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Employees Who Stay in Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less (forbes.com)
698 points by askafriend 4 days ago | hide | past | web | 530 comments | favorite





Best way to increase salary at current workplace? Get offers from other companies & ask for a meeting with your boss (or whoever decides your pay, so HR etc.).

Bring up the offers, discuss what you'd get from there and also go through the potential career you could build at those companies. For example: Consultancy X would pay me $k/mo and every 6months it will go up the ladder if I perform well.

With this kind of discussion you should be able to get a raise that brings your pay even above the competing offers.

Treat your current as one of the options you can make that day; make your employer fight for you every 6-12 months. And remember it's not personal, it's just business. Your employer would let you go and throw you under the bus if it made business sense.

tldr; don't get too emotionally attached to job; that's when they get you.


Might work somewhere else. I always felt blackmailed in a situation like this and wished the employee all the best with his new job.

[Edit] To clarify the blackmail note: It's better to talk in the weekly 1:1 about salary expectations, changing markets or during people development focus, than to pull up a competing offer out of your hat while not talking about your dissatisfaction with pay during weekly 1:1s.

1. If the employee is only motivated by money, he will be gone rather sooner than later as there is always a higher offer around.

2. If you give in once to this, the employee will come back 6 months later with demanding the next pay rise.

3. You might have done something wrong in the past. An employee who can envision herself in the company in some years in a different role with personal development and fair pay rises (see 4.) does not leave.

4. You might also have no transparent pay rise process in place and clear guide lines why people have which salary. You might also have a wide band of salaries, which will bite you sooner or later.

5. Your salaries might also be too low and not working in the local market. This often happens when startups grow (or employee markets change) and salaries are not adjusted properly. Earlier employees - or employees before a VC round - often have too low salaries in this case. Fight for a budget rise to get every salary up in line again.

6. This might also happen if you agree to too low salaries when hiring. This often happens when you hire women, but also happens otherwise. You should always pay what the employee is worth, not what he is demanding (often too low). Don't feel happy if you hire below budget, this is a mistake. As a manager the easiest pay rise you can get for your team is during hiring.


If an employee is coming to you with those offers instead of just leaving for the other job, shouldn't that indicate to you that they WANT to stay, but they also want to keep their career moving forward and earn more money? Why is that unreasonable? You're sending people out the door that want to continue working for your company just because they're telling you they have better opportunities and giving you a chance to give them one, too.

All numbers I've seen show that people who take counter offers from their current employers generally leave anyway.

There are exceptions: when salary is the ONLY problem, and usually that topic will have come up. So if the employee came to talk salary, was denied, then got some offers, came back with them, and asked again, then sure. But any company worth its salt will have done something before the other offers were ever in play.

If someone gets offers right off the bat and never talk salary first, then they'll be gone in 6 months unless you give them way above market rate.


For the reasons stated, I would not give in. This is a slippery slope.

Raising the pay of one employee out of band will usually lead to group behavior, meaning others do the same for the same reasons. I was also mostly budget constrained in the past and could not raise budget to significantly (say 20%) pay raise several employees.

If the employee for whatever reasons earns say 10% below average of the other employees, I would get her a pay raise.


Which is why changing jobs is the only way to get paid what you're worth: management has neither the backbone nor the incentive to price things properly. So instead we perform the cognitive hack of two underpaid employees trading jobs, because as you said, "The easiest time to give an employee a raise is during hiring."

I figure the only way to really fix this 'the only way to get a raise is to leave for a year' method is to figure out how to include retention in engineering manager's perf evaluation.


Putting retention in the manager's evaluation without also supporting his efforts (e.g. with an appropriate budget) isn't fair to the manager.

Oh, well then I guess we'll have to continue underpaying employees.

And employees will continue their migration outwards to other firms. They'll tell their (now ex) coworkers about how much better they're paid elsewhere, and those coworkers will start to sniff around as well. It's a lose-lose situation. If employee retention is the goal, better to strive to pay top-of-market (see: Netflix, most small/medium consulting firms) than let your best and brightest be woo'd elsewhere.

Your comment proves the point of the article. As long as the management refuses to pay a salary that is at par with the market standard, the only way to get paid as per the market standard is to get a new job.

Yep. Since I graduated from college 6 years ago, my compensation has increased 165% (starting from mid-five figures). How? By switching jobs every couple of years, and always increasing by a minimum of 10%. And honestly, I'm just getting started. Though my hope is that my current employer makes it worth my while to stay for a longer duration. I'm getting tired of switching every couple years, as is my family.

A lot of employees would gladly choose to stay at their current company if the pay raise was fair. It's not easy for people to uproot their lives every 2 years. But there has to be an actual incentive (financial) to staying at a company long term.

Why would they have to uproot every 2 years? Many (the majority of?) tech workers are close-ish to big cities with healthy tech scenes, and remote work is very much 'a thing' these days too. Live in Seattle, get paid for work done in LA, SFO, Portland, etc.

Not everyone is interested in remote work, including IBM. Not everyone lives in big, tech cities. There is an inherent transition cost when switching companies.

This only works if the employees can get competing offers which are 20% raises though. Surely if your employees are worth 20% more on the open market then they shouldn't stay anyway?

Maybe they SHOULD leave even if they WANT to stay.

Career advancement some times requires that the current manager say :

  "Sofia, this is a great opportunity for you. While we could make you a counteroffer - you really should make the move to advance your career. Please let me know if you want a counteroffer anyhow."

>1. If the employee is only motivated by money, he will be gone rather sooner than later as there is always a higher offer around.

What else would they be motivated by? It's not their hobby.

This doesn't mean they are also not into programming and coding challenges -- but those are constants that they can find in another employer too.

if they like the programming, it's not that they can't find a programming job elsewhere.

>2. If you give in once to this, the employee will come back 6 months later with demanding the next pay rise.

Sounds like the slippery slope fallacy. Even if they do, you can deal with it (and e.g. let them go) then.


> What else would they be motivated by?

The actual work (what is being done), the mission of the company (are you helping kids send pictures that disappear after 10 seconds or are you working on finding a cure to hearing loss?), the team, the location (do I have to spend 2h commuting?), the opportunities to learn, the opportunities to grow, etc. We each value different things, but if money is your only consideration, you will be treated as a "disposable mercenary" because that's exactly what you are. You will never be trusted, because your loyalty is directed at whoever shows more $$ to you.

Companies value more than just pure technical skills: loyalty, teamwork, communication skills, attitude, ethics, drive, independence, etc... If you only play in that one dimension, the game becomes very rough for both sides. I've never seen that work well, except for very short term assignments.


