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I know that 6 months is way too soon to be negotiating salaries in any usual context. My context is not usual.

I joined the company as their first employee, after a couple year break from work for grad school. I was offered a lower salary than the one I had when leaving my past job, accepting the whole "we are just starting as a business, so we're starting low". Six months into this job, after my probationary period ended, at my December end-of-year review I got a surprise raise of 10% as a confirmation that they'd like to keep me, and as the company was looking at receiving a major grant soon. That put me roughly at the income level of when I've left my previous job 2.5 years prior.

Now, six further months later, the company has been awarded two major grants and five other people have been employed. While I am not struggling on my salary, I suspect that I am underpaid looking at market rates. Furthermore, I believe that some of the newer employees are paid better than me mostly because of having been in better negotiating position during their recruitment process (higher past salary + our company having had the grant awarded). Those are however only suspicions - I'm not able to point at specific numbers and say "look, I'm underpaid".

Anyway, as my one-year anniversary at the company approaches, I've been considering asking my boss for a one year retrospective meeting, where we'd talk about all the ways I've been able to contribute to the company and the way forward. And recently, in the light of the general feeling of being underpaid, I've started considering including some chat about my compensation in that chat.

Is it weird that I'd have that conversation now, only 6-7 months after I've received my prior raise, or should I wait until my end of year review? Is it going to make me look greedy and ungrateful about the previous raise, or is it understandable given the circumstances?

  • "Is it weird" is not a great question, we can't read your boss's mind. We also can't make a choice for you. Figure out what you want, and then proceed with caution. If you feel you deserve it, you can ask for raise every month – aaaaa says reinstate Monica Jul 20 at 16:56
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    At no point am I asking the community to make a decision for me. I'm merely asking for the implications of asking for a salary review so soon. – KubaFYI Jul 20 at 17:00
  • It's not weird. If you're still underpaid, you're underpaid. Also, why didn't they give you equity instead of salary? – Stephan Branczyk Jul 20 at 17:45
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    Does this answer your question? How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid? – gnat Jul 20 at 18:26
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Data is your friend here. If you don't have it, you will absolutely look greedy. You should do the research to find out what the market wage is for the work you do. You need to have a file that you keep up to date with all of your accomplishments telling the story of how great you are. If the 10% didn't bring you up to speed, it should be a trivial task showing it by extolling the things you do. This list should include metrics on gains. Did you help earn the grants? Put it in there. Whatever you're doing to bring value to the company and further goals needs to be in that file.

Once you know what is fair in your market and can describe the value you bring to match it, it won't matter what the time lapse is. If they still see you as "greedy", you now have a file that doubles as a really great resume.

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The questions that they may come back with should have well-prepared answers. First they may ask:

What is the difference between what you did when you were hired and now that would make you worth more to us?

To this you can reply with the improvements you've made, data that shows growth you have contributed to, roles that have changed for you, etc. Hard evidence that is not opinion based is best. Numbers, data, direct reports you've accumulated, etc.

Next, they may remind you that you agreed to your salary for the job title you have. This makes salary research a moot point, unless you're asking for some kind of promotion.

You agreed to the salary for this job title six months ago. Why didn't you do the research then?

You can reply with why you think you are, again, worth more or doing more. Say, for example, that three of the new people report to you. That would, in my mind, make you a manager now. That is worth more.

It will be VERY difficult to get them to part with more money just because they are making more unless you had something to do with that and you can clearly demonstrate your contribution to that increase.

Otherwise, your annual review would be the time to bring it up to avoid looking greedy.

Edited based on comment to add: When you do go in - ask for what you think you deserve but consider allowing them to structure it over time (a percentage each quarter there is increased revenue, a high percentage each year, etc. until you reach market value) and get that in writing. Every company, new or old, can give a standard "we can't pay more now" answer to avoid, well, paying more. It's a tactic. They will need to know you're committed to them for reasons other than money (another politic but one nonetheless) so that's something to consider.

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  • Yeah, except that when I was being offered the job, I was explicitly told that the salary I was being offered was lower because the company didn't have the kind of money to pay me a market rate at hand. – KubaFYI Jul 22 at 19:18
  • @kubaFYI that kind of makes a difference, but not necessarily. They have you at the price you've accepted so you will have to go in there well prepared - unfortunately this happens a lot. Unless you got an increased structure in writing, you're going to have to fight for it. – JenInCode Jul 23 at 19:41

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