In the April 8, 2014 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader says her boss “gave her a raise” by hiring another employee:

I have been with my current employer for six and a half years. I was promoted six months ago from administrative assistant to assistant manager. I got the title but no pay increase. Since being employed with this company I have not received any type of raise, only an occasional small bonus (less than $600). I recently asked the owner about a cost of living raise. His answer: “I did give you a raise when I hired a new person for your department. This took a large work load off you and that in turn was your raise.”

underpaidI almost fell out of my chair. I try very hard to be an optimist, but I am still trying to wrap my head around his response. I have proven that I have been very committed to this company. I have streamlined daily duties to save time, and I have found ways to save him thousands of dollars in operating costs. My boss informs me often that his clients compliment him on my professional skills and follow-up. I have a file of examples, but still I am not worthy of even a cost of living raise. My new co-worker was hired at the same time I was given a promotion in title only. She managed to negotiate $8,000 more than I am paid, with two years of experience against my six years. The only benefits that I receive are three weeks vacation. No retirement, no health insurance.

My boss also made this important statement: “I don’t believe in giving raises. People should learn to live within their means.”

My fire was ignited. A still small voice inside me is screaming saying, don’t settle, have courage, and as my father would say, go out there and shake those bushes.

I do apologize for the roundabout explanation. Do I stay and accept no pay increase ever, and just accept that maybe someday I can possibly make an increase in salary when my current manager retires in 10-15 years?

Or should I just go for it and test the market and just see what might be on the other side of that door? I will admit, I am old school when it comes to changing employers often. I tend to be very loyal. What makes me stay? I really do enjoy my work and I enjoy finding ways to save money. It’s a challenge for me. But now that I realize there will be very little compensation in my efforts, I feel defeated to say the least. My resume is ready. I’m the only one holding myself back.

Thank you so very much for all the information you have put together for people like me. I greatly appreciate any insider tips to help me navigate my way in a southern good ol’ boys business world.

Nick’s Reply

Your note reveals to me that you are a class act. A bit naive, but classy.

Loyalty goes two ways. If you’re giving your employer your best and he’s failing to recognize your increasing value to his business, then he’s not being loyal to you. I’m not trying to stoke the fire of discontent, but I don’t think you have anything to feel guilty about.

You’ve invested six years of your life in this business, and your boss has acknowledged your value to his customers. Now he’s given you a higher level job to acknowledge the growth of your skills and abilities. You are delivering much more value to him than you were when you were hired. But he’s delivering no more value to you.

stingy-bossHis statement that, “I don’t believe in giving raises. People should learn to live within their means” tells you all you need to know about this man: He’s taking advantage of you. My guess is that he’s earning far more today than he was six years ago, in part thanks to you. He’s not sharing that success. And as a boss, he’s not grasping a very simple but important idea about salary: That’s why it’s called compensation.

His statement that hiring a new person is his way of giving you a raise is a ridiculous insult. All I see here is a man with a very small mind who thinks he’s clever. But don’t begrudge your new co-worker her higher salary. Good for her for negotiating it. Her success is no reflection on you. (I discuss how to handle salary disparity in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 7: Win The Salary Games, pp. 16-17, “Why does he get paid more?”)

I’d take your boss up on his advice – live within your means. And your “new means,” with six years’ experience under your belt, include greater skills and abilities, and a higher value. Find an employer who recognizes that, respects it, and is willing to pay for it.

Keep in mind that searching for a new job always poses a bit of a risk. But I think doing nothing but accepting this man’s edicts is far, far riskier for you. If you stay, in another six years your self-respect and self-confidence will diminish, and you will indeed be worth less.

Your boss is wrong. Your father is right. Do it carefully and intelligently, but find yourself a better employer. (Let me caution you: Don’t look for a job.) Life is short, and as my best mentor told me long ago, “Never work with jerks.”

When you say goodbye to that fool, remember: Never complain, never explain. Do not express your dissatisfaction or explain why you are leaving, except to say, “It’s time for me to move on. Good luck.” (Nothing is gained by venting to an old boss except the venom he will spread about you.) So keep your standards and your head high. Rest assured that this man’s comeuppance will appear to him every morning when he looks in the mirror — while you earn what you’re worth.

When is enough, enough from a selfish boss? How do we know it’s time to say, so long? Have you been abused longer than you should have permitted? What pushed you to finally move on? What are your suggestions for this reader?

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  1. This letter radiates the attitude “I was nice/good and therefore I should be rewarded.” That is just not how the world works.

    Whether man or woman, I suggest the poster read the wonderful book _No More Mr. Nice Guy_. Then go out and find something better for yourself, not from a place of indignation or resentment, but confidently, with integrity, doing what you know is right for you.

  2. Hi,

    Such loyalty is indeed praiseworthy but as Nick says, it’s a two way street. If you stay where you are you will be worn down until you feel worthless. When that happens and you finally get so disgusted and try to find other work, the feelings of worthlessness will HAUNT you the rest of your life. It’ll impact every facet of your life. How can you sell your value to a new employer if you feel (and act) worthless.

    You are NOT worthless! A “real” employer would be THRILLED to have you working for him/her. This will NOT come across if you feel worthless!

    As Nick says, be careful, don’t vent to your current employer, he’s BEYOND HELP!

    Find a new job where you are VALUED for what/who you are and what YOU bring to the table!

    Best of luck in your search!


  3. You value yourself too little and or live in fear of change. Take charge of your life and go get a better job. We cannot change people. We also teach people how to treat us. Your boss is a jerk but you have taught him it is okay to walk all over you.

  4. I’m in awe of her devotion despite such awful boss. I also really like how she described how she brought value to her job even though the boss didn’t reciprocate by rewarding her for that added value.

    I was in a similar position once. However, it didn’t take me six years to realize my boss was taking advantage of me. After they promoted from intern to a paying position, they said we’d talk about a raise in responsibilities and wages and/or hours (both were still PT positions) in six months.

    When that time went by and there was no sign of a talk, I waited a couple weeks and (gladly) bid them adieu (without explaining the real reason, of course). My dignity’s worth more than a title and there were other reasons why that company wasn’t right for me in addition to the disrespect shown to me.

    Bravo to her for realizing that it’s probably time to leave that company but she shouldn’t wait so long next time before realizing she’s worth a raise.

  5. Honestly, I don’t know how you work for a person like this. It’s easy to get locked in, particularly now when jobs are tough to find. But your mindset seems to be almost Stockholm Syndrome, and I hope I don’t offend, but what comes next is an attempt to open your eyes to the real place you work, not what you’ve constructed so that you can go there with some pride every day.

    The Boss is for starters a control freak, hung on the petard of his own thoughtless statements to you. Look for signs that he’s ADD or ADHD–a clue is that nothing can get done without him, because your workplace is actually all about him and his ever changing moods. Is a large part of your job following this elephant with a broom and pan? Do things change suddenly? Does he have ‘crushes’ on people who suck up to him? Do you have to hand-hold him? Does he ‘go away’ for stretches of time? Is he patronizing then defensive at times? Have your co-workers who fall out of favor been fired for very arbitrary reasons?

