Some background: My company does annual bonuses/raises around the March timeframe. I got hired in August of last year, so at 7 months I didn't feel comfortable enough asking for a raise.

I just had my mid-year review yesterday, and I asked for a raise since I've been here a year now. I did this to get the conversation started so when I have another review in November, we can discuss a bigger raise than the 2% I got in March.

About 2 months after I was hired, there was a round of layoffs and the board hired a new CEO, so I know for a fact that money is tight in the company. However, if we do better this year, that excuse won't fly and I will bring that up to him if he tries that again. In addition, the salary/pay structure in my company is very rigid, and I may even have to ask for a promotion to get more than a COL raise. Is it acceptable to do this?

Side note: If the company does poorly again this year I'm planning on getting another job. If this company can't pay me what I feel I am worth, I'll find another one. Should I politely tell this to them if they are unwilling to pay me?

  • 18
    "get around"? "excuse"? This doesn't bode well. I suggest you start that job search sooner rather than later. If I had laid people off for lack of money and somebody started putting their foot down about getting what they were entitled to and not accepting any excuses from me, I would urge them not to let the door hit them in the butt on the way out :-) Jul 9, 2015 at 17:02
  • 13
    Oddly there is no mention about what you have done for the company to deserve a larger than normal raise. When money is tight and there have been layoffs, you have to have extraordinary performance to get a raise or be in a postions so critical that they can't afford to lose you. Even when money isn't tight, the vast majority of employees will only get a cost of living raise if they get a raise at all unless they get promoted. If the company is having financial troubles what have you personally done to improve revenues?
    – HLGEM
    Jul 9, 2015 at 17:16
  • 1
    @HLGEM At my company, even if you did something to improve revenue, raises are based on how the company does overall. So although I implemented a feature that brought in revenue that is 3x my salary, and our product is doing well, the rest of the company didn't and due to normalization it drags us down :( Jul 9, 2015 at 17:22
  • 4
    Yes but that at least gives you a starting place to ask for the raise. However, if the company doesn;t have the money, it doesn't have the money.
    – HLGEM
    Jul 9, 2015 at 17:25
  • 4
    3 times your salary is not much to the business bottom line. That may barely cover your loaded cost. Good that you have been able to bring in money, so you may warrant a little more than others., but you need to make a bigger impact than that to warrant a significant salary increase.
    – cdkMoose
    Jul 9, 2015 at 17:27

3 Answers 3


I'll address your Side Note: first, don't give an employer an ultimatum - if they can't pay you then find another job. Giving them an ultimatum is going to cause them to view you poorly whether you are justified or not and even if they give you the raise your going to have some social issues to deal with and it's only going to make your job harder. On that note, if you eventually put in your '2 weeks' and they ask you to stay for better pay DON'T DO IT, everyone who does this doesn't last a year after this happens, they will either do this so they can find someone else in a longer time frame or, again, there will be discourse.

Layoffs don't necessarily mean money is tight, companies do this all the time in order to 'appease' stock holders and also to manipulate the stock market. I've been at jobs where they did layoffs, the higher ups made a bunch of money and then they re-hired the same people and gave them better pay (while also getting layoff pay which is 3 months salary and a month vacation essentially) - this has happened several times in my career.

If they are doing layoffs, their money is tight, and they don't have the 'budget' to pay people then I would look for another job - sounds like this company clearly doesn't know what it's doing to begin with. Companies don't have the same 'pull' over people these days because of the internet and the amount of independent companies and workers on the market, if a company isn't willing to put forth the proper investment into someone they value or is an asset to their team then find someone who will (if that is the circumstance you are in).

EDIT: If you love your job then I wouldn't just throw in the towel over a little more pay, loving your job is a valuable thing - I'm only suggesting you throw your reel into the lake and see if anything you like bites, by no means give up on the current place you are now and don't let it suffer as well. Sounds like you know what to do, just give it some time and see if they are really yanking your chain, you've only been there a year anyway it's good to have at least 2 years on your resume for previous positions.

