Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Asking for a Raise: A Series of Conversations

This series is brought to you by TurboTax Federal Free Edition.

November 9th, Gchat

Me: So I just met with BOSS and he's giving me a lot more things to do because DUDE left. I'm doing three people's jobs now. I should negotiate a raise, right?

PROJECT MANAGER: yes, I think you should try.
tell him that the situation was different when you accepted your position
and at this point you're absorbing two jobs.
you def have to make your case….tell him you've made plenty of sacrifices (shortening your vacation after DUDE left) and that you're ready to step up but that you have to be compensated.

Me: Gosh, I'm nervous. I don't have a lot of experience negotiating.

PROJECT MANAGER: this is your chance to get better at it

November 10th, Gchat

Me: So, I was talking with PROJECT MANAGER about what BOSS is asking me to take on yesterday, and I'm thinking maybe I don't want to be that guy who always asks for more money when he's asked to to do something more.

TECH GUY: well, you actually have leverage here
because you're the only one who can take that work on

Me: I guess so.

TECH GUY: no, I'm serious.
you're in a prime spot to get whatever you ask for…
of course, you're not going to be like "give me a private jet and $200,000"

Me: Haha. Yeah. Okay, I'm going to do it.

November 22nd, Gchat

WORK WIFE: have you decided what to do about asking for more money

Me: It's hard! Like, it's easy to say you're going to do it, but it's hard to actually get a meeting. And then actually ask for it.

WORK WIFE: oh, I totally know
but I just feel like it's so important for you to do it!
you work, like, 500 X harder than everyone else.
if you didn't show up to work, there would be no company

Me: I know, I know. You know, I also feel like I'm mostly a writer and editor here, and writers just don't get paid a lot?

WORK WIFE: who cares? the person sitting across from you probably makes 5 times as much as you do

Me: That's true.

WORK WIFE: :( can you do it by e-mail?

Me: I don't think that's how you do it.

I just googled it. "Don't discuss your raise with him by email, at the water cooler, or by telephone." You're supposed to set up a meeting and do it in person.

WORK WIFE: That makes sense. :(

November 26th, Face-to-face

Me: Can you schedule a meeting with me and BOSS?

BOSS'S ASSISTANT: I will give you an available time, and you should e-mail him to set it up.

Me: Okay, sounds good. Thank you.

BOSS'S ASSISTANT: Monday at 11 a.m. You have 30 minutes with him. E-mail him and let me know what he says.

November 26th, E-mails

Subject: Time to chat?
From: Mike Dang
Date: November 26

Hi Boss,

I'd like to set up some time with you to chat. Can you let me know when you're free? ASSISTANT says you are available on Monday at 11 a.m.

Thank you,

Subject: Re: Time to chat?
From: BOSS
Date: November 26
To: Mike Dang

ok. What is the topic?


Subject: Re: Time to chat?
From: Mike Dang
Date: November 26

The amount of work that I do has changed significantly and though I'm more than happy to step up, I feel that I'm currently undervalued and was hoping to get a salary increase. I'd love to be able to have to discuss this with you in more detail.

Thank you,

Subject: Re: Time to chat?
From: BOSS
Date: November 26
To: Mike Dang

ok. let's do it. set up the time.

November 26th, Gchat

Me: I'm talking to him on Monday.

FRIEND: how much are you going to ask for?

Me: I'm going to ask him to double my salary.


Me: I mean, I'm doing three people's jobs at this point, and I know I'm not going to get that. He's going to try to negotiate whatever number I give him. So I'm going to ask high and then negotiate from there.

FRIEND: well it sounds like you're prepared

Me: It's not like I'm money hungry. I just feel like your salary reflects how much a company values you. And this isn't going to be my last job. I want whatever company I work for next to know that I was valued here.

FRIEND: look at you!

November 29th, Face-to-face

BOSS: Let's get some coffee and talk.

Me: Thanks for meeting with me.

BOSS: Where do you want to start?

Me: Well, I made a list of everything I'm doing right now. Here.

BOSS: Yeah, I know you're taking on a lot. But you just started doing these things. I think I need to see you step up before I can offer you anything.

Me: I understand, but I feel like I have been stepping up. I cut my one week vacation down to one day to get some of those things on that list done. I'm at the office 12 hours a day — more than anyone else here. I need to feel valued here, or else I'll go somewhere else where I'm more appreciated.

BOSS: Okay, how much do you want?

Me: I'm worth $100,000. I know there are people at this company earning more than that.

BOSS: Well, those people are more experienced than you. You're still pretty young.

Me: It doesn't matter how old I am. It matters what I'm doing for you.

BOSS: I can't give you that. I just can't.

Me: What can you give me?

BOSS: Do you want more equity? I can give you more equity.

Me: I want my salary to reflect what I'm worth here.

BOSS: Give me another number. Please.

Me: $80,000. I'm worth it.

BOSS: Will you consider something lower? Plus, more equity?

Me: Sure.

BOSS: Tell you what. Let's see how you step up in the next two months, and we'll revisit this conversation in February. You need to give me some time.

Me: Um. Okay.

BOSS: February. I promise we can discuss this again in February.

November 29th, Gchat

WORK WIFE: how are you doing??

Me: A little sad. I just had a chat with BOSS. He said he doesn't want to give me a raise right now. I feel like I work really hard and am undervalued.

that really surprises me

Me: Well, basically, he said he wants to see me step up a little more.

WORK WIFE: i don't know how that's possible

Me: Right, which makes me sad.

WORK WIFE: get another offer

Me: Oh for sure, if I don't get a raise, I'm quitting — with or without a job.

November 30th, Gchat

Me: So I got the increase in rates for freelancers approved. Everyone gets a raise!

WORK WIFE: everyone but mikey :(

December 12th, Gchat

LUNCH BUDDY: are u ok over there?
U look stressed out!

Me: I am totally stressed out. I just have a lot to do. I was here until 9 p.m. yesterday, and then stayed up to 1 a.m. to finish work. And then I came back in at 7 a.m.

i would talk to someone about this.

Me: Everyone here is aware of what's going on.


Me: They told me to quit at the holiday party.

ur awesome.
U will find another job in a heartbeat

January 16th, Gchat

FRIEND: i'd love to see you. you've been a little MIA
you've been working really hard lately?

