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So for the past few weeks I have been working overtime as from my last question What to do when different project managers insisting that I must work on their requests immediately?

I recently found out about what my team coworkers were making through a friendly chat with one of the senior project managers who practically knows all the developers very well, and I was kinda blown away that while I have similar skill sets and experience coding, I am receiving less pay of about 40% than same level developers who started two month earlier than me. I have been doing most of the projects on my team since. The other developer likes to take extended lunch breaks everyday and is often seen watching youtube videos or chatting with people or take a long vacation during increased heat.

How do I ask for a raise without revealing I know how much others are getting paid?

It's been my 7th month at the company, and I continue to work overtime. I am of course upset that I didn't negotiate my salary at the beginning that being my fault but I feel bitter at the fact that I have the same output if not more than others on my team while getting belittled and lectured by the other developers who have been at the company longer than me for two month.

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    Whatever you do, don't criticize your coworker(s) for real or perceived ineffectualness. That has a way of biting back. If you're worth it, you can make a strong case for a raise (or a gradual schedule for a series of raises) without slamming others. – Angelo Aug 31 '12 at 12:25
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    Your coworkers don't use this site do they? (and hopefully not any of the other SE sites because it's now on the hot question list!) – Chad Harrison Aug 31 '12 at 13:58
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    @joepa - It seems you keep track of what the other developers are doing. – Ramhound Aug 31 '12 at 15:59
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    I would be very doubtful if any amount of negotiation is going to get you the size of raise you are asking for at your current employer. If I were you and the pay differential was important to me I would start looking for another position. Asking for a 60% raise would be near impossible for management to successfully argue for even if they really wanted to keep you. – stoj Sep 1 '12 at 3:40
  • I completely agree with @stoj. I am in the same boat and no matter how much I bust my ass in development, I would never achieve such 40% raise that would put me on par as my co-workers. Time for a new job. – bleepzter Sep 19 '12 at 18:34

10 Answers 10

70

Not revealing that you know (or think you know) what other employees make shouldn't be too hard since it is irrelevant. What your teammates do (or do not do) at work is also irrelevant. Your salary doesn't depend on the salary of other employees. It doesn't depend on whether someone takes a long lunch or watches YouTube from time to time. If your manager cares about those things, your manager will address the issue with those employees.

Your salary depends on your ability to demonstrate value to your company. If you are a developer, that means delivering code. If you want a raise, you need to present your boss with evidence that your value to the company is substantially greater than your salary and that you have earned a raise. That will involve figuring out what you have delivered in the 7 months you'e been employed and the value that brought to the company. If you can demonstrate that your value on the open market is higher (via salary survey sites, for example), all the better.

Assuming that you are confident that the value you have delivered substantially outstrips the cost of your salary (making no reference to what anyone else has delivered or what anyone else has been paid), request a meeting with your boss and make your pitch. Depending on the company, it's entirely possible that your manager will suggest addressing the issue at annual review time-- most companies are going to be hesitant to increase the salary of someone that has only been working for the company for seven months. Getting budget authorization for a mid-year raise is likely to be a politically contentious task-- you may need an extremely compelling case in order to get your manager to make the case up the management chain.

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    I definitely feel that my value on the open market is higher, after researching couple of different salary sites, like payscale, glassdoor etc., and consitently shows I am at the far low range of the salary scale. On my contract it says I can negotiate salary after 5 month. Now I have been doing higher number of projects and the output has been consistent, feedbacks have been good. My emphasis that I am not being paid at the market rate and my work quality and skills gained justify the raise. – joepa Aug 31 '12 at 7:04
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    Not to mention the development position is of very crucial component to the whole production cycle, they have a hard time finding talent (or people not bothering to work the insane hours), and requires frequent overtime. handful of people have recently left the company, so I feel that there is some wriggle room. – joepa Aug 31 '12 at 7:07
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    I think the advice that what others make or do shouldn't be brought up in raise discussion was a very good one. – joepa Sep 19 '12 at 6:51
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    "Your salary depends on your ability to demonstrate value to your company." -- while this should be true, I feel it is more often based on how well you do for yourself in the initial negotiations. – BenjaminRH May 28 '14 at 12:23
  • @BenjaminRH, while that certainly affects the total amount (a 3% raise from a 70K salary is much lower than one from a 100K salary); this is the part he can't change. All he can do now is make the case for his value to hopefully secure a 5% raise instead of a 2% raise (or no raise) or maybe even more if he is especially valuable. – HLGEM Sep 18 '15 at 18:18
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In your comment to another answer, you say:

researching couple of different salary sites, like payscale, glassdoor etc., and consitently shows I am at the far low range of the salary scale