  • 2
    On that note, if you eventually put in your '2 weeks' and they ask you to stay for better pay DON'T DO IT, everyone who does this doesn't last a year after this happens, - this sounds like anecdote.. are you confident ? Jul 9, 2015 at 17:24
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    @Adel Yes - you basically just told your employer that you will find someplace else if you don't feel like all your needs are met, this makes you unreliable to them and even though they may panic and get the 'wake up call' that they don't want to lose you they will always doubt that you will stay and it will stress them out, if other employees find out they will want to do the same thing - it causes a lot of issues, just take the new job and stick with your decision.
    – user37925
    Jul 9, 2015 at 17:33
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    I agree with the OP, accepting a counter-offer doesn't usually wind up going well. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth of management and more often than not fear that once a better offer comes you'll be back in the exact same situation
    – ist_lion
    Jul 9, 2015 at 20:12
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    As someone who was promised a salary adjustment after a few months working at a place, did the mistake of accepting a lower starting salary and ended up with a 1.4% raise 8 months later, thanks for that answer, helps me evaluate my options.
    – Jeff Noel
    Jul 10, 2015 at 12:28
  • Agree slightly with @Adel , if the sole reason OP is quitting is that they want more money, then the company offers more money, it sounds like everyone's happy... Staying on more money /for now/ may well be the right solution even if it's not a long-term one.
    – JeffUK
    Feb 19, 2019 at 17:21

If this company can't pay me what I feel I am worth, I'll find another one. Should I politely tell this to them if they are unwilling to pay me?

There's really no polite way to say "pay me more or I'll quit." Even if there were, that's a good way to get yourself moved to the head of the line if there's another round of layoffs.

If your performance is truly excellent and you have an especially good relationship with your manager and you have financial goals that your current salary puts out of reach (like buying a house, saving a certain amount for retirement or financially helping family, etc), you could talk with them about how much you like your job and wish you could stay long term but to reach your goals you may need to take a higher paying job in the future. Be very careful if you do that, it's entirely possible that your manager will hear "It's just a matter of time before I quit" and assume there's no point trying to make you happy if you're just going to quit anyway.

However, the way you talk about your company in your post "that excuse won't fly", "the salary/pay structure in my company is very rigid", "If the company does poorly again this year I'm planning on getting another job. If this company can't pay me what I feel I am worth, I'll find another one." makes me think that you don't respect your boss (or whoever makes the final decision on raises), that you don't believe you're getting paid fairly, and that you don't believe the company will succeed long term. If that's all true, what you should really do is quit. Even if you did "get around their excuses", would you really be happy or would you be unhappy about working for a company that tried to weasel out of paying you fairly and had to be forced to pay up?


A few general thoughts:

  1. You don't ask for a promotion because you want a raise. Simply put, this isn't how comp structures work. Companies don't develop pay scales based on what they think a person is worth. They develop them based on what they think the market going rate is to get a certain set of tasks accomplished. This is a subtle but distinct difference. Asking for a promotion simply because you think you're worth more is very likely to fail. You need to show your company that you're capable of performing additional tasks or working on more complex projects which in turn warrant a promotion to the appropriate level. Also keep in mind that working harder isn't the same as being more productive or adding more value to the company.
  2. Issuing any sort of ultimatum is almost always a bad idea.
  3. If you feel you deserve to be paid more you need to be able to clearly demonstrate this with data. Start saving any compliment emails you receive, get clarity from your manager on what metrics are used to evaluate your performance and find ways to track and document this. Do this throughout the entire year. Many people forget about reviews until a few weeks before they take place. I've been a part of the review process on many occasions and very often the people who get the biggest increases are the people who can best demonstrate the value they brought to the company.
  • 5
    Not always though, most companies 'create' titles and positions just so that they can have an excuse to pay people more money (going from director of development to director of development II for instance). Also most companies just try to get away with the lowest pay they can, most people find this out thanks to the internet - this is something they need to stop doing.If you give your employees what they deserve and treat them right then they will do the same back for you.
    – user37925
    Jul 10, 2015 at 17:21

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