long you actually plan to stay in a position.

That said, in the software development industry, it's fairly common for people to move around frequently, especially early in their careers.

Another thing you have to consider is how much do you like your current job -- you might earn more elsewhere, but you run the risk of getting into a bad/toxic environment.

Do you think this is fair?

That's a bit subjective, and if I was in your place I doubt I would see it as very fair, especially if they just told you about it right before/during/after the raise cycle.

I guess I would say it's not un-fair, if it's only for one year. If you haven't already you might want to confirm with your manager that you will definitely be eligible for a raise during the next cycle.

If they try to pull the same thing next year, then you definitely have a case to go to your manager and negotiate.

I'm leaning toward asking for a meeting to explain, nicely, that I didn't realize the last increase was going to come at the expense at the current raise cycle, and also asking to negotiate on it.

I would advise against this.

Let's say you are making 100K. It would take you 10 years of standard 3% raise cycles to get to where you are now, so I would say you got the better deal, even if you have to wait another year for an increase.

It sounds like your employer has been generous. Going back for more, when your manager has explicitly stated the reason why they aren't giving you a raise, invites unnecessary conflict. And you probably won't win.

Enjoy the raise you have, but use your next year's excellent work to make the case that you should be paid for two years' worth of increases....

  • 1
    What I got initially wasn't a "raise", it was technically a full promotion, essentially a brand new offer. Am I allowed to throw numbers around in stack? I dont mind sharing my actual amount. Part of how I feel also is, I have almost 2 years experience, what they are paying me is more than fair for 2 years. I just feel shitty for getting skipped on this raise cycle after expecting to be on it. If I were to leave for another company, I cant see them paying someone with my experience and level much more than what I am now, maybe another 5k-10k? Unsure...
    – domStack17
    Apr 5, 2019 at 20:00
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    @domStack17 Whether you can share numbers depends more on your current employer's policy and whether they know you're you! Many people's salaries are public (e.g. some public officials, some tech industry workers with maverick employers), so there is nothing inherently wrong with sharing salaries. It is often taboo because it feels like boasting, and often against company policy because it improves their negotiating position if employees don't know each others' salaries.
    – Phueal
    Apr 5, 2019 at 20:08
  • 1
    Good point, ill probably refrain from sharing numbers then.
    – domStack17
    Apr 5, 2019 at 20:12
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    @domStack17 "if I leave I probably wouldn't be able to get that much more given market value" - this is the key point. They could have given you a $100k raise after 1 year, and then no more raises for 15 years, and you would still have been treated fairly. It's not the frequency of the raises that matters, but rather whether you are satisfied with your salary.
    – Phueal
    Apr 5, 2019 at 20:23
  • 1
    @mcknz thanks for that edit, what you said makes a lot of sense.
    – domStack17
    Apr 5, 2019 at 20:31

Depends on the company policy. Automatic raise cycle system is automatic following the rules of that system. There is always/often a possibility to get a rise another way, which seems to be indicated by someone for you as you mention: "If I were to of gotten a raise, it wouldnt of processed until May-June 2019."


Your question makes it clear they increased your pay to an appropriate level when they took on you on full-time. This happened (June) about two months after their regular pay-increase date (April). So, ten months later they didn't raise you again.

They were kind enough to explain why. Often companies are opaque about this sort of thing. And they gave you a bonus. Those are good signs that they place a high value on your work.

Think about your question from you manager's perspective. Keep this in mind: his job is to keep you working effectively while also following company rules. All companies, especially large ones, have processes for handling pay. (Think what might happen if they didn't have processes ... lots of nephews might have large salaries... )

What we don't know from your question is this: How rigid is YOUR company's system for increasing peoples' pay? Put another way, how hard will your manager have to work to get you a pay increase out of their regular cycle? Is there extra paperwork (some kind of seven-page "Form 12384: Justification for Extraordinary Salary Adjustment")? Will he require a signoff from some kind of divisional VP? Or can he just say to HR, "Hey we need to give Dom Stack a raise, let's do it."

You can ask him this. "Hey boss, tell me a bit about the company's process for granting pay increases. How does it work?" No harm can come from that question: people like being asked about their work. If he does a facepalm or groans loudly, you have your answer: wait until next year to ask for a raise.

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Or he may have some other things to say about the process. Your bonus may have been his best way of taking care of you within the company's system.

He will certainly understand that you cling to some hope for an increase this year. And he'll respect you for asking "why" rather than demanding it.

  • But my goodness. If you're a programmer, if you're skilled, and if you're young, why in the name of goodness would you waste another hour on such a slow-witted company. Just walk off and make much more money elsewhere - while advancing your career. Two years is far, far too long anyway for a first job for a young programmer (unless it's some absolutely exceptional situation - which it evidently is not).
    – Fattie
    Apr 6, 2019 at 15:45

Like all pay situations, this is effectively a negotiation. If you raise the issue with them they will uplift your pay if (a) they have a credible concern that you will leave and (b) your value to them is greater than the new level; they will not raise your pay if that would be bad value for them and/or they didn't think you might leave if refused.

Some factors which will influence your value to the company are:

  • Difficulty replacing you with a similarly skilled person for your current pay;
  • Difficulty training a replacement if you leave;
  • The (hopefully) positive impact you have on the wider team;
  • Potentially your positive relationships with clients.

Some factors which will influence how likely you are to leave:

  • Whether you are likely to be able to obtain a higher salary (or significantly better benefits) elsewhere in your locale;
  • Whether you're current role suits your ambitions in other ways (such as technologies you're working with, training you're given, responsibility, and visibility of your work);
  • Age and time served at the company (from your post this would work in your favour: as a young person with more than a year at the company and, presumably, no family, you are very "portable").

Any of the above can be used in a negotiation to persuade your management that you are undervalued or likely to move on (be careful threatening to leave, it can antagonise people) in an effort to get them to agree a pay rise. Assuming they apply of course.

In my industry it is also common to apply to other jobs, get a higher offer, and use it to negotiate better terms with your current employer. Obviously the feasibility of this is context specific and sensitive to personalities, but if you describe it as "Joe Bloggs approached me, and it is obviously really tempting because of the higher pay, but I enjoy working here and really value X, Y, and Z here, so I wanted to talk to you before accepting it." then it is usually reasonably well received.

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