Ask HN: How do I ask for a raise?

1. Become divorced from the outcome. Sit down and think what it is you’d like to be doing if you weren’t doing what you are, because these things can always go either way. Make two plans.

2. Gather evidence FOR paying you more. You need more. Someone is getting more doing the things you do. You’re doing more than what is expected of you. Things hinge on you.
Make some evidence if it doesn’t yet exist.

3. Gather evidence AGAINST paying you more, and prepare to refute it. Make some, if it doesn’t exist yet and prepare to give up some things or distance yourself from some things. Get into your manager’s head for that. Talk to them: say, if I (you) needed help with what you’re doing, what would they be prepared to offer? Prepare using that.

4. Spend at least two weeks doing the above. Then schedule a morning meeting with your manager, right after lunch is best. This will be hard, better have shuffle the world around you in your favor. Good luck.

0. Read some of this if you get stuck.

And when it doesn’t work, find another job that pays more and leave. Don’t wait for a counter offer; a counter offer is just them admitting that they indeed didn’t pay you what you’re worth, and they’re only willing to do so now because you’re forcing them. That’s a lousy basis for a work relationship.

Find a better job and leave. You wouldn’t be the only developer for whom that’s the primary method of advancement.

In my experience, by far the best way to get a raise is to find a new job that you think you will like as much or more than your current job and take it. In addition to the monetary benefits, this will open the door to meeting new people and take on new responsibilities. I’ve never regretted doing this, and more than once that action gave my overall career trajectory a huge boost, even when I already thought I was happy (which was the case most of the time).

The problem with finding a new job, as a programmer, is that you’ll have to read and become familiar with a new codebase. Most programmers I know love coding, but hate reading other people’s code.

If you get told no, it’s very important to ask why. Because then you have something actionable to work for, and you can reference that conversation next time you ask. For example if they say you don’t have enough responsibility, then you can ask for more.

Saying you have a competing offer may work in a big company, but in lots of smaller places that would immediately mark you as unloyal if you tried it more than once.

As always leaving implies you live somewhere with lots of jobs on your doorstep, and that you have the flexibility to pack up. That might not be the case, or you might actually (shock horror) enjoy your job.

The subtle method is to ask for more time off (or other perks) so your effective salary increases. I would rather have an extra 10% time off than 10% more pay. At a smaller company working from home may be an option too.

I recently got a raise by asking for it and it was the first time I did something like that. It was a great exercise and a good learning experience. A few things I figured out:

Rather than stating that you have another offer, you can research what people in your field are making. When I asked for a raise, I put together charts and graphs of what people are making in the industry in order to justify the raise.

Instead of saying you would like 150k per year, ask for a very specific amount such as 152,400 so that it seems like you’ve really calculated this number.

Ask for a range rather than a single number, such as 152,400-161,100. They will likely offer something at the lower end of the range but next to the higher number, the lower number look a lot lower than it would alone.

Be prepared to ask for intangibles if you don’t get the monetary compensation. You can ask for your own office, more vacation time, to work from home, etc. But don’t ask for these until after they have respond to your request for more money or they may default to this instead of more money.

Understand the mindset. Even if you don’t get a raise right now when you ask for it, you are doing yourself a great service by asking for more. You are showing that you feel you are worth it, which translates to a lot of respect from management. Even if you don’t immediately get the raise, there is a good chance you’ll get a lot more of a raise at your next review just because you indicated that you aren’t afraid to ask for more and you have confidence in
your own ability and value.

Management would rather have a good employee ask for a raise than just go out and find another job without giving them the opportunity to discuss it.

“I have another offer, can you matched? or I’ll leave”

Using a strategy like this can work but it also carries the risk that your employer will just say “Bye then.” Everyone is replaceable. If you like your current role or you don’t actually have another job to go to I wouldn’t use this approach. Instead, try to overcome your shyness and just ask. It only requires a one line email to initiate the conversation (eg ‘I would like to schedule a meeting to talk about my current salary.’). The simple fact is retaining a good employee is far cheaper than hiring a new one, so most managers are happy to chat about it.

Alternatively, find a job at a company like Basecamp, where everyone gets the same salary for doing the same job and raises are calculated by looking at whole market for the role and increasing everyone’s salary to be in the top 10% of the going rate. Basecamp employees effectively get Bay Area wages regardless of where they live without needing to be good negotiators. It’s an good model that I hope more companies adopt.

Or they ‘match’ the fake offer but they now consider you a risk to leave and hire your replacement.

12mths down the line you get replaced because why pay two people.

Businesses care about continuity over people, they don’t care who does foo as long as foo gets done.

> Using a strategy like this can work but it also carries the risk that your employer will just say “Bye then.” Everyone is replaceable

“I’m frequently contacted by recruiters suggesting that I have enough experience for roles in this area paying 20% more, but I’d much rather stay here” is a much lower risk approach of conveying the fact you have good reason to suspect you’re being paid below market rates for your current experience and skillset. Not least because it saves you actually needing to have a firm offer…

Of course, the employer is also less likely to say “bye then” if the focus of your meeting is demonstrating what you’ve done well that’s saved/made the company money, how you’ve improved your productivity since the original pay package was determined and additional responsibilities you’d be willing to take on rather than you explaining why you might leave.

