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Background

I started my first corporate job in October 2015, and will be having the company-wide annual review in a month or so. When I took the job, I was desperate and scared, and asked for a salary that’s about 5-7k lower than standard/what they expected to pay me (let’s just assume I’m correct). I understand 5 months (by the time of the review) would be a short amount of time to ask for a raise, but I will have more expenses (that they don’t care about haha) soon, and will not be able to live off my current earnings. Hence despite the risk of displaying arrogance (or worse), I still have to ask as long as there is a chance.

It has been difficult for me to go “above and beyond” my duties as I generally can’t find the opportunities to. I now finish all my work independently in a timely fashion, and I help out coworkers where I can (in more miscellaneous matters, like minor computer troubleshooting when IT is busy), I make all my reports nice and easy to read, but there just hasn’t been anything I could do to “brag” about.

I know usually raises and bonuses are given during this review period, they may or may not give me one since I'm so new (according to my coworkers).

Question

How would I go about getting a raise after only 5 months of being in the company?

  • What should I highlight during my exchange with my manager? I am currently having trouble formulating what to say tbh.
  • I would hate to play the sympathy card, but would it be professional or effective?
  • If they give me a small raise during the review (say, 1-2k), would it be professionally acceptable to negotiate?
  • Is it more professional to negotiate after the review (if it’s TERRIBLE, then I guess I wouldn’t ask..)? or do managers usually expect the negotiation to happen during the review?

Thanks!

Edit: Not sure if relevant, but my direct manager is also the head of, and the only one, in HR.

Edit: The question is different than the post "How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?" in that

  1. The OP there had been working at the company for 2 years, I'm a new hire.
  2. The OP believes she/he went above and beyond the job description (which is one of the main arguments), I do not believe this is my case.

marked as duplicate by IDrinkandIKnowThings, Jim G., The Wandering Dev Manager, Jane S Jan 30 '16 at 2:41

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.

  • "ofc" means "of course". I'll edit it. I am less desperate now, seeing that it was (in retrospect) not hard for me to get a job (within 2 months) relevant to my studies. – lemon Jan 29 '16 at 18:44
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    Hi Chad, I edited my post to state why I think these are different questions. – lemon Jan 29 '16 at 18:56
  • I'm voting to reopen, this does seem basically different to the marked duplicate – Kilisi Jan 30 '16 at 6:40

"Hey, boss -- for career planning purposes,what do you need to see from me to justify giving me a raise, a promotion, or both? Knowing what I most need to work on would help a lot."

Most companies do evaluation -- which drives both of these -- only once a year, often at the end of their business year (which may or may not coincide with the end of the calendar year). It can then take a month or two for them to decide how to divide up the available money among the people they want to reward. So (a) there might be something already in progress, but if not (b) you may need to wait another 12 months before things can be changed.

Let's assume you agreed to take a lesser salary on the basis of having a job review after 5 months.

  1. After working the job for 5 months, list what should have been expected of you.
  2. Determine if you've been given any kind of feedback indicating you are not performing at the expected level/need to improve.

This exercise will be a very good start for your negotiation. Be prepared for your evaluation. There should be some sort of meeting with your manager to discuss it. If it is a bad review, hopefully you were able to list the things you accomplished. Indicate you hoped your initial performance would lead to a higher raise than normal since you were willing to take the job at a rate so much lower than average.

The tricky part is if you're giving yourself credit for things because no one ever told you you did them poorly. If the boss thinks you did poorly, ask why you weren't given any feedback at the time because you want to do well.

Don't be afraid to look for other jobs. You don't want to be seen as a job hopper, but when you are able to get a significant increase in salary, no one should hold that against you. It's probably the best reason to leave (emphasis on significant.).

  • Thank you for the useful feedback Jeff! I will definitely double check my accomplishments so far. I expect a generally positive (like 3.5 - 4/5) review but not outstanding as in 5/5. I am mostly concerned because all the articles/guides I've read on raises indicate that I need to do a much better job than expected in order to earn a raise, which I'm not sure I have done. Hence my main argument is that the pay is too low (though I agreed/asked for it), which seems weak. – lemon Jan 29 '16 at 18:26
  • @lemon - it's all relative. If you're performing to the level expected of the position, but are being paid below the standard salary, you have some leverage. – HorusKol Jan 31 '16 at 23:50

I would not play the sympathy card at all. Ultimately, your employer doesn't care that you want the money for personal reason X, or at the very least they shouldn't care. I'd go so far as to be suspicious of any employer who grants you a raise because you want a yacht or whatever and not because you earned it; what's going to happen when you do feel you've earned more money but don't have a pressing personal reason, for example?