Me: Um, yes. Totally hard. The hardest that I've ever worked in my life actually!

FRIEND: oh lord! mike…
is there an end in sight? or anything you can do?

Me: Hah, I guess I can quit and find another job

February 5th, Face-to-face

HUMAN RESOURCES: Have a second to chat?

Me: Sure.

HUMAN RESOURCES: Let's go in the conference room.

Me: Okay.

HUMAN RESOURCES: So the good news is that BOSS is giving you a raise. Everyone appreciates what you've been doing around here. You deserve the world. And we wish we could give you the world.

Me: But…

HUMAN RESOURCES: Listen, we're going to give you a 20 percent raise, and a little bit of equity. Okay? You're okay with that?

Me: That's the most you can offer?

HUMAN RESOURCES: That's the most. And if you decide to go somewhere else, that's up to you.

Me: Well, it's not what I expected, but I'll take it.

HUMAN RESOURCES: Perfect! You'll see it reflected immediately in your next paycheck.

Me: Thank you.


February 5th, Gchat

WORK WIFE: HEY. did you get your raise?

Me: Hi! Yeah. He was like, "We want to give you the world — and you deserve the world — but we can't give you the world." But they increased my salary by 20 percent, which is still disappointing considering everything, but I'm glad I got it.

WORK WIFE: okay whew. im glad they at least did that. and also didn't try to pretend that it was enough.

Me: Yeah, I'm pretty sure I was going to quit if I didn't get anything. Okay. Back to work.


Mike Dang knows what's he's worth.

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156 Comments / Post A Comment


People who ask for raises at my job are slowly edged out, fired and replaced by one of the thousand people in line right behind me who need a job and are willing to take just a little bit less.

So I do the bare minimum, go home at 5pm and don't look at my email until the next morning. Everyone's happy!

Better to Eat You With

@charizard This is what happens to people who ask for *anything* at my job.


@charizard Yeah, I get paid squat and "wasn't eligible" for a raise recently, and I know better than to ask for a long while yet. So I do well when I'm there but don't throw my back out over it, you know? They're paying me crap and really getting a pretty great worker for it. If they want a really great worker who puts in a lot of time I need a lot more money.


@charizard This. I do as much/well at my job as I am paid to do. I value my good work as much as they apparently do. Which is not very much. You get what you pay for, I guess.


Good God. Just reading this made my stomach fill with acid. Thank goodness for my toothless union which ensures all of us here are paid equally terribly.


Yeah, that used to be me, so I stopped working hard. Bad attitude maybe, but what can you do.

Also, it is a terrible idea to tell anyone you work with what you make or how big a raise you got. Even work wife.



Terrible to tell, but good to know. If your ww is an admin, she may already know everything.


@bangs Or you can always work someplace where FOIA lets the local paper publish what you make.


@atipofthehat Yeah, I mean I try and get that information, but in a competitive workplace it can be used against you. One of my work-friends was given a data stick by an admin that accidentally had EVERYONE'S pay rate on it.

@wharrgarbl I would not be comfortable with that...

Lily Rowan

@bangs I think keeping salaries a secret is a tool of The Man to further inequity.


@bangs It's not the best, no, but at least you can be pretty sure that you're not Lily Ledbetter mk2 and not going to have any clue until a coworker anonymously lets you know you're making half of what your company-peers make.


@wharrgarbl I guess, if you're the person making half of what your peers make. But if you're the person making twice what your peers make...

Also sometimes you're making more than your peers for a valid reason that your peers refuse to see, like having twice the experience.

*bitter rant excised*


@Lily Rowan Yes, I completely agree with this. It's only better for everyone involved to share salary details (with the exception of management).


@bangs I'll add that I have always worked at unionized companies, though I am not unionized myself (or in international situations where salary discrepancies come from vastly different standards of living (which is a whole 'nother topic though one that I am very interested in)), so no one makes *twice* what anyone else does doing the same job.


@bangs The "public knowledge" thing also does help make things transparent in cases where performance-based raises or COLAs are being denied to the rank and file because "the company can't afford it," but the company can miraculously afford a fat raise for Bigshot Managerpants one or two rungs up.


@wharrgarbl I guess, but part of a salary is demand for someone in YOUR position. If a company can't attract a Bigshot Managerpants and require one, then they have to pay more to attract one.

I just get a bit tired when people bitch about what other people are making and say it's unfair, because I know absolutely no one who wouldn't take a salary that is significantly higher than their coworkers.


@Lily Rowan This reminds me of the story of how Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and Robert Sherwood, working at Vanity Fair, were told not to discuss their salaries. They all hung signs with their respective salary numbers around their necks and paraded around the office.


@dinos That's a wonderful anecdote, I do love a good Dorothy Parker story.


@Lily Rowan Yes yes yes. Hoodwinking people into thinking talking about salary was rude was the greatest trick the corporatacracy ever pulled. (Also, getting people to think staff positions are great, because guess what, NOBODY GETS OVERTIME FOR STAFF POSITIONS.)

Lily Rowan

@deepomega Yeah, funny that -- if I leave early, I use PTO. If I stay late, I get nothing.

@dinos That is fanTAStic!


@dinos But why did they want everyone else to know what they were making?? I generally don't understand.


@bangs Because they had been forbidden from doing it!

From what I remember from the book I read this in, they were not being paid very well and the no-discussion rule was in place to prevent employees from banding together against the management.


@dinos I see. It would work if everyone was equally poorly paid.


@deepomega Salary sucks. I hate it and all my friends pity me because they get paid when they're at work late. I do not. And I am often required to stay late. They call it my volunteer work. :(


REMEMBER: if that's the most pay you can get, be sure you get them to give you a better title, too; it will make you more marketable later on, and usually costs them nothing.


@atipofthehat Yes! Having that title to put up there is a really strong thing to add to your resume, so you can go to other people later and smack that down on the table and go, "check me out, I was a (insert impressive title here), I can totally do this (slightly more impressive title) job".

Also, thank you, I really enjoy these pieces.


This just made me super depressed because I'm struggling with being totally undervalued/underpaid at my company, but I am not in a stable enough monetary situation to just up and quit.


@olivebee Don't up and quit, but definitely start looking. Just don't leave your resume in the office printer, lol!


