She is a software engineer, and her husband works in construction management. She grew up without much money and now feels happy with her financial situation. She says her annual salary is $120,000, and her husband makes $80,000. She is grateful that her life changed from counting pennies to not having to worry about buying anything she needs.
She is happy with her job, and recently, her boss offered her a Program Manager position. However, he said her salary would be reviewed in the following review cycle, so she would have to take on management responsibilities at her current salary. She decided to take some time to think about it and talk to some other employees. She went for a drink with a guy with the current position and a guy who had the job before him. The current manager says he was screwed out of a raise. He only took the promotion when it implied that he would get paid more, but it never happened. The guy who had the role before him was making less than she is now in her current job. He says he kept getting his requests for a raise rejected.
That night she told her husband about her day and how she wasn’t sure if she should take the promotion. He still thought it would be good for her resume and open opportunities for her in the future. The following day she asked her boss what the salary for the promotion would be, and he said that it would be up to HR to decide in the new review cycle. She had heard that the amount of the raise is generally the absolute minimum they can get away with. She says the management role on the job market is valued between $150,000 and $180,000, so she feels she would be highly undervalued taking on the role while being paid $120,000. She started thinking she would be a sucker for accepting the job offer.
So she told her boss although she was grateful for being considered, she wasn’t comfortable taking on any role until the terms of employment, including compensation, were fully defined. He said his hands were tied and emphasized again that it was up to HR.
When she got home, she told her husband she declined the promotion. She said he was surprisingly upset about it. He said it was something they should have discussed instead of her deciding on her own, and she knew he disagreed with her declining the opportunity. He said having the title would have allowed her to negotiate higher pay at another company and open up other management jobs for her. She told him she understood her job and knew that if she took the promotion, she would be doubling her workload for nothing. She also knows she enjoys being an individual contributor and wouldn’t like management, so she was okay with her decision.
Her husband replied, “it’s all about you, isn’t it?” and was upset because they are married now, and she was impacting both of their financial future since she didn’t want a ‘hard job.’ He also said taking on additional responsibilities and then having a salary review was normal. He said she would have known that if she didn’t ‘job hop’ so much.
She told her husband that it was an old-school way of thinking to slave away for free with the hope of being rewarded and fairly compensated one day. She tried that at her first two jobs, and that’s why she decided to quit. She says all it tells them is that you are cheap and gullible. He says she is naive and idealistic.
She is reaching out to the online community to ask if she was wrong to decline the promotion. Did she give up an opportunity that would help advance her career in the future despite not receiving a pay raise?
Several readers support her decision to decline the promotion. Many agreed with her that it’s almost like a scam to give such a promotion without and pay increase.
“I’m a software engineer, and I would hate being a PM. It’s much more work, but it also is a completely different role. I wouldn’t call it a promotion; it’s a different job.”
“Likely the reason they want to promote her is because a non-internal hire would cost be at that $150-$180k range she quoted or higher, and they thought they could avoid it by “promoting” her.”
“The whole “our hands are tied until next review cycle” is a classic bs line. OP is correct in turning down a promotion that has undefined compensation because it will absolutely not work in her favor.
- Once they have you in the role, you have no leverage
- They can easily claim the HR review cycle or whatever limits her compensation or prevents a raise for whatever nonsense they want
- If she gets a raise, it will be based on her current salary and not the salary of the position she’s taking. E.g., they’ll offer $135k and spin it as a 10% raise when really her current salary shouldn’t be a factor at all.”
Many also commented that they disagreed with her husband’s stance on this.
“NEVER take a job without knowing what your salary will be. Never. Not ever. OP, your husband is wrong that it’s normal to get the promotion first and the pay raise later. The only companies where that is normal are the ones that want to screw over their employees. I’ve had several job promotions over the course of my career, and the offer letter always includes the new salary and the date it takes effect. If your company won’t commit to that, it’s because they’re hoping not to give you a raise at all.”
“Your husband is wrong. ESPECIALLY in tech, you never take a job or change without all the details in writing.”
Some readers even questioned her husband’s intentions.
“OP, your husband, however, is a huge jerk. Were you his retirement plan?”
“OP, tell husband he has no idea what he’s talking about and to stay in his own lane. And consider why he’s being so controlling and that you may need a divorce when the person making 33% less money than you is intent on screwing up your career.”
What do you think? Was she right to decline the promotion? How should she handle the situation with her husband? If he can’t accept that she’s happy in her current role and level of ambition, do they need to reevaluate the marriage?
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