Why I’ll Never Ask for a Raise

At my last job, I negotiated like a boss coming into my role. I managed to be rewarded with a base salary of $190k–even though it made my hiring manager clearly feel uncomfortable–and I regretted that negotiation every day on the job, feeling like I couldn’t live up to that value. That job lasted less than two years.

In my current role, I was fortunate to have a hiring manager who knew me from a prior position, and I trusted he would get me the best / fair offer possible. Could I have pushed for a few thousand dollars more a year? Sure. But would leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The comp package was quite attractive–base salary a lot less than I had been making, but I knew making less would me feel more comfortable in my position. With bonus and such, the comp would be about the same as my prior role — but bonus isn’t real until it happens.

Now that I’m in this position and people seem to actually like me and my contributions (I still have a lot to prove but it’s going well thus far), I’m committed to not asking for a raise. Ever. Maybe that means I’ll be compensated less than my peers-especially my male peers–but I don’t care. I’m fortunate enough to be making what I’m making, and with the full package, to me, it’s quite a lot. I’d happily accept a raise if offered, but I’m not going to ask.

My new plan is that if in three years, I haven’t received a raise or promotion, I’ll leave to find a new job. At that point, my experience should earn me a higher compensation going into a new role. If not, then I stay and just remain happy with what I have. I’ve gotten over thinking I’m ever going to be able to afford a house here, so what’s the point of negotiating for more compensation? I’m really trying to do my best at doing a good job and being known in my organization for being a great team player and an excellent contributor — maybe that will pay off, maybe it won’t, but it feels like such a relief to know I’m never going to ask for a raise or a promotion.

Maybe I’m letting the women of the working world down, but I don’t care anymore. Perhaps I’ve plateaued in my career. That’s fine by me. Right now, I take home about $7.5k a month after taxes. That’s enough to afford our one bedroom apartment that’s $2500. Even if I made more, I wouldn’t have enough to feel confident I could afford 30 years of mortgage payments on a. house ($5k-$7k), so it’s pointless to push for more income. I do have a sizable stock package that could make things look a lot better in a few years… but if it’s not monthly income or guaranteed, it’s not real until it’s in my checking account.

I do wonder, though, at what point men typically ask for raises. I don’t want to know so I would do it — I’m just curious how often that really happens. We have an annual review cycle at my company and I’m sure at that point people go in with their best “why I deserve a raise/promotion” story (I’ll just try to get my full bonus, but not ask for a raise) — but, how often do these talks and negotiations happen outside of the annual cycle? How often do the negotiations work?

What I love most is being the person that adds the most value without asking for more pay. I might feel differently if I was incredibly under-compensated, but I don’t think I am. If I thought that, I’d probably just look for a new job. But I’m very grateful for my role and my compensation. Could I get more if I asked? Maybe. But it’s just not worth it. Not for me anyway.


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  1. Money Beagle says:

    You might change your mind on that. Give it time. At my current job, I came in and was delighted with the compensation package and the job was great, plus I loved who I worked for. Like you I had come out of a very toxic job situation, so I was grateful with what I received and thought it was fair. But, as I continued, I realized that I was getting accolades, being assigned highly important projects and was generally well thought of. I started realizing that there needed to be value assigned to that.

    Eventually, I asked for a raise. I waited until I was in the middle of a very time sensitive project, and I approached my manager. They asked what I was looking for. I put out what I felt was a reasonable ask (10%) and they didn’t blink.

    Now, had I done that after just a year or so, then yes I would have felt tremendously unworthy and greedy, but once it was established that I was a key part of the organization, I felt it was fair.

    Hopefully you get to that stage.

    1. Joy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      How long did you wait before asking? You said you didn’t do it after a year or so, so how long did it take for you to feel established?

  2. Ella says:

    I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to ask for a raise if you don’t want to. You can always re-evaluate in another year or two. My dad says he’s never asked for a raise his entire career. He works for the government and has gotten most of his income bumps from job-hopping, however.

    Early on in my career, I tried negotiating my salary offers and asking for a raise, but it did absolutely nothing for me back then. The first time I asked for a raise, my manager said he’d discuss it with his manager, and then they were both promptly fired, so I was too scared to say anything after that.

    I too know what it’s like to feel overpaid. I just started a new job where the hiring manager went over budget to pay me (only by a few thousand though), and now I’m paranoid that I’m constantly being compared to everyone who makes less than me. Maybe I’ll try to join my dad in the government one day, where every salary is publicized and everyone is comfortable with being underpaid…

  3. Steveark says:

    I don’t think you are letting women down but may be letting yourself down. You are worth what they will pay. The idea that a company will reach to pay you $190k and then constantly regret it doesn’t match anything I saw in my career where paychecks that size and larger were commonplace. The cost of one employee, even the CEO, never causes more than a tiny blip on the profit loss statement. It isn’t something anyone at senior management levels ever worries about. That feeling of not being worth it is just imposter syndrome and resides in your head alone. I always “felt” I was vastly overpaid in my career but I knew I was not because I kept in touch with recruiters and knew I could get even more overpaid at other companies. You asked at what point men asked for raises? I don’t know about other men but in my experience assertive men and women who succeed wildly compared to the middle of the pack employees take an active role in their own compensation using a variety of techniques that fall under the loose heading of negotiation. And they never second guess themselves for doing it. I think your second job sounds way better than the other one and you were smart to make the move even for less money because life is more than that but I also think you should get comfortable with earning a lot because it is clear you have the talent to earn a lot of money and have fun doing it!

    1. Joy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

      My second job/new job is *way* better than prior job. I definitely felt worse about negotiating in a startup environment. I manage relatively large budgets so I understand that an extra $20k for me a year is basically a rounding error for most companies. But I feel SO much better not negotiating ever again. If a company in the future low balls me, I’ll just turn down the offer. I don’t feel like going back and saying “I want more.” And, even though my base salary is lower in this role, with bonus it’s about the same if not more than my last role (I didn’t have a bonus in last role) and because it’s a public company there is actual stock I get which could make this position quite lucrative. I don’t really feel comfortable asking for more because at this point I look at what I may be earning this year and think it’s too much. So I just am grateful for what I have, and plan to hold out at this salary or accept any raises offered but never ask for a raise or promotion. I’m already at a fairly senior level, on paper anyway, so I just want to prove my worth. The value of this role is not what I can negotiate in this position for an extra $10k-$20k per year, but how in four years, if I succeed, I’ll have four years at a successful public company under my belt, which hopefully will make me more valuable to the next bidder — or, if I go freelance, will give me the credibility to do that with a great portfolio. I mean, it would be nice to be making $500k per year, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not that type of senior exec person, and that’s not my future. My comp could come out to $250k-$300k with all the extras so really I’m doing quite well for myself. And I’m pleased that I didn’t negotiate at all when I took the job. It feels so good to not having that hanging on my shoulders so I can focus on being the best employee I can be.

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