> We each value different things, but if money is your only consideration, you will be treated as a "disposable mercenary" because that's exactly what you are. You will never be trusted, because your loyalty is directed at whoever shows more $$ to you.

The problem is that most companies treat you that way anyway. If you want me to not act as a "disposable mercenary", want me to stay longer and want me to give you loyalty, give me a contract to prove it. Unless you're willing to surrender your power to dispose of me at will, I'm going to treat you as if you'll use it at any time.


As soon as companies are loyal to their employee, I will be loyal to them.

Work is a simple contract. I give time. I get money. Period. The company will not hesitate to throw me under the bus if it can bring more money, and I do not see why I should be more considerate toward them ?


Perhaps then, you should consider looking to work for a company that will be loyal to you. :)

I have worked or consulted for a few that went too far the other way and it wasn't that great either. If the company is too loyal, then it can create a corrosive environment because good employees sometimes leave for reasons unrelated to the employee-business relationship, family, retirement, health, etc. The bad ones seem to never leave, though.

Honestly, I would rather work somewhere that is willing to get rid of useless and/or corrosive employees than somewhere that refuses to do so out of misguided loyalty.


This is sooo true. Its very easy for bad apples to abuse systems put in place to give employees stability...

Its a strange problem I guess. Systems are put in place to keep good employees around but are abused by bad ones. Then those systems are thrown out and everyone suffers.


Well, when the company owners share their non-re-invested profits with the employee, we can talk about that...

And when the company invests his own money in the company we can talk about that.

I've never seen a loyal company. I'm not even sure what that would look like.

Wow. I managed a good number of downvotes for even suggesting they exist.

I can say of a previous employer, all of the senior management took pay cuts before impacting the rest of us in a downturn. When my department did have to reduce by a person (I was the obvious choice to downsize), the entire (small) department, including my boss, took a furlough day instead. (Obviously, I started looking for new offers at this point, but I was never unemployed due to this.) Love that company. Great people.

I think a lot of people here may have experience with two types of terrible corporate environments: Faceless entity behemoths and cutthroat startups. There's a whole realm of small to medium traditional businesses out there where the owner knows everyone personally, and actually cares about the people who works for them.


Unless your family owns the company, no such thing exists.

How does one determine such a thing?

Mission? Loyalty? Company values? Which would do you live in? You are speaking as if the companies are doing a favor to the employees by giving them a job and the employees are at the mercy of these companies.

Being employed with a company is a business transaction, where one party sells their time and skills in exchange for money.

Aren't employees disposable anyway? When the company runs low on cash, they are not going to hesitate to fire you to restore the financial health of itself.

Companies are motivated by money. It is in my interest to be motivated by money too. Companies are not loyal to employees. It is foolish to expect employees to be loyal to companies.


Perhaps you're getting caught in the labels, like mission & loyalty. It's not about buzz words, or receiving favors.

In my experience, there is a substantial difference in the quality of work of a person who cares about what they're doing and someone who doesn't care. Perhaps you've worked with a contractor who was willing to do a half-assed job, only fixing things if they were cornered. I certainly have.

Money can motivate that caring only so much.


One may not bothered about things like mission and loyalty, care a lot about their income and yet care a lot about the work they are doing.

Caring about money, caring about mission and loyalty and caring about work are all orthogonal to each other.


If they value those things, then they should be happy to compensate employees that have shown those traits at above market value. Then you retain the talent, and you likely do not run into compensation issues moving forward. Generally you see stagnation in pay, or the company expects you're willing to make well below market rate because it's a product you care about. At the end of the day I care about survival and feeding my family.

Unless you run a non-profit, your company is also motivated by money and all your work and mission are only means to an end, which is to maximize the shareholders profit. That's why the company was founded, right?

Of course you have the right to deny a rise and let the employee go, maybe it really doesn't fit in your budget and/or you can hire someone else for less, but don't talk like the employee is wrong for searching a opportunity to grow.


I really find the "make the world a better place" rhetoric funny. Because, at the end of the day, you're right.

Companies exist to make money.


I am not a disposable mercenary because I want to be. I am that because years of "at will" employment and layoffs made me into that. Loyalty is a two-way street, and employers have torn up their end of it with bulldozers.

Money must be my only consideration, because that is usually the only thing of value that I get out of the employer-employee relationship.

All those work-related properties reduce to money and time. A shorter commute means less time spent in traffic and less money spent on fuel and maintenance, but often also means more money spent on housing. If my company wrote software for managing cancer trials instead of flight mission planning for military aviation, I might give them a break of 2-3% on my salary expectations. But if they offer $20000/year less than I currently earn (anecdotally, this has happened to me), well, sorry doe-eyed leukemia kids, but I have to make rent.

As for the team... Well, do you pay them enough to stay? People who entice others to join because they foster a great team environment should be paid more, not less, and your suggestion implies the opposite--that people who work on a good team should be willing to accept lower salaries.

If you have employees coming to you with competing offers every six months, that means one thing: your raises are not competitive with the market. We all know that job hunting is a stressful, unpleasant ordeal, and that is a cost that satisfied employees won't be willing to pay. If you see competitive offers from your employees, not only do you pay too little, but you pay so little that someone was willing to do the job-hunting dance in order to find better pay.

Anecdotally (n~=9) I have found your final statement to be inaccurate. Companies are interested purely in how much money they can make from your work. Your individual manager at a company may value more things, but those things might not translate to another manager, or might not help you if the money is ever a problem. For instance, you might get a $500 discretionary bonus for exemplary work one month, and be laid off with 3 days notice and no severance the next (this actually happened to me).

Companies value money. I value money. As long as we are both honest about this, it tends to work out. It doesn't get rough; it's just business as usual. It is only when people start lying about how their companies value things that problems occur. Based on the statistics, companies generally value loyalty at -3% of current salary per year, or worse. The article implies -7%, I think; the math wasn't entirely clear, and heavily assumptions-based.


The only times I have allowed myself to be underpaid in money is when I was getting experience that I hoped would pay off in a higher wage later.

A wage that will enable me to buy a house and my kids to go to college.

Loyalty is not a asset that a bank nor college accepts as payment.

Furthermore, a company is a paper entity, a legal fiction. A company is not a person. A company has no conscious, no dreams, no aspirations.

No human being should pledge loyalty to a piece of paper - which is not capable of returning that loyalty.


> What else would they be motivated by? It's not their hobby.

Working conditions (am I expected to be on call/respond to contact outside of hours), vacation time, flexibility in work from home and in leaving for appointments, how in traTed by my colleagues or other teams (does the sales department continuously overpromise and put me under fire?). The office space - I'd rather be in an open plan with my own "area" than in a cubicle farm with 500 other employees and no natural light.