    You didn’t mention it, but usually a corollary is that co-worker relationships there are always ‘one eye over the shoulder’ and you can’t trust anyone, because it’s all about The Boss and who’s in favor. I’ve worked in a place like this–and dollars to donuts, this place is toxic enough for one or more of them to knife you if it would mean more money in their pocket. Especially that co-worker who got more money than you walking in the door. Be very circumspect in what you say and do there.

    Because you deliver good work and have changed things for the better doesn’t mean a damn thing to The Boss or to your co-workers, I’d bet. Your situation is far more tenuous than you think. I’d bet if it would satisfy him, or he got in some cutie he met at the coffee shop, he’d fire you in a second.

    Another clue: You haven’t said anything specific about the business’ profitability–if the business doesn’t have much profit and is basically paying bills and salaries. But if he’s driving a new S-class Mercedes and you can’t afford to fill the tank on your 10 year old car, he’s sending you a message: you and everyone who works for him is a doormat, and worth almost nothing at that in his eyes.

    By hiring a co-worker at $8K more than you, he pushed your face in what the dog dumps in the morning. I bet he got satisfaction out of that, and you’re too well-mannered to mention it.

    Happiness at work is composed of two things: are you proud of your results, and do you have good relationships with your boss, manager and co-workers. You’ve gotten what you can out of this place on the first, the second is less rosy than you think.

    Another reason why you should take a fresh look at the place you work–to emotionally divorce yourself from the place, so that you can move on without hesitation to find a new company, a new position and to leave cleanly. Don’t be surprised that when that starts to happen, a lot of anger comes up–that is part of breaking free.

    You are worth far more than this toxic shop. You will be shocked that in the right place, how much you will be valued and appreciated, as well as the satisfaction of a new frontier. But you need to open your eyes to where you are now, if anything not to repeat it in the next position (Nick’s ‘don’t work for jerks’).

    BTW you mentioned suppliers…if you can identify them as good companies to work for, and you can trust your contacts there (VERY important), they are the first line of exploration for that new job.

    Good luck to you and read Nick’s material on job search–you bring value to what you do, what needs reinforcement is the CONFIDENCE you can take it elsewhere and be HAPPY.

  6. I think you should be grateful your employer for igniting the spark within you. It’s such a wonderful thing too enjoy what you do and who you work with each day, but who’s to say you can’t have the same thing elsewhere. You’ve built your skills and proven to be a productive and profitable employee. It never hurts to update your resume and take a look around for other opportunities that might interest you. It just may be time for you to move on. You will know when the right opportunity reveals itself, so take your time.

    Change can be very intimidating, but I’ve found each change in my life has revealed new and exciting opportunities. Even changes we didn’t initiate. For example: In my early 20’s I was let go from a retail management position for tardiness. Driving home, I realized I wasn’t really upset, because I was working 44 hours a week and didn’t enjoy what I did. My point is this “Kick in the pants” moment for me led to a new job the following Monday at a higher rate of pay. It turned out to be the best thing for me and even today I marvel at how fortunate I was that it happened. The retail company closed years ago, while I moved on and finished my degree. That was about 20 years ago and today I’m in a position that I truly love and working with people I respect and they respect me.

    In life, we can become too complacent and overlook “little things” that pile up over time. We all need that certain “kick in the pants” at times to get us moving forward/upward in our lives. I think this could be the best thing for you in the end.

    The most important thing in life is to always approach it with a positive attitude and you will always see the good once you’re through it.

    ~Best wishes on the next chapter in your life.

  7. Quote My boss also made this important statement: “I don’t believe in giving raises. People should learn to live within their means.” unquote

    Ouch. That one says it all. This is an unhealthy place to work. Please understand that staying there is unhealthy for you.

    I wonder how the boss feels about profits?

    “I don’t believe in profits. Companies should trim expenses and learn to live within their means.””

  8. This seems to be happening a lot. Now is the time to find a new place to began a new career. Don’t leave your first until you find another. It’s not easy, but as stated above, good to start with your contacts.

    My situation is similar. I work for state and HR did a complete overhaul of classification series. When that happened I was demoted 2 levels and as explained to me, because “I was not supervising anyone”. My pay was not cut but a guarantee of no raise. I still do the same work, in fact more, because of the office I am located. This was a HUGE blow to me for I am of the generation that you always do more, be more and work for the best all around and you will receive your due. I’ve never been demoted but always promoted. It has taken a while to get over that….and apparently I’m still not over it.

    Now I find myself in a situation that almost demands that I have a higher education to obtain a level of pay to meet the demands I have regarding family. These days 25 years experience seems to not count. The experience helped me obtain this position, but with the demotion, I’ve begun to question my career path and choice of organization. It is evident that I need to work work at least 15+ years, but is it worth the cost of higher education?

    Is it worth it to pursue more education when there are a lot of MBA’s looking for jobs? … especially for my generation?

  9. I agree with the rest of the above commentators and with Nick – it’s time to leave. Toxic bosses (and companies) aren’t worth it; adventures are great, especially when you find the right boss and company. Carpe diem.

  10. Ouch! Awful situation, great advice. You’re being taken for granted. I’ve seen my son go through this, doing a super job, growing himself and held back growth-wise and along with it comp. By being taken for granted I mean your boss assuming you’ll never leave and behaving accordingly.
    In terms of a lifetime career, making a living means experience doing it. You’ve developed yourself admirably where you are, learned to add demonstrable value and enjoy doing it. But in the long haul everything’s screaming at you to learn to work the market, find companies that value you and offer a base of operation to continue growing yourself..and the company. In other words, learn how to hunt for, negotiate, and land new opportunities…as Nick said..carefully and intelligently. Even if you don’t use these skills in the market at large, you can use them inside companies.
    Your current boss is a butt. You’ve been assuming if you hold up your end of the deal, you’ll be rewarded, time flies when you’re having fun and you’ve found that he’s assuming you’re a company fixture. He did you a favor by making it clear. So make his loss someone’s gain. And if he wakes up with a counter offer..go La La La La! I can’t hear you!

  11. @Don: You make a critical point that I missed entirely. If the boss makes a counter-offer, it’s important to consider WHY you’ve pursued another job. At this point, I think it’s much more than just about money – it’s about respect and the culture this boss promotes. “Paying you off” to stay would be a stop-gap for the owner, you’d be “marked,” and you’d likely get dumped when the owner can find a replacement. Far better to move on your own terms and when you’re ready – not when the boss is ready. In my experience, accepting a counter-offer is almost always a mistake. The only times I’ve seen counters work well for employer and employee is when BOTH have always demonstrated a high level of integrity. A sudden show of affection by the owner would be very suspect.

  12. Empower yourself! Start looking for a new job today and never look back.

  13. It seems that this is the new norm, not giving raises. In the 90’s and before they used to complain that people wouldn’t stay in their job very long. After the great recession they just don’t give raises. Somewhere there was a disconnect between productivity of an individual and they collectivized the workforce to where everybody would get the same low wage for each category and that was that! Now they have lots of people unemployed (just like they want it) so that they can do this. In the meantime the entire economy suffers because of this intransigence. I guess that helps your business though, Nick, so at least some people get some good of it.

