On getting a raise

I have a boring adulthood question for you. My rent is going up, I need to buy a car this summer, and my hourly wage is not keeping up. I work at a large university; the positions are very structured and extremely carefully regulated by HR. That is to say, raises and promotions don’t really happen around here. Generally, to get paid more, one must look for another exiting position. I really like my department and my coworkers. I’ve been doing some extra work recently to cover for a coworker who is on maternity leave. Also, there’s a possibility of a promotion in a year when my supervisor retires. Do I a) ask for a raise, even though it’s very unusual; b) sit tight, build karma, and hope the promotion pans out; or c) just look for another (probably less pleasant but higher paying) job?

You’re forgetting option D: Find another job that pays more and use it as leverage for a raise in your current job. (That’s how you get raises and promotions in places that don’t usually offer them.) Of course, the trick is you actually have to deserve the raise. Your bosses have to be willing to go to bat for you with HR. They have to want you to stay more than you want to leave. You can’t be easily replaceable, and it’s a card you can only play once every few years at the most. (You also have to be fully willing to leave and take the other job. You can’t be bluffing, but then again, if they aren’t willing to keep you, then they probably weren’t ever gonna promote you.)


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