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I have been working for a tech startup for a year now, and another year before that to its parent company. (Startup is actually a spin-off ).

I have recently asked, and given, a small bump to my paycheck. Mind you i did NOT ask the amount i really wanted and believed i deserved. The reasons for not doing so are plenty, the most important of which are these:

  1. The company has been in some economic struggles in the pas
  2. Although (1) is no longer an issue, we recently got a pretty big seed funding round, the company (CEO) has verbally expressed that they do not have the ability nor the willingness to offer big salary bumps. The reason, mainly, being that by offering big raises to their employees, they will significantly shorten the runway of the company

Fast-forward to present day. I have a job offer from another company that includes a raise of 50%! This amount of money is just a bit higher than my original expectations. I think this amount of money is pretty significant to ignore. That being said, i am having second thoughts.

During the interview process i discovered that the technologies being used at this new company are not that exciting nor cutting-edge. My current company, i believe, is in a much better shape in that regard. I would much rather use the technologies i am already using than the ones i would using if i take the new job. The same goes for development processes. Also, my current company is working on something very ambitious, which besides being exciting may have salary(and/or promotion) implications for me in the future. I can imagine getting a raise if the company has an equally big series A fund.

On the other hand, i would like to see how other people are working and get new experiences. The salary is much bigger starting now (no ifs and what-ifs) and not in the future. Also there is the chance we get a big series A but my raise does not follow suit or does not happen altogether. I can say this is a possibility given their stance up until now, in which case i would have blown a significant amount of money away and would feel a lot of disappointment.

So what should i do? Any advice on how to approach the situation? My dream scenario would be to present this offer to the current company and get a counter-offer for the same amount. But i have fears this might be kind of dick-move considering i just got a raise.

Please keep in mind 2 facts:

  • I do consider myself to be very good at what i do and i have been repeatedly told so by upper management. So skill level may not be an issue for lack of willingness to be given a raise
  • After being given the small raise (see 2nd parag.) i personally expressed my disappointment to my manager considering the amount. Mind you, i said this to the guy being directly above me in the company schema, with whom i have a very good relationship. I do not know if he transferred my concerns to upper management though
  • Do you have any equity in the start up ? – Kien Truong Sep 14 '16 at 14:57
  • None what so ever. Equity is given only to managers and above – HungryDev Sep 15 '16 at 6:12
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If you want stability and more money, take the job.

If you want to live on the edge then argue for a raise (I'd start looking for a replacement as soon as you asked if it was me) and see how far you can go with it, if you're highly skilled enough and there aren't a whole bunch of developers who'd jump at your job, then you might be fine.

It's a bit late now, but really you should have told them what sort of raise you were expecting beforehand.

  • So, you do consider this to be a dick-move? – HungryDev Sep 14 '16 at 12:34
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    Depends on your leverage, I have actually done that without a job offer and gotten a bigger raise. Calculate your risks and do what is best for you. I've never cared if the company is making lots of money or not, it's not 'my' company. I only cared if I was making what I wanted. I wouldn't care if they're making a loss. Unlikely that the CEO is taking a paycut to help out. – Kilisi Sep 14 '16 at 12:36
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There is no answer here that can be given without the specifics of how you feel about the company you are at right now. Here are some questions for you to consider

  • Based on the communication you received at the time of a raise and in response to your disappointment, how do you think the company rates you - skill, criticality of job function and future upside / potential?

If you haven't received any response from your manager after having communicated your higher expectation, it may be that you are not rated adequately highly on any of those axis, i.e. the company finds itself in a situation where they find the odds not un-favorable if you left.

  • Did you consider your personal career objectives, distinct from compensation? Would your company be able to provide you with better opportunities than elsewhere? What is the outlook for the company you are at right now?

You many want to consider the bigger picture looking further into the future. Evaluate the opportunity cost of moving on.

Finally to answer your question, a 50% increase a large increase, your company will likely be unwilling to match that level of raise in base compensation. But, there are other forms of compensation that you could bring to the table - more stock, more vacation days, more regular / frequent work from home opportunities etc. All of these won't limit the companies runway.

Be careful when evaluating additional stock grants, especially at a very early stage company. A bird in hand is worth 2 in the bush - you can take the additional income and with enough motivation have excellent returns down the years.

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If I were your boss and I gave you a raise by your request, and you came back soon and asked for more, I'd not look at you favorably from that point. Raises are not often just done with the stroke of a pen, but require effort sometimes for the manager to go to bat against the powers-that-be and see the raise through to the end.

You really blew it by not asking for what you wanted in the first place. The manager could have met you somewhere in the middle -- but you didn't give him a chance. Now you want him to go back to bat for you a second time because of your issue? That's not right.

The best choices right now are you to learn from your mistake (and lick your wounds), or bail. But asking for another raise will be a death sentence as to how your character is viewed.

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