Obviously pay is important but I'm not going to jump ship for a 5% raise if it comes with a worse work/life balance. Also, not everyone lives in San Francisco. There aren't _too_ many companies hiring c++ programmers in my area, so I'd go through them all in 5 years and probably annoy a lot of people along the way. Personally, for something that takes up so much of my time (40 hours a week) I'd rather be comfortable and get on with the people I share a working space with, than have them waiting for me to jump ship in 6 months


> What else would they be motivated by?

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

Based on studies done at MIT and other universities, higher pay and bonuses resulted in better performance ONLY if the task consisted of basic, mechanical skills. It worked for problems with a defined set of steps and a single answer. If the task involved cognitive skills, decision-making, creativity, or higher-order thinking, higher pay resulted in lower performance. As a supervisor, you should pay employees enough that they are not focused on meeting basic needs and feel that they are being paid fairly. If you don’t pay people enough, they won’t be motivated. Pink suggests that you should pay enough “to take the issue of money off the table.”

To motivate employees who work beyond basic tasks, give them these three factors to increase performance and satisfaction:

Autonomy — Our desire to be self directed. It increases engagement over compliance.

Mastery — The urge to get better skills.

Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. Businesses that only focus on profits without valuing purpose will end up with poor customer service and unhappy employees.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drive:_The_Surprising_Truth_Ab...


More money may not motivate you to work harder/faster, but reasonable compensation will decrease your motivation to find a new job.

I'm not really sure how this often quoted study relates to retention since that is outside the scope of the study.


Yeah yeah, I'm familiar with the study, but it doesn't account for how we employees are generally quite aware of the value of our skill set. Sure, it may take us a bit to recognize the increase, but typically no more than a few months. And then the sense that we're compensated below our value will eat at us, even in the presence of all those things. It's not about the dollar amount, it's about the disparity between market value and compensation rate. The greater that dissonance the greater the motivation to leave. It doesn't feel like respect when an employer pays you below what you feel you're worth.

Pay is for many not a motivation but a hygienic factor. So I do not dispute that people go to work for the money. I do.

I think it's important to take both of the posts above this one seriously and not dismiss them as "not in my experience."

If you want leverage in any negotiating situation, you need to be able to walk away from the negotiation if the final terms are undesirable. The party with the best "next-best option" is usually the one most willing to stand their ground on terms, or walk.

That means you need to be prepared to lose your job when you discuss changing its terms, which implies BOTH that you should have other offers AND that you should know your boss might fire you on the spot (or worse, talk you into rejecting the other offers and also quietly stop considering you for advancement in your current role).


There's something to be said for communication style. You can do essentially what top-GP suggests, but without the high-conflict ultimatum -- basically, communicate your worry about your salary in a series of low-drama conversations, in which you can calmly suggest that your research implies that you'd be able to make $X in a similar job elsewhere, but really enjoy your current job, etc.

The key, of course, is always to understand your BATNA: Are you actually willing to leave? You can play a significantly more daring game if you're prepared to lose, rather than accept status quo or a modest improvement.


Have you tried what you are suggesting in practice?

I have never succeeded in getting any raise unless I had a concrete actionable BATNA, i.e. a competing offer.


I would never tell my employer that I had another offer and was going to accept unless they met my demands. I'd keep it in my back pocket and then if they didn't respond to my treating them like an adult then I'd just inform them I was quitting and then I would. People who operate that way aren't worth working for!

I have actually, but I understand that it's rare.

Please note that I do encourage doing "research" - it doesn't have to go all the way to an offer, but what I mean is to build confidence that you can indeed get one at the given salary. This is your BATNA, but because you're not giving an ultimatum, you don't have to walk away to a new job immediately - you can just start looking.


Blackmailed by what? The market? Some of those points are excuses for doing nothing.

#2 especially - what, they'll find a better and better job every six months? Not likely. If somebody can show you how they'd be paid better somewhere else, deal with it. Denial gets you nowhere.

#3 is exactly what the above remark addresses. If I can show my boss I'd be treated properly elsewhere, the boss sure better get on board and start doing those things.


> #3 is exactly what the above remark addresses. If I can show my boss I'd be treated properly elsewhere, the boss sure better get on board and start doing those things.

If you feel you are treated better elsewhere, as a manager I'd help you transition to that elsewhere. If that is what you really want and think is best for you, I would make it as easy for you as possible. If you think money is most important to your current situation (house, wife, kids, debt, ...) and you're skill set is beyond my budget, than this is fine with me.

I'm more interested in people-relationships than job-relationships as I have met many of my employees in other companies and we're still friends - and most of them left for a different job with probably more money. Some of them told me years later they should not have left because I usually invest a lot into people development and money is only one parameter to job satisfaction.


> I would make it as easy for you as possible.

I'm pretty sure you're an exception.


I've been in technical management for the last 20years, and it took some years to not take it personal.

The BATNA for the employee is one of those other offers.

The BATNA for the employer is training a new person who isn't going to make every 6-12 months a fight.

Suggesting that it's fine for the employee to exercise their BATNA, but that it's not OK for the employer to exercise theirs seems a bit odd.

what, they'll find a better and better job every six months?

From the commenter above, make your employer fight for you every 6-12 months.. A lot of people hate stack ranking ("making your employee fight for their job every 6-12 months"), so why do people think that companies will want to be in the reverse position.

how they'd be paid better somewhere else, deal with it. Denial gets you nowhere.

The above poster said, "wished the employee all the best with his new job.", which is dealing with it, and not denying it. It's a win/win for everyone. The employee gets a new position with presumably higher pay, and the employer gets a chance to hire someone who isn't going to make them "fight for you every 6-12 months".


You are completely ignoring the fact that if an employee is able to come up with a significantly higher offer every 6-12 months, then the company is probably paying him way below the market rate, otherwise it won't be so easy to come up with a competing offer every 6-12 months.

So if an employee you have hired is able to get a competing offer every 6-12 months, it is worth spending time to figure why things are so screwed up in the company and resolve that.


If companies don't want to be presented with "I got a better offer, can you match it?" every 6-12 months, maybe they should pay their people enough that it stops happening.

Once or twice I can understand. Pay isn't always calibrated correctly, weird stuff happens due to company/employee history, whatever. But if your employee is consistently able to get higher offers once or twice a year then something must be screwed up.


People always equate being treated properly with a higher salary, but from what I've seen there's a lot more to a job than pay. I watched several people leave a department for "better" jobs (meaning: higher pay) only to be miserable a year later for reasons unrelated to salary.

1. money is what people work for. Unless you are doing something truly great for the humanity there is not much more than money or great work conditions google style to motivate people.