  14. This guy is is a jerk…”revenge is best served cold”, follow your dad and Nicks’ advice and shake the bushes…good luck.

  15. “My new co-worker was hired at the same time I was given a promotion in title only. She managed to negotiate $8,000 more than I am paid, with two years of experience against my six years.”

    I believe he/she answered their own question but as Nick noted, is very naive with little common sense.

    Most are not prepared to confront a boss even when he presents a scenario like this. This person is prepared to wait 10 to 15 years? Is this the 1950s factory/lifetime employment mindset? :)

    This individual’s case also raises a good learning scenario. The expectation that time in a job alone equals increased financial compensation. Too many don’t properly grasp that time in a job means nothing in and of itself. It’s the continual value you produce, compared to internal/external competition, that makes you worth more to your company. Negotiation skills also help your case.

  16. I would suggest that you start your search with the customers who had told your boss how professional you are. You should network with them and ask them for leads. They know about your professionalism and work ethic.

  17. This boss is more than stingy; he’s abusive, even a bit sadistic. Everything said in responses above is true, the advice is rational and good. But this employee needs urgently to find another job and get out of there. Saying her confidence may be compromised if she stays is an understatement.

  18. @Addie I agree. Get out of there because it will affect more than your morale and wallet–it will kill your health.

    I hope that in the near future, that you’ll be coming back here to tell Nick about your new job. Imagine going to work where you feel appreciated, you get to do good work and are paid for it. When you wake up, the colors are a little brighter. We’ve all been there–and are pulling for you!

  19. I have to agree with people, that you should start a discreet job search. Much easier to find employment when one is already employed.

    If you got promotions and were otherwise meeting expectations, you should (in theory) be able to convince a new employer of your skills.

  20. I recently quit a job that I had been at for 7 years. Just before I left, I learned that a co-worker, who is several years younger than I am and who had less education than I have, was making considerably more than I was (about 30% more). She also made lots of mistakes in her work. I quit. I had stayed at that stupid job because of the recession and had not asked for a raise because I knew that times were tough. What a fool I was! There were also other problems at the company, that I had had to put up with. Glad I’m out of there! Now I will find a better place.

  21. @Mark Gillespie: While I see where you’re going, no, it doesn’t help my business at all. A good headhunter wants to place good people where they will be happy, successful and well-paid. Those people are my best sources of more good candidates. A company that screws its employees over raises is no client of mine. Why would I want to replace people who leave because they got no raises — to put others who trust me into the same situation? Absolutely not.

  22. @Steve Amoia: One of the reasons I chose this reader’s question for the column is that I think it’s abundantly clear that she’s worth far more to her boss than she was six years ago. She’s gotten good at her job, and so is more efficient. She has shown she can reduce costs, and thus increase profits. She makes customers happy and thus probably contributes to increases in revenue, which increases profits – or at least helps maintain them in an economy where profits are at risk. And her boss promoted her to a higher level job, demonstrating that her skills have increased and that her value has thus gone up. All we can fault her for is a bit of naivete born of a solid work ethic. That makes her worth a million bucks to a good employer :-).

  23. This morning on KNBR there was an interview about how women are paid less then men etc. A study was done about how women negotiate a raise as compared to men. Women that negotiated with their boss on behalf of another employee got a higher raise for that employee (percentage wise) then when they negotiated for their own raise. Women still make an average of 30% less then men in the same job. Men always negotiated for a high raise to begin with. Interesting though that when it comes to discussing our own strengths and what we are worth, we shrink in fear and doubt.

  24. Nick, of course, and thank you for your kind reply.

    If anything, she has been “too loyal” to someone who was not worthy of it.

    Catherine makes a good point. Women are taken advantage of in job/salary negotiations. A man is expected to be demanding. If a woman acts that way, people seem to have a problem with it.

    I did a presentation many years ago on gender communication styles in the American workplace. When a male supervisor yells, it is seen as strength and intimidation. When a woman does it, the perception is one of weakness. Or “she’s getting emotional.”

    There is much discussion lately about a gender imbalance in salaries for similar jobs and credentials. Part of the reason is communication styles as noted above. We don’t teach younger women to be as demanding or to self-promote as men in similar environments.

  25. I am in a similar position with my boss. He only adds to the anger by playing administrative games with our expense money and now has starting “fining” people for mistakes and assessing equipment repair costs against our salaries by blaming equipment problems on “abuse”, when most of it is the cheap “rebuilt” equipment he buys off the internet.

    One primary problem I face is my age, which is 62.It appears that he has hired a group of older people with lesser job prospects, some of whom already draw retirement so he feels they don’t “need the money.”

    I’m looking, but quietly. I am still not sure i will give two weeks notice, though. We have already lost three people in two months with no notice whatsoever.

    Thanks for sharing this, Nick.

  26. @Jim, Nick and everyone….I’d like to share an insight that my brother, a psychiatrist (MD) had after listening not only to my tales of some of the people I’ve worked with, interviewed with etc. but also what his patients tell him. He wonders how American business works with the number of sick and dysfunctional people in control. The other insight is that most of the diagnosed people in his office are in better shape mentally than those they work for! (He’s both a small business owner and an employee–yes, like most docs he works two and occasionally three jobs.) So to all, it’s not you, but we have to cope and get around it for our own welfare.

  27. @Jim and Dee, It all happens because WE allow it. I’m older than you, Jim, and have learned over and over if my age doesn’t matter to me, it doesn’t matter to anyone else either. I’ve been in my current work place for 20 years, and no one is even hinting I should consider retiring. In re sicko people in control: it happens because WE allow it. We’re beggars in the workplace, fearful and cowering. We women especially. The woman posing the question doesn’t appear to acknowledge the extent of the injustice done her. To me this is the crux of the problem. Not that we have to be angry and nasty, but that we need enough self respect and confidence to do what needs to be done for ourselves. No boss is going to do it for us.

  28. I am in almost the same situation, although I’ve been with this stingy guy a lot less time (11 months). He yelled at me the other day for expressing an opinion, and then asked me if I was happy with the job (??!!!). It’s an entry-level job, and, at 60, I have extensive professional experience (public relations and marketing), including middle management positions. I need this job until I can find a better one.

    How can I answer his question yet keep my job?? Any and all thoughts appreciated, as the situation is almost unbearable for me….

  29. @Linda: I believe honesty and integrity in business are everything. But it’s a two-way street. If you were telling me you want to make something up to keep your boss off your back so you can keep your job, I’d tell you to sit him down and just tell him the truth about how you feel.

    But if you’ve already decided his behavior is a deal-breaker because he lacks the integrity to see the contradiction between his behavior and his words, then all bets are off. Your obligation is to do your job and earn your pay. Not to explain to him how to fix his management style. Believe it or not, he’s got a right to behave inconsistently. And you have a right to pursue another job without jeopardizing this one in the meantime. As long as you deliver an honest day’s work for your pay.