@olivebee Ah, that sucks. I'm sorry. Definitely do get your resume out there. You're not a terrible worker in an OK job, you're a great worker in a shitty job, and you deserve to find some place that's going to treat you with the respect you're due.


@area@twitter Thanks! That was a lovely mood boost to read after a few weeks of stewing over how little I make relative to my co-workers (even after a recent raise). I like my job well enough, and really enjoy my co-workers, which is another reason I've hesitated to start looking for a new job, but it's definitely wearing on me how unbelievably low paid I am compared to not only my co-workers but other people with my position. Anyways, thanks for the support!


@olivebee No problem. ::hugs:: I've been there (recently!); the worst part is that being at work sucks up all your time and energy, so when you get back home all you want to do is collapse somewhere, right? Doesn't leave a lot of resources to apply to jobs/work on your resume/convince yourself and your potential employers that you actually are awesome.


@olivebee You and me both. Want to move in together to cut costs? I swear I'll make my bed every day.


Oh, Mike Dang! It's like reading transcripts of my own life (except the numbers I attempt to negotiate are NOT in the $80,000-$100,000 range.)

After badgering for over a year I recently got a $2/hour raise and a $50 bus pass (!!! hittin' the BIG TIME!) at my [professional advertising agency] day job, HA.

I have tons of friends in this position, working crazy hard (additional responsibilities, hours, taking over for people who quit, cutting vacations, etc) and getting almost no appreciation in return. I'm at least able to bill by the hour, a lot of people don't have that luxury. It makes me sad to see people killing themselves for these companies that are so unwilling to reward hard work. As others have said, it just makes me become resentful and stop trying very hard.


@emilylouise The thing I try to remember is that I am a resource. This means that of COURSE the company, no matter how nice and fluffy, is going to try to pay as little for me as possible, jut like they do with stationery or whatever. But it also means that I need to be invested in. I mean, you pay for shitty quality paper, your printer jams up all the time.


Doing the work of three people and getting a 20% raise seems...absurdly unfair, BOO on boss. BOO.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I know, that is some straight bullshit there. I do kind of feel like maybe there needs to be some sort of fair living wage legislation put into effect sometime soon.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher At least this boss isn't having detailed murder-fantasies?


@wharrgarbl That we know of.


@Megan Patterson@facebook Yes please, fair living wage legislation! And, I don't know, maybe something to prevent companies from bumping full-time workers with benefits down to part time so they can't get unemployment or a severance package, but can't make enough money to get by? (This happened to my boyfriend YESTERDAY. I want to go shank all the higher-ups at his company.)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Holy crap, I know! Underemployment is just as much of a problem as unemployment!


@Megan Patterson@facebook It is a HUGE problem, and is really making all the "job creation" numbers very misleading. To me, a real job involves a wage you can live (even better, live comfortably) on, with health care and sick days and vacation time. Keeps you healthy, both physically and mentally, keeps your coworkers healthy, and that means you can do your job better.

I realize that this is crazy.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I would shank a puppy* for sick days, vacation, and health care that I could afford.

(*I would not shank a puppy. I would maybe stomp on a few mean peoples' feet, though.)


@OhShesArtsy I feel like these are things that make sense for places to provide! I do! Why do heads of companies not feel this way?* (Note: none of these things are thing I have right now.) Let the foot stomping commence, we won't stop until our demands are met.

*Because money. I KNOW.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Well, because they would like to line their own pockets with said money.

Spinach Party

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher "To me, a real job involves a wage you can live (even better, live comfortably) on, with health care and sick days and vacation time. Keeps you healthy, both physically and mentally, keeps your coworkers healthy, and that means you can do your job better." Of course that's crazy. The higher ups at the publicly traded, global corporation I work for also think it's crazy. They strung me along for five years as a full-time "contractor" and SUPER-illegally as a temp worker.(That lasted two years, when the official temp worker contract should have only been 6 months and then I was supposed to either be hired with benefits or let go, but they just kept me in terrifying limbo for 1.5 years). I'd love to say that I got my act together and found a different and amazing job, but they finally just hired me with health benefits, sicks days, vacation time and paid holidays- riiiiiight before I reached my official breaking point. It's such a relief, but part of me is still kicking myself for being such a coward and not moving on. Well, the joke is on them. They turned a bright-eyed and bushy tailed intern into a cynical, broken-down shell of a women. Try getting my best and most productive work now! Suckers.....


@Spinach Party Ugh, that's exactly what's going on at my company. After 1.5 years of being a full time contractor and getting strung along they just let me know it'll be another year before they can consider giving anyone a bump to full employment. The really shitty thing in my situation is that my contract expires every 3-6 months and they often wait until the day before to extend it adding stress to my uninsured self. Bah, at least it's motivated me to get my resume out there and hopefully find employment at a place that'll value me.


@Spinach Party This makes me so cross. I mean, not only is it awful, it's really stupid on the part of the company. Hiring and training someone is expensive! Why wouldn't you want to make that person as productive and long lasting as possible? But no one thinks of the hidden costs.

I was listening to a thing about health care in the US (which just seems so broken and primitive to an outsider, can I say?). I think maybe it was on On the Media? But it said that healthcare through your job started because during WWII, companies wanted to pay their workers more, but were capped by federal laws. Because something about the military and essential services? So they used health benefits to basically get around the law and pay their workers more. I made this face: o_O


@Craftastrophies o_O


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Oh, it was on 'to the best of our knowledge' http://ttbook.org/book/juliet-schor-plenitude That lady had lots of interesting things to say.


I don't know, man, I would've called their bluff, said you were exploring other opportunities, & seen if that number went up at all. (barring that, I'd explain that--because you've now seen how little they value your work--you'll be cutting back on the extent to which you'll let it encroach on your personal time.)

it's hard, especially when you're younger & really eager to succeed/help out/prove yourself/whatever, but companies will always take as much as you're willing to give them for as little as they can get away with in return. if you're happy with your situation, then great, but if not, it's never going to get better on its own (&, if you're already overworked, it's likely to just keep getting worse).


@nonvolleyball Yeah, I said this downthread, but I'm like the poster child for this...I pushed for a raise and promotion, but didn't push hard enough and got strung along for WAY too long. Don't let companies intentionally sabotage your career for their own gain.