Instead, I would present research you've done into what constitutes a reasonable salary for a person at your position. If you're in the lowest 20th percentile or whatever of salaries for similar work at your position according to glassdoor, bring that up and cite your sources. If you feel you should be paid more than the average you may need to bring up things you do above and beyond normal responsibilities for your position, but I think that if your salary is low enough then citing that ought to be enough. Research should also allow you to overcome objections on the fly; for instance, if they tell you that employees at your company make $X, then responding that the industry standard is $X + 10% is a solid rebuttal.

When you go into this kind of thing you also want to go in knowing that there is a possibility that you will be turned down. Usually an employer won't hold this against you unless you go in asking for way, way too much (like suddenly demanding responsibility and money several steps above your pay grade), and if they do and the market's large enough then you know you need to find another job. That being said, it's also entirely possible that they'll politely turn you down and you will need to assess what you will do in that situation as well. Is the job good enough otherwise to give it a year and negotiate a better raise then? Or do you want to start shopping around immediately?

  • Thank you for the advice! The sympathy card does seem petty/useless now. I'm kind of hesitant to quote websites such as glassdoor to be honest, as when I did a profile on payscale, they had a sample size smaller than 100 when evaluating my pay percentile, not to mention the potential response bias. Is this common practice (to quote them)? If so, I definitely will. – lemon Jan 29 '16 at 18:32
  • It doesn't hurt to at least present them this information; just be prepared to hear the "well, they use a small sample size" if you work for fivethirtyeight.com or something. – NotVonKaiser Jan 29 '16 at 18:33
  • +1 - even if a company/boss is aware of external circumstances, they're not going to just give you more money. OTOH - you might get some help and direction in how to earn a raise, depending on the boss. – HorusKol Jan 31 '16 at 23:51

I'm not exceptional, but how do I get a raise after 5 months of being in the company?

You don't, and asking for one will make you look bad.

As Alison Green says, there needs to be a substantial change to your job or responsibilities to argue for a raise this early into the job:

No, you can’t really ask for a raise after three months, not unless there are very exceptional circumstances (like the job dramatically changing). The most likely outcome of that is that you’d look naive, with an annoyed manager and no raise.

Trying to argue a raise this early makes it look like you acted in bad faith because you're expected to do your job at the rate you agreed to when you accepted the offer:

Well, you can’t really ask for a raise after 90 days, no matter how stellar a job you’re doing. They assumed you’d do a stellar job when they hired you — and they assumed you’d do it at the salary you agreed to. You generally need to wait about a year before asking for a raise — asking for it now would look wildly premature and would not reflect well on you! So don’t do that.

The idea behind the 90-day review is to to check in on how things are going and give you some formal feedback about what’s going well and where — if anywhere — they’d like to see you do better. I’d just plan to go in ready to listen to their feedback, and ask for any additional feedback or guidance you think would be helpful. But this isn’t a salary review; it’s a check-in on how your work is going.

If it's any consolation, many companies that specifically hire graduates will give them a small raise at their first review or after their probation period, if they had one.

  • I actually read that article so many times, and have been kicking myself an equal number of times for not asking for more lol. It's still so tempting to use the sympathy card because it's not a trick but my actual reasoning/situation, and this way at least I won't come off as having acted in bad faith. – lemon Jan 29 '16 at 18:48
  • @JoeStrazzere But typically management wouldn't be talking raises for recent hires during the annual review. My take on it is that even just asking would make an employee come across as out of touch with workplace norms. I guess that's forgiveable in a graduate though. – Lilienthal Jan 29 '16 at 18:49
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    @lemon Sadly, accepting a job at a wage you can't afford is not really a valid reason for arguing a raise. Of course if your current situation is unsustainable then you don't really have a choice but to ask, even if it's unprofessional. – Lilienthal Jan 29 '16 at 18:52
  • @JoeStrazzere I need about 10% increase (even if I get the raise, it is still 3k below both the industry and market standard for new graduates in Canada). In other words, I currently earn 36k, and would like 40k. – lemon Jan 29 '16 at 19:03
  • @JoeStrazzere I am almost 100% sure they would have given me the job without negotiation if I had asked for 40k. Probably 45k too with or without some negotiation. They actually felt bad and gave me 1k extra as I originally asked for 35k (stupid me). I'm a little frustrated at how raises are given at a percentage, and the absolute amount is often not considered as much (am I wrong?). Since 4k would be the same amount as a cost adjustment raise for some. – lemon Jan 29 '16 at 19:23

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