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Salary Increase Negotiations...

Ok, so I was discussing with a coworker the issues that I have with my job (he has 10+ years experience, I have 2 years exp.):

#1) I'm thrown on X number of projects and always getting moved to a different/new project/tasks, etc. before being allowed to finish any one of them (I'm a software dev for a consulting firm.) Example:  Today instead of working on an internal project, I get sent to a client's office to fix a scanner/pc that's running on Win95.  How this relates to my job, I don't know. 

#2) Salary.  Last year I got a pity raise. "XYZ, you're on the low end of the pay scale for developers, so here's a 6.5% increase ($2000)" I'm making pretty measly $ and I'm the only programmer who knows anything about the dev platform the company has decided to stake it's future on (.NET) and move away from Lotus Domino (Which I also have experience in.)

So the boss caught wind of this conversation, calls me to apologize about "throwing me all over the place" and schedules a lunch meeting with me to discuss with me some sort of incentive plan.  Basically he's going to try to tie this raise to me getting MCSD.NET certified, which will take me a good year to achieve with plenty of outside-of-work-hours studying. 

I like my boss, so I prefer not to go for the ultimatum route ("Give me a raise or I quit").  So what have you folks done to successfully get a raise without switching employers?  Advice? 

(And please, no "You should be happy to have a job", I know I *should be happy* but I'm making at least $20k less than the other developers at this company.)

Anonymous Programmer
Thursday, March 27, 2003

What's wrong with tying the raise to getting certified? Much as I hate it, you have to look at it from his point of view - it's much, much easier for him to tell anyone else who asks why you got a raise.

BTW, make him buy you Transcenders and pay for the exams. :)

(and getting certified shouldn't take you a year if you're that good... ;-) )

Philo

Philo
Thursday, March 27, 2003

Well, my method has always been to make myself invaluable.

After I've done that, I like to gather data. There are a few usual routes that I take. First, I check salary surveys from various sources (salary.com, mcpmag.com, visual studio magazine). Another possibility for defining your worth is to go out and interview, get some offers. I also check in with my old mentor, bounce ideas off of him, ask how much he makes now, etc. So after all that you now know what you're woth.

Now comes the hard part. Figuring out who has final say. Your manager may have suggested certification because it will be easier to justify your increase to his manager. I've used certifications successfully during negotiations. They weren't all that helpful for my immediate manager, but it was something tangible to justify to his manager why he needs to give me a 20% raise.

Maybe you could come to a compromise with your manager - a raise when you achieve the MCAD certification and another when you achieve the MCSD cert. You should be able to get both certs easily within 6 months if you study hard.

MCSD, MCDBA
Thursday, March 27, 2003

"MCSD, MCDBA" wrote:
<<
You should be able to get both certs (MCAD/MCSD) easily within 6 months if you study hard.
>>

The problem I have with this is, that even if I get a 20% raise, for 6 months of studying hard and get cert'd, I'll manage to make an entire $44,000.  I'm already lotus notes dev certified (CLP), which got me from $30k to $35k, a year and a half ago.  This is a Notes/Domino shop, transitioning to a .NET/MS camp.  I'll still be nowhere near what the other "more experienced" developers make here. 

It just sounds like my best bet to make a serious jump in salary is to find another job or give the employer an ultimatum. 

Anonymous Programmer
Friday, March 28, 2003

A couple of afterthoughts:

"MCSD, MCDBA":

I'm currently studying for 70-229 (SQL Server 2k programming), are the other MCSD exams easier/harder than this one?  That's what I'm basing my 1 year estimate - it seems very in-depth and also that I would like to have a life outside of software dev/work.

And as far as justifying a raise to someone that can give me the raise, my manager is part owner of the company.  I think I'd provide plenty of value as a .NET/Domino developer even at $50k simply because I can work on either platform effectively.  I'm fairly certain they'd have one hell of a time finding someone who knows both platforms.  Plus I'm doing alot of integration work between Domino & the new MS systems at work.  Not to mention a few nightmarish client/custom projects that only I know how they work ('enhancement projects' to already poorly designed/implemented apps.)  By no means do I think I'm indispensable - anybody who does is kidding themselves.

