I work in an industry in which I'm in the bottom 1 percentile as far as salary goes for my position (nationally). I'm only high school educated, and have no formal college education. I've learned multiple skills in this position, some to even advanced levels (SQL, VBA, Crystal Reports, etc.) and have been valued by Payscale at a significantly higher wage. The company is medium sized (100-500 people), and is in private collections.

I am quite unhappy about my current situation, as I'm unsure about the current environment of the company, the future outlook (mass layoffs have been happening), the pay, and the fact that my position in the company isn't taken seriously. I have already started the search for a new job, but I still love what I do.

I'm an analyst and when I approached my boss about a raise, she agreed and went to bat for me, only to be turned down by the director. He gave her an excuse that we're waiting for one of our clients to decide on a contract with us, and that all salaries are on hold until the decision is made. Although this is unexpected as my work has had high praise in the company from all sources (up to the VP level and director himself), I'm patient and can wait for an opportune time. We've been waiting for this contract for 2 years. As an added note, my boss is brand new, having gone from an analytical role to a managerial one about 6 months ago.

I understood the situation until I saw them promoting new managers, and giving people raises. This is all tertiary to my question.

I was asking for extra responsibilities until they gave me the response, as there's no real reward for doing this extra work. My performance review was given to me, and I was given a "Needs improvement" score by my manager for "Seldom asks for added responsibilities".

Is it unrealistic of them to expect this of me, or am I being obtuse by not offering to do more work for the same price? Is there any way I can tactfully bring this to their attention?

I just don't want to be taken advantage of them.

ETA: I've had multiple people ask me why I'm wasting my time at this company, when I could be getting paid much more elsewhere. I'm not confident this is an accurate evaluation of my skills, as I don't have the skills of others in my position (Ruby, Javascript, Advanced SQL, C#, Data Mining, Database Admin, etc.).

ETA 2:My review came back with huge improvements across the board (we just started doing performance reviews a year ago), and has shown consistent improvement in every area (although I'm not sure my boss understands my own job requirements, as they're not writen down). I was however told to stop asking to define them by the director directly, and was told if I kept asking to define them that I would be liable for termination.

Update 4/13/2016:

So I was brought in to one of the meeting rooms, and given a 6% raise. I'm not sure how I will proceed, but would like to thank everyone for the helpful insights.

  • @JoeStrazzere I'm not against it as long as I can see a reason for it. I feel as if they said "We don't think you're worth the average, but work harder anyway". I'm not sure who the unreasonable one is and given my work experience (just this company for 3 years), it could very well be me.
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 12, 2016 at 22:14
  • 6
    You were "told if I kept asking to define them that I would be liable for termination" - about your job requirements?
    – user145
    Apr 13, 2016 at 14:21
  • @MarkBannister Yes. Apparently "title doesn't matter" and the definition that comes with it mean nothing.
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 13, 2016 at 14:51
  • 1
    If it has gotten to "if I kept asking to define them that I would be liable for termination" then you are pestering management and need to cool your approach. You have asked for a raise and it was denied. Wait 6 months and ask for a raise again or start job hunting.
    – paparazzo
    Apr 13, 2016 at 17:12

3 Answers 3


"Seldom asks for added responsibilities" in a performance review??? That's bull. If you're busy, then you don't need more responsibilities. What this means is they're trying to squeeze more work out of you for the same level of pay, and they feel you should be begging for such a situation.

Get the heck out of there ASAP.


Spend some of your personal time and begin looking for other jobs in your skillset and area. If you do find a listing that seems promising then apply for it.

When you go for an interview, don't make it a well known event but don't try to hide it either. Schedule a long lunch hour or early day according to your current employer's policy. If you need the provide a reason just indicate it as personal time.

By interviewing, you will get a better idea of your perceived value in the market and hopefully a good offer to go with it as well. If your employer realizes your value to the company is greater than your compensation, they are likely already looking for these patterns and may follow through on that raise. If they perceive your value to the company to be in line with your compensation, they won't even notice.

Nothing bad should come of looking around, but to settle for mediocrity is worse than actually failing. Don't let fear hold you back.


As long as you are sitting still professional development wise, you are going to sit still pay wise.

While their answer of not yet, while promoting others certainly stings, your response of a sit-in was not very professional either.

I have gotten the not now, but when we get x response before, and you are right, they are stalling and really have no intention of giving you this raise/promotion. This could be related to your performance or as you noted related to your companies current economic position. Mass layoffs are never a good sign of company health. Only senior management knows the reasons you did not receive a raise.

You also sound rather apathetic towards your current company, in my opinion you sound like you already have made up your mind to move on.

  • I'm on the fence at the moment. I don't want to pass a good opportunity up, but I don't want to throw away the one I have. My self evaluation doesn't seem to line up with what others see of me, so I'm unsure of what I' m actually worth (Payscale being an automatic system). My biggest issue is being taken advantage of.
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 12, 2016 at 21:54
  • Also to clarify, I'm not at a standstill (as in not progressing), I'm just not offering myself up for more responsibilities without reason. I'm still developing my skills, and growing in other areas because learning is key. I'm speaking more specifically about offering myself up for more work rather than more development.
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 12, 2016 at 22:50
  • As long as you are sitting still employer wise, you are going to sit still pay wise.
    – stannius
    Apr 14, 2016 at 15:05

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