    So my advice is, tell him you’re happy to have this job. Which is true because you don’t want to be unemployed. Then find your next job, and when you leave, repeat those same words: “I was happy to have this job. But it’s time for me to move on. I wish you all the best.”

  30. Greetings to each of you in this forum. I am the woman who posed the question above.

    First of all I want to thank Nick for taking the time to respond to my question. He has provided what I call golden nuggets of wisdom of which, is exactly what I lacked. His reply & resources are just what the Dr. Headhunter ordered. (pardon the pun). Secondly I want to express how much I appreciate each one of you that took the time to express & share your opinions, your tips, and most of all your encouragement. The exchange of information here has meant more to me than any of you can imagine. I humbly thank you, for not only did Nick share his golden nuggets of wisdom with me but I received your’s as well.

    After reading the comments all I can think of is this, it is like I’ve just been given jet fuel to ignite my confidence to assist me on my path for a better career. Sometimes in this life we live, it’s just one or several people believing in you to get you back on the right course. You all provided that to me. Very grateful to say the least.

    As for shaking those bushes. My resume is completed. Finishing up my cover letter. Reading all of Nick’s awesome resources. Contacting three prospects this week by phone. Fear will no longer hold me back, I have no choice but to move onward & upward. This saying is my little motivator to keep me going in the right direction, I hope that you can use it as well.

    “Your Setback…Could Be Your Setup…A Setback Is Nothing But A Setup for your Comeback.”

    Kindest Regards,


  31. Nick, your timing for this q & a was impeccable, with yesterday being equal pay day (the day that US women who work full time catch up to what men doing the same jobs earned last year)–there has been much media attention to this issue.

    I am so sorry to read about the letter writer’s (LW’s) dilemma. She doesn’t deserve the low pay, the boss’ treatment. But Nick et al. are right, and I admit, I’ve done this too–if I work hard enough and if I’m competent enough, make things easier for the boss, make him/her look good, I’ll be rewarded. Maybe some of this is gender (as a girl, I wasn’t taught to stand up for myself, to ask for more, and was told that I should be grateful just to have a job and for whatever pay I got, and it has taken me time to re-train myself and to think well enough of myself–it doesn’t happen overnight and it is something I’ll always be working on) and maybe some of it is generational (some of the younger women have no problem asking for more).

    But I also recommend that the LW read and re-read Dee’s intelligent, insightful comments as well as Nick’s advice. It is often easy to dismiss LW’s post as being her fault. Sure, she does have some ownership in it. But as many of us commented weeks back when the POC wrote to Nick, don’t make this about your race. LW has to be aware of how her gender/sex plays into this, as well as her reaction (or non reaction) has contributed but she’s not at fault for her boss’ behavior–not for his stinginess, not for his mean spirited comments (just live within your means–I trust LW wasn’t taking monthly cruises to Bora Bora and filling her closet with Chanel and Prada), not his behavior (giving her a titular promotion with more responsibilities but neither a raise nor benefits) by hiring an “assistant” but paying the assistant more than the boss (LW) and LW probably has the responsibility of training the assistant. So she has more work, a “nicer” title, but too little money, no benefits, a boss who doesn’t appreciate her and all that she has done to make him and his business a success.

    @LW: your ability to do your job so well despite the toxic environment has been a boon for your boss. You have improved his bottom line (profits), streamlined work so the business runs more efficiently, saving money which means more profit for him, and not only is he not paying you, but he doesn’t recognize just how vital you are to his business (clients have praised you) and I wonder if he’s jealous of you.

    A good boss should know that when YOU do a good job, that makes HIM look good and/or benefits him and his business, in greater profits, business running more smoothly. I think he should be singing your praises and giving you raises, not holding you back, so there’s something else going on there. But you are not responsible for his prejudices toward you or for his meanness towards you. That’s his schtick, not yours. You don’t own that. Try to remember the positive comments the clients gave you. If you’re in touch with those clients, reach out to them–but I’d do it outside of work/the office–fly it under the radar. Your boss has issues with you that I can’t diagnose since I’m not a shrink, but it sounds like partly garden-variety pettiness and jealously/insecurity, and he’s taking it out on you. (Can you guess that I had one like that? Rhetorical question.) The harder you work, the nastier he will get, and Dee’s comments are dead-on–staying in this toxic environment will effect you psychologically. So Nick’s advice is sound. You can still be a class act. Get a plan. Get in touch with family, friends, former colleagues (from current job and former jobs), alumni (college, high school, graduate school, etc.), clients (only if you know you can trust them–if you contact them for networking about jobs and/or to be references for you and they tell your boss, that would not be good for you–fly it off the radar, and if they’re not okay with it, say you understand, reassure them it is their call/decision, thank them, and continue to have a professional relationship with them), and others–tell your hair dresser, your doctor, your dentist, your pharmacist, the friendly librarian at your local library–those people, especially if you’ve known them for a time, are contacts too, and you never know–your hair dresser might have a client who is looking for someone in his business–and the job might line up with your experience and skills. Tell the person you’re friendly with at the gym that you’re looking for work. Intel re job openings can come from all kinds of sources, and the more people in your network who know that you are looking the better.

    I second Dee re being extremely circumspect about your assistant. If I were you, I wouldn’t tell her anything. Don’t say anything about the boss or the company. Keep it strictly profession and to the tasks at hand. If she asks, smile and change the subject and if she persists, say that you don’t talk about people at work, then move on. Wash, rinse, and repeat as often as necessary. You have no idea if she is an ally or an enemy, and you can’t afford to make a mistake in your assessment of her. One eyeroll, one slightly negative comment, one sigh (this is so much work!) could get back to the boss faster than you think. Some people are gossipy blabbermouths who feed on making trouble for other employees, and will gladly give the boss as much ammo, even if it means making it up, as possible. Maybe she’s trustworthy, but maybe she isn’t. I am sorry to sound so paranoid (can you guess one of my experiences at my previous job?), but as one of my former bosses at the same previous job used to say all the time “just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me”. That’s a sad state/toxic environment, and even worse is that often when you’re in it, you know things aren’t right, but the toxicity is so pervasive, so endemic, for so long, that paranoia is normal. I write from personal experience–it isn’t normal, and it will take a long time to break yourself out of that mindset. Caution re colleagues isn’t a bad thing–that’s just being office politics savvy, but when the environment is toxic, some people really do go out of their way to make trouble for others, will not hesitate to stab you in the back (even if they lied to the boss in order to give themselves justification to do it) and will smile falsely while doing it. They’ll do their best to make sure you’re not paid (as did an employee with one of our faculty), tell lies to the dean about another employee, and create such an atmosphere of fear and paranoia that working for the CIA seems like time spent at a spa.

