Article #2 From the "What If ..." Library on Salary Negotiation

What If ...

I Already Started at a Low Salary
 
Lenore has been with her present company for five years, and she is WAY underpaid. When she took the job right of college, she accepted a low salary partly because she really needed the job, and partly because she just didn't know any better.
 
After living from hand to mouth as a student, it sure seemed like a lot of money at the time. Since then, she and her co-workers have received raises, but these raises were given as a percentage of salary. Consequently, Lenore keeps falling further behind every time the company gives raises. Other than the pay, she loves her job and has a great relationship with her boss, Susan. Although she would prefer to stay, the pay discrepancy was gnawing at her to the point that she was seriously considering quitting to go elsewhere.
 
Instead, here's how I advised Lenore. As I recommend to everyone, Lenore had been keeping a good job journal, describing the times she had made a significant difference for the company, the department, or in handling a client account. She documented how her actions had made or saved money, improved service, gotten big compliments from customers, and how she had smoothed the ruffled feathers of other customers. She prepared a memo for Susan, beginning with a statement of the truth about how she enjoyed the job. She didn't threaten to go elsewhere, but stated that she would like Susan's help in eliminating the pay discrepancy that was the one real unpleasant part of her job.
 
She summarized the best material from her job journal, and requested a meeting to discuss the memo. In the meeting, Lenore reiterated how much she liked the job, and pointed out that if the company were to hire today, that they would have to offer her significantly more than she was currently earning. In effect, she pointed out, she was being punished for her loyalty to the company and her years of service. Lenore asked Susan to be a partner in resolving this salary issue.
 
Fortunately, Susan was very receptive, and went to bat for her with the company president. Soon, Lenore had the pay raise along with a bonus to show their appreciation and compensate her (a little) for the money she'd lost over the years. Obviously, things don't always work out this well, but using this strategy is far more effective than calling the boss cheap and threatening to quit. You don't want to force the boss into calling your bluff.