2. Of course, because he wants to be paid like the market is paying people in his position, not to be the only idiot with a worthless salary.

Because, you know, they are asking you to offer them the same the competence is able to give.

What you want is an underpaid worker who never ask for a raise and have his mouth shut up for everything, hell you would take a slave if you could


> If the employee is only motivated by money,

Is there any other type of employee? You think it's a bad thing that people work for money? I'm not spending 40 hours a week out of charity. I only do it because I need money. I'm tired of people trying to make employees feel bad because they want more compensation.


> 1. If the employee is only motivated by money, he will be gone rather sooner than later as there is always a higher offer around.

Do you have a lot of millionaires trying to join your startup as an employee? If you don't, then money is probably a major motivating factor for all of your employees.


To me if I can get a better offer (ie over 10% salary increase) that's just a signal that the current employer is trying to take advantage of me. I'm with you in that I'd never go back and negotiate, I'd just leave. Especially early in your career, there is 0 reason to stick around with someone that won't pay you what you're worth. Underpaying is going to directly correlate with retention problems, and limited career growth so it's best to get out early and often.

>> To me if I can get a better offer (ie over 10% salary increase) that's just a signal that the current employer is trying to take advantage of me.

It's more likely ignorance of your specific market price than malice.

First, the employer isn't even going to know your outside market price if you don't get an offer in the first place. For you to prove that you're worth the 10% salary increase, you would have to be vetted by a prospective employer as having met their requirements to be hired at some price.

Secondly, your current employer needs to agree that you're worth that 10% salary increase. Their perception of your value may simply not match your own perception of your value.


The point is, when someone has offers from other companies for 10% increase (which imo is pretty low usually it is 20% or more), the employee finally realizes their value.

In these situations often the employee is getting raises that do not even cover inflation. So the employee now sees their market value and would like to continue working for the company, but they have realized they could take on risk for a 20-50% raise instead.

I mean the risk equation is simple, with such a raise you can save enough cash to justify the risk even if it doesn't work out.

I always ended up taking the offer from the more generous company, and they tended to increase my pay to offset more than inflation and then a bonus to justify staying.


I'm not disputing the realization of value, I'm only disputing the characterization that the employer "trying to take advantage of me", because it's unlikely to be true.

Eh, employers are the ones with much better information in this case. They are the ones who'll know if x% of prospective employees decline an offer or even interview due to the salary offered which will give them at least some idea of the market rate. I've been in the situation where we could not get any new employees due to the rate we offered, and when I suggested we increase the rate I was told flat out by a manager that "Software Engineers should be fine with this amount, we will not hire for over it"

I've had an manager once tell me, "I hear your request for a raise, but my hands are tied because 'the book' says we cannot pay you more." They actually had a physical book and you could look down the list and find "Senior Software Engineer" and there it was: The maximum salary they could pay!

It's hard for an individual employee to know what they're really worth. The best way to find out is go out and ask companies what they'll pay.

By saying that you'd rather they talk to you about salary directly instead of getting competing offers, you're essentially saying that you'd prefer them to be uninformed about their true market worth when having the discussion. You probably don't mean that, but that's the result.


> [Edit] To clarify the blackmail note: It's better to talk in the weekly 1:1 about salary expectations, changing markets or during people development focus, than to pull up a competing offer out of your hat while not talking about your dissatisfaction with pay during weekly 1:1s.

Talking about my dissatisfaction with pay during 1:1s has never got me a raise. Getting a competing offer has.

> 1. If the employee is only motivated by money, he will be gone rather sooner than later as there is always a higher offer around.

I may not be motivated only by money but money is a motivation. I am selling my skills in exchange for money, so it is in my interest to sell my skills to the highest bidder that matches my other requirements such as good role, autonomy at work, etc.

> 2. If you give in once to this, the employee will come back 6 months later with demanding the next pay rise.

Only if you are paying him below the market rate. If the pay is at par with market rate, it is not going to be so easy to come back 6 months later with another significant pay rise that is hard for you to afford.


Management feels blackmailed? Hmmmm, I wonder how employees feel when management knows they can get away with paying them less...Especially when 5 & 6 sound like problems for management to fix.

"If the employee is only motivated by money"

One thing employers need to realize is that this is 95% of jobs. I'm not a developer solely for money. But I am a developer at your company mainly because of money. I would have to imagine that the vast majority of people are in the jobs they're in because of the money.


"Might work somewhere else. I always felt blackmailed in a situation like this"

Are you fucking stupid? Your employee is giving you a chance to retain them. They want to work for you, but can't make it work financially, and you're turning your nose up at them? For what reason? It's probably going to cost you the money to hire someone new that it would've taken you to retain them! I will never understand this line of thinking.

And, no, I don't buy the line that companies can't find the money for their payroll. Not when corporate savings are at an all time high.

> 1. If the employee is only motivated by money, he will be gone rather sooner than later as there is always a higher offer around.

So? What have you lost then? You upped their pay for a short period of time and now they're gone. Big deal. You've lost an employee who didn't want to work for you anyway. Seems like a fine outcome.

> 2. If you give in once to this, the employee will come back 6 months later with demanding the next pay rise.

OK, and if it's unreasonable, they're probably going to have a hard time getting it. Or you won't be able to retain good talent. I'd say if it's the latter, you might want to restructure your exec bonus structure.

> 3. You might have done something wrong in the past. An employee who can envision herself in the company in some years in a different role with personal development and fair pay rises (see 4.) does not leave.

First off, I like that you say "her" as though you're not part of the problem in the .75/$1 shortchanging for women (hint: it comes absolutely from companies being tight gripped on their payroll and playing hardball in salary negotiations). That aside, I'm not sure I get your point here. You're saying you wouldn't provide a pay increase, and here you're saying that your employee's perception of that being the case might be a problem. Gee, I wonder how they would've gotten that perception...

> 4. You might also have no transparent pay rise process in place and clear guide lines why people have which salary. You might also have a wide band of salaries, which will bite you sooner or later.

Yet again, not sure how this affects the instance where an employee comes to you asking for a pay rise commensurate with offers they're receiving. Seems like a good time to get your pay structure under control.

5 and 6 seem to be tips all of a sudden on how to be a worthwhile compensator, so I'll ignore those.


Come on...

""" Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say in a face-to-face conversation. Avoid gratuitous negativity.

When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. E.g. "That is idiotic; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3." """


Completely honest: I would say every word of this to someone who took this approach to hiring. It is absolutely baffling to me that managers use this tact. Their reasoning is flawed and shortsighted, but has the benefit of keeping wages artificially low, so it also has the happy side effect of being very destructive.

