At the end of October I was offered a promotion to Senior Software Engineer from a Software Engineer II. When I was offered the position I was told that we would discuss salary next week and my raise would be effective November 1st. Fast forward to today, several attempts have been made for me to get this meeting underway, but to no avail. I was told via private chat message what my new salary would be and no opportunity for me to discuss details due to tight work schedules.

Essentially everything has been put into place, my role has been announced to the team and I have begun formally fulfilling the responsibilities of the role as of November 1st.

The problem is... the raise was a lowball. The offer I was given is ~21% below the market average for my new position and the responsibility change is significant. I'm fully prepared to turn down this position and resume my old position because it's not reasonable.

I feel like I'm being forced fed this new position with no means to negotiate or discuss the details.

Since the dialog here was opened via chat message, would it be unreasonable for me to make my case for a higher raise via email?


5 Answers 5


First, congratulations on the promotion.

Unfortunately, promotions often have little or no salary increase. While the internal candidate (the OP) may understand the organization and products, they lack the experience that an external candidate will likely bring. Organizations can also get away with it because they have the majority of the bargaining power.

As for the raise being below average, remember it is an average, not a minimum. It may not be what you wanted and you may have legitimate grounds to ask for more. However, it is still a promotion and that is going to be more valuable to you in the long term.

Since you have already started in the position, asking for a raise now likely falls outside the promotion process and into general raises. This is often much harder.

I would advise you accept the promotion, stay in this job for a year or two then look for a new job with a better salary. This way, you get the experience of the new position, a better salary and experience at multiple organizations.

[W]ould it be unreasonable for me to make my case for a higher raise via email?

No. You can always ask. The worst response you can get is "No".

However, being in person is better because (1) you get undivided attention, meaning you can counter arguments and give evidence faster and (2) you can read and provide non verbal cues (e.g. facial expressions, posture).

  • 7
    And if they say no, you can segue naturally into "OK, what would I need to achieve in order to get another raise?" Knowing expectations is half the battle.
    – keshlam
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 2:04

Your question as is doesn't give a lot to work with.

Nobody knows what company or country you're in, and "software engineer Mk II" doesn't mean anything to anyone. I don't even know if you applied for the raise or they just gave it to you! Did you agree to the promotion they offered, and was there dialogue then?

Natually, you won't want to disclose your company, but you might want to consider expressing the raise as a percent of your current salary - something to get a feel for what you're asking for. Also something like "i have x years work experience" will help too.

Nobody knows what the responsibility change means either - are you working longer hours? Travelling more? Or same hours but now if something goes wrong you look bad?

I'll tell you, you're going to struggle with an email, or indeed, any sort of bargaining. You're much better off taking this raise to senior engineer and then shopping around at other companies to get the raise.

Then you can either hop to the other company, or ask your company for a raise based on the new job offer that you currently have.

Absolutely do not reject a raise because it isn't enough money - they're giving you more money, take it. Use that to earn more money elsewhere. Rejecting the raise (on the grounds of money) is going to raise red flags in your company, and not help you find a better paying job.

You're actually in a better spot than most people on the promotion track - typically it's the reverse. You get the increased responsibility and then, after a year, you get the raise. Maybe your company is going to up your salary after you've proved you can do the job? Whatever it is, I'd strongly advise against declining more money.

Well, almost. If you're being asked to do work that is hindering with your lifestyle (eg longer hours, travel, stress), and you're not getting compensated for it, and you never wanted it anyway, then it is fine to say "no thanks".

If you wanted it and you're just not happy with the amount (and where did you get that 20% figure from anyway?) then just take it and look for other jobs that pay more.

EDIT as to requesting more money - no, you can request it how you want, but you'd want to be in-person than on an email/chat/phone. Better would be to ask for a meeting to specify your new job, your requirements, your career growth within the company.

In the middle of that meeting you can request your salary be increased, or argue for it, or whatever. Saying "other people get paid more" isn't likely to work though. Stressing the new responsibilities and the increased drain on you and how the money would help offset that (more money for massages, or alcohol, or sports cars, or whatever, to offset the stress) will be a more credible path.

At the end of the day though, the easiest way to get more money is to get a new job as a senior engineer. You don't need to wait a year to prove it, you can apply now.

Aside 1: you should almost always be increasing your pay/rank every time you hop jobs, don't ever do otherwise.

Aside 2: the only time you should not be doing this is when it is a horizontal transition (eg into a new technology that you can spinoff into mucho lucrative consulting gigs a year later, or into a new role altogether like product manager or something). Or when you're escaping a toxic company, or a company about to go under, or you're escaping impending layoffs.


I think in person is better (if you can manage to get face time).

If not, I think it would be acceptable to do this over digital communication.


Since the dialog here was opened via chat message, would it be unreasonable for me to make my case for a higher raise via email?

No, it would not be unreasonable. In fact, I think it would be smart. Email is an electronic, text-based, asynchronous communication medium. When negotiating a raise, there are inherent advantages attached to each dimension.

  • Electronic and text-based: Without a camera, you'll be able to cloak your tone of voice and facial features. This will help to reduce (but not eliminate) the emotion attached to the exchange.

  • Asynchronous: The asynchronous nature of email will allow you to think things over and plan each move (similar to a chess game). Make a strong case for your opening number and back it up with relevant facts. Carefully consider each response and prepare an effective counter response. Unlike a synchronous medium, you're never under any obligation to respond right away.


Market average doesn't matter a lot I think. Question is how much more do you do, what is the increase in let's call it stress and how much more do you get paid than before. If that all matches somehow, it makes sense to the company to offer that amount.

If it doesn't match, you have to put in writing your expectation, argue with the increased workload and then demand to be paid at least XY, have reduced workload, be put back in your old position, whatever you feel comfortable with.

Find out what you want and then demand it. And since you didn't react directly to the "low-balling" you are probably not good in a 1:1 meeting. Nothing wrong with putting your terrorist demands in writing. Pro tip: Use letters cut out from different newspapers! :)

Ofc be prepared for the consequences, they might not agree to pay more, they might fire you right away, etc. Keep looking for a different job on your radar and also show that in your attitude. Never mention you will leave, but show you don't care how things go anyway and that you are prepared for all outcomes.

If your family or whatever relies on you having exactly this job, follow the advice of one of the answers.

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