Getting A Raise To The Market Rate

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about promotion: My boss wants to keep me and said a raise will come with an eventual promotion (but I don’t know when that will be).

I’ve been in my current job coming to a year. I like my team (we’re HR), my colleagues, company and I love my work. Very often, I’m the one who takes on more assignments, projects and helps out in areas which should, by normal circumstances, be other people’s work. I had interviewed for a Senior Executive job but was offered a Manager’s role, but paid at an Executive level.

Recently, I realized from talks with recruiters and peers that my pay is actually more than 40% below what the market is paying for a HR Manager. I spoke to my boss on this, and was told that I was being paid equitably. That made me rather upset. I am taking on a title which with it comes responsibilities including making decisions. Very often I am making decisions for other managers who earn far more than I earn, have similar level of experience, but do not need to commit to that type of responsibility.

My boss wants to keep me and said a raise will come with an eventual promotion (but I don’t know when that will be). How should I proposition to her that for the role I am doing RIGHT NOW, I am already being UNDERPAID? I am feeling very depressed and am wondering should I just go look for another job elsewhere that will pay me my market rate.

Signed, Underpaid Hard Worker

DearĀ Underpaid Hard Worker:

I forwarded your question to Dan Kearney, a Human Resources Manager who has worked for large and smaller companies. His advice is: “You don’t tell me the industry, location or job title – so I have no way of knowing what the mean, median, upper or lower ranges are for your salary/job title. However, this point is not relevant.

“You took this job with certain expectations (that it would become a Senior Exec position) but you took a manager’s position at a lower rate. You agreed to this, so now you have to perform those tasks at that rate of pay. If you don’t like this position then I’d say “Start looking” because you are only going to become disgruntled and eventually lose your job. Have you received an evaluation yet? If not, get one. That should give you a clue as to what your next step should be.

“The hard fact is that a substantial pay increase most frequently comes with career moves. You must weigh if the position you now hold and like is adequately compensated.”

Or as Dan suggests “start looking”. We will welcome an update in light of what you elect to do. I trust that you will find satisfaction in developing the work of your firm now and then will appreciate shaping the direction of your career. As you know money, unless seriously inadequate to support you, is not the most important factor in a job. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS; that is the real payoff.

The kind of “caring” you describe up front in this query that is what matters.

Follow Up: Thanks very much for your advice. I guess it came at the right time, when I’m really feeling demoralized and wondering how to go on my daily work professionally and unaffected. I guess WEGOS is the way to continue doing this. I am talking to recruiters on the side, but no matter how things turn out I am grateful for my work and I intend to continue doing my best until…whatever happens.

Follow UP: Since our last email, I have approached my boss twice – both times with market data and job ads I’ve collated from the Internet, demonstrating the pay range and average pay for my job in the market (which is still more than 40% of my current pay). I like my company and my job and if anything I really want to stay on rather look for another job. Despite her constantly telling me how good I am, how much I’m valued, these words now feel like lip service to me. During the first session, she brushed me aside, (not dismissively) saying we can talk more on this, and she is open to further discussion. A week later, I followed up, and got a shock when she brushed my research aside, asking me whether I am really performing up to my level. She said she doesn’t think I am “there yet”, illustrating the gap with two fingers.

My approach was presenting the information (in relation to the value I’m bringing) and asking her if she could help me bring my pay to a level closer to the market average (I was not even insisting on the average). I was expecting that she may say things like we don’t have the budget for such a big raise but we can work things out, or something like that, but not this manner, which I feel is totally uncalled for.

I have since started job searching, because I have given this situation enough time. I also for the first time, really feel that my work and contribution is not recognized, and my organisation has demonstrated that, after running all the extra miles, it just isn’t worth it. Could I get your advice if I should still talk to my boss on this? She kept saying a promotion for me is in the “pipeline” and my pay will “definitely” be adjusted when it comes to that but honestly I don’t know when that’s going to happen, and I do not feel its fair to me to then get paid my current market average when I eventually take on an even bigger role.

How should I tell the companies I interview with, that I want to be paid the market rate?

Reply:First off, you don’t say how many years you job experience you have. All you say you’ve been employed in your current one for one year. Second, did your company make a profit last year and third, your evaluation? Did you exceed your job requirements? The other issue is the use of surveys to get a raise. Just because John Doe down the street is doing what you are doing and making more, doesn’t mean you deserve more. Never use surveys to get a raise. If you REALLY want a raise, present your best evidence – YOU! Write down your accomplishments and successes. Then write down your failures or development areas and what you have done to overcome them. Sell what you have done to help the company succeed.

Finally, if it’s more money that you want then I would suggest you start applying at those companies that took part in that survey because I seriously doubt your boss is going to give you a raise based upon what you have told them so far.Obviously you are impatient and are discouraged about pay. So job hunt and if you get a solid offer, you then can again raise the question of a raise should your not take another job. Remember the grass is not always greener elsewhere.

Dan Kearney & Bill Gorden