Share the research with your manager - this, in particular with other evidence about your value to the company should be enough to give you an basis for which to request a raise.

You should frame the request in terms of "fairness" - "I feel it is unfair that I am lying on the very low end of the salary scale for this kind of position, in particular in view of the following: ....". Ask you manager for a fair treatment and don't accept any hand-waving - if your manager does not feel you are deserving, you should ask for objective reasoning. You should mention your staying late and not taking time off during crunch time - any item that can be measured and is to your favor should be brought up.

Bringing hard data to the table and using objective criteria is your best bet.

As Justin said, some companies have salary reviews done in specific times and some managers do not have leeway to change this - just be aware that this is a possibility.

A good book on the subject of negotiations: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.

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    +1 for "Getting to Yes"... just read it, and they make a compelling case for their principle based style. – Owe Jessen Aug 31 '12 at 18:45
  • Assuming the company salaries are disclosed and not by something illegal the employee did(ie your boss show it, or a coworker lets you know and has no problem of you talking about it), why it cannot serve as a market reference as well as glassdoor. It's even a better reference since you can find people who do the same job as you do and in the same company – Homerothompson Oct 16 '18 at 18:23
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Your questions depress me. Now that this is out of the way...

Life is not fair

I am a fatalist, this mindset depresses most people but it gives me strength to mentally and emotionally deal with the inequities of the world. The best rewards in life are mostly by chance. Hard work, sacrifice and dedication at best will get you half way there, luck has to meet up with you in the middle somewhere. There is no deterministic path to success so do the best you can, feel proud of your efforts regardless of outcome and be at peace with this world.

The most effective people can get pigeonholed

Opportunities and promotions go to those who excel and have the best performance. At least that is what they tell us and probably what they themselves honestly believe. Nepotism and Cronyism can be a real problem though and this means that the Good Ol' Boys look for a work horse to exploit, and a patsy to take the fall when things turn sour.

This is part of the human condition and has been going on since before civilization itself. The best advice I can give you here is to become adept at reading and understanding what others want from you and identify when you are being exploited or scapegoated to try and avoid these situations.

Other times if you do TOO good of a job, then the boss literally cannot afford to promote you because both of you know that NOBODY can do as good of a job. They know however what they are willing to pay for you, but it is up to you to ask for it.

Perception of value is Paramount

Work ethic, intelligence, accomplishments, all mean nothing. The managers perception of your value is everything. This goes both ways too, the effort and attempts of publicly traded companies to turn a profit are meaningless, perception of the value of that company mean everything.

The guy who goes on late lunches and doesn't accomplish much has a perceived value higher than yourself in the eyes of your manager. This is probably because he talks more frequently with the manager, is more friendly and personable. He probably has an aire of entitlement and ownership, he feels like he is the best or at the very least convinces others that he is indeed the best.

This is absolutely why he makes more, because his confidence and attitude exuded value in the interview, and he wasn't afraid to ask for it.

Management would know better of course if they were paying more attention to whats going on, but that is not your situatiuon. All positive effects in your life start with a transformation of beliefs and attitude. Positive change organically grows from confidence.

Don't Covet

Jealousy is a useless and negative emotion. Feeling victimized and attacked is also a useless and negative emotion. Negative emotions only motivate for the short term but then motivation and drive fizzle out without the presence of a more powerful positive emotion or mindset.

Think confidence and strength, belief in your own abilities, and arrogance towards those who judge you poorly. If it is authentic then people WILL treat you differently and for the better.