@nonvolleyball I completely agree. I also agree with the person who said downthread that asking for a 100% raise is ridiculous. It's just not going to happen. So I think they should have had more realistic expectations going in (perhaps a smaller raise plus more vacation time and a better title) but then used real leverage rather than just wordy insistences to get what they asked for.


@smartastic yeah...I mean, I guess if there were people in similar positions making that much it's not INSANE, but I agree that it might've made him seem like he didn't know what he was talking about. either way, they managed to retain him with just a 20% raise, so they called his bluff for sure.

on the other hand, though, no hiring manager is ever going to respond to your stated salary requirement with "what? oh, no no no no! we'd have to pay you FAR more than that; you're so wonderful!" so you definitely want to throw out a figure that's higher than what you think is feasible (but still within the realm of possibility)--that way, after the negotiation process, the company feels like they settled on something more reasonable, & you (hopefully) end up with a salary that you're happy with.


You're, like, my personal hero for even instigating that conversation with your boss. When I started at my current job I didn't ask what my salary was for two weeks because I was too scared to talk about money.


@jacqueline aah, I hate this! I mean, I completely understand it--I'm not judging you--but puhleeeze do yourself a favor & advocate for yourself the next time you're in a salary negotiation. it's a little trickier in a situation like Mike's, when you're already in the role & negotiating with people who are colleagues. but starting a new job is the one time you can talk openly about your salary requirements without the inherent awkwardness tainting your preexisting relationships. (not that you shouldn't talk about it when you're established in a company either, but it's definitely more delicate.)

anyone who's in a position to hire you should be able to hear you say "here's what I was thinking, based on my skills & qualifications, as well as research I've done on similar positions."

it can be icky & uncomfortable, but it's SO worth it. if not for my various negotiations throughout the years, I'd probably be making at least $10k/year less than I do now.

Lily Rowan

@nonvolleyball Yes! And I suggest practicing talking about money with your friends. What do they make? (I think it's so interesting!)

But talking about money is a significant portion of my job, so I have to be comfortable with it.


@nonvolleyball This article is so timely because I am SO BAD at this, but I am looking for a new job and I am going to have to do the negotiating in the start. I didn't do it for this job - the salary is fine but I want flexitime so I can see some daylight in the winter, and they said 'we'll talk about it when you're off probation'. Two years later, and they keep saying they'll consider it later. The worst is that they never say no, they say 'maybe later' or 'it depends on the other people in the office', etc.

So basically, I need to do it at the start so that it's business, because otherwise it feels personal and I feel rude and inconvenient.


@Craftastrophies "let's discuss later" is the worst--& you're absolutely right that these conversations are easier when you're still an unknown quantity.

one thing I find helpful w/r/t negotiations is to think of yourself as a commodity. I think there's a certain amount of "gosh, you want to hire ME? yayyy!" that can happen when you get a job offer--it's not unlike learning to turn down dates once the initial shock that someone could Like You That Way wears off--so it's important to remember that THEY want YOU, & they're not doing you a favor by hiring you. if you were selling a car that was worth around $6k, you wouldn't accept $3k because the buyer was poor or because you didn't want to hurt their feelings--you'd be like, "but it's got a sweet after-market sound system & very low mileage for its age, so no. sorry." emphasize all the value you'll bring to the company, & if they say "oh, but you made so much less in your last job," you're perfectly within your rights to say "I don't feel like they valued my work enough there, which was one of my reasons for leaving." keep the tone friendly, but firm. & if you reach a point where they're like, "we absolutely, positively, under no circumstances can pay you more than $XX," see if you can advocate for other things you want--flextime, a better title, maybe a $1k bonus after a year of good performance, whatever.

whenever you're throwing out a number, always make sure it's a little bit higher than whatever you'd be thrilled to get, & significantly higher than what you'd actually need to make the job worthwhile. that way, if they do need to talk you back down, you're not suddenly fighting for your ability to make rent.


@nonvolleyball I mean, I hate confrontation. I can do it ok once it's started but I basically will never opt into it. So saying 'bring it up later' means I go 'well, I want this to make my life easier. Talking about this every two months is the opposite of that. So I just won't ask'. Which is wrong but sometimes I don't care.

I was saying the same thing about being a commodity/resource somewhere on thread here, in the context of conserving your organisation's resources by investing in them and not having to replace them too often. It's a false economy. I just need to gear up a bit to see myself that way, and it's easier if I don't know the people super well yet, so that there's not too much subtext, you know? I got pretty good at bargaining when I lived in China, but I never got good at starting low/high enough. I always started with something that was lower than I thought it was worth, but was also a reasonable price. So with salary negotiations, I will basically start with the highest thing that I think they might agree too, and they'll counter offer, and I'll say 'ok!'. Which is not the right way to do it, and I'm working on it but I have to use all my brain because it's hard.

So things like this are so useful. Must remember that I am an amazing worker, when given the opportunity, and shown that I am valued!


I hate the "you're so young" argument! I wish there was a way to actually keep things un-age-biased, as I think employers can generally figure it out from your CV.


@twocats the "you're so young" is a hot load of bullshit in my opinion, but then again, I am "so young" so of course I feel this way.


@beanie Also, as you are "so young," your opinion doesn't matter in the least. (Coming from another Young.)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher yes when they say that, I'm like "if I'm so young, why the hell do you trust me to work here?"


@twocats There's also a family bias. 30 is still young at my tiny company but, I suspect that I would've gotten at least 1 raise over the last 3 years if I were married and/or raising a child. But I'm neither, so my single ass is stuck with this income and the resulting living situation. Someone pay my student loans off please!


@whizz_dumb That's interesting. I feel like there's an opposite bias against people with children (women especially) in my industry, and that having a child or taking maternity or paternity leave can be a major professional setback.


@twocats "you're so young" usually means "you're so inexperienced" ... You can't expect to make the same salary as people who have years more experience.


@skyslang I'll accept this argument, sometimes, but that needs to be the actual argument. You can be young and have more direct experience than older people in your job.

And, can I point out, experience =/= being good at your job or learning. You can be really shitty at a job for a long time, that counts as 'experience', too. I always make a point in my resume of saying that I learn quickly, because I do. And I want to make people remember that you can learn a specific system, or role, but you can't learn things like fitting in with your team or having a good work ethic. I have never gotten a job that I was technically experienced or qualified for, but I have had transferrable skills, and the skills to transfer them. Whereas, the last place I worked, our worst receptionist EVER had 40+ years experience of being a receptionist. She couldn't even take down a message correctly.


