Negotiating a Raise

Posted by Madison on February 29, 2008

My husband works for a university. He has a great job that he enjoys and has a great salary and benefits. However, because the university is funded by the state, raises for staff are negotiated and given across the board. The raise is not tied to performance.

He has long accepted this as a way of doing business. However, he felt that it was time to see if there wasn’t a way to negotiate a raise anyway.

Challenge the System

Through some investigation Mr. Dupaix found that there was a title change that had a higher compensation range. After some careful planning, he brought up the subject of pay during his performance review. He gave examples of his strengths, cited highly successful projects and illustrated his value to his department.

Don’t Whine

He was careful to avoid these “reasons” as they don’t often go very far when you are negotiating with your boss:

  • I need it to keep up with the cost of living.
  • I have been here X number of years, so I am entitled to it.
  • Comparing work to others.
  • I can make X somewhere else.


His boss agreed with his self assessment and suggested that it would be best to pursue a title change (promotion). Because of a tight budget, there likely wouldn’t be any other way to get an increase in pay. Because he had done his research ahead of time, he knew that this was a perfect solution and agreed.

Mr. Dupaix found out this week that his promotion will be granted for the 2008 fiscal year! Next year he’ll receive the negotiated raise and his increase in salary for the title change.

Lessons Learned

It’s best to find out how the system works before you meet with your boss. Don’t assume that everywhere is the same. Plan you negotiations to complement the system rather than asking for something that won’t be possible.

In addition, it’s important to show what you have done. Give specific examples of when you performed exceptionally and what the impact is for the business. Show your value. Don’t bring up the “negative reasons” of entitlement, comparison, or personal needs.

This article is featured in The Carnival of Money Stories at Piggy Bank Blues.

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Comments to Negotiating a Raise

  1. I’ve always thought those across-the-board raises are a little like socialism. No matter how hard you work, everyone gets the same raise. No matter how hard you don’t work, everyone gets the same raise. Pretty soon it stifles productivity because everyone subscribes to being lazy – after all, there is no incentive to go above and beyond.

    Frugal Dad

  2. Yeah for raises! I just received my annual review today and got a 6% raise. Woohoo! 🙂

    Becky @ FamilyandFinances

  3. Those “across the board” raises are exactly what my company uses. It is a real dis-incentive to go above and beyond. I’m just hoping that long term, my MBA will get me a department head position.

    I’ve suggested changes to the system, but the old boy network doesn’t like change.

    Congrats to your husband for his ability to tackle a difficult situation. I’ll have to re-think my approaches for the future!


  4. Congrats! 🙂

    I’m not always in favor of across the board raises as well, but they are very common with the government, state positions, military, etc. In some cases, they are necessary. On others, they breed complacency…


  5. I agree that the best way to ask for a raise is to be prepared, reasonable, and have actually earned it. In those situations you have a great chance at success, and if it doesn’t work out (for various business reasons) you can hopefully use that experience to propel you to your next opportunity.

    Know The Ledge

  6. Good for him. Just getting an extra 1% a year can lead to making $10k’s more per year by the end of a career.


  7. My husband’s job is a state job and so it’s unlikely he’ll get a raise although his boss says he will try to get him and his coworker, who are the two most productive employees in the group, raises. We’ll see if that happens.


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