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June 27, 2008


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If they're tight on money maybe go for the raise and an extra 401k percentage match or more days off. Ie. other benefits which aren't cash, but which you will benefit more from. Maybe you could even get them to pay for an eMBA or technical certifications or something since it'll help them have a better manager or programmer as well.

Go for the raise. People don't really care what your title is/was when you get a new job. The only thing it could be helpful with is a internal to the company move, where they know what that title means. The problem with titles is that they are so easily inflated or deflated, just depending on who wrote the words. Being a MTS with appropriate skills under that entry in your resume is more important than some guy who is a SMTS with mediocre skills.

Basically, go for the cash, and make sure your resume reflects what you really did, especially while it's still fresh in your mind.

Ask for both. Even though the company is struggling, it sounds like you're in a uniquely good position to ask for both.

Plus, I think it's always better to ask for more. In any negotiation, you start by asking for more than you expect to get. If you don't ask, they'll think they can keep you happy while giving you less than you deserve.

I'd ask for both, but if you feel like you can only ask for 1, I'd go with the promotion. A different position typically comes with a different payscale (or at least a higher ceiling for salary).

I agree with Stephen. The promotion should include a raise anyway. Plus it's better to be lower down on a higher salary band than very high on a lower band. There's usually pressure to move people to the mid-point - so people in the lower half get moved up faster where people past mid-point in the band usually get their raises damped.

But if you're really one of the heroes in the office I say ask for a both. If you are that invaluable and they are struggling they need you that much more, right?

The idea that this is an either-or proposition is a bit strange to me. I have never seen this type of scenario in my career (I am in IT as you). Frankly if you are worth the promotion you are worth both.

In my view your focus should be on the money however. If you have any leverage use it to get as much money as possible. To me the worst possible scenario is a promotion without a pay adjustment. Frankly if I was offered that I would consider it a slap in the face. But more importantly if you get a promotion to a new level without a sufficient pay adjustment you will never get that adjustment to catch you up to where you should be. Its easy for the manager to justify the increase in pay when you get a promotion which presumably is based on past performance and assumed increased responsibility and capabilities that you will bring to your new role/position/title. If they don't give it to you this year, why would you get an outsized adjustment next year when there is no promotion? You almost surely will not.

In my view, if you take a promotion without a pay increase, you might as well start looking for a new job because you will be underpaid for as long as you work at that company. Unfortunately your pay now is often a gauge used by your next company to decide how much to pay you there. It all revolves around salary and everything builds on your past history.

Agree with Apex, the promotion should come with a good raise. I would ask for both, the worst they will do is turn you down. At which point it might be time to consider if they really value your work and/or consider moving on.

As for an either/or situation, I would go for the cash. I agree that titles don't really mean the same thing across companies.

The best advice is to go into the meeting prepared. Anticipate what rebuttals they will have and prepare answers to those. A couple times in the past I have failed to do this and it's probably cost me in salary slightly. However, my review is coming up soon and this time I am prepared.

Im in your field and I would suggest the following:

Be prepared for your review by thinking about specific projects you have worked on, the challenges you overcame, if deadlines were met, and how this impacted your company financially. You need to be able to articulate your value to the company.

Ask for your title to reflect the level of work you are already doing, which sounds SMTS.

Ask for compensation for your performance: leave it open to a quarterly bonus (agree to an amount and goals for accomplishing), a salary change, or combination of the two. Often it is easier for a manager to get approval for performance oriented pay changes than salary changes.

If neither the compensation change nor the title change are approved, ask for an outline of what you can do to achieve them with a timeline for a review.

I'd ask for a promotion and expect a raise. A promotion should come with a raise. If it doesn't then you're doing more work and getting more responsibility without being compensated which isn't in your interest.

A job title won't t mean all that much outside your company and what really matters are your skills, experience and accomplishments are. Adding 'senior' to a title could mean a lot at one company and very little at another.


I am also a software engineer, but I work for a large corporation (IBM) with pretty standard rules for raises. So, in my company you cannot really ask for raises, but you can ask "what do I need to do to get a promotion?". There are specific rules for what one needs to do to get promoted to each level as well.

In your situation, I'd prefer promotion for the reason mentioned above - higher raise; better pay scale, better chance for raises down the line.

One drawback of a promotion in my company is different expectations and somewhat different job description - leading projects, system architecture, visibility outside the immediate group or even company's division, more patents, etc. Since our evaluations are based on ranking, i.e. comparison to others not only in the immediate department, but also across departments, higher positions carry significantly higher risk. But it sounds like you are already doing job at a higher level and like doing it, so this is probably not applicable to your case. So I'd go for a promotion.

Also a software engineer here. I would absolutely not worry about the job title - sometimes, when a company is struggling, it is better to be the most senior mid-level than the most junior senior-level.

I went for two promotions with a promise that my salary would be adjusted when things improve. Things never improve. Now, I have people reporting to me and most of them make way more than me (some even 35% more)! All are in the same salary grade. So, don't give in. Ask - insist - for both. Be prepared to leave (quit while you are ahead) for better pay after weighing pros and cons. I am now in a position where I seriously don't think my salary will be adjusted to the right amount, and I never threaten to leave. So, I would just have to look for a new job. In hindsight, don't hang on in an IT company hoping that you will be rewarded for being loyal and hardworking. Times have changed and that may not happen.

Go for both, I used to be a corporate controller for a regional IT company, other comments are on the money about the promotion giving you opportunity to have a higher ceiling for this and future increases. Ask for more but dont' be discouraged if you don't get everything. If the raise is close to what you want but not enough ask for another review in 6 months and or ask for an opportunity to bonus to get to your financial goal. You complete a project of difficulty within alotted time you get $ you complete the project in less time you get $$ or whatever is an appropriate. Things that are measurable speak volumes at review time. See if you can apply $$$ to the performance you have acheived, ie. by saving the bosses bacon on this last project you were able to bring $$ dollars into the company or by doing XYZ you reduced the company cost (expenses) by $$ Good Luck

Promotion typically comes with a raise, so arguing for the promotion is probably the right strategy. The question is: does this promotion carry with it more responsibilities or is it a mere change in name. If we're talking about semantics only, getting a promotion is probably not the key thing here, especially since the title you mentioned appears to be specific to your own company and may not mean that much for future employers.

In my opinion, career progression is more important than an immediate bump in pay. When I negotiated my position with my previous company, I fought hard for the title, and less so for the pay. Once you have the title, you have established a new frame of reference for your compensation which you can always come back to at a later time.

You want the promotion and raise. The promotion should actually get you more of a raise. Typical promotions should come with a boost of about 10% versus normal raises of 3 to 4%. Also, when looking for a new job, it looks more impressive on your resume when you have demonstrated a strong performance at another company, which becomes evident with a promotion.

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