It’s bit lengthy but I think I need to do an introduction:

Two years ago I took a job and got a contract with a certain salary that at the time seemed ok. I wasn’t sure about how much I should ask at the time (plus I was moving from my home country, which has different salary expectations) and, overall, I wanted the job and wanted to move here, so I accepted the offer. I got a good raise after 1 year I was here (20%), and got my contract renewed. Though in the meantime I got to know that other people who have started in my company with my same position, got an initial offer that is higher than my initial salary combined with the raise I got after a year. I subsequentially asked for a new raise which was initially denied due to the fact I already got a raise a few months before. I therefore told my manager I was aware I was getting less money compared to my colleagues who started later (not sure if that was unprofessional(?)), and I asked whether that was due to them having better skills, and if that was the case to help me understand and give me a feedback on which gaps I needed to fill. They weren’t able to tell me anything or point to anything that they are doing better (also because they never asked my supervisor about my performances), but agreed to give me a small raise (I’m still getting slightly less though). The topic sort of dropped at the time also from my side due to a couple of other personal reasons.

Now, I’m about to start my third year here. I wanted to bring up the topic once again, because ultimately I’m not happy with how much I’m getting, plus I feel my work is not appreciated enough since in my opinion I’m doing a pretty good job. I feel like I would like a 20% raise compared to what I’m earning now, which seems a lot, but would actually be only an average salary for a professional with my experience in my industry.

I’m prepared to leave eventually if I don’t get it and got other job offers recently. Of course I would prefer to stay where I am now, but this situation is making me feel very frustrated at the moment. Do you think it’s fair my employer reasoning? (That compares my raise in percentage to my salary, to which 20% is a lot, rather that the industry average salaries, to which my salary is low) Or it’s my fault to have accepted such a low salary when I started?

  • @Philipp I actually didn't see that page before, but I think the situation is slightly different. In that case he's comparing with the industry standards, rather than here is also a comparison within the company. I thought this is a relevant difference. I'll rephrase the question in order to make it more clear
    – Carlo
    Aug 2 '19 at 10:43

In my experience, it is always harder (if not impossible) to adjust your low starting salary by getting raises, than it is to start with a higher salary from the beginning. The biggest salary increases I managed to obtain in my career so far were exclusively by switching to another company, and starting there with a (much) bigger salary. I'm sure that, had I stayed with my first employer all these years, I wouldn't be at even half of my current salary.

In order to get a big enough starting salary, you need to "win" only one negotiation with your prospective future boss. On the other hand, in order to increase your low starting salary to the amount you actually deserve (or think you deserve) usually involves securing many smaller raises by convincing your boss over and over again that your value to them has increased and thus your salary should also increase.

To give you an example in terms of percentages:

  • The last time I switched companies, my salary increased by ~35%.

  • The time I switched before that it increased by ~20%.

  • The last time I got a raise while staying at my company, my salary was increased by 5%.

  • The time I got one while staying before that it was increased by a measly 3%.

So, if you're aiming for a substantial raise, my advice is for you to move on to your next employer.

  • 2
    I agree completely. In my experience substantial raises are usually obtained via a promotion or change or employer.
    – Neo
    Aug 2 '19 at 12:02
  • In the US it is common for companies to hide behind policy that sets max raises and pay grades, as though once they've written words it is divine truth. OP's safest option (not burning bridges and future references) when quitting is to play nice and give no indication of anything worse than a better opportunity came along. Personally, though, I would quite clearly state that the company's policy of taking advantage of me was why and reduce my notice period by the discrepancy of pay. That's the sort of stand one will always remember.
    – SemiGeek
    Aug 2 '19 at 13:58
  • I completely agree with your analysis. I am moving to my next employer with a 55% increase in my gross. If I had stayed, I probably will earn the same salary my whole life
    – Bernice
    Aug 3 '19 at 0:37

Sure! Just ask for it! If you have a realistic estimation of the worth of your job, then it will not be difficult to find someone that pays for it (in your current company or otherwise)

Address whoever is responsible in a calm tone, explaining your perspective on the issue, but focusing on them rather than on yourself. This means talking about what you are doing for the company and how it impacts its finances (i.e: how much money you are bringing to the table), rather than just complaining about how unfair you think your sitaution is.

But also, don't forget that negotiation skills are critical to succesfully achieve this. You may want to work on those or, at least, acknowledge whether or not you currently lack them

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