  • Jealousy is a useless and negative emotion No truer words have been spoken. Add Worry to that list and you'll have a set. – BryanH Sep 22 '15 at 20:10
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I've been in your exact situation.

Here's how I handled it (and I was successful in getting a raise commensurate with my position and responsibility):

First:

I absolutely killed at being the best at what I was doing. I had a lot going for me: I knew the problem space intimately, I knew what our business needed, and I made my self indispensable.

How did I do that?

  • I not only had ideas about how to improve the relationship with the client, but I delivered on those ideas.
  • I made sure to know what the entire team was doing around me (in that I knew the ins and outs of every situation). It became useful later when someone was out and I was able to take over and complete the task.
  • I had a plan. In a room full of people that don't have a plan, the man with a plan is king.
  • I had demonstrated consistently that I was the best at what I did there.

So that's the first part, you have to know without a doubt that you're rock solid and undervalued.

Second part:

  • Make friends with the people who actually run the show. Not the team lead, not the manager (Although you certainly want to be sociable with them), but the people who actually do the paperwork. They know the ins and outs of the finances.

Third part:

  • Negotiate. Give your manager a meeting invite, and let him know what you'll be talking about at this meeting. "How can I be better at what I do."

  • About three months later, have another meeting, same as before. This time, bring evidence of everything you've accomplished, and how you've helped the company be more profitable/save money/get more clients, whatever. This needs to be actionable stuff. Get testimonials from your customers (or other people who work at the organization) if appropriate.

  • Go into this meeting with the intent to walk out with your target salary (Since that's what you're looking for). You'll probably be more appreciated if you start at your target salary instead of trying to negotiate it down to it -- but like so much in life, it comes down to what type of person your manager is. Play the man, not the ball.

Your goal is to be persuasive and to have your manager come out of that meeting knowing the only thing he can do is give you a raise or risk losing you. But that tactic working is contingent on who you are and how you perform.

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    What if in the first meeting ("How can I be better at what I do.") the manager said: "I think you are fine" – Meysam Sep 1 '12 at 7:56
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    @Meysam, then you ask what you need to do to get a raise and/or a promotion. If there is still nothing you need to do then directly ask for the raise right then. – HLGEM Sep 18 '15 at 18:22
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I would recommend to NOT bring up the part about 'Fairness', as many managers see this as complaining and business owners see this as a way of life.

Like all of the answers have pointed to, you have to 'SELL' your worth to the company. It doesn't matter if you put in 16 hours of work per day or 4 hours of work per day, the question is "Do YOU help that company make profits and if so is it significant enough to warrant you a raise."

If you go in with the mindset that Joe Shmoe makes $X amount of dollars more than you do, it is a losing battle. Now if you go in with the mindset that my efforts are worth $X amount of dollars because me doing A, B, and C help bring $X amount of profits into the company, you are in a great position to succeed in your efforts.

You have to ask yourself if what you do is significant for that company. If the answer is yes, I would suggest finding other employment. Not to quit your current job, but to negotiate a higher salary elsewhere. That puts you in a position to negotiate the pay raise with your current job WITH the option of having the ability to walk away from the negotiation.

Having the ability to walk away from the negotiation gives you an umpteen amount of power. At that point they KNOW you are willing to walk away and seek employment with that other company if you don't get that raise, and it puts THEM in a spot to consider the negotiation of your salary increase.

This also puts you in a good position to ask for MORE than what you were originally intending to if you've set up the scenario correctly.

However, this is another end of this spectrum. If they ARE using you as a patsy, assigning you those long overtime hours to finish projects (of course they'll give you overtime if you really are getting paid 40% less than the others), they also probably don't respect you and don't think very highly OF you. So the end result COULD be that no matter what you do, they have no problem of letting you go because they just don't like you.