Again, my goal is to make more money but not to have to resort to strong-arming them. 

Anonymous Programmer
Friday, March 28, 2003

Early on I tended to shy away from percentage increases. I tried for 5k every 6 months until the percentages increases worked in my favor.

Be sure you mention to your boss those exact reasons why you think you're worth more (efficient on two platforms, can mentor others on .NET stuff, Smart and Gets Things Done, etc). Sometimes I'm not too good at this and I'll create a Word doc and print it out so don't forget anything.

Some employers want to keep talent, some could care less - it all depends on your situation. My first huge bump came from switching jobs (33k - 45k). The employer I'm at now has decided I'm a keeper (45k in late 2000 to 72k currently). So I guess jumping works always (you don't leave for less money) and staying works sometimes.

As for the exams, it depends on your prior experience. I had a lot of real world experience with SQL Server when I took that exam, so it was one of the easier ones for me. If you're learning SQL Server as you're studying for the exam, its going to be difficult. When studying for exams I tend to spend an hour or two at home, get through a book and then practice on the transcenders.

MCSD, MCDBA
Friday, March 28, 2003

Oh yeah, one more thing - you might find this site useful. http://www.codeclinic.com/certification.htm

MCSD, MCDBA
Friday, March 28, 2003

Could it be that you are making $20,000 less than your co-workers because you only have two years of industry experience under your belt and they have a lot more?

While your firm may have a rigid pay scale system in place it is also possible that you are less valuable to the firm than some of the other developers working there. Generally speaking, the longer you have worked in the industry the easier it is for a consulting firm's sales team to sell your services to a client for a decent hourly rate.

Outside factors you might want to take into consideration:
* How many people does this consulting firm employ?
* How well is the company doing right now? It doesn't take very long for a small consulting firm to go belly up.
* blah, blah, blah....

AP wrote, "Today instead of working on an internal project, I get sent to a client's office to fix a scanner/pc that's running on Win95.  How this relates to my job, I don't know."

Sounds like your firm has a maintenance contract with this particular client. My guess is you were sent to the client's office because:

* You were seen as an available resource
* It was cheaper to send you than someone else
* They felt you knew how to get the job done quickly

AP wrote, "Last year I got a pity raise. "XYZ, you're on the low end of the pay scale for developers, so here's a 6.5% increase ($2000)""

Since your fairly anonymous here why not post what your yearly salary is and what technical skills are? While I wouldn't take too much stock in the data that is contained in online surveys it certainly doesn't hurt to check a few of them out.

A 6.5% yearly raise is better than what many employees working in other industries receive (a 4% increase in pay seems to be an unwritten industry standard).

AP wrote, "So what have you folks done to successfully get a raise without switching employers?"

Well, I am a contractor. But when I was a FTE, I always had to switch employers to earn what I thought my services were worth. Once I accepted a counter offer, however, in hind-sight that decision turned out to be a mistake.

The good news for you is that your boss wants to sit down and talk to with you about setting up an incentive plan. I doubt he would do this if he didn't feel you were making money for the company.

My guess is your boss wants to make your raise dependent on you achieving MCAD/MCSD certification because he feels these certs would make it easier for the sales team to sell your services to clients. If you agree to his terms I would try to negoiate for the following:

* A raise when you achieve the MCAD certification and another one when you achieve the MCSD cert.
* Get an agreement on how much $ the firm will pay for books.
* Get an agreement on how many times they will pay for testing in case you fail one or more tests.

Things you might want to ask for:
* Get them to pay for training material (i.e. transcenders, videos, software, etc.).
* Get them to pay for a training class or two.
* Get them to send you to an industry conference or two.

