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In our end-of-year self-evaluation, the board has asked us to rate our level of satisfaction (from 0 i.e. not at all satisfied to 10 i.e. fully satisfied) with our job based on the following factors:

  1. amount and type of the work
  2. company's culture
  3. compensations
  4. other criteria (you define)

The company is paying me a competitive salary/compensation, but I am not very happy with it as based on my qualifications I could be in another company/industry and I would probably make more money (there were reasons I chose to be here but it's off topic so I'm not explaining here) and regardless I am tight on budget and am not genuinely happy. The thing is, if I say I am happy and rate my salary 8-9, not only would I be lying but also I will definitely not get any significant raise! If I rate it 5-6, I am worried I'll sound too demanding (and possibly get fired lol) because again, the company is paying a competitive salary.

With that I have two questions:

  1. How do you think I should answer the salary question, knowing that at least 3 people on the board (the big guys!) are going to read this and evaluate/judge me and my situation based on my answers?
  2. They have also asked what one or two items from the above-mentioned list (i.e. type of work, compensation, etc.) would help my level of satisfaction to increase if they improve those items in the upcoming year. Apparently, money is one big factor for me, but how should I mention this so I do not seem like a needy/cheap person?
  • 6
    I do think “the reasons you chose to be there” might be relevant. Compensation isn’t just about what you get paid at the end of the month. Your total package of “benefits” should be what you consider. – AsheraH Nov 10 '19 at 7:36
14

I think you're approaching this situation all wrong. This is actually an incredible opportunity.

Let me explain why. You seem to really like this company - given that you're going out of your way, worrying about how they view you as an employee. But you also don't feel you're getting your fair market pay - that you could earn more elsewhere. So it'd seem your ideal outcome would be getting a raise in-house that reflects your market worth.

Great! Except... you seem to be going out of your way to avoid getting a raise. You're worried about seeming 'needy/cheap', you're afraid to indicate you're unhappy with your salary (to the point where you're afraid to give it a middle-of-the-road 5 out of 10!)

So, first things first: absolutely verify that you're worth more. A lot of employees feel they're worth more... but they're not. I'm not saying that's you - but going forward with an expectation of "I'm being underpaid by 10k!" won't work out well if it turns out you're being fairly compensated.

Then, after that: change your mindset. You're not worried about being 'cheap' or 'needy'. You're a professional, with a valuable skill-set, and you're currently being underpaid.

Next, get a list of accomplishments - a series of reasons why you're worth more to the company. Which projects did you hit home-runs on? What did you do that nobody else could have? Why are you one of the best employees at the place? This needs to be at the forefront of your mind - because if a higher-up asks you, "So why should we give you a raise?" - simply answering "Because I could get more elsewhere" isn't good enough. They need to know why losing you would hurt the company. From their perspective, it doesn't matter if you could earn more money somewhere else, if you're not worth more to this company.

After that, put out a few feelers for outside positions. This is a sort of sanity-check, to make sure you're not about to jump off the deep end. If you don't get many/any callbacks, it's maybe a sign that your employability isn't quite what you're imagining. If you get companies asking when you'd be able to come in for an interview? It's probably a good sign that you should proceed. Absolute worst case: if in the next step, your boss says, "Well, we think you're being paid fairly; if you feel you can get paid more elsewhere, you're welcome to try" - those feelers might be something you follow through with.

Finally, go ahead and communicate. In fact, I'd consider going above and beyond simply marking a '2' or '3' on your salary happiness - and just schedule a 1-on-1 to talk about your current salary. And be ready to make a case why you're worth it to the company.

  • This is great advice, thank you so much! – Antonio Nov 10 '19 at 6:47
0

I just want to highlight something I think is important. You state that,

The company is paying me a competitive salary/compensation

and immediately after say,

based on my qualifications I could be in another company/industry and I would probably make more money

I think it's important to recognize that a competitive compensation is defined as being comparable/higher than what you would earn at another company. If your specific domain knowledge is valued in the market more highly than you are paid, it is completely reasonable to bring this up in any salary discussions.

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