    Go into work, be professional even when others are behaving like the mean girls/queen bees in middle school, do your job, and go home. Do your best to leave the job at the office. I know how hard it is–it is often much easier said than done. If you have a supportive husband/boyfriend/family and friends, then rely on them. Try to get to the gym to work off the stress. It won’t solve the problem, but you’ll feel better. And start looking for work and networking. In the meantime you have a job, and with your skills and experience, I hope that means you will find a better job. Be gracious when you leave even if you mutter uncomplimentary words about your boss as you exit the building. It is possible that even if you give the customary two weeks notice, he could still fire you, so don’t assume you’ll have that–save up so should he decide to get rid of you once you give notice, you have some savings so you can pay your bills before you begin your new job. Now, if you were retiring and never planning to work again, then there would be no harm in telling him off when you leave. You’re not worried about retaliation or retribution, and since you’re not worried about working with people he knows, there’s no awkwardness. But it is always a good idea not to burn any bridges, and sometimes/often the working world can be a very small world. Take pride in the fact that you did your best, that you did a good job, that clients recognized your talents, and follow Nick’s advice about finding your next gig. It is hard work researching prospective employers, but if/when you get a better job, not only better pay but with sane, kind, reasonable bosses and colleagues, you will look back on this one and wonder why you stayed so long and you’ll be heartened to know that ARE good people and good employers out there. I know….and I’m still working on overcoming the paranoia I developed after 8 years with an employer who created a similar toxic environment. With my new boss and job, I often have to catch myself, stop, breath (tell myself that this isn’t X), and these folks don’t react the same way. I’ve been about a year and a half, and I’m still slowly climbing out of the abyss. Old, engrained habits are hard to break.

    If you want to talk, I’m happy to listen and offer any advice or insight I can. You’re not alone, and you can make changes so your life will be better. Nick has my permission to give you my email address.

  32. @Steve Amoia: Have you seen these articles and studies:

    If the links don’t work, just google the key words “women” “penalties” “salary negotiation” and you’ll find the articles, books, and excerpts.

    Only a couple of weeks on this blog another poster shared a link about a woman who tried to negotiate salary (and a host of other benefits) at a small, liberal arts college, and found not only that they refused to negotiate with her but that they rescinded the job offer. While her case is different from the LW’s (IMHO, I think Ph.D didn’t do her homework re the SLAC, or she ignored what they told her, hasn’t got a track record yet, and having worked in academia, I’m not surprised that they rescinded the offer), the issue is the same. How do you successfully negotiate a higher salary/better benefits and/or a raise, particularly if you’re female? Years ago in school, I had to read an article titled “DWB: Driving While Black” about the challenges even wealthy black males (and females) face in larger society. Perhaps there will be an article titled “NWF: Negotiating While Female: how to successfully negotiate the salary and benefits or raise you deserve without alienating your boss and colleagues”.

    While some women are successful at it, I think many are not, and some of the reason is us–we’re not as good at it, but some of it is the larger culture that can penalize us for asking in ways that some men are not penalized. So acknowledge what YOU can do and work on fixing what you can–but you can’t change society, so tricky part is figuring out if your boss/prospective employer is okay with you negotiating, especially if you will take the job at the lower salary.

  33. I take exception to the many comments here about how women are (supposedly) not as good at negotiations as men, and that this (supposedly) explains the paycheck shortfall. I am female and have NO PROBLEM standing up for myself and negotiating proper salary and benefits using salary surveys from my professional society, with objective lists of my accomplishments and impact on the bottom line. (Nic would be proud!) The real issue is that companies don’t have to pay women equally with men at the same level because there is no place for women to go. Company HR and execs understand that the other companies do not pay equally qualified women the same as men either. There are no legal repercussions that really hurt these companies either. Women are stuck. To simply blame it on lack of negotiating prowess or communication styles is to subtly blame the victim. As Marybeth mentioned, the larger culture (or specific company) can penalize women for asking in ways that men are not penalized. Withdrawing an offer of employment or raise for having the audacity to negotiate is something far more likely to happen to a female candidate or employee. (Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.) This is wrong and should be illegal. Women should get equal pay compared to equally qualified men, regardless! Companies need to be held accountable. This should not be acceptable in 2014. Companies should internally publish the salaries and paygrades of employees so that they are open to internal scrutiny by employees. This is the fastest way to get to fair. I know that will sound radical and provocative to some.

  34. EDR, EVERYONE is getting body slammed on compensation, but particularly the very experienced over 50. I wish I had some proof to go along with that beyond the anecdotal, but it’s there. So yes, if women are being paid less (along with long termers and people who work in toxic waste dumps of companies like Shelly), we’re suffering more than most. And if you are in certain verticals (like tech) you may be suffering more than most.

    And even when we negotiate right, carefully modulating our approach so we are not seen as that dreaded ‘difficult female’, that raise doesn’t happen, that offer gets withdrawn. (See comments under ‘How do I prove I deserve a higher job offer’ from 2 weeks ago). Employers just assume that if you are female or older (men and women) you’ll just take it. And sometimes you have to, to get by, but it’s damn wearing on the soul.

    I’m in the healthcare technology area (as a marketer/communicator) and even in biotech, you see very few women in the room. If it’s an app, or ‘whiz-bang’ tech, it gets young and male.

    Two articles that will make you nuts:
    The brutal ageism of tech
    Technology’s Man Problem

  35. @EDR, I know several women who showed up at meetings with a lawyer in tow or who had lawyers write letters to their bosses and immediately got pay hikes and promotions. Employers know the Equal Pay Act of 1963 very well, and they know the burden of proof is on them. These women found out about the pay/promotion disparities without anything being published, although I agree with you that companies get away with too much. Still, the fact is a lot (if not most) people don’t want their salaries made public. I know I don’t. Privacy issues are as important as fair pay issues.

  36. Once again so many insightful opinions and I thank you all for sharing them.

    Shaking the bushes result Day 1- Contacted an Industrial Account Manager with a very large power company who has assisted me with one of my large cost savings initiatives, enabling money to be allocated to other needed areas and costs savings to owners/investors. He actually called me back. Whoop! We exchanged information, he thanked me for thinking of him, he stated he would be back in touch with me the first of the week. He gave me insider tips for his company and gave me three other leads, plus he stated that he will be checking with his wife as well who is a high level banking auditor. He asked if I was willing to change careers. I replied with a resounding “YES” of course! Later in the afternoon I received another phone call from another one of my colleagues informing to call him tomorrow on my lunch hour to discuss possible employers he has spoken to that may be interested in my skills.

    I’ve taken the first steps. One day at a time.
    Again thank you all so much for sharing all that you have. I am gleaming so much wisdom. Feeling incredibly blessed!!!

    Thank you,

  37. @Steve Amoia. I am the woman who posed the question. As to your original comment “is very naive with little common sense.”

    Now for the rest of the story as the famous Paul Harvey would say.

    I have only been back in the working world for the past 12 yrs. I was one of those rebel women who decided it best to be a “stay at home mother” and raise her child. I took that chance knowing I would suffer for my choice when I went to re enter the work force. I was out of the work force for 10 years. I was so eager to get back into the work force when faced with a challenging life situation, that I worked for six weeks straight for a friend who is a VP for a bank, I stood in front of a copier for 8 hours a day copying cart loads of mortgage documents. My friend could not actually hire me at the time through the bank but found a way to pay me through gift cards. Sounds pretty crazy. Looking back 12 years later. Those weeks of doing whatever it took, led to amazing opportunities for the next 6 years. I was first hired by financial institution, then by it’s competitor. I came from humble beginnings, and was not afraid to do what others would not.