Is it civil? No, but neither is cutting the legs out of a generation of employees because you're too dimwitted -- or worse: greedy -- to not pick up that dollar next to the dime.


my expirience is in line with his expirience and i have been on both sides.

Mine as well. I know for a fact that my previous employer paid out nearly twice the raise I asked for just to the recruiter, and that's without factoring in the costs for having other employees run interviews instead of working or HR costs for bringing an employee onboard. Additionally they have to pay market rate for the replacement employee which is all I wanted in the first place! It seems like a lot of these situations where employees leave for better pay could be a win-win if companies would give just give the employees market rates or something close to it then both the employee and the company would be better off in the end.

You can be 5% off of market or even 10% if its a nice place but once you go past that, do you really expect your employees to sit there and take it? I know my landlord's not gonna wait for me to get a raise before they raise my rent


But money for the recruiter and freelancer comes out of a different bucket.

/s


This kind of emotional management is precisely why people quit to advance their careers.

From the employee POV it never made sense for me either. It may not feel all the way as blackmail, but it's not some nice conversation either. Besides:

1. If the company is not paying you well now, it will also not give you timely raises or promotions, so you will have to do it again and again.

2. If there's a great team there, and the only problem is with the money, unless it is a temporary thing with known causes, odds are the entire team will leave soon. So it's not something to consider.

3. It's very likely that your employer will work towards replacing you and will let you go on their schedule. It's always best to leave on your schedule than getting it forced onto you.


I would emphasize "do not deviate" concerning (4.) from

"Build strict processes for potentially political issues and do not deviate—Certain activities attract political behavior. These activities include: Performance evaluation and compensation [...]"

https://a16z.com/2010/08/24/how-to-minimize-politics-in-your...


I imagine this is good advice in some places, but as a line manager, if you pull this on me I'm more than likely to shake your hand and wish you luck in your new job.

In a lot of places, having a talk with your manager about your salary before going off and actively looking for other offers is going to go down a lot better. Most line managers worth working for, value their teams and will fight for them if they are unhappy, without the threats.

And TBH, if your company has to make cutbacks in the future and you've shown you're willing to up and leave at the drop of a hat, you're name's likely to get further up the redundancy list than you'd probably like.


> but as a line manager, if you pull this on me I'm more than likely to shake your hand and wish you luck in your new job.

"Pull this on you"? You sound like a real joy to work for.

This is expressly why I choose gigs where I'm working directly for an owner if at all possible. If you've created value, owners know how important you are and will take your request seriously as long as it's reasonable.

In my career, I have received 100% of the raises I've requested ... at least a half dozen times. I've never once received a no or even negative push back. Owners were eager to retain me.

Even if your intention as a "line manager" is to not give the raise, the right move is to at least feign consideration for a few days and show the employee his request at least matters enough to think about.

Letting everyone know they'll immediately be shown the door if they dare request an increase would create a terrible culture. Clueless management.


Letting everyone know they'll immediately be shown the door if they dare request an increase would create a terrible culture

The person to whom you're responding explicitly drew a distinction between discussing a raise with your boss vs going to your boss with another offer that you have secured.

I can see the importance of that distinction. To put the relationship in a different context: Imagine the difference between a girlfriend who says, "Hey, we need to discuss the amount of time you spend playing video games. I'd like you to pay more attention to me." vs "Hey, I don't like the amount of time you spend playing video games, so I've been talking to this new guy about being my boyfriend. Your move."


It's a very interesting analogy, and shows the terrible and wrong mentality that managers like 'scaryclam' have.

Work is NOT like having a girlfriend. Like the other poster said, a better analogy is your relationship with a prostitute. But it's good you brought up this incorrect analogy, because I think it really shows the horribly wrong mentality that bosses have, because they believe this to be a good analogy even though it isn't.

I'm not showing up to work every day because I have any warm and fuzzy personal feelings for the people there (especially the management). I go to work because they give me a paycheck. That's it. It's no different than prostitution, except not quite as icky. If my girlfriend tells me she needs to spend less time with me for a little while because she's going to spend some time with her family for some family problem, or she's working on her own start-up business and needs to spend extra time on it to make it successful, etc., then sure. If, however, employer tells me they need to cut my pay in half because they're having money problems, I'm immediately going to look for a new job. I don't have any personal feelings for my employer, and I don't expect to grow old and retire with them either, and I also know that if they don't need me any more, I'll be out the door with a pink slip that day.

I think this analogy really shows how many employers think (wrongly) that employees should have some kind of loyalty to them, even though the employers rarely have any loyalty back to the employees.


I just wanted to say that I've learned a LOT from the back-and-forth on this thread. My thanks to all that were involved.

>The person to whom you're responding explicitly drew a distinction between discussing a raise with your boss vs going to your boss with another offer that you have secured.

Because it's only OK to ask for a raise when the boss has the upper hand?


Has the boss brought someone in to replace you and said, "Okay, Coldtea, we found someone to replace you at your job. He's as good as you and he'll take a 10% cut in salary over what we pay you. Do you want to take a pay cut so you can stay?"

That would be the upper hand.

Before that, it's just a discussion.


That's the default situation, even in software, although more often it's in this form: "Okay, Jon Employee, our company had a bad quarter, we're going to have to ask employees to make some sacrifices." Then Jon Employee is laid off and subsequently has his position filled by somebody much more junior at far more than a 10% discount.

This industry doesn't value engineering experience. It values breadth over depth. There are some exceptions. But the data are what they are.


It happens every time a company has more than one person who is technically capable of doing the same job. Companies have to do this once they grow large enough, so that the company will survive if any one person in it is hit by a bus (or leaves for greener pastures).

Every day I go to work, the implied threat is that my company could assign all my work to someone cheaper--generally speaking, give 1/Nth of my work to each of my N co-workers, then advertise an open position if that puts the team over capacity--and abruptly end our work-for-pay relationship. Or maybe they allow a tester to jump up into development, and give them tester+1 pay instead of developer pay. If I meet with my manager with competing offer in hand, that may invert the status quo of the power balance for all of 15 minutes. How unnerving for them.

You always need the company more than the company needs you. That's a corollary to the whole point of having a company, which is to produce an entity separate from and greater than its constituent parts.

Personally, I'd just keep silent about the amount of the competing offer and ask for a raise. They can do their own calculations about how much they can afford to give, and if they can't match the competing offer without knowing what it is, I'd take it. Telling them what that offer is makes as much sense as divulging your salary history when seeking out competing offers, which is to say it does not make sense. Let companies do their own calculation regarding how much you are worth to them, instead of copying the answers off of each other.


The bosses do that all the time. And if it wasn't for training delays and costs, they'd do it in a heartbeat.

