How to ask for a raise

A slave to the corporate grindI found an old email that I think is quite funny – although I was very annoyed when writing it.

I graduated from university at the same time as a severe market downturn. Many companies stopped their graduate programs that year, and job prospects for people in my field were poor.

Smaller companies that did not have formal pay levels for employees saw their opportunity and hired graduates at ridiculously low rates.

Almost 2 years after joining the company, the market had improved, and my job title now had “senior” in it, but my payscale had barely moved. I decided that something needed to be done about it, so I had a crisis meeting with my manager.

It worked…to a degree.

Hi Stuart,

As per our conversation, I am pleased to let you know that we have agreed to give you a $x,000 increase in your salary. This in in recognition of your efforts to date and more importantly our belief in you that you will become one of our leading Consultants.

The forecast for the next 12mths looks extremely promising with the number of opportunities now presenting themselves and I have an expectation that you will meet the challenges I offer you (in fact I have no doubt that you will be able to meet all challenges).


But you should always remember that your boss has had vastly more experience than you have when it comes to the question of salary.

Hi {ManagerName},

I am pleased with the level of confidence you have in my abilities, and I am looking forward to the next 12 months with Initech.

I appreciate {CompanyName}’s offer, but restate my point that this takes me from a low graduate salary to a below average graduate salary.

I would appreciate another meeting with {CompanyOwner} and yourself to clarify my position.


You can practically see the steam coming out of my ears. The situation was eventually resolved, with management cleverly picking a number that meant that I was still unhappy with my salary, but wasn’t quite prepared to leave. In HR terms, this would be called “salary optimisation”.

The problem is that if you pay your employees just enough to keep them from leaving, you attract the kind of people who work just hard enough not to get fired.

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2 Responses to “How to ask for a raise”

  1. Shannon Says:

    So true! (the part about paying people just enough)

  2. lach Says:

    Hi Stu – Ryan sent me a link to your site.

    Nice post. Very important to always remember that HR want to pay you the least to keep you on. They’ll tell you that they are there for you, ready to help with any issue. But there’s a fundamental conflict of interest when it comes to negotiating things like pay and training. Of course this is rather silly as they are just shooting themselves in the foot.

    And of course it’s easiest to take advantage of grads because they have no experience with this kind of thing, and they are experts. How unfair. Apparently in the US most IT companies have learnt from this lesson are now pay most developers enough cash. Give it a few years!