@skyslang Fair point, but being young doesn't necessarily mean being inexperienced. That's the assumption (or the excuse) that many offices use to avoid paying younger employees what their knowledge and skill sets are worth.


I keep having to have this conversation with my boss. Unfortunately, all I ever get is a "we are in transition right now. We will up your salary when we know what will happen with [THING]."

So basically I am doing 2 jobs for a very small raise with the promise of better things "soon".

I fucking hate my job.


@OhShesArtsy OH DEAR LORD, YES. I have been without a raise for two years, because "well, [my industry] is at 50% unemployment still, and we really don't want to lay anyone off, so... we're just waiting for some projects to start up and we will revisit the situation" both instilling the Fear Of Unemployment and also "Look at poor us! Take one for the team so poor Sally in the LA office doesn't get a pink slip!" Ugh.


@OhShesArtsy Dude."Oh, you're doing an amazing job. I definitely agree you deserve a raise and a promotion, but it's tough times at the company right now. Hold out for a few months and I'll get back to you."

For Four. Years. In. A. Row. Also, I worked with the sales team and knew for a fact we were making money hand over fist (a fact I brought up at every review but it didn't seem to matter). After three years, I decided to start looking - and it took another year to get an offer I was interested in. But the offer was a substantial raise from my last job.

Seriously, don't let them get away with that mess. Letting my last company do that seriously set my career back two or three years, and I wish I'd left earlier. Find a company that shows they value your work - they're out there!


@jule_b_sorry I have been applying for other jobs since this started. I'm not entirely sure that I will leave but if I ever get another offer, maybe I can use it to scare them, lol! Unfortunately, the job market is shit and I am not in a position to move.


@OhShesArtsy Yes, it definitely takes a while, so try not to get discouraged! One of the reasons my search took so long was that I had high demands and stuck to a certain number. However, by sticking to my guns, I eventually landed a great job with less responsibility and more pay. So, just keep looking b/c I promise the opportunities are out there, it just takes a little longer in this economy for sure.


@jule_b_sorry So all of this talk made me grow some ladyballs and talk to my boss about my current situation again. I'm still not getting the full raise yet (UGH, because of THINGS) but(!!) my old job is being actively marketed, others in the office have volunteered(!!) to help out with it until there is a replacement so I can actually do my new job, and I am getting a new job title that will reflect what I now do.



@OhShesArtsy GET IT GIRL. That is awesome, I am so glad you talked to your boss and that you have such awesome-sounding coworkers!


This is timely, and I would love some insight or suggestions on how to handle this situation:

I'm on a six-month contract (filling in for several women on maternity leave) at a SUPER MEGA RETAILER I've wanted to work for since I was 10 years old. The department director knows I've wanted to work here since I was 10 years old. Everybody likes my work.

That said, with the way the world is right now, I would like to bring up with her that I would like (read: need) to plan for what's going to happen at the end of my six months. I like it here and I want to stay, but I need to plan for what's next if I can't. How do I start that conversation? How do I address her concerns? How do I keep it together if she says something like "Well, we're resource-neutral this year?"


@Clare Schedule a time to sit and talk with her so you have complete attention and tell her exactly what you just said, "I would like to plan for what is going to happen in the next six months. I am very interested in staying on here, can we talk about that possibility?"

If they use contract workers regularly, she is sure to have been in this conversation before. Ask her what steps you can take to be considered for a permanent position within the company, some places have a process for this sort of thing.

As far as keeping it together, this will sound lame but practice. Seriously, when you are at home, imagine the conversation. Imagine it working out positively, negatively, and neutrally. Seriously consider what phrases you will need on hand for all of these situations. I am always better at work conversations if I plan out a rough skeleton of possible phrases that will keep me on track/stop me from crying.

Good luck!


@Clare I'd start it out pretty much the way you told us--you were hired into a temporary position, and need to know what happens at the end of it. Especially if that end-date is hitting sometime in the next few months, I think it would be totally reasonable to talk to your boss and say "Hey, I love it here, but I would like to talk about what happens when my contract is up. I'd love to be able to stay on, but need to know whether that's a possibility so I can plan ahead." @OhShesArtsy said this better than I could.


@Clare I just wrote a long elaborate response, but both @OhShesArtsy and @The Everpresent Wordsnatcher said it shorter and better.


@Clare how long is it 'til your contract's up? even if they say "yeah, no, sorry, no way we can hire you full-time," you've probably got a little while to find something else. so if that happens, just smile, say you love the job & to let you know if anything changes, & get out of there quickly if you feel like you're getting emotional.

but for the initial conversation, I'd frame it as a more general state-of-your-work talk: explain that you've really enjoyed the work you've been doing, ask if she has any feedback (since it sounds like she'll say positive things, this helps make the case for keeping you) & then, as neutrally as possible, ask if there's been any thought about the future of your position once the maternity ladies get back. if you're doing a great job & have that much enthusiasm, a smart manager will do everything possible to find a way to let you stay in some capacity--even if it's another contract, or a shift to a slightly different position, or whatever.

good luck! even if it doesn't work out, you'll've had six months in a job you really enjoy, which is more than some people get in their entire careers.

also, what everyone else said. I love the Hairpin. :)


@Clare Also just as a reminder- if they can't keep you on, remember that it's probably NOT because you did a bad job, or didn't do something, or failed in some way. We have a temp in our office right now that I would kill- kill!- to keep, she is such an asset and a delight to work with. But our overseers won't give us the money to hire her full-time. So we'll have to send her off with incredible references and some other department will probably get her, dammit.



Just remember, if they can't keep you on, make absolutely sure you get some stellar references from them for the future.


@Clare also, if they can't keep you but love you, STAY IN TOUCH. Drop them a line every few months, go to lunch with former coworkers, the whole nine yards. I freelanced in a great job that didn't last, stayed in touch, and a year and a half later was hired in a job I stayed at for longer than I have stayed anywhere else in my career.


I think you coul shave gotten away with asking for $200,000 and a jet. That's what I would have done, definitely.
At least no one is plotting to kill you at this job, right? RIGHT?


Am I the only one who thought the idea of even asking for a 100% raise is totally bonkers?


