Coming up soon my boss and I have planned to discuss my annual raise. I have already read that the best way to do this is to quantify the work you have done in terms of "how it helps the company" or how it "has made the company money".

My situation is a bit different.

The problem is that most of my work this year was as the tech lead on a major project that was recently cancelled. It was through no fault of my own, the product wasn't even released yet. We had done some work for a client that was based on a verbal agreement and that was "exploratory". I can't change how the agreement was made, my boss made it, it happened, it's done.

I feel the quality of work I did on this project was very good. We put in extra hours to meet deadlines. My concern is that I have lost my single greatest bargaining chip in negotiating a raise. I have done other small projects but they pale in comparisons to this major one.

How can I justify my worth when the my major contributions have made no money?

  • Possible duplicate of How should I properly approach my boss if I'm feeling underpaid?
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 16:48
  • gnat - I referenced that question right in this question and explained why it is different.
    – Ronnie W
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 17:31
  • I missed that, thanks for heads up (retracted duplicate vote)
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 17:33
  • Funny how you put in extra hours to meet deadlines for a project that got cancelled. Funny for your boss, not for you :-(
    – gnasher729
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 20:54

3 Answers 3


How can I justify my worth when the my major contributions have made no money?

The fact that work you performed ultimately generated no money doesn't detract from the quality of your work or your performance throughout the project. Typically the only people who get to use a project's success or bottom line when discussing their performance are the project leads or sales people. The people actually doing the work managers and developers below them are usually judged by different metrics.

You delivered solid work. You worked overtime to meet the deadlines. You presumably delivered whatever work you were assigned on time and the work you did met the requirements you were given. As tech lead you presumably managed the planning of the project and the people working on it well. None of that changes just because the project was cancelled.

Arguing for a raise based on "value added" is more effective, but you can still make your case for a raise with the same arguments you'd have used if the project had succeeded or was still underway.


How can I justify my worth when the my major contributions have made no money?

You aren't your project. And the project is done, so your value will pay off in the future. Obviously they had confidence in you to make you the lead, they will likely have confidence in you going forward.

Talk about the great job you did as tech lead. Talk about the quality of work you did on the project and all the hours you put in to meet deadlines. Talk about what you learned, and what you will apply going forward.

I suspect you are worrying over nothing.

Good managers are able to separate project outcomes from the work done by the individuals on these projects. Everyone has worked on a failed project or two - I know I have worked on many. It seldom costs you anything individually if you didn't have sole responsibility for the project's success.


You haven't added any value, so I wouldn't harp on that angle. Use the trusty favourites, seniority, experience, cost of living etc,.

You worked on a failed project, the reasons for it's failure will soon be forgotten, and you not only worked on it but had a leadership role. Best to downplay the whole shambles. Your boss is already aware of it and taken it into account, no need for you to bring it up unless asked.

Your boss may try and use it as a negotiating negative, so be prepared to defend it, and when negotiating remember that people are quite often unreasonable and have difficulty understanding (on purpose). So make your points clearly and succinctly then move on to something else. Don't get caught up in finger pointing or acknowledging in anyway that it is a serious issue.

  • @JoeStrazzere Infaltion and stuff, it's the one I always used, 'My cost of living is higher and I'm struggling, so I need a raise, love my job and you people are the greatest, BUT, I'm living hand to mouth and I need more money to cover expenses especially with the kids getting older, blah blah etc,. I was pretty greedy, I either got a raise every review or I started job hunting.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 19:38

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