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    If you accept a counter-offer, chances are they will try to find a way to replace you on their own schedule. – Amy Blankenship Sep 2 '12 at 3:44
  • @AmyBlankenship That sounds almost hostile... like every company looks for a way to remove the guy who asks for the bigger salary. Plain and simply put, if you aren't worth your salary to the company, you will be let go. Now 'Believing' you are worth a certain amount opposed to 'Knowing' you are worth a certain amount are two different ideas. If you make it 'Knowing' and bring up tangible facts to back it up, they have no reason in letting you go. – Mechaflash Sep 4 '12 at 16:50
  • Managers want loyalty* and any hint that a worker is disloyal or less loyal, they are on the outs. Why give raises, choice promotions, & better projects to the person who has one foot out the door? When it comes to layoffs, guess who is getting the pink slip first? * When push comes to shove, Managers (their superiors) have no loyalty to their workers. If it will help bump the stock price, the company will instruct its managers to dump workerbees as fast as they can. – BryanH Sep 22 '15 at 20:14
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My current employer has a huge spread in salaries for developers - the highest paid developer gets paid twice what the least paid developer does. While the manager claims that skill and duties are important, the real issue is that people who are good negotiators are making far more than the ones who are weak at negotiating. The highest paid developer is also the guy who thinks that everything is negotiable, so he tends to play negotiating games with everyone. Since he is also the social glue that holds the team together, we tend to go along with the negotiating games. This company also has a habit of paying married employees more than single/divorced ones.

People who are shy also tend to be weak at negotiating. Negotiating is arguably the most important non-technical skill you can develop. It is the skill that affects your wallet the most.

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    This is so true. The OP needs to understand that what his peers are making is irrelevant and focus on his own value and negotiating strategy. – JohnFx Sep 1 '12 at 0:01
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    Are you implying that married people are better at negotiating? :) Sounds about right. – MrFox Sep 18 '12 at 13:55
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    @suslik, no, the old-fashioned belief is that a married man is supporting his wife and children (because a woman's place is in the home raising children) and therefore automagically deserves more money. A single/divorced person is supporting only themselves and therefore does not deserve more money. You'll see some of this come up when folks on Mad Men are negotiating salaries. Yes, this belief-system is that old. – Tangurena Sep 18 '12 at 15:47
  • @Tangurena While you have described the perception perfectly, there is some degree of truth to it. Children are very expensive. So are college loans, car notes, and everything else; but, those are common financial problems shared by most employees. Your manager wants to pay just enough to keep you happy. Those who aren't happy with their position in the company will eventually seek happiness elsewhere. And don't get your advice from the movies / tv shows, they play up scenarios for effect rather than accuracy. – Edwin Buck Sep 18 '12 at 21:27
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    I ran into that attitude in my first job out of college. The men in the office got double the annual raise as the women because (and I quote), "women don't need the money, they have men to take care of them." I was out of there as soon as I found another job. – HLGEM Sep 18 '15 at 18:24
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What your coworkers make is irrelevant. Your salary is based on the negotiated amount that you would take to do the job versus what the company was willing to pay for what you brought to the table.

Knowing that peers (even those with the same or lesser skills) make more than you is just screwing with your head. You need to decide what you are worth, determine if it is realistic and make your case to your boss based on YOU, not your peers.

If you can make the case that you are worth more demonstrate that to your boss, and be willing to leave if you don't get it. If you are not willing to leave over it, then even you are conceding that your time is worth exactly what they give you.

  • +1. Also a great argument why one should NEVER try to find out what the person in the next cube over is making, as it will only ever end in tears. – BryanH Oct 24 '12 at 19:07
  • In theory, the boss could respond to this argument. "You know, you are right. I need to talk to them about a pay cut since obviously people will do that job for less money." – JohnFx Sep 18 '15 at 19:17
  • If they wanted to get rid of their best people, sure. The surest way to get someone to quit is mess with their pay. A good person (= skills + network) will be able to find another job promptly and won't hesitate to bail if the job starts sucking. – BryanH Sep 22 '15 at 20:20
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+50

Assuming you're willing to leave the company given a better opportunity, the simplest vehicle for negotiation is to have another job offer in hand that gives you more money or something else you want.