    The skills in those six years launched me into what I am currently doing now, now 12 years later I have expanded my skills into a much higher level of work. I admit I may be a bit naive, but disagree kindly with you about common sense. I fully understand that I am at a major disadvantage due to the fact I was out of the work force for so long of a period of time, on top of that I do not possess a degree. I for one have to work very hard at what I do to make up for lost time. So I tend to by loyal and perhaps too patient. In the end I have no regrets of my choice to stay home and raise my child. They were the best years, the greatest investment I have ever made in my entire life. Amazingly opportunities have unfolded for me that continue to amaze me.

    Thank you for your comments. I do appreciate all of them.


  38. @Shelly Great news about how you’re pursuing your contacts and dealing with your situation one day at time. We may not be in our true place, but we’re always in our right place for what we have to learn. Keep up the good work and keep focused on the most helpful comments here.

  39. I could have written this letter 6 years ago. I was working at a Fortune 5 (not 500) technology company for 9 years. I am an engineer and had significantly contributed to the success of my organization through cost savings, innovation, blood, sweat, and tears. Despite those contributions, I could not seem to get a promotion or a meaningful raise that kept up with the cost of living.

    At one point, I sat down with my boss and explained that my goal was to increase my salary enough that I would be disqualified from the food stamp program! I had no problem requesting and getting increased responsibility. In a professional manner, I worked my way up the management chain to an executive level and requested a clear path towards increased compensation and promotions.

    I finally realized that there was nothing I could do to influence either. Didn’t matter how smart I was, how hard I worked, how much I contributed, or how well I communicated my contributions. I tentatively sent out a few resumes and was delighted with the response. In short order, I received 3 excellent job offers and relocated my family. I received a 41% pay increase and within 5 years had doubled my old salary (Thanks Nick!). More important than the money, I now work at a company that makes me feel appreciated and respected.

    Good luck in your new job search. Don’t waste anymore time with this poor employer. Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.

  40. @Shelly: that is wonderful news that you’ve made the decision to get out and have a plan for it. My apologies for previously referring to you as LW (I had written my comments but didn’t have a chance to post them, so when I came back, I skipped to the bottom, copied and pasted….and didn’t see that you had commented). You have skills and contacts, which will help. I wish you luck and success.

    @Dee: thanks for the links to the articles are ageism and what a teenage boys’ club many companies in the tech industry are, even today. The latter article horrified me, but I’m not surprised. The teenage, immature behavior (despite one of the men being 40 years old) continues because of culture and because there is no penalty for it.

    Sometimes even when you do a good job, it isn’t enough: This one is a little different, because the culture is such that this is how salaries are funded–you find your own salary, and if you can’t, then you’re out. Yes, everyone is getting slammed over salaries and raises, but at the same time, as a female, if I’m getting less than my male counterpart for the same job, there’s something wrong. Shelly’s boss got a boon from underpaying her. Many people never learn that they’re being underpaid because companies forbid discussions of salary and pay, and that was what Lily Ledbetter’s case was about. She had been underpaid and when she learned of it, the statute of limitations had run out, so she had no standing to sue her former employer. In Shelly’s case, she KNOWS that she’s earning $8,000 LESS than the underling who was hired to “help” her. So she has to train the new hire, and the new hire is making more than Shelly, the more experienced worker. This makes no sense at all, and all I can think of is that boss wants to pit Shelly against the new hire, or that this is his way of keeping her down. He’s probably jealous of Shelly and her skills, even though he has benefited from them, so instead of rewarding a good employee, he’s punishing her. There are no laws against doing that, but Shelly does have the choice of staying there or finding another job with someone who will appreciate her skills and pay her what she is worth. As for “living within your means”, that’s fine, if Shelly were earning enough. As a woman, if you’re paid less, you go without a great deal because even though you’re paid less for doing the same job as a man, your landlord doesn’t say “Shelly, I know that you’re not earning the same as Bob, so I’ll charge you less for rent”. The supermarket doesn’t charge you less for food because you earn less. Your meds cost just as much as a man’s meds, and ditto for other services and expenses. For others, you’ll be charged MORE because you’re female: dry cleaning costs are one example–one of my local dry cleaners only charge $1.50 to dry clean a man’s dress shirt, but $7.50 to dry clean a woman’s blouse. I won’t get into the rounds I’ve gone with various garages and mechanics for my car, but if I come back with a male friend or relative and let them “be in charge” (even if the male friend knows less about cars than I do), then everything changes. Why? They shouldn’t see $$$$$$$$$$ and hear “ca-ching” just because I’m female. The problem with the car is the same whether I bring it in or a male friend or relative does, so why are they willing to negotiate and give a better deal to the guys and will walk away from me?

    @EDR: I’m glad that you’ve learned how to stand up for yourself and get what you want when it comes to salaries. I disagree that ALL women are bad negotiators, and I disagree with what has been the solution–shift the blame to women for the salary differences. To be sure, we do have some ownership in it–if we don’t negotiate, then we don’t know if we could have gotten a higher salary or a raise. But my point is that we are often penalized for asking, and I suspect that many women are sensitive to it, so they take the job at the salary proffered. I wish that employers were like Nascar and wore stickers or banners to indicate how they handle negotiations with female candidates. That would be easier–then we would know where we stand. Dee shared her story of a negotiation that went south not long ago. Another poster included a link about a woman whose job offer was rescinded when she tried to negotiate (although in her case, I think she failed to follow Nick’s first rule and didn’t do her homework on the college). I’m a member of my alma mater’s linked in group for alumnae, and this came up in one of our recent topics for discussion. An alumna only a year older than me wrote that “Lean In” is bunk–she has a long work history in fund raising, and in one instance when she attempted to negotiate a higher salary once she secured a job offer, she wrote that the offer was immediately rescinded. This was not her first rodeo, and like you (EDR), she had successfully negotiated for higher salaries previously. With another employer, after bringing in millions of dollars in donations and grants, she was fired when she asked for a raise. On another LI group, a woman wrote to ask if we’d heard of such a thing: she applied for a job as a college registrar, was told she was the only candidate who met their requirements and was the only one who had some specific experience they were looking for. Yet when she tried to negotiate for a higher salary (she thought they low-balled it, and asked for 10% more than they offered), they rescinded the offer and refused to take her calls or reply to emails (she genuinely wanted to know what she did wrong). It is a lot more common than people think.

