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This question already has an answer here:

I've read all of the related questions and a handful are somewhat similar in nature to my situation but there are certain differences that I believe warrant asking a new question.

About Me

I work for a digital marketing company in an Operations position that encompasses critical aspects of Product Support and R&D. The overarching purpose of my job is to improve the SEO product, which is fast-growing, rapidly changing and requires extensive knowledge across several disciplines. The means by which I accomplish this is through providing support to our teams, especially in situations that are difficult in nature and require advanced knowledge to solve the problem(s) at hand, conducting research and developing strategies that present the most promise for the future of the product, and training our teams on new and existing strategies. I have several other duties too, but that's the core of it.

I've been with my current employer for two years now and I've received two promotions over that time period. My last promotion was in January 2015, which was to my current position.

About My Situation

I've reached a difficult juncture in my professional career. In my current position, I have a fair amount of job satisfaction because I'm able to work on projects I feel have the most value, I have an amazing manager who frequently provides me with positive feedback and for whom I hold a great amount of respect, and I'm able to see the tangible results from much of the hard work I put in on a regular basis. However, one critical element is missing: I don't feel as though I'm properly compensated given my level of expertise, my loyalty to the company (this year has been a bad one for employee attrition) and my overall flexibility in taking on tasks that aren't necessarily in my job description (or require skills that I possess but aren't considered essential for the position).

I've been slowly building up the courage to speak with my manager and ask her for a raise, and I'm finally at a point where I need to either buck up or move on because I sort of feel like I'm stuck in limbo. However, I'm concerned with two aspects that I need clarity on beforehand.

My first question is with how I should approach the conversation, in terms of dialogue. I'm confident that the work I've put in over the past year is above and beyond what's expected, and I've been told (by management) on several occasions that I'm doing an exceptional job. Also, my team is generally comprised of four employees (including me) but in September, my partner (we work in pairs) left the company to pursue another job and they did not backfill her position (and still have not), due to budgetary restrictions in the 2015 fiscal year, which left me with nearly double the workload (albeit my manager made several accommodations to help me out) and the same salary. Would it be professional of me to focus on the fact that I was still able to achieve so many objectives, even without a partner, although some work was taken off my plate? Or should I take a different approach?

My second concern is whether or not I should come equipped with another job offer. I don't currently have one at the moment but I've received two informal offers via networking, and I'm confident I could get something to bring to the table, if need be. However, I would rather not do this, for two reasons: 1) I'm not that interested in moving to another employer right now and 2) I feel that my merits alone should be the focal point of the conversation, not another job offer. Am I being naive in thinking that my merits are enough leverage to constitute a raise or should I be prepared to move on before I walk into her office?

Addendum

To those who feel this is a duplicate question, here are the fundamental differences between How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid? and my question:

  • I was granted the agreed upon salary when I first started my position, not less.
  • I work in a different industry from the OP of that question, which should be taken into account.
  • My team is definitively smaller from the OP of that question's team (if they lost five people from one project, that's already one more than my entire team on all projects), which should be taken into account.
  • The OP of that question inherited some of the work from each employee, whereas I inherited all of the work from one employee, placing a far greater burden on my shoulders at one particular point in time onward. That's an important detail that shouldn't be overlooked.

marked as duplicate by Philip Kendall, gnat, The Wandering Dev Manager, Joe Strazzere, David K Jan 5 '16 at 14:23

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    As a general rule, unless you don't like our boss(es) or don't plan to be with the company long, using "another" offer as leverage is a bad idea. It implies you want to jump ship and the "only" thing keeping you there are salary and benefits. It also wastes the other company's time if you aren't sincere. It is ok to find them, have them, and know them, but revealing them puts stress on your personal work relationships and your professional work relationships. – Lan Jan 5 '16 at 3:37
  • two promotions in two years and you're unhappy? Did the promotions not come with more money? – Kilisi Jan 5 '16 at 9:48
  • @Kilisi It's not that I'm unhappy, I'm grateful for the promotions I've received and I'm generally happy with my position, thus the reason why I'm looking to stay. And yes, each promotion came with a small raise. However, I'm still compensated roughly 20% below the average salary for someone in a similar position with equal experience. Please don't misconstrue what I'm asking in the question. – nburr Jan 5 '16 at 12:27
  • @NickolasBurr Your question might be slightly different, but the answers will be the same - explain what you've contributed, how you help make the company money, and why you think you are worth more. The first answer puts it together quite nicely. – David K Jan 5 '16 at 14:25
  • You don't think we need a separate version for every industry do you? Not all work from one employee ends up being full-time. – user8365 Jan 5 '16 at 15:37
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My second concern is whether or not I should come equipped with another job offer. I don't currently have one at the moment but I've received two informal offers via networking, and I'm confident I could get something to bring to the table, if need be. However, I would rather not do this, for two reasons: 1) I'm not that interested in moving to another employer right now and 2) I feel that my merits alone should be the focal point of the conversation, not another job offer. Am I being naive in thinking that my merits are enough leverage to constitute a raise or should I be prepared to move on before I walk into her office?

If you aren't actually willing to leave for another job, then you shouldn't go out and get an offer with the thought of using that as leverage or bluffing.

In my experience, that's a great way to ruin your relationship with your boss and company.

As far as being naive, there's no way for someone outside your company to know for sure. You have better insight into the process your company uses for granting raises. The fact that your company already gave you two raises in two years is a good sign. The fact that you hint that your company isn't in the greatest situation financially is a bad sign. Only you can read the tea leaves.

Every company I have worked for (except very young startups) had annual reviews, and almost all had annual merit raises. Perhaps your company does, too. If so, that's a great time to talk about your accomplishments for the year, and to ask for a raise.

Even if your company doesn't have regular reviews, you can still have a talk with your boss about a raise. Review your accomplishments for the past year, and talk about what you expect to accomplish in the upcoming years - and in particular how they impact the company's bottom line in a positive way and the value you bring.

Certainly, there's no guarantee that you could get the 20% that you believe would bring you up to "average" for your position. Remember, every company is different, with different needs and different financial situations. Average means little when you are talking about one specific context.

But if you don't want to move on, you can always ask for a raise. It almost certainly wouldn't hurt, and it could get you what you want.

  • Joe, this is great advice. I truly appreciate the detailed answer. – nburr Jan 5 '16 at 15:10
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Ask management "I know you're generally happy with what I've been doing; what else do you nedd to see from me to submit me for a raise?"

There may be specific checkpoints you still need to hit. Or you mzy have been great, but Fred was even better and they could only reward one of you. Or there may simply not be room in the budget for raises this year. The only way you find out is to ask, and asking what else you could do keeps it from sounding like whining.

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