Now, I realize that you really want to go into this meeting and negoiate for more money with no strings attached. The only thing you seem to have in your favor is -- you are the only programmer at the firm who knows anything about the .NET development platform. This fact might not be as important to your firm as you think you it is. I really can't give you any useful advice on how to go about asking for a raise except to suggest that you simply ask your boss for what you feel is an appropriate raise. When/if your boss says, "No, I can't give you a raise right now" you can then respond by saying, "Allright then let's talk about the cert incentive plan you mentioned to me several days ago...."

Good luck and let us know how things turn out for you.

One Programmer's Opinion
Friday, March 28, 2003

AP,

I just read your most recent post in this thread.  IMO, that is some good ammo to use when you ask for that raise!

Wish you would have posted that info in your first post it would have saved me some typing time.

One Programmer's Opinion
Friday, March 28, 2003


"One Programmer's Opinion" wrote:
<<
Sounds like your firm has a maintenance contract with this particular client. My guess is you were sent to the client's office because:

* You were seen as an available resource
* It was cheaper to send you than someone else
* They felt you knew how to get the job done quickly
>>

Nope, no maintenance contract, I billed $140/hr for the 3 hours I was there.  It's always cheaper to send me since I make the least ;-) And my boss couldn't figure out how to fix it, though I had it fixed 1/2 hour after he left.


I make $37,000.08 per year today.  The average salary from salary.com says it's around $43,000 for my area for a Business Analyst I.  Seems to me I'm somewhere between a Business Analyst I & II.  But for the sake of this crummy economy, I'll use "Business Analyst I" as the baseline for my salary info.

As far as my technical skills go, I've done everything from technical support (in college), computer operator (monitoring/maintaining HP-UX & NT servers + intranet development, and what I do today, Domino dev, web stuff (DHTML, cross-browser stuff, blah blah), asp.net dev (building CMS system for new company web site), worked on some high profile projects at a couple of Fortune 500 companies (web work & workflow apps.)

We're a fairly small company but a couple of big contracts keep us more than profitable even if the dev side of the house sat around twiddling our thumbs.

Anonymous Programmer
Friday, March 28, 2003

It's just about bedtime,  I want to thank "One Programmer's Opinion" and "MCSD, MCDBA" (and anyone else that may respond after this) for your advice - I'll post an update after my meeting. 

Anonymous Programmer
Friday, March 28, 2003

AP, you didn't state how long you had been with this particular company. That may also affect any decisions about a pay rise.

Justin
Friday, March 28, 2003

Still awake =).... I've been here 2 years.

Anonymous Programmer
Friday, March 28, 2003

AP,

here are my rules for negotiation:
1) Never walk into a negotiation if you're the only one in need.
2) Must know your minimum requirements.
3) Must know the maximum price you can afford to pay.
4) Must know your counterpart ahead of time.
5) Negotiate ONLY through exchanges: I give you something only if you give me something.
6) Do not disclose information unless you have to. However say those things that keep the negotiations going.
7) If your minimum requirements are not met walk away.
8) If your maximum price is exceeded walk away.

Dino

Dino
Friday, March 28, 2003

Just ask for more money. Make it clear to your employer you think you are worth more than they are paying you. Take random afternoons and mornings off without giving reasons.

Say you've been offered a job on more money elsewhere - that works a treat.

My salary history went something like this:

Taken on at £18,000. Dec'00
After 3months probation, to £20,000 + £2000 bonus
Annual salary review to £21,000 + £2000 bonus - complained I was worth more than that.
January'02 given a second pay review, to £22,000 + £2000.
May-ish I was offered a job on £30,000 - told my boss, got a payrise to £25,000 + £2,000
December'02, moved jobs to £30,000.

So that's a £6,000 rise per six months. I'm pretty happy with that.

Mr Jack
Friday, March 28, 2003

The leaky oil gets the squeak . . .

You will never know
Friday, March 28, 2003

AP, this is just a negotiation thing. The manager obviously values you if he's taking you "to lunch," and you do useful things for the business. It sounds like you should be getting more.

Here is what you have to do: explain to your manager the useful things you do and then tell him you want such and such a raise.