    Even with asking for a raise, when you handle it the way you’re supposed to–as Nick says–not because you want it or deserve it but because you show how you have benefited the company–you increased their bottom line by x %, or you streamlined work, thus reducing time and costs and that meant savings and a profit, or however you benefited the company, many times you still get shot down. At my last job, there was a wonderful employee in another dept. who handled much of the IT/tech issues related to our online platform. She was a full temp, but she was fantastic. She always went the extra 5 miles. She was professional, more competent than some of the permanent staff, and I would call her when we had problems because she was reliable. I knew that she would get back to me, that she would fix it. She decided that she was tired of working as a temp–no benefits, every time there was a holiday, she was putting in 10+ hour days, and she was the lowest paid employee there, but more and more people like me were relying on her because her full time benefited colleagues were not as good. I told her that if she needed a reference, I’d be happy to write one for her. I couldn’t say enough good things about her. Later, I asked her if she asked the director about hiring her full time (permanent) as she planned. She said that she did, and the result was that her last day would be the end of the week, and he was getting a new temp in starting the following week. She was shocked–she did what Nick said–go in armed with how you benefit the employer, SHOW him, and don’t make it about you but about how what you’re doing is benefiting the company. She did that–she was able to prove that she solved more crises, fixed more glitches, helped more faculty, etc. She said that first he (director) avoided her for 4 days, then that Friday he informed her it would be her last day, that he’d already had her temp agency notified that her services were no longer needed. I sent the director a letter stating what a wonderful, professional employee she is, how much we relied on her to train our faculty and help keep the platform running smoothly. Other depts. that offered online courses were outraged, and wrote similiar letters/emails. Later she told me that he had problems with any female asking for anything, and had told her that since she was married, she was only working for pin money, and shouldn’t be in IT/tech at all–let a man do a man’s job. This was in 2004-2005, not the dark ages and not during the Mad Men era. He eventually hired a man for the job at a much higher salary than she had asked for, so it wasn’t that he didn’t have the funds, it was that he didn’t like her. His response to those of us who wrote/called him–she had decided to leave voluntarily, for “personal reasons”. My ass.

    Even when we do things right, sometimes we can be penalized. I know it isn’t just a woman thing, as Daniel’s post above indicates, and I’m equally horrified by his story.

  41. There are always a few folks who know they are taken advantage of at work, male or female and put up with it. Career satisfaction is not the most important thing to some people. These people have a life outside their job… so a family, friends, hobbies, religious worship etc. may be more important to them.

    Other people I think are more type A personalities and focused on their career… They want to advance in many ways and eventually make more money… is essential to support their lifestyle.. single or married, male or female, childless or with a family.
    These people are better at standing up for themselves in situations like Shelly was in.

    There is also an element of risk involved and not all people are willing to change and confront the risk. Some people are upset about their jobs, but when it comes down to it not willing to find another one. These people may be difficult to work with as their unhappiness rubs off on others. Other folks may be more reserved so no one knows how they really feel about their job and/or place in the company they work for.

    Not everyone has jobs and contacts where they have networking possibilities either. Some people have a hard time finding another way to get networking contacts. Not everyone is a joiner either: and belongs to alumni groups, play groups with their children, book groups, neighborhood, condo or coop associations, gyms etc. So changing jobs or wanting to take another career path is difficult.

    There are some women who can stand up for themselves at work… or in salary negotiations.. or when they ask for a raise. But, I would hazard a guess that most of these women are under 50 years old. Most ladies over 50 were socialized to not make waves, be grateful for what you have and focus more on something else… than a career, salary and work responsibilities. Women over 50 who can do this perhaps: were exposed to career women as a child, may have grown up in a divorced home where their mother worked but the family never had enough money to be middle class… met a mentor in college or somehow learned to be more career assertive.

    As I child I only ever knew of and/or met 2 professional women other than school teachers and/or nurses… one was a lady who went to my church who had a PhD in business and taught at the local college… the other was my neighbor a single lady who worked at her father’s insurance company. Her sister went to work there too, after she was widowed. Her sister had a child.

    I went to college because my Mom wanted to and could not find a way to do this. Also I had a 2nd cousin who was homecoming queen at the local college.. and when I was 2 years old I thought you got to wear a long formal dress and ride on the back of a convertible if you went to college.

    My childhood experiences have had a great impact on how I felt about women having jobs. My Mom went to work full time, in 1964 when I was 12. She had a clerical job at a local factory. Where I grew up most jobs were either in factories or people were self employed farmers.


  42. Marybeth- don’t be horrified by my story. I was definitely underpaid and am glad to have moved on. However, I received an amazing technical education in those 9 years. I worked with incredible people who taught and trained me and I developed deep technical skills. I had opportunities to truly contribute and demonstrate my value. Once I decided to move on, the compensation followed because I could deliver that value.

    I would also like to add that most of my managers and half of my colleagues have consistently been women. One of the reasons I was underpaid, is that this company had a progressive policy of promoting women over men and I had fewer opportunities for that reason.

    Shortly before I left, I trained my replacement who was brand new out of college. She was an excellent engineer and a privilege to work with. She was also brought in with a higher title and more money. She was good at the job and qualified, and I’m happy for her. Still, keep in mind that sex discrimination cuts both ways.

    I’m a little sad to see all the sex discrimination angst in this blog. I recommend to focus on the work and not worry about how others compare to you. That issue is mostly outside our individual control. What we can control is working hard, developing good skills, communicating well, and moving on when the time is right.

    PS- my current boss is female and she’s a big improvement over my last manager (a man).

  43. @Daniel, I’d agree–that the culture of companies and individuals is largely outside of our control. Foreign owned companies with operations in the US can be either very good or utterly miserable for those not from the mother country as well.(There’s a certain electronics company where employees know ‘if you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much’.)

    There are certain corporate cultures right here that discriminate against Not Our Type. That’s why I cited tech companies and their frattish culture–they also discriminate against gray hair, age and weight, not just women! There’s discrimination against gays and lesbians–and the reverse. Once you are there and in, you can concentrate on your performance but do not be surprised if it turns around and bites. But getting in and staying in good regard is the trick.

    I’m glad you got the triple–a better company, pay and boss.

  44. Greetings! Just a quick update as to my status of finding other employment. This week I did have one interview. I was asked for my resume by a competitor of my current employer. The company that interviewed me was very complimentary of my resume. (Very Impressed were their words) After speaking with them, we determined I was over qualified for their current position but stated they would hang onto my resume, just in case things changed and they would also recommend me to anyone else they may be looking for someone with my experience. So, not all a loss. This first interview I came away feeling confident. On another news front for the company that I work for. Could you possibly believe I was not the only employee who was disappointed in our boss/owner. Come to find out. One of our two assistants came in on a Friday, she gave no notice due to the fact she was a contract employee and basically said it’s been fun but not that fun. Our boss/owner paid her as a contract employee so that he would not have to pay employer tax and she was saddled with her taxes but also had to pay the tax he owed. Now this week yet another assistant, his assistant in fact went home sobbing this week after he berated her in his office. He informed her that how dare she answer him a certain way after he asked her a question if someone had returned his call. Her answer was a simple no. He then went on to say he was trying to get to the bottom of this sudden passive/aggressive behavior in the office and he was paying an outside consultant $400.00 a month to get it figured out.