Once you've got another written offer, you can have a heart to heart with your manager and say that you're in a dilemma, because you like your coworkers, role, etc. but you have this great opportunity. Is there any way they can beat the offer so you can justify staying in a job you love? Then talk about the value you've provided, in terms of achievements and business value, with no whining, no comparing yourself to others. That's a position of strength.

Your overtime and willingness to say yes to anything aren't "business value", though, so don't dwell on that when presenting your case; talk about the projects you've completed, their quality, their relevance to business objectives, and any specifics you're aware of on contribution to revenue or cost savings.

Either you'll get a raise or you won't, but either way, you're in a position to earn more, and it's the strongest possible negotiating leverage you can have (perhaps short of knowing where the company has buried some bodies, if you're at a company that's particularly evil).

If you go this route, all it takes is answering the call of recruiters that you've been ignoring or targeting a few solid employers and pitching yourself directly.

I didn't see your level of experience, but I get the impression you're near the beginning of your career. If you've been in the industry under a year or don't show much longevity in your current role, you may have a bit harder time getting the attention of other firms, but I know that I had an offer from another company (without really trying) with less than 3 months in to my software career on contract gig, and I was essentially in a manual QA role at the time, so it's possible.

I ended up not taking the external offer because I felt like the company had less room for me to grow and develop, since they were a hardware company rather than software focused, but it did provide me levers: one, to figure out how much I was worth on the open market, and two, to figure out what other options I had. It allowed me to wince a little when the contract role I was in presented an opportunity to convert to a full time role, and get a markedly improved offer from them before I signed on (still slightly less than the other company, unless I considered stock options).

Anyway, the moral of my story is this: If you're going to negotiate, have something to negotiate with. You can talk about the value you provide, but there may not be much urgency to remedy that unless there's some threat that you'd move on and they see you more valuable as a higher paid employee with them than as a recently departed employee.

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    +1 in long-term, this is likely the most productive approach. Learning about your real options in job market is so much more reliable than occasional hearsay about how much your teammates make. – gnat Sep 2 '12 at 12:28
  • Threatening to leave is the surest way to get RIFfed. Think you'll ever get a promotion? Think again! If you have a better offer, leave. – BryanH Oct 24 '12 at 19:08
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    Who said anything about threatening to leave? Telling your manager you have another offer is not the same as making a threat, it's helping them identify a competitive threat to employee retention. The difference, while subtle, is not merely semantic. An employer that values your contribution will find a way to encourage you to stay on board. I've only once worked for a manager that would take personal offense at something like letting him know you have a competitive offer, and he was such a psychopath that he's in jail now. Most employers are far more rational about this than you might think. – JasonTrue Oct 24 '12 at 19:29
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  • Enumerate your achievements. This has to be achievements that exceed your job description. For example, consistently reaching your target is not achievement. That is simply what is expected of you.
  • Don’t Bluff and Don’t Threaten. Don’t say or imply that you will move to a new company unless you get an increase but…
  • Be Precise. When you ask for an appointment, give a time frame.
  • Ask only for what you the company can give. The fact is that you will always deserve more. Whether or not you are right is beside the point. From your point of view, you will always deserve more but the fact is that it is less important than what the company can give you.

I would advise speaking face to face then using Email or a letter. Try something like this to arrange a discussion about your salary.

Dear.......

Can we meet please to discuss my role and development? I'd appreciate your advice.

Please let me know a time and date that suits you.

Best wishes, etc

  • Please give an advice about the email subject in this case – Ivan Gerasimenko Nov 30 '15 at 10:44
  • When there is only internet communication with your employer (so 'Meeting Request' does not suit here). Would 'Request for a Raise' be too strict? – Ivan Gerasimenko Nov 30 '15 at 10:49
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Do a little research on average salaries in your area and for the work you do. Be prepared to justify why you are better than the average going rate. You may get some pushback about the company not being willing to pay that much; be ready do avoid any reaction indicating you don't believe them.

If you don't ask you rarely get as much. This will be good practice in negotiating for a salary at the next job. At some point, you have to feel a company is less than honest when they have such wide discrepancies in salary among employees doing the same work and not justification they are significantly better.

protected by Jane S Nov 3 '15 at 22:06

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