Don't quibble about it or make excuses, just say that's what you want. If he's going to knock you back, let him do the hard work.

Luck.

Must be a manager
Friday, March 28, 2003

Anonymous,

if you are anywhere in the Us, you are definitely seriously underpaid if indeed you are a developer with 2 years of .NET. You need to present the boss with the salary survey info you have and point out to him that it is last years data and that the average person in your area doesn't have X experience that you do and ask him what the issue is. Tell him you don't mind getting an AVERAGE salary but you'll be damned if you'll accept a substandard salary. Also point out the the certification he requests puts you way above any of his offers and is irrelevant to the matter at hand - of a fair and reasonable working salary. Give him a set deadline to respond to this, probably 1 week. At the end of the period, ask him his opinion. Likely he will call your bluff and say 'we have different salary survey information'. If so, agree that facts are important and insist he show you that data. It will likely be 1977 salary data for elephant washers in Bangladesh or some such. Point out that that data has no relevance to you and demand an immediate answer. When he tells you they just don't have the money, hand him your written resignation, get in your car and drive to your new higher paying job you lined up during the 7 days.

Dennis
Friday, March 28, 2003

If your company does consulting, its a pretty easy fix IMO.  What are they billing you out at?  If they want to make more money, there going to want to bill you out at a higher rate, which means you should get more money.  Spin it as "you learned a lot of new skills, so they'll be able to bill you out at twice your old rate, and you can get a 30% raise or something".  As long as your boss sees profits, theres no reason he wouldn't give you a raise. 

Vincent Marquez
Friday, March 28, 2003

Well, I had a great conversation with the boss </sarcasm> - I lost my leverage right from the get-go, the company is buying out some other firm who has 9 developers who have .net/oracle/sqlserver/data-analysis skills.  So I've been presented with 2 options:  Go down the MCSD.NET road and then get some type of raise or go down the Java/Websphere (I've done some java work in Lotus Domino) cert path and then get some type of raise.  I won't get a hard # till I decide which path & certification(s) I'm taking.  I don't think I'll get more than $45,000 no matter which path I choose.  My other (self-'created') option is to just up & quit.  I'm leaning towards the latter. I'm seriously frustrated.

Anonymous Programmer
Friday, March 28, 2003

Dennis:
<<
When he tells you they just don't have the money, hand him your written resignation, get in your car and drive to your new higher paying job you lined up during the 7 days.
>>

Been trying to find something as of late and found nothing.  The market is pretty crappy at the moment for anyone with less than 5 years experience - at least that's been my experience.

Anonymous Programmer
Friday, March 28, 2003

Well, that's different then. Save my advise for another time, ignore it for now. You've got me stumped. Keep looking?

Dennis
Friday, March 28, 2003

I think I'm just going call my boss & give notice, or tell him in person monday before a meeting with a client.  I just feel gipped. blah.

Anonymous Programmer
Friday, March 28, 2003

Anon, seriously think about it unless you have something else lined up or have saved some money or are well nigh ready to take an extended vacation travelling trip through the third world or something like that. Really best to have something else lined up first before telling them off. Also, instead of telling them off bitterly, do it sweetly, that you are leaving for higher pay and better opportunites elsewhere. Based on what you said about the other programmers coming in from the acquisition thing, they may be looking for who to toss and not matter to let you go so telling them off may not be as satisfying as it might be under other circumstances. Also, I agree with OPO that if you do get a bett offer and they make a counteroffer, don't accept the counteroffer. It's just not the same. The people who are luring you away will most likely treat you better than those who are resentfully paying more to make you stay.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, March 28, 2003

I never ever asked for a raise.  As far I'm concerned, it's up to the company to pay you what you're worth. 

If I can find another job for a significant raise, problkem solved.

If I can't find another job for a raise, I am being paid my market value, problem solved.

