I'm a long-term employee at a relatively small company working as a software engineer. I've been seriously contemplating quitting for a few months and right now I'm absolutely sure that this will be the right move for me. I've been actively researching a few companies in the past 2 weeks and was about to start interviewing with some of them but I was recently informed that I have an annual review coming up soon. I'm a top performer at my company and I believe that management has probably sensed that I'm about to leave and is willing to give me a (substantial) raise at this review. Yet, I strongly feel that any (possible) raise will only provide me with temporary comfort and that staying in the same company will be a huge mistake in the long run. Basically, my market research shows that my current salary is definitely below what I can get at other companies and my company-research shows that new hires (to some of whom I have served as a mentor in their early days in the company) are getting more than me as well. On the one hand this makes me feel that negotiating a raise at the review is justified, but on the other I would like to leave my current employer on good terms. How should I go about it?

For what it's worth the top management of the company is absolutely despicable, but I have an uttermost respect for my direct manager, who has always supported me in getting raises and promotions (although, obviously below market-level ones) and is generally a great guy. I even have to admit that I'm pretty disappointed by the upcoming review as I believe the best option for me would have been to simply quit and (possibly) get a a very good reference from this employer.

So my question is how I should handle the review. Can I still negotiate my raise or should I just start looking for a new job and accept whatever they offer?

  • what is your question? How to negotiate a raise?
    – Kilisi
    Mar 28, 2016 at 7:24
  • More like - should I do it or not.
    – user48469
    Mar 28, 2016 at 7:26
  • 6
    sure you should, carry on as normal whether you do or do not interview elsewhere. Not a great idea to quit and then rely on getting a job quickly. And who knows how big the raise may be, never show your cards until you play them.
    – Kilisi
    Mar 28, 2016 at 7:28
  • 1
    If you already know that a salary raise is not going to stop you, proceed as planned. Negotiate the raise as you would do anyway, continue to look for another job, quit if you found something.
    – jwsc
    Mar 28, 2016 at 8:32
  • 3
    Retitled, edited and voted to reopen. Question is answerable and not personal advice.
    – Lilienthal
    Mar 28, 2016 at 13:43

4 Answers 4


So my question is - how should I act at the review - should I negotiate a raise, or just start looking for a new job

The only thing that makes sense to me would be to do both.

Negotiate the best raise you can during your review. You have no idea how long it will take you to find your next job, and it's conceivable you might even change your mind.

Meanwhile, look hard for a new job. Land one, then give your proper notice. Gaining a larger salary now means you can negotiate your next job's salary starting at a higher base.

You have already concluded that you are "absolutely sure" you will move on to another job. I'm guessing the reasons for leaving aren't mostly about money - that is the case for most folks. Hence, a raise won't cure what ills you about this job.

Get what you can to increase your salary going forward. Then go forward, and don't look back.

  • 2
    Agreed. As my grandmother would say, "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched". Negotiate as if you were staying, keep looking for a new job. If nothing else, it will give you a stronger bargaining position when negotiating compensation for your new job.
    – DLS3141
    Mar 29, 2016 at 17:59
  • I agree to an extent, but if you're going to ask for X and they give you X and then you leave anyway, you could be burning bridges
    – Gamora
    Dec 17, 2019 at 15:17

Should I negotiate a raise or should I just keep looking for a new job?

It depends on how solid your plans are and the kind of relationship you want with your manager and company after you leave.

The problem here is that if you start arguing for a dramatic salary increase that's much higher than they were going to give you, and they actually give it to you, it will look bad on you if you leave immediately after that. It may be that your manager, who you say you respect a lot, will go to bat for your and burn considerable political capital in securing a much higher raise for you than you'd normally get. Leaving shortly afterwards will reflect badly on him and may sour the relationship.

But a lot depends on how easy it will be for you to find a new job. If your profile is in high demand and you have an excellent track record and work history than you should be able to find a new job within months. If that's not true you could be stuck in your current job for over a year and sometimes considerably more. In that case it makes sense to negotiate for a higher raise. And I assume you know this, but don't ever resign without having a new job offer.

So if your future is uncertain, it makes sense to argue for a raise now as you might be working for that company for quite a while longer. The biggest issue I see is that you were never satisfied with the raises you got and because of that are now being paid below market rate. While I of course don't know the particulars of your situation, that's potentially a situation of your own making. It tells me you should have negotiated more aggressively over the years or should have researched market rates much earlier in your career to get a better idea of what a fair wage would be for your role. It may be unfair to resent your company or manager over this if you never told them you were unhappy over salary. You seem to be looking to leave based on more than just salary since you state that staying is not viable in the long-run, in which case this is a moot point. But if your career has potential with your current company, you're doing meaningful work and only the salary is pushing you to leave, then I would suggest having an honest talk with your manager first. Outline your salary concerns and ask if there's a way for your pay to be brought into line with the market and with the expectation that it will stay that way through regular raises, provided you meet your targets and goals every year. He may surprise you. If he doesn't, take whatever raise they offer you and start looking for a company that will pay you what you are worth.


So my question is - how should I act at the review - should I negotiate a raise, or just start looking for a new job

As Will Rodgers said, "Politics is the art of saying 'Nice doggy' while looking for a rock."

You're in a very political situation right now. From the tone of your post, it is well past time to move on. If you stay, that substantial raise won't seem worth it after a few months.

At your present position, work and act like you will be there until retirement. Push for the highest raises you can, outperform everyone you can, and search diligently for other means of employment. Do not telegraph your punches on this one.

Get out ASAP, but push like you're a lifer at that company. Don't ever let your performance drop because you are not happy where you are.

(hat tip to BobRodes for pointing out that I wasn't too clear about that last bit)

  • "Politics is the art of saying 'Nice doggy' while looking for a rock." - That was so perfect and also true XD +1
    – Kyle
    Mar 28, 2016 at 17:34
  • Why would you push like you're a lifer at the company when you aren't?
    – BobRodes
    Mar 29, 2016 at 6:48
  • @BobRodes You ALWAYS push like you're a lifer. You don't ever want to lower your standards simply because you're dissatisfied. Mar 29, 2016 at 12:26
  • Well, I completely agree with that! But I was taking your comment to suggest that you should misrepresent your interest in the company as permanent, when it isn't. Seems I misunderstood you.
    – BobRodes
    Mar 29, 2016 at 17:07
  • @BobRodes Nah, I think I just was not clear enough in my statement. Mar 29, 2016 at 17:16

If your management is only willing to give you a raise when they sense you are about to leave, and are paying people you mentor a higher salary, then you have to ask yourself if they are conscientiously trying to be fair to you. I would think not, but you have to figure that out for yourself.

I don't sense that you want to leave for a lack of money, but more for a lack of respect. Getting a raise probably won't change that by much. You should get your review and raise at your current company, and use that as your launch point for a new salary at a different company. I did that many years ago and ended up with a 25% pay raise instead of 15%.

Your current manager will spend political capital to get you a raise, but if he is aware that it is still below market, he will understand that you are just looking out for your interests. Also, don't burn your bridges with your current manager. Make up a plausible sounding reason for leaving to show that it is not only about the money. You'll need him for future job references (and he may not be able to give you one for this change).

Also remember that changing jobs has risks. You will be the new guy, and not the expert. Others may not respect you the way your peers do at your current gig. The new place may be a faster-paced place than your current gig, and that will affect your performance relative to your peers. You may have a significant learning curve to ride before you're effective. I'm only saying this so that you don't switch jobs for, say, 1% more pay, only to find that you are overall in a worse situation. On the other hand, if they give 30% more, it may be worth the risk.

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