I am the only in-house translator for the media company I am working for and they need me BADLY. If I leave, with all the experience I have, it would take a lot of time to train someone else, with the amount of translating work I do.

I feel I am getting paid less than I really deserve since I literally hold the company up.

Is it appropriate to use this fact in a raise or promotion negotiation? If yes, how?

  • 5
    I feel bad for them if you are their only English proof reader and you proof your own product.
    – Myles
    Mar 7, 2016 at 22:22
  • Aren't freelancers usually paid more than employees?
    – Terry
    Mar 8, 2016 at 13:09
  • 3
    A word to the wise: very few people are ever as unique or important in a company as they think they are.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 8, 2016 at 15:02

4 Answers 4


Believing you are the only one who can do your job and then trying to tell your employer that while asking for a raise or other benefits is a quick way to find out you really are replaceable, even if it causes them some pain.

Instead of "you can't survive without me", try "look, I'm doing all this work and I think my output speaks for itself, would you be open to negotiating a raise"?

I've been in both sides of this argument, where I had employees think that they were irreplaceable, offered ultimatums, and found themselves replaced. I've also been in the "I don't think they can do it without me" side and found myself replaced.

Tout your accomplishments and value, not their failures without you, you will get a lot further.

  • Business value-added is definitely a better approach than the Monty Python Vercotti Brothers' army protection racket approach ("Be a shame if someone were to set fire to them....") Sep 28, 2017 at 19:09

I prefer to phrase this as ,"what would you need to see from me to justify giving me a raise?". That gives me something actionable to work on, and gets them on record as indicating what the criteria and timescale are!


Could you maybe offer me some tips on how to go about it in a smart way?

If your self-assessment as to your value is correct, you hold all the leverage. You are extremely fortunate, because very few people are truly in this position, even though many believe they are.

You can go to your boss and demand a raise of your choosing. You can threaten to walk immediately if you don't get what you want.

Or, you could take a softer approach, and just discuss a raise with your boss. You could point out how valuable you are. You could talk about much better you are than freelancers. You could point out how you "literally** hold the company up". And you could indicate what you feel would be fair compensation for someone with your value to the company. Then you could talk about what you might have to do, in order to get that raise.

If your viewpoint is shared by your company, you will quickly get what you deserve.

On the other hand, if your company doesn't share your viewpoint it could be risky. At best, they could see that they need to ensure you aren't a single point of failure, and start finding ways to spread your work around. At worst, they could take you up on your challenge by getting rid of you and replacing your work with freelancers (or new hires).

It has been my experience that nobody is irreplaceable. But only you are in a position to assess your true value. And you have made it clear how you feel. So you should probably just go for it.

** Note: I'm not sure you understand what the word 'literally' actually means.


Just ask for a raise, start with your manager and see how it goes. I've done this many times. No need for an ultimatum at this stage although that may come after.

I just ask them how soon they can get my pay reviewed, because I reckon I should make more money for the work I do. Depending on their feedback from that conversation I decide how to proceed.

If you're as valuable in your managers eyes as you think you are, he/she will get the ball rolling and probably even advocate on your behalf. If he/she doesn't then you can start exerting pressure. I have found that if a manager doesn't take me seriously and get me what I want fairly quickly, then I end up leaving eventually.

As an employer I have let a few people go who thought they were more important than I thought they were, and I started looking for a replacement as soon as they started indicating that they might leave if they didn't get a raise.

But as an employee I have been let go and watched my former company lose clients and have to downsize because they couldn't replace me. So it works both ways.

With your particular job, translation is part of my business's services, I have zero problem finding translators, and if they're working with CAT software which they should be, then it's no real loss to lose any of them.

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