@Layla I agree with you! I understand not wanting to lowball yourself but asking for that just says that you don't understand the current state of the company and what sort of legitimate expectations you can have.


@Layla Bonkers, and yet reasonable. In fact, if he's doing the work of three people, a 200% raise request could have been justified. (Unlikely, but justified.)


@Layla No. Unfortunately this guy was given a lot of really terrible advice from everyone around him. If you feel you're in a position to get a 100% raise, it's time to leave your job and enter someplace new at the next level (or two) above where you're working now. Your boss's job is to get as much out of you as they can while paying you as little as you'll take. He has now devalued himself and shown his company, in exact numbers, how much shit he's willing to swallow. Accept the raise and start looking for a new job immediately. Don't take any job less than what you really wanted out of your own company.


@Layla Asking for a 100% raise is immature and ridiculous. Why on earth do you think (especially if you are a newer employee) that you deserve a 100% raise? Is that what other people in your industry with your experience are making? It doesn't sound like that's the case here; otherwise, he should have gone in armed with some facts. Jobs constantly evolve, and while it sounds like the author deserves something, a 20 percent raise is 10x what people get as cost of living/yearly raise (if they get that at all), an obvious indicator that the company values him and gets that he's taken on a lot. Taking on other people's work especially if it's not higher-level work doesn't equal being paid two or three salaries. I hate to be on the boss's side because, frankly, I'm sure we all deserve extra, but this sounds incredibly entitled and doesn't show any grasp on how having a job or negotiating a raise actually works.


Right, I feel like the boss basically just dismissed him outright once he made this crazy request. He should have researched what people at comparable companies with comparable responsibilities are being offered, and as others have mentioned, demanded a higher title to go with his 20% raise.

Mike Dang

@Lou@twitter To be fair, this is based on my own personal experience. Obviously, people should not be asking for 100 percent raises all the time! Because yes, that is INSANE. But in my case, I was absorbing the jobs of two senior people I worked for and who left to do better things — both who earned $100K+. I was given a title and job duties that matched theirs, and believed I deserved to be valued as much. And they'd still be saving money since I absorbed two jobs for them.

The point is that it's really important to have these sorts of conversations with your coworkers and your boss. I could not know to ask for $100K if I didn't know that was what people in that position were earning. The person above who said keeping salaries a secret is a tool the MAN uses to further inequity is totally right! Because sometimes you learn things like how an equally qualified woman is earning less in a position that a man used to be in. I have seen these things happen!

Also, the good news is that not only did I get that raise, I also eventually negotiated a lighter workload. You learn to keep these conversations happening for your own benefit. Also, I don't work at that job anymore, and am doing things I enjoy a lot more.


@Mike Dang Hooray for Mike!


@Mike Dang Yay, happy ending! I tend to lowball in salary negotiations, so I genuinely didn't know it was possible to just ask for double your salary. I thought you would, I don't know, get fired on the spot? Spontaneously combust?


@Mike Dang With this info, the decision to ask for that much a raise makes more sense. Sorry, if I sounded harsh.


@Layla I think your feeling about him asking for too much being crazy shows exactly one of the reasons why women tend to make less than men* and do worse in salary negotiations. Women don't ask for enough! They lowball themselves, the boss negotiates down, and they come out with a much lower salary than they would have if they had correctly valued their work.

*obviously sometimes it's just plain sexism at work, but the above is also a significant element.


@thebestjasmine Oh for sure. I mean, I've never had anyone even try to negotiate me down after I've given for a number, and I've only been declined when asking for a raise once, which tells me I don't ask often enough or for nearly enough money. Basically, I'm single-handedly the reason women make less than men.


@thebestjasmine A lot of it is straight sexism. There was some study that came out recently which looked at how much "women don't ask, so they don't get" truism accounted for negotiation disparities. The results were, sadly, that women do ask, but women asking and women negotiating is perceived much more negatively than men doing the same things. Women undervalue their contributions, yeah, but then so do employers.

Caitlin Kelly@twitter

@wharrgarbl "Women undervalue their contributions, yeah, but then so do employers." THIS. This should be on a bumper sticker. Well, maybe not a bumper sticker but you know wha—oh sorry, I need to go spit out all the bile building up in my throat...


@wharrgarbl Yeah, I saw a thing about how women don't ask because they feel that it's personal, not business. The downside of the study being that their bosses ALSO have that perception. So as much as you can say 'it's just business', if you are a lady and you walk in and ask for more money, your boss is likely to think you're demanding and bitchy. The only thing in the study I saw that wasn't super depressing was that women can help negate this by asking for minor things more (I am bad at this, I only ask when it's something I neeeed) and taking it well when they're told no.


At my last job, my boss wouldn't even pay me for the hours I worked (my two-week paycheck was consistently nine hours short), let alone give me a raise so I could afford to pay rent and also eat food?

He asked me two days ago if I wanted to come back to work for him. My response was, "Well, I'm unemployed and desperate, but not that desperate."


@Nutmeg Another great response could have been, "Sorry, I'm too busy working on my lawsuit for unfair labor practices." I hope you find a much better job and soon!


@Nutmeg Good for you, not going back! (And fingers crossed for finding something soon.)


I feel sad inside. :(


UGH.It's so hard to even HAVE this conversation!


What is that "stepping up" shit--that happened to me too! Like handling the current situation that necessitated asking for a raise isn't stepping up enough? UGH! I'm glad you at least got something. :(


How does one start asking for money freelance gigs? I've been starting to freelance for a few local blogs while I'm in between jobs, but I've been doing it for free. Someone told me I should do it for free for the "exposure" but I need money!! Should I ask the places I've been writing for much they pay their usual freelancers? I'm scared they'll tell me "Fuck that, we don't need you!"


@GrannyApple Do it! Dooooooo it. I very much doubt they'll go the "fuck that, we don't need you" approach--if there's no money, they'll likely tell you that, and then you can decide whether it's worth your time. But I don't think you're going to burn any bridges by asking their usual rates.


@GrannyApple totally do it. i doubt they'd say fuck off, but so what if they do? you don't want to work for free and plenty of people/companies will pay freelancers. if they tell you to fuck off you know they suck to work for and you'll find someone who will pay you for your time without wasting your work on those dicks who won't.



If they are not paying you, YOU DON'T NEED THEM.


