Have you ever asked for a raise? In my 13 years of practicing law I have only formally asked for a raise once. I was surprised at how infrequently I have asked for a raise. At the beginning of my career, I switched jobs fairly frequently (about once every 2.5 years) in order to increase my pay rather than wait for pay increases. I wonder how common it is for others to request raises.
I began my career making approximately $46,000 working for the State of Florida. I received a raise (really 2 at the same time) and began making approximately $52,000 after about a year and half. I left after 2.5 years (total) to work in a private law firm making $57,500 (private law firm "A"). I worked at private law firm A for about about 3 months (it was horrible). I then went to another private law firm (private law firm "B") for the same salary ($57,500). Private law firm B was run by a sole proprietor who did not like to give raises to her employees. Private law firm B was the only employer from whom I ever formally asked for a raise. I worked there for approximately 2.5 years without a raise. I thought certainly after 1 year I would get a raise, definitely after 2. I always received lots of praise for my work and voluntarily took on more work, but never received an offer to increase my salary. After 2.5 years, I asked her for a raise. It took a long time for her to finally come talk to me about a raise or even acknowledge that I had asked for a raise. I think it was 2 or 3 weeks before she acknowledged my request. We met in her office to talk , which I thought was odd. She was a sole proprietor and she could decide, unilaterally, whether I should receive raise and how much. After about a grueling hour of a cat and mouse game, I finally just asked for a small $5,000 raise. (She wanted to be sure not to name a number first and I did not want to either, but after 1 hour, I gave up.) She willingly gave it to me as she thought I would as for much more. My salary increased to $62,500. I left approximately 6 months later for a job paying $70,000 (private law firm "C"). That was the only time in my career that I formally requested a raise.
At private law firm C, I received a 10% raise after about 1 year and a half. My second raise came a little over 2 years (maybe 2.5 years later). My third came just last year (approximately 2 years after the previous one). My second two raises were not as large as the first. While I am not pleased that my salary increases average about 2 years apart, I am happy to receive any increase at all. I recognize that in small businesses it is difficult to increase payroll every year. Moreover, I don't agree with giving employees raises every year just for the sake of giving raises (but cost of living increases are a real and important condition of employment). I have taken on significant amounts of permanent work and projects for the firm over the years, that is the type of event that I think triggers a significant salary increase.
Just a final note, I wanted to be clear that while I have never formally asked my current employer for a salary increase, I have always been very vocal about the fact that I expect salary increases in the future. I will not tolerate staying at the same salary for years and years on end if I am excelling at my job and continuing to take on new projects.
What are your thoughts on salary increases? Do you expect one every year? Every six months?