Your profile says “Data scientist working on one of the big four”.

Typically at a big corporation, you get raises at the designated annual review cycle. Those raises are adjusted inside of Human Resources’ pre-defined “salary bands” for your title.

If you want to get a raise outside of the annual review, or get raises higher than your band’s ceiling, you either…

– Get a promotion. This means you need to demonstrate to managers that you can take on more responsibility and want to be compensated higher for it.

– Get another job offer with a higher salary. The company may match or exceed it. Or they may not.

Either way, you have to convince your manager to go to bat for you so the company will approve your raise.

I have a good relationship with my manager, but I feel it hard to break the ice with Salary topics. It really hit my nerves

>I have a good relationship with my manager,

That’s fine but that isn’t what I wanted to emphasize.

My point is that if you’re at a Big Corporation, both you and your manager are embedded in a bureaucracy. Your manager can’t single-handedly wave a wand and get you a raise on his own. He/she has to convince his superiors and Human Resources to get you a raise.

You need to imagine what your manager’s bullet points would be to argue on your behalf to convince the company to give you a raise. What are your leverage points?

E.g. your role in data science work is crucial to release a $200 million product on time in the next 6 months. If you leave, everything falls apart.

On the other hand, if you have no leverage and want a raise outside of the annual review cycle and while doing the same work with no promotion… that’s a harder sell for your manager.

That could be because they don’t want to discuss this topic. It’s like trying to hit on a person who doesn’t want to be hit on – pretty hard, likely a ‘no’.

“I love working here, and because of that I need to let you know that other opportunities are becoming financially better alternatives. Would you reconsider the maximum salary that you think I’m worth here, so that we can keep working together?”

I think this is the best answer. It shows you _want_ to work there still which your boss will hopefully appreciate. Pretending to already have an offer could come back in your face.

This is going to be more or less my strategy when I ask (rather soon). I do love working where I am. The only problem is that other offers are starting to come in, and I know that they’ll be offering a lot more money. 🙁

> “I have another offer, can you matched? or I’ll leave”

Did this, got raise. I had an offer and other company offered me more, but I decided to stay anyway. It’s been a year and I don’t think I’ll get another raise any time soon. I really regret about mine decision.

Employees create value for the company they work for. If you can demonstrate that you are more valuable than what they’re paying you now, then it’s a pretty straightforward conversation.

One way to do this is to find out what others will offer you on the market, as others have suggested. Another is to identify how your work pushed company/team/individual metrics in the right direction. Being able to say “My work on [this project] led to a 25% decrease in churn” demonstrates your ability to provide monetary value to the company. If they want to keep making more money, they would be wise to keep you.

One thing that worked for me is “how can I be more valueable?”

Worked for a company for a year and loved it but was in a bit of a rut. After talking to my superior I ended up taking on an additional role but making more.

It is a very emotional subject, so beware that both parties are prone to making mistakes at this stage.

Go discreetly, say “Hi, I need a raise, please consider this amount and tell me if this is acceptable.” and pass a paper with the amount written on it.

Anything more or less will be unprofessional and will probably lead to more headaches than needed.

Why would it be unprofessional to say the number out loud?

I’d say the most dangerous part of the approach you’re recommending is that it doesn’t provide any context for why the raise is justified to the company.

This is only an emotional subject for the person getting the paycheck; it’s not emotional for the business, and it’s only emotional for the employee because of years of ingrained stigma about salary.

This works really well, but you need to have an actual offer for this to work.

Otherwise it’s a bluff and if they call it, you end up with the same salary and on a list of unreliable employees.

Obviously, you need to be very tactful and polite when asking for a raise, and generally blame it on financial/life circumstances beyond your control that force you to look at other companies despite of really liking it here and never wanting to leave otherwise… or some such.

Not sure where I read it (perhaps “Hire with your head” by Lou Adler) but asking to match salary might not be the way to go. If you (think you) know how much you should be making then ask for that, perhaps adding a bit to it to have room for bargaining.

You should also know why you are staying (do you actually want to continue? is it still exciting to you?), if yes, then it will be much easier to explain what you have to offer. Otherwise, even if you should get more when compared to others, you might feel teethless when asking for it.

The best way to find out if a company values your work enough to offer you a raise is to interview for other jobs, get an offer and hand in your notice. They’ll soon offer you an increase if they want you to stay. It puts you in a strong negotiating position too.

If you hand in your notice, you might as well leave.

Managers are people too and can get really grumpy at your ‘oneuppance’. They may give you a raise just to fire you a few months forward, making you lose your currently better offer (If you handed a notice, that was actually what you transmitted – “I want out”).

Happens a lot more than one might expect.

My approach has been changing jobs.

You shouldn’t have to ask for a raise. Your company should know your value. If they don’t, go to a company who does. Don’t bother with a counter offer because you’ll have to do it again and again. The company has already demonstrated they don’t value your work appropriately. Asking for a raise isn’t going to change that situation.

Your only leverage is your willingness to leave, and you’ll only really have that if you have an offer in hand. And by the time you have that offer, you’ve already decided you’re leaving even if you don’t know it yet.

If you’re genuinely underpaid then make preparations to leave and find somewhere else.

Changing workplace every so often will help with your shyness anwyay, plus a lot of folks find more varied work more stimulating.

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