@atipofthehat I would disagree with this on a technicality: writers, editors, and photographers (among others) looking to go freelance need some sort of portfolio, as few clients will take on someone whose work they haven't seen. So sadly, yes, we do need them even if they're paying us, because we might not attract notice of people who will pay us otherwise.


Is it weird that when HR contacted him I thought he was getting fired? Am I alone on this?


@beanie I thought so, too.

Nothing scares me more than when I am asked to meet with someone "in the conference room".


@OhShesArtsy only bad things go down in the conference room. The best (worst) is when I was getting fired and could see the termination papers for me to sign before they had said anything.


@beanie Wow, that is the best/worst. Also terrifying. Did you guys ever hear the This American Life segment about the guy who goes around firing people as his job? Made me nervous just hearing it.


@OhShesArtsy My experience is when they want to "go for coffee", that's bad news. That made me nervous.


@OhShesArtsy I definitely have to swallow down panic when I hear "come meet me in my office", no matter how casually it's presented.


@area@twitter It's the "We need to talk" of the professional world.


@area@twitter OMG, yes. I had the coolest boss for a while. He once asked me right as I walked in to "be sure to stop by his office and speak with him before the day is up". He must have seen my panic, he immediately insisted it was nothing bad. I still freaked out for the whole day until I had the time to run back there and talk to him.


@beanie At my new job, "Can you come down to the conference room?" means "We're throwing a surprise birthday party for you." Except I didn't know that yet when I got my conference-room call, and the walk down there was one of the longest, sweatiest, most panic-inducing ever.


@area@twitter I'm newish at a very small company, and the CEO likes to be pretty personally involved in stuff. The first few times he sent me an IM asking me to come to his office I was barely holding back panic, but it turns out all he ever wants is talk to me about some new project idea he has.


@OhShesArtsy My favourite boss ever used to say 'come to my office when you have a sec. It's nothing bad, you're not fired!' I would still be sweaty and panicy, because that's how I roll, but couldn't actually make myself ill about it. And it meant I was much less defensive/more receptive when I got there.

ample pie

@area@twitter Last time I got that, I was pretty much convinced they were going to fire me, but instead they asked if I wanted a promotion. So good things can happen!


My last "salary" negotiations went a little something like this- Me: "I just uhm, well," *tears welling* "..I feel like I've worked here for a long time...and.." *tears continue to well* "..and I think I just need to get paid a little bit more because I do a lot of work." *tears now freely flowing*
Boss: "I'll look into it."


@heyad I think I ended up getting a $1.25 raise per hour? SUCCESS.


@heyad ah this makes me want to hug you!


i wish i was the type of grownup who could negotiate how much i make. all my jobs have been like, 'well this is what we pay (regardless of what i asked for at the interview) and you can take it or leave it'. i've been working my way through different companies in order to make more, but never have i gotten a raise or negotiated anything at a single job.

(i spent six months making 12/hr, seven making 15/hr, and now am starting a job on monday that pays 20/hr)


@makingtrouble This is a huge thing for me! More skilled negotiators: what do you do when they just put a "take it or leave it" number on the table? (Also, @makingtrouble, congrats on a new job next week!)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Sometimes that type of job also tells you how much it comes to in a year, at least if it's full time. Last time I was offered an hourly rate like that, I said something like "Hm. Any way we can get that closer to $30,000 yearly? I do have a master's degree in this field." And then they gave me 50 cents more. So. Success? Ugh.


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I have no experience in this specific thing, because every job I've had has been take it or leave it, and I am bad at negotiating. But I HAVE negotiated soft benefits - like flexible hours, first dibs on when I take holidays, working from home sometimes, a more fancy job title, etc. In my experience, these things only go so far, but they do help me feel more valued. I mean, I need a certain amount of money, but after that it's more about feeling like they appreciate my work, and having nice things and a good life. If I can get more flexibility and friendliness, that accomplishes those things. And fancy job titles ain't nothing! They mean the next job, you look more professional and can talk up how important you were.


@makingtrouble Hi, I am one of the "take it or leave it" employers! For what it's worth, I do that (and put the number directly in the job ad) because I know my company pays on the lower end of the scale and I don't want to go through the whole interviewing/offer process with someone who won't ultimately want to work for what I can afford to pay them - so if I know there's not going to be flexibility, that might as well be out in the open from the beginning. At some (small, tiny) companies there really is not room to go higher, even for the right person. But what you can negotiate for are soft things like vacation, titles, more flexible work arrangements...things that don't cost money.

I've also had people say things like, "Okay, I'm willing to accept your offer, but can we agree to revisit it in 6 months if we both feel like this is working out?" Somehow agreeing to open negotiations down the line is more viable for me because at that point I'll have a much better idea how much the employee is worth (ie., "Wow, Tina is so great at xxx which wasn't even in her job description that now I don't have to hire a freelancer to do it so she can totally have that money!" or "Oh god this person is so meh that even if they say they're walking out I will probably just let them") Assuming it's going well, and if they agree to think about it, by that time they'll have invested in you and the tides are more in your favor than they are before you start working.

But the main point is, sometimes people tell you upfront they are going to be firm because that's the amount of money they have and that's it. So aim for the quality-of-life issues that won't put them out and they'll likely be much more willing to work with you and everyone can win.


@redacted Yeah, that's my gripe with my current place. They are small and genuinely can't afford to pay me more. That's fine, that's the deal. But when I interviewed they said that they had good conditions and were flexible, etc, which is more important to me - my salary is lousy but liveable, I'd rather have quality of life. Except then they didn't follow through so now I don't have that, OR a good salary.

Which, again, fine. But I'm not happy with the deal, so I'm looking to leave.


@redacted Thank you for posting! I feel like I'm going to run into this in my field a lot. (There's just not a lot of money in what I'm going into. It's a bitch, but it's the way it is.) I will definitely keep quality-of-life issues on my mind, though, that's good advice. And also maybe get them written into my contract so if I run into a @Craftastrophies situation, I can hold them to it, maybe? I don't know how these things work, but I do know that getting things in writing makes a big difference.


@Craftastrophies Yeah, I think thats the thing about being a responsible employer...if you're asking people to work for less than they could be making elsewhere, you should be bending over to make their lives easier in some other way and, at the very least, living up to what you promised. If not, time to start looking...