Bella
Friday, March 28, 2003

BTW, at 2 years of experience, you THINK you know a lot.  but you dont.  You know how to code.  That's only part of the big picture in your value to a company.  the more projects you are on, both failures and successes, the more you'll see the truth to my statement.  For now, focus on building skills and experience.  Getting paid $45k for 2 years experience for a job that requires no diploma is a pretty good deal, especially if you're not working heavy OT.  Good luck.,

Bella
Friday, March 28, 2003

> I make $37,000.08 per year today.  The average salary from salary.com says it's around $43,000 for my area for a Business Analyst I.


If you are so green and naive to go around quoing salary surveys, you should just be happy to have a job.  You have more to learn than you know exists in this world.

Bella
Friday, March 28, 2003

I may be a little out of it, but Anonymous keeps quoting his Lotus Domino skills.  Who the $@^% still uses Lotus ANYTHING, including Domino?.  Wasn't that some 1996 webserver that people used before anyone knew ANYTHING about web administration?   

AFAIC, you're lucky to have a job.  you're 24, and already a dinosaur in the industry.    (Disclaimer: If Lotus is still relevant, please ignore this post)  Last I checked, that idiot Ray Ozzie  got 600 million in VC to go build another AOL AIM app.  Wake up, Lightning only strikes once. 

Bella
Friday, March 28, 2003

Bella,

Please buy a clue, and if you have anything left over, buy a "Jump to conclusions" mat - I think you'd be a natural.

Fortune 500 companies use Lotus Notes.  HSBC, FedEx, General Motors, Goodyear, Dunlop, Saab, Dupont, BMW and the list goes on.  Your ignorance is amazing.  You're willing to denounce something as ancient when you really have no idea what you're talking about.  In fact, I'm willing to bet that you have no idea what Lotus Domino can do.  And let me say that I personally don't like Lotus Notes development (their IDE stinks and you can't use an external editor) - but for many business related db apps, it's much faster to develop with.  Like anything else, the right tool for the right job.  Lotus Notes has a 2nd to none security model and no pesky virii in the mail client ala Outlook.  These 2 reasons alone are why most shops use Notes/Domino.  Plus their apps can be used on the web or in the windows client, in most cases without any modification. 

<<
If you are so green and naive to go around quoing salary surveys, you should just be happy to have a job.  You have more to learn than you know exists in this world.
>>

I use them to at least get a feel for what others may be making.

<<
Getting paid $45k for 2 years experience for a job that requires no diploma is a pretty good deal, especially if you're not working heavy OT.
>>

Well I do have a degree, and to get MCSD certified, I will have to do plenty of "off-duty" studying/work, which I consider in some form or another overtime - especially in the time frame they want me to do it in (4 months.) and I still don't make $45k.

Anonymous Programmer
Saturday, March 29, 2003

"I will have to do plenty of "off-duty" studying/work, which I consider in some form or another overtime - especially in the time frame they want me to do it in (4 months.) and I still don't make $45k. "

It does sound like burning the midnight oil for 4 months, but it should open a lot more doors for you in the future. In this job market I think you should go for it.

All the luck.

Prakash S            
Saturday, March 29, 2003

By no means am I afraid to burn the midnight oil and have done my fair share of it in the past couple of years, I just don't see a good short-term ROI for myself in getting MCSD certified and spending 4 months of my personal time to get less than I think I'm worth is a frustrating thought. In the long run the MCSD may be useful, but in the long run my experience should be the biggest factor rather than my certifications.

Anonymous Programmer
Saturday, March 29, 2003

Anon,
Please re-read my disclaimer. 

Bella
Saturday, March 29, 2003

Do the MCSD because it is an investment in yourself, not just because it is tied to a particular raise at your current company.  You might actually learn something in the process, and it may help you to get a better job if your current employer won't pay you what you're worth.

T. Norman
Saturday, March 29, 2003

And I'd add that while experience does count for more than certifications, and most of today's certifications are too easy or theoretical to mean anything, having certifications is very useful if you go into consulting (on your own or with a consulting company).  Many clients will only accept consultants who are certified in the languages/platforms they use.

T. Norman
Saturday, March 29, 2003

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