Getting a Raise
In early 2010, I unexpectedly got a seriously good offer to work at another company.
I’ve mentioned a few times that a couple of the senior engineers at StartupVille went to another startup when they realized there was no longer any real hope of turning things around. Well, their new company was the one that wanted me.
They’d give me a decent pay raise and slot me into very similar work, so there was no question about the fit — I’d be fine functioning in the available role.
I asked if it could wait a while? 6 months maybe? Keep the position open and wait? I made this request because I suspected that the situation at StartupVille would be resolved one way or another fairly quickly.
Nope. They needed a support engineer immediately. It was now or never.
I talked it over with my partner. Her opinion was that I should go for it — that I’d been loyal long enough and it was time to think about myself.
The thing was, though, that I really loved doing nothing at work. To quote Peter Gibbons from Office Space: “I did absolutely nothing today, and it was everything I hoped it could be.” That’s pretty much how I felt about going into the offices for StartupVille; it wasn’t as good as being home, left to pursue my own interests, but it sure beat having to sit in hours of meetings every day, joining bridge calls with angry customers or clients, and continually worrying about completing stretch goals or office politics.
I decided to compromise. I went into the office and told my manager everything.
Really. Everything. I’d get a 20% or so raise, plus better benefits, plus stability, to leave this company and go to the other one, and by the way, my wife was pressuring me to do it, but honestly, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to.
He was upset for a couple of minutes about so-called poaching — it’s unethical in the startup world for people to pluck guys from their old companies — but then he settled down and told me to give him 24 hours to think about things. I want to point out here that I wasn’t exactly asking for anything at this point. Nope – I just wanted him to sort of be aware that I was mulling things over, and to give him a heads up.
So I walk into the office the next day and he gives me a 20% raise, effective immediately. The only catch? I’m not to tell anybody. If word got around that I got a raise during a period when we were nervous about making payroll at all, there might be all-out mutiny.
In my case, money didn’t talk. On the subject of my raise, my lips were entirely sealed.