    Can you say get me off the crazy train like yesterday? But I just go about my professional business each and every day, knowing it is just a matter of time before I too can say Thank you for the free education it will serve we well in the future, I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with such a fine company. Astalavista!

    Is it wrong imagining the day I give my two weeks notice and seeing myself skipping down the sidewalk at the days end? Knowing I have a bright future all because I endured a situation that was negative to say the least but turned it around for my future success. I will keep you posted. Thank you all again. I will be purchasing material from Nick this coming week and look forward to implementing many of his techniques.

  45. @Shelly
    So far so good. Sounds like a nice 1st interview to kick off your search.
    Remember that you should be driving the search bus. All well in good that they’ll keep your impressive resume, but don’t sit by the phone.
    Make a calendar note to check back with them (if you like the company & what you heard) periodically.
    Also given the view that you’re overqualified for the role you interviewed for, don’t be shy about defining a new role for yourself (expanding that job’s boundaries) when you check in.
    they sound like a class act to volunteer to serve as a reference, so don’t hesitate to ask if they know anyone you should know and if you can mention they’re name. At the least it may help you network build.
    And give some thought to what you heard about that job. Who do you know they should be talking to? Perhaps the other people departing from your beloved boss. Connect them with good people. It will be noticed and appreciated.

  46. DTA–dont trust anyone. bosses lie all the time. THey will always find ways/BS excuses not to pay you–or below market, with carrot/sticks bonus games to keep you plugging away on the rigged hamster wheel. That is a sucker’s americant game. Stay away, and leave. Life’s too short. Dig it cheapie.

  47. NEVER trust HR–they almost ALWAYS side with the boss man. Period. Most are cowards, and they will get any info they can to substantiate their low ball/undermarket amounts. Best bet, start looking.

  48. “I am grossly underpaid. ”

    Based on what? So far, we have one individuals opinion of them self. I’m not saying this may not be true, but the FACT that this person took the job at an agreed salary needs to be remembered. We don’t know if the company gave across the board raises over the years or not. One-sided stories always make me pause and ask what am I not being told.

    The reality is, if this person is indeed worth more and their boss honestly agreed with that statement, he would have taken care of it in a timely manner. How the boss was approached about this pay issue may also have played a role in his lack of drive to get it done. Making a case for the value one brings to the company is better than just saying “I am grossly underpaid. “ That just sounds like whining to me. This person NEEDS to actually see if they are indeed worth more to another company. Reality may be very different.

    It’s one thing to say your worth more, but your REAL value is based on what people are willing to pay you for your skills/ability/experience. I could care less about gender, race or sexual preference. Are you able to get the job done, how much real world experience do you have, are you self-motivated and do you have the drive/aptitude to grow your skills over time.

    I’ve been in positions where I knew others made more than me, but I loved what I did and the people I worked with (I don’t compare my life/worth to others). When that love faded or I longed for new challenges, I didn’t complain about the money or my current duties. During my 15 years at my current employer, I’ve been promoted within my department and across other departments. My current position was my biggest change when I lost trust/confidence in my boss. I made my mind up to leave that office. I found a new position within my company in less than two weeks. The new position provided me with new opportunities and a 19% increase in pay. I’ve been in the position for over 8 years and just got a regular raise and my boss added a rate bump as well. I never complained about my rate of pay, I was happy to have work and love what I do. The money will follow when you love what you do IMO.

    My basic rule of thumb is…if you don’t like what you do or where you work, look for a new job. Bitching about how others don’t appreciate you is a waste of breath and just childish IMO. Only YOU have ultimate control over your life and the direction you’re going.

    I know many people my feel I’m being insensitive or too direct. Without having both sides of this story, I can only provide my opinion and I prefer to be direct with adults.

    I wish this person all the best, but think they need to start testing the waters in another department or another company and see what they are REALLY worth in the job market.

  49. Whoops!

    My comment was intended for the “My boss won’t deliver a promised raise ” Marched 10th Q&A.

    Please disregard my above comments for the above question.

    IMO. This person needs to look for another company to work for. She is clearly holding herself back. She may even want to look at companies who are clients of her company, since many have complemented her professionalism.

    I wish her the best.

  50. Hello all,

    Thank you again for all the great advice on my career situation that I originally posed the question to Nick back in April, 2014.

    Update status almost one year later. Don’t shake your head in disappointment but yes I am still working with this employer. No, I have not received any pay increase as of this date. However I have taken another angle on my situation. I realized if I truly wanted to make more money in my current career field I was lacking one major thing. I needed my license. 13 years in my chosen field and I did not have my license, it was one of the first couple of questions that were asked of me when I interviewed with other companies in the same field.

    So fast forward…I have asked the same boss who would not give me a pay raise if he would pay for my education & fees to get licensed. He agreed. I am currently attending classes 1 day a week for 4 hours to obtain the education to allow me to get my license.(16 weeks to go) On top of that I was given a very profitable portfolio to manage for an out of state investor. The experience, along with contacts alone are worth a lot working with this new client. I feel confident adding these two recent items to my resume will end up paying off in the very near future.

    So with that being said. Should I feel the least bit guilty for asking for my education to paid for, when I have plans to leave this company in the near future to better my self in my chosen profession? I do want to leave on good terms, as it is important to me not to burn any bridges I have worked so incredibly hard to build.

    I might also add that I plan to look for future employment in my field in another part of state I live in or another nearby state due to the fact the field I work in is a good O’l boys network and all the players know each other quite well. For example it would be very hard for me to interview with another company without my boss being informed.

    Then to top it all off when I am done obtaining my license I will be signing up to take a small business course & getting mentored on how to start & succeed at a small business. Life is just to short to be held back any longer! Here is to hoping all the small,simple steps that I’ve taken every single day will lead to big results.

    Kindest Regards,

  51. @Shelly: Thanks for posting your update, and good for you for negotiating a deal that pays you back in a useful way while you plan your next step! You took a deep look at your situation and pulled a rabbit out of the hat by “thinking out of the box.” Sometimes patience, coupled with a bit of cunning, is the short-term solution.

  52. @Shelly.
    agree w Nick
    plus one more point. No you shouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about planning to leave and leaving because you picked up some paid tuition.
    I did likewise & it goes with the territory of employment risk.
    In my case my education was general and for no more reason than to get a degree to have a degree. It really did nothing much to help me in my profession
    In your case, you’re talking certifications and licenses which align directly to one’s profession. As you gain the education, in this situation, your boss gains value. It’s quid pro quo. your incremental learning goes into the organization’s operation real time.
    It’s not as if you’re new found knowledge doesn’t kick in until you get certified.
    And things happen things change. you may find that you don’t leave because your boss gets un-stingy and ups the ante per your certs.
    So relax, and grow


    You got out there, got feedback on what you lacked, dared to ask your boss for it, and not only are you getting the license paid for but you got a big client to manage. That’s one gutsy move, which not one of us thought of. And no, you shouldn’t feel the teensiest bit guilty about it. One, you plan to relocate. And two, with that license and big-client experience under your belt, you just priced yourself out of your old job. All The Best!