Should I keep busting my a** or start exploring other opportunities?

The backstory

I was recently promoted at work; however, it was a promotion more in title than salary. After three unsuccessful attempts at negotiation, I was only offered $2,500 more than I was previously making for a total of $50,000... for a director-level role. I know for a fact that there are colleagues at manager levels who are making more than $50k and I also know that amount is way below market rate.

The 'powers that be' told me we could review my salary in six months after I've 'proven myself,' but I'm so disheartened now I'm considering options. Should I stay and bust my a** over the next six months, or start exploring other opportunities to get paid what I'm worth and what I deserve? I love the mission of the organization, but love isn't enough to pay the bills.

— Kendra, Chicago

Alex's advice

Kendra: I would be disheartened, too! You've tried to negotiate three times and you're still underpaid compared with your colleagues. That sounds like a red flag to me.

Here's the question I think you should ask yourself: if they came back to you with a better offer, would that change your overall feelings about the role?

If more money would make you feel relieved and happy to stay on, it's worth exploring. In that case, I would have a follow up conversation with your manager. Ask him or her what specific actions you need to take in order to get a raise in six months. Make sure you're both crystal clear on what success looks like.

On the other hand, if at this point you're bitter and disengaged, it may be time to look. You owe it to yourself — and your organization, whose mission you love — to move on if it's no longer the best fit for you.

— Alexandra Dickinson
CEO + founde


Ask Alex is our monthly advice series. CEO + Founder Alexandra Dickinson answers your most burning negotiation questions. Subscribe to our email list for more advice and content. We'd also love to hear from you! Submit your questions to