Besides, that's exactly how they gauge what kind of wages to offer when they hire you -- from what others would accept in your place.


I like the analogy, but other offers help establish market value - in a free market anything, including labour, is as valuable as the highest available bidder. If this were a relationship another way of putting it would be "hmmm {person_x_whos_better_than_you_in_some_relevant_way} keeps trying to get in touch with me, I wonder why."

The issue with your example is the matter of context. A relationship, in the normal case, isn't a business arrangement. In the 21st century companies (and that's all companies small start up to large mega corp) have no loyalty to you as an employee and you sure as hell shouldn't have any loyalty to them.

I know it doesn't add anything of value to the thread, but that's a really good analogy.

It's a terrible analogy. A better analogy is you're a prostitute and you tell your client that you looked around and the going rate for this type of work is more than he's been paying you, so you're gonna go fuck other guys for money.

You don't fire your girlfriend in tough times, but your boss will fire you if he had to. It's a stricylty pay to play relationship.


We use the prostitute analogy a lot with my techie friends. Just don't tell my parents that I write software. I pretend to work at Starbucks.

This is why customers can never give you specific requirements for a project. Deep down they know you write software, but they can't say, "write this specific software for this much money". They have to use vague, hand-wavy terms so that they can always step back and claim it was just collaboration between consenting adults. They were just paying you for your time.

Not really. Business is business and personal is personal. If you look at them both the same you'll end up stuck in a job you hate for 8 years thinking you're being super loyal and that raise is just around the corner.

Spouses are loyal back, businesses are not.


This. Its so important for workers to realize just what predicament they're in. So while it was possible for lifelong jobs to be possible in the past, its not so much the case today. No job is really secure, and one does have to stay on ones toes.

Not saying that you should be concerned about getting fired everyday. But if you don't create demonstrable value to your company over a longer period of time (a couple of years perhaps) don't expect to keep the job. Things are moving wayy too fast today.


Generating value is only a small part of it. You can get fired or laid off for any reason in most places in the US. You can be doing great work personally, but if upper management screws up, or the business environment is just bad (despite management's best efforts), you'll get laid off as soon as it makes financial sense for the company to do so. You can also get canned or at least mistreated to the point of misery because of interpersonal problems having nothing to do with your performance, a terrible manager, etc.

That's not true at all in my experience. Both as a manager to others, I've always tried to be loyal to employees who invested in the employer/employee relationship - and as an employee who benefitted from having an employer/managers look out for me when inevitable bumps in the road occurred in my personal life.

Outside of my own direct experience, I can also recall many other co-workers' experiences where the companies I've worked for went above and beyond in their commitment to their employees. One time that meant making many extraordinary allowances for an employee suffering from a mental breakdown. At times it has meant extending the employment of someone who was looking for a life/career change, but the company kept on paying a salary until the employee found somewhere new to land - way beyond where the employment had any real benefit to the company. There are many others.

By all means, takes some precautions. By all means, stand up for yourself. By all means, make sure that you're being fairly compensated... but if you go into every relationship, personal or business, with your shields raised and phasers set to kill - you will reap what you sow.


Loyalty on a large scale requires threat-backed enforcement. Mafia members were loyal to each other not just because family was sacred but because they'd be killed otherwise. Big megacorps of the 20th century basically worked by vesting your payout over your lifetime; leave halfway, and you'd miss out. No such threat exists in America today, so while it's possible for individual managers and employees to choose to behave in the loyal manner you described, when giving general advice, it's wise to treat business as business.

I see a lot of employer hostility on HN. While it's good to watch your back, the constant call to go in with guns blazing doesn't seem helpful to me.

I know that personal relationships aren't exactly the same as business relationships, but to pretend that they aren't somewhat analogous doesn't line up with my own experiences. I've had a lot of personal relationships in business. Almost every boss I've ever had has been my friend on some level and the same goes with a lot of people who've worked for me.

When you treat people with respect, consideration, and friendship in your work life - you'll be surprised at how often you get the same from them in return.


>the constant call to go in with guns blazing doesn't seem helpful to me.

Getting independent information of your value isn't "guns blazing."


Getting independent information consists of going on GlassCeiling or Dice to look at industry salary surveys, googling, etc.... maybe even talking with some recruiters about going rates.

Going out and getting a job offer is a step beyond that.


It's not like getting a job offer in tech is free to the employee and can just be used as a casual "fuck you" to the boss. Even with the current tech market the way that interviews are currently done will use up a lot of your PTO to get through. If an employee is at the point where they are effectively spending money to get this information why isn't it viewed as a the employer's fault for making the employee feel it was necessary? I know I don't want to switch jobs frequently but when the company posts record profits but my quality of life is decreasing due to cost of living increases, what would you expect me to do?

OK, then the boss isn't able to get any specific reports on my performance, they can only ask me directly how well I'm performing or look at standards of performance. Going out and tracking my individual performance takes too much work and shows they don't trust me. Seems fair.

But "coming to the boss with another offer you have secured" is the expected next logical step after you've unsuccessfully discussed a raise, no?

> Letting everyone know they'll immediately be shown the door if they dare request an increase would create a terrible culture.

On the other hand, sending every other employee the clear message that the only way to get a raise is by showing up with a better offer isn't the path to the best of cultures either.

Those that imitate the tactic are not the ones to be concerned about, the others are, those who have nonmonetary reasons to stay. Employment isn't equally fungible to all employees. The less mobile will feel screwed and their motivation and productivity will suffer. Getting paid less than market rate is much easier to not mind about than getting paid less than the guy across the table. Secrecy could be a solution, but before you embrace it all too enthusiastically ask yourself twice about the gossip level in the organization.

In the end, the ratio of "will imitate" employees to "will grudgingly accept" employees determines the better answer. The former will hate "aggressive bargaining will not be tolerated", the latter will hate "only aggressive bargaining will be rewarded".


People don't like to feel like they're being exhorted. This has a high likelihood of backfiring. If you want a raise talk to your manager first. Don't come with threats to leave.

The "threat", because it's just a bidding round for your time, really, has to be real. If it's real and your employer declines to participate, that just means the other company won and you now have a new employer. There shouldn't be any hard feelings unless you have a personal relationship with your boss.

He is just saying ask for a raise before you go solicit offers from other companies.

Why should I have to ask for a raise from my existing manager before asking for a raise from every other manager in town?

If my manager wanted that, it would have been in the contract [that I have never had as an "at will" employee], and they would have had to pay something to me as compensation.

If I have no contract, I owe my employer nothing. The loyalty I give them is equal to the loyalty they promised me: zero. They explicitly told me I could be fired at any time for any reason from an enumerated list ten pages long, or for no reason at all, if the whim merely struck them one day.

