Monday, January 15, 2018

Have You Ever Asked For A Raise?

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?


  1. My company (current company, although also applies to previous employer) does a performance review that ties to a potential salary increase. I've always received a yearly salary increase.

    1. My employer (admittedly a small business- maybe 10 employees) has a provision in the employee handbook for yearly performance reviews. I've been there almost 7 years and have yet to have a performance review.

  2. I've never asked for a raise but have left a job on account of not receiving one. Last year I did negotiate a higher wage for my seasonal position. I made it clear that I was fully ready to walk away from the job if I didn't receive what I was asking.