@EW I work in documentary film so I hear you. I hate that so many employers (including my current one) rarely use contracts! One thing I've done to get around that is to kind of casually get things in writing via email (after meeting : "Just to clarify, we discussed, x, y and z and decided on whatever.") I have definitely been fucked over by not having a write-out of things that were offered at an in-person meeting!


@redacted These are fantastic ideas, thank you again. I am very much hoping that I end up with a responsible employer (such a reasonable idea!) because from the sounds of this thread, many, many of them are just the worst. I'm in historic preservation, so there is no money and there's not a lot of jobs. Solidarity high five!


Pro-tip: No one gets points for being a martyr, and always remember your boss is a guy who'll put you out on the street as soon as it becomes cost effective. And he/she really doesn't care how late you worked, just that it got done.


@annev6 And also most of the time, he or she doesn't even pay attention to how late you worked, and only notices when you're not there.


@thebestjasmine word. If things keep getting done they assume everything is hunky dory, and why wouldn't they?


@annev6 "No one gets points for being a martyr"
can I just inscribe this in gold on my door, because it's so true. They don't care that you stayed until 10 or that you're losing sleep because of stress until you go tell them "look, this shit isn't gonna fly any more".


@annev6 also if you do stay until 10 or whatever ridiculous time, they certainly won't tell you to stop! you wanna work yourself to death? they will take take take take and then, take some more.


Anyone have any suggestions for asking to work remotely? I'm about to be promoted, but I want to move to a different city to live with my fiancee. I'm scared to death to talk to them about it.

ample pie

@cwmilton: Think of everything that they might ask you, and prepare an answer for it. Write up a proposal, if you think that will help. Be prepared to underline your value to the company. Be able to articulate the investment they've made in you, and explain how they will have to reinvest in someone new. Think through the technological aspects of it, if you're going to be breaking new ground. Show you've done your research.


I've genuinely tried to negotiate raises and job offers. My current company makes it known that they do not negotiate at all--wouldn't do it when I was hired, didn't do it for my last review (my boss, in a congratulatory tone: "I managed to get you a 1% raise this year! " Me: "oh...thanks?" Boss: is something wrong? Me: No, no, not at all! I'm just grateful to get any raise. You know, bad economy and all. WHAT THE FUCK WAS I THINKING?!).

The last company I interviewed for not only refused to negotiate salary, they told me that since I apparently wasn't grateful enough for their salary offer, they could now focus their search on "someone who wants this job for the opportunity, and not just for the money." This was after I wasted two vacation days interviewing.

My biggest problem is that there's almost NO WAY TO KNOW what you're worth. At my last job, I made 20% less than I make now. But at this job, I have about 200% more responsibility. No jobs in my industry list salary ranges, so I have absolutely no clue what I should be making. Where do you even go to find information like that that's even remotely accurate?


@adwriter84 I think it's pretty industry-specific. There's glassdoor for big corporate sorts of jobs. I work in the web design world, where a couple of big organizations have yearly surveys that are super-helpful, with breakdowns by geographic region, experience and education level. Try googling your industry and "salary survey" to see if people are collecting and publishing data like that.


@adwriter84 WHOA, they actually pulled your offer because you tried to negotiate? That is APPALLING. (Is this a thing that happens, Pinners? I feel like maybe don't tell me if it does because it will make all my initiative and confidence for negotiating go poof.)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher The opportunity to WHAT?!?

ample pie

@Lorelei@twitter Glassdoor is fantastic, at least in the industry I work in. Everyone should be on there on the regular, even if they aren't looking for something else or planning on asking for a raise. Be informed.


Going to have to fight really hard with myself not to spend the rest of the work afternoon looking for another job.

P.S. Please don't hate me

At my old job, my co-worker who was in the same position as me would always share right away any info on raises she got, and me with her. At my new office, I'm trying to broach the subject with the other people in my position, but no luck. I miss you, A.!


As a server/manager at a restaurant, this makes me REALLY not want to get a "real job."
My hourly wage raises usually go something like this:
Me: "So, I've been here a year now, and haven't fucked anything up and all the servers seem to be happy with my schedule making and management syle..."
Boss: "How's a 50 cent raise sound?"
Me: "Score!" (Because it really is!)


this is so timely! i just asked for a raise (i was SO NERVOUS OH GOD) and my boss has been putting me off all week. granted, i'm hauling butt at a low wage job so i can have a loose schedule to pursue music, but it is damn hard to live off 8 bucks an hour. i asked for 9 dollars an hour, which is what register people make, and i often work/fill in on register, along with being able to do at least four other jobs in the store. long story short, a sudden hire of a new register girl! maybe i'm paranoid, but....

and i work at a health food store promoting fair trade and local practices. god forbid i should receive a fair wage for the work i do though.

complaining to the commentariatttttttt


Late on this, but I've been thinking about the topic a lot lately. Any other nurses out there who, despite making good money and having the luxury of possessing an in-demand skill, feel that nurses are undervalued because the profession is perceived as unmotivated women working until they have babies?

My employers also just rolled out a huge (read:mega expensive!) branding change/ad campaign that is all about "Our nurses work here because they are ANGELS and SELFLESS and they CARE SO MUCH." Please. Give me a bonus instead.


I had been struggling with this kind of thing over the past few months. I've moved up at my first job where I've been for several years but because I came in with no experience, I know that I've been constantly underpaid against the new hires who are doing the same job as me (and who I train!) but need to be pulled in by higher salaries. I felt so bad negotiating as well because generally, the company has been good to me, giving me opportunities to advance and shouldn't I be happy to have a job and one that pays me well enough to live in this recession (<-textbook lady bad negotiating.) It's nice to read this and know I'm not the only who struggles with knowing how to do this thing!
Plus I finally I talked to one of my supervisors who went to bat for me and got me roughly on par with my colleagues so there's hope, people, there's hope!

Kiratveer Singh@facebook

I am working from my home as a online businessman. I am not a boss. :)

Reflective Insulation


mike!!! i saw you telling your boss story at the moth slam last night! but i was also too shy to say anything afterwards, oops. you did a great job, and i was so excited that i knew the ending of the story because i'd already read it on the hairpin. yay mike dang!

Zeki Yol@facebook

great work, thank you. i always follow web sites. thanks for sharing. Fıkra .

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