As an employee, that is a big "fuck you" to me from the management, and they should be happy that I even let them know I might quit if they don't do something soon to prevent that, instead of just calling my manager up to say I won't be working there today, as another company offered me a better deal.


Fine but then how to you back up your claims that you actually are worth a higher salary?

I suppose it primes the discussion with "does my employer even see me as valuable? Perhaps more valuable than I am being paid for?"

If the answer to that is no, no amount of backup will convince them otherwise. Then you get into the question of "why am I working here" and it forces you to leave anyway.

Somehow, all paths lead to leaving. And I think this is what the original article is getting at - if you want more money, your best bet is to leave.


> but as a line manager, if you pull this on me I'm more than likely to shake your hand and wish you luck in your new job.

As your potential employee I'd be more than happy to shake your hand and leave. Very rarely does a company deserve employee loyalty, and you as a linemanager should at least try to earn your employee's loyalty by paying them what they are worth, rather than what you can get away with.

Remember, you too have a boss, treat your subordinates like you would like to be treated.


That effectively never happens, or hasn't happened for me. My relationships with managers have always been cordial but we both know the truth. As a developer, it is very hard to ever become anything but a developer. Companies say they have career paths for developers to follow that are non-management tracks, but they effectively don't. You...just...move...on. Any salary increases I have gotten were at the forefront of being hired on and my skill at negotiating was all make or break for me and I have screwed it up in the past.

I did just recently have a good turn where the recruiter who helped me land my current job helped negotiate a bit higher pay and a week of vacation. I wasn't going to push that hard because I needed to be working and not sitting on my ass, but he did this for me without my asking and it worked. I was pretty thrilled that after so many years, someone else gave a damn about me. First time.


The recruiter gives a damn about you because the higher compensation he negotiates for you, the more he gets paid (usually). It's in the recruiter's interest to get you the best deal possible, if he's acting as your agent. (It's the opposite if the recruiter works for the employer.) Of course, the recruiter has to walk a fine line because he doesn't want to be too aggressive and lose the deal, but they generally will work for you to a point. However, the flip side to this is that, working through a recruiter, you might not get paid as much because, to the employer, the total compensation is higher since they have to pay the recruiter's fee which is very large. It's kinda like selling something through consignment: they want the best price possible, since they get a bigger cut, but because they get a cut, you might be getting less in the end. But recruiters can get you access to jobs you might not easily have access to otherwise (because the company didn't post it yet, won't post it, didn't post it where you'll see it, etc.), so there's that factor too.

The reality of it is the recruiter is working for the employer. The recruiter just wants to fill the vacancy as fast as possible and get their paycheck. They don't care about what salary they place you at because they get much more money by finding good candidates quickly, and they are unlikely to ever work with you again. But they will probably work with the same businesses over and over. The recruiter getting paid more because you get a higher salary only aligns your interests weakly. It can still make sense to work with recruiters for all the parties involved, but you need to make sure you are negotiating on your own behalf and plan that the recruiter will negotiate more strongly for the employer.

Yep, this is akin to the Freakonomics "why don't real estate agents always push for the highest sales price" question. The gist being, it's a numbers game for them. The extra 5-10k they negotiate when selling your house makes a small difference in their commission, and usually comes at a disproportionate cost - either risk of the deal falling through, or time spent in negotiations that could have been better spent moving on to the next deal. It wouldn't surprise me if recruiters face a similar calculus (time spent negotiating on your behalf, risk of damaging their relationship with the company, etc.), and would definitely agree that at the end of it, you have to be responsible for your own outcomes, because no one else will be.

Employees have an inherent need for loyalty to work and face considerable risk just for following their true worth to new companies and situations.

This makes it impossible to adequately take employers up to your real market worth as a long term employee. Too many of your coworkers will accept 50% of their worth rather than risk stress and a crises if a change falls apart. So as long as the employer only needs a kernel of long-term employees only a union has the necessary leverage.


They also face considerable risk for sticking around when an employer has expressed interest in underpaying and overworking them or just outright firing them. If you're hiring people at 50% of their desired pay, then you're generally only going to get 50% of their skill. This is a double-edged sword. Employees also have an inherent need to accomplish things, and if you're not using them to their full capacity, that's also a risk of them leaving, or being completely checked out at work.

I think the value of unions and professional organizations in these discussions is something that gets too little attention.

One of the most important reasons software development is not like actual engineering is because the practices associated with actual engineering aren't valued in the world of software, even though the political components of employment (e.g. loyalty, longevity at a company) are considered signals of high(er) quality.

The vast majority of developers simply don't have quality employment options for most of them to consider long-term (> 3-4 years) employment with a single company to be a good economic or career decision.


I fully agree with you re. 'shake your hand' but I have to defend the line manager at large companies: too often, they have their hands tied with yearly performance evaluation processes and bonuses and will likely be unable to fetch the employee the necessary raise outside of working within aforesaid processes (i.e. getting the employee a promotion in a higher pay band, etc.), which takes time. I say this not to defend anyone but to try to present a more balanced picture.

In a smaller company, I would be worried about 'revealing my hand' to a potentially vengeful manager asking for a raise and I would rather just leave than try to get them to counter offer. That is, if I ask for a raise and s/he denies it, I would feel that I would probably be the first one to get cut when the time comes so I might as well leave. In a larger company, I might try to work with the manager on a 'career plan' assuming the manager in question is not toxic; the toxic ones will pretty much ensure that one gets a 'needs-improvement' type rating, which pretty much limits any movement for the unfortunate employee from that point on.


>In a lot of places, having a talk with your manager about your salary before going off and actively looking for other offers is going to go down a lot better. Most line managers worth working for, value their teams and will fight for them if they are unhappy, without the threats.

This doesn't agree with the research here, and your first statement doesn't agree with your second. If you value your team, they shouldn't end up unhappy with their salary, and they shouldn't be thrown under the bus for exploring what they're worth outside the company. The tamest threat to fire them reinforces the point.


The research I am aware of says if someone comes into your office with a competing offer they are likely to be gone in 6 months.

https://hbr.org/2016/07/setting-the-record-straight-using-an...

Outside offers to get a raise are a risky business at best. If someone is unhappy enough to do this it isn't just compensation most of the time.


I mean, there's a strong confounding factor - if you're paying market rate and treating your employees well, it would be very rare that someone comes into your office with a competing offer; and if you're not, then people are likely to leave you even if they don't ask for that counteroffer.

It all depends on how you are managing the compensation growth appropriate for people who are growing in their careers - if you're doing it properly and proactively, then people won't be repeatedly coming to your office with solid evidence that the actual market rate is much higher than whatever you're paying; and if you're giving appropriate raises only when pushed to, then doing that seems to be the only way how your existing employees can continue to get paid market rate.


So you get six more months out of a skilled employee. Most managers I know would take that deal. They would see it as an opportunity to have six more months to retain that person or at least kick the can down the road a bit longer.

This is the difference, in my opinion, where they let their pride get in the way of good decision making.

The probability of someone leaving didn't change because of the new offer, the manager perceives a power differential and is responding to that.


It can be the right strategy, but you have to be prepared for them to leave. It can be a shock to some businesses to have someone leave when they are managing important responsibilities. It is just a matter of being completely informed. And if you expect them to leave within a 6-12 months you are looking for their replacement. It creates an uncomfortable situation.

It isn't the wrong call to keep someone on and counter, it is just a tricky situation.


This is an interesting problem. Let's say I think I'm underpaid and speak with my manager about it.

If I go in with broad market data, the argument could be made that my specific circumstances make the general market data invalid.

If I go in with specific job offers, then I present myself as a risk to leaving, and the conversation may be more adversarial than I intend.

So could there be a service that sits in between? my-market-rate.example.com. Employees submit resumes, and we abstract the companies, roles, etc. Submit those resumes to companies to get an expected salary for that position and indicate interest to hire.


Market rate is tricky. Especially for jobs that require less common skills. Some employers, small shops mostly, actively can't or don't bother to compete with the big tech shops on salary even though they recruit from the same pool of employees. They compete on life style, company culture, and other intangibles. If this is done openly and employees know what they are getting into it is a good situation as long as that open relationship is maintained. The employer and employee need to have a little trust and finances need to be open at least a little bit so the employees can see where the dollars are flowing.

It is a difficult position to be in, but I think the solution is relatively obvious. If you think you are being underpaid and you don't have an open line of communication to your employer about your compensation that is the crux of the problem. If you can't comfortably discuss compensation at any time with your manager in a no judgment zone where the employer immediately assumes you are leaving then you and the employer lose. At that point you may feel the only option is a competing offer and the employer may counter, but they will be counting the days until you are gone.

A middle service could help keep things fair, but any employer you would feel comfortable using something like a `my-market-rate.example.com` service report with you probably already can just have an open discussion about compensation without any concern. I could see it being useful in some places where the organization / manager really does just lack information about fair compensation but... that strikes me as pretty uncommon. Managers tend to know far better than employees their value in the wider market and to the organization specifically.

Ultimately, you just have to do your research and if you know you are underpaid you should be able to find employment somewhere else. If you fear a comp discussion would trigger your employer firing you, time to look for another job. If you think it won't change much, time to look for another job. If you think you are close and have a good relationship with your manager, just talk about it. In my experience employees, especially in high tech, are very worried about discussing compensation and how that might be perceived by their manager. In reality many folks that generally like their place of employment and end up where they come in with a counter offer could go back in time 6 months and have a direct conversation with their manager and get a raise (or not, signalling it might be time to move on). If it takes that competitive offer to budge your employer it means they know you are worth more but they weren't willing to give it to you fairly.

Anyhow, that is my brain dump on how these things play out.


Thanks for the brain dump, I'm always learning more about these types of things. Personally, I think I'm fairly paid at the moment, but this is something to consider if that changes in the future.

there doesn't appear to be any research in that article, just opinions? it doesn't surprise if that's true that you are likely to be gone; especially if you count the times that you aren't given a competitive counter offer.

Ahh, sorry.

https://hbr.org/2016/09/why-people-quit-their-jobs

At the end, a research and analysis firm in this space says 50% leave within one year. I could not find the papers. I actually researched this a lot when put in a situation that we had to make a counter offer and there are some better papers and such out there, but I don't have it handy.

You have to go case by case and really understand what is motivating the individual. There is a very high chance the relationship is beyond salvaging. But there is also a good chance you can fix the problem. It is much better to never be in that situation to begin with (preventative maintenance). Regardless when you get to the point of making a counter offer anecdotal experience and research indicates it is about like flipping a coin. Maybe you can gain some insight via discussions and back story that make it better than flipping a coin, but the basic idea is you are in a relatively unpredictable situation at that point, no matter what.

Whereas, having constant and open communications with employees, discussing comp and making sure all issues stay little issues prevents these situations. Eventually someone may leave, but in my experience you can almost always remove the chance they come to you with a competitive offer. They will know where they stand with the business and be getting a fair wage or they will know it is time to move on. It is a much better relationship than an employee feeling they have no recourse but to drop a bomb on your organization.

That said, it is understandable how this happens with "line managers". e.g. middle managers. Individuals not empowered by corporate structure to do the right thing. But in orgs of less than 100 people this should never be happening.


You can value your team and still be running on fumes and not be able to currently pay them what you think they should get.

There's no contradiction in that.


In that case you can be disappointed that your business can't do right by the employees you lose while at the same time being happy for those people for finding new places of employment that can pay them what they are worth.

A good business would have a line of communication open to employees about it's financial state anyway. They would not come to you with a competing offer, there would be no need.

Yes, of course.

I was only pointing out that underpaying staff does not equate to not respecting them.


You can also value your employer and expect your compensation to grow at a certain rate.

Most line employees don't have enough influence over the business plan to point out that, say, it only works if the company can live with a high turnover rate or with keeping salaries low.

None of this is personal. It's actually a big ask for someone to get paid under market rate or work on horrible legacy systems for years. Managers shouldn't take it personally if they ask for something big and don't get a yes.


The basic idea of capitalism is some ventures / companies will fail. Trying to hang on by underpaying people is generally just forestalling the inevitable and closing up shop early is generally better for all involved.

That said, if your growing etc and just have a cash crunch then stock is generally an option.


Your advice seems a little unusual; perhaps you've had caring line managers in the past, but in my experience, the less they know about your grievances the better. If you suggest you are unhappy, your manager is likely to assume you are looking around anyway. Thus you end up giving your manager the upper hand in negotiations. If you don't have a back up offer in place, you are simply hoping that your manager is a nice person who deals with your issues fairly - but there is always a very significant chance your boss reacts badly to your dissatisfaction. Then where do you go without a backup?

without the threats

I wouldn't dispute that seeking offers before a request for raise might not go over well (depending on the specific business), but I think calling it a "threat" is needlessly weaponizing salary negotiation in a market where everyone acknowledges salaries have been flat for a long time.


I believe the flatnessof salaries applies to jobs overall. I would guess most people at HN work in IT where salaries haven't been that flat.

Depends on which way you cut the data, looking at occupations, time period, and geographic location. I've looked and have found data and reports suggesting they're flat (keeping up with inflation) or slightly outpacing inflation