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Let me tell you a story about asking for a raise.
In 2016, freshly laid off from a seed-stage VC-backed startup, I was unemployed, I had just moved to NYC, and I needed a job. Burned from going out on a limb to a venture that soon proved to be the tech equivalent of a liquefaction zone, I was craving structure. A PR agency I had worked at 2 jobs previously reached out and offered me a role. The catch was that it was a 30% pay cut. Sure, I said. I needed a job.
The first few months I worked back at this agency I was so stunned from the startup falling apart and getting laid off, not to mention the shock of moving across the country while our nation’s democracy fell apart, I’ll be the first to admit that I was kind of clocking in/out. Not delinquent; just not my usual sparkly self. As I regained my mojo though, I felt myself increasingly coming back into my own — my ideas were stronger, my PowerPoint decks sharper, my insights on point. I finagled my way onto a new team within this agency and did some of the best work of my career to date. I identified trends that revealed cultural undercurrents my client was unaware of. I planned a media tour for my client that was objectively baller. I presented a plan for reinvigorating my client’s consumer communications to be more collective-oriented, visually fresh, and in touch with the culture – that too got rave reviews. By 2018, I felt like I was adding value way above my previously negotiated salary, and I knew for a fact the work I contributed to had increased revenue for the agency— so I asked for a 15% raise. This raise would also allow me to actually pay all my bills and have some spending money at the end of it — living in NYC/LA is just more expensive!
Nothing happened. I got flat-out ignored. I got a great annual review, and… no raise.
It was like working on a beautiful hollandaise sauce, and then it breaking right at the end. All that work – it just fell apart. Feeling wronged and craving context, I set up time with HR to talk about it.
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