Help! It's Been 3 Years Since My Last Raise

by Staff - Original publish date: October 7, 2013

Leading up to Salary Negotiation Week, we surveyed more than 1,000 people on several different topics related to salary negotiation. We had readers answer some questions regarding their experiences asking for raises, and what they're afraid of when it comes to negotiating salary. Here is input from an actual reader, and our subsequent advice.

Job Title: Senior Web Designer
City: Salem
State: NH
Current Salary: $72,000
Last Raise: 09/2010
Company Size: 8

What is motivating you to ask for a raise? It’s been long enough between raises and friends in the industry are making more than me.
What concerns you about asking for a raise? The small size of my company and how a raise impacts the company’s bottom-line.

Dear Salem,
You have gone three years without seeing a raise and perhaps even asking. It is certainly a good time to consider requesting an increase. The job title you listed is vague, so we had to take some guesses at your job duties based on your current salary; this is why it is so important to understand what your fair market value is using

Using the Salary Wizard™ on we select Java Developer and Web Software Developer, Sr. roles. We also assumed that you have at least 10 years of experience based on your current salary. So, a Java Developer in Salem, NH with 10-14 years’ experience can make up to $82,456 (this is the mid-point for that job title). If this role matches your job description, it looks like you may have some room to negotiate your base. We also looked at Web Software Developer, Sr., with 10-14 years’ experience in Salem, NH. This job’s mid-point is $70,197 (under your current salary); the 75 percentile pays out at $78,530. If this job is closer to your daily responsibilities, you are looking at making out what a company your size would be willing to offer in base compensation. This means you may need to consider looking at next steps in your career path like management or augmenting your resume by learning new, valuable skillsets. However, keep in mind that without really understanding your job responsibilities it is very difficult to settle on an accurate salary range.

After you have done some research on your salary, look at your performance over the years. Have you been able to grow new business, or launch a successful product? Outline how you have brought value to your job and your company. Then, before you meet with your employer, carefully select the percentage increase to negotiate. Although salary freezes appear to be over, keep in mind that salary increase percentages have remained flat at around 3 percent. There are three ways to think about this percentage. Based on your research:

  1. Are you looking to bring your salary up to a fair market value?
  2. Are you looking for a performance-based increase?
  3. Both

It’s rare to see a percentage increase more than 10 percent without an equity adjustment (which is meant to bring someone in-line with market value), promotion, job change or relocation.  These criteria will help you select a percentage that is fair and feasible.

Doing the research about you is half the battle. Next, you really need to understand your company. What did 2012 look like? How was Q1 and Q2 performance? Your company should be open about business performance, if not sharing the exact numbers, at least giving indicators that revenues are steady, up or down. Obviously, if the company is not meeting revenue goals, your salary request will most likely fall on deaf ears. And, because you work for a small company, keep in mind that large increases may be out of the question. Remember, if you really enjoy the company; consider other items to negotiate, like equity or a goal-based bonus. If none of these are an option, you need to ask why you aren’t receiving an adjustment—find out if it is your performance or something else.

You can only arm yourself with data, facts and honesty around your job and company performance. Lay out your case rationally, ask for the raise and be prepared to negotiate and answer questions. While we certainly can never promise the outcome you hope for or tell you what to do we can, at least, give you salary-related advice to empower you to understand the value of what you do. Good luck!

Do you have an upcoming salary negotiation? If so, be sure to check out these important tools:

  •'s new & improved Personal Salary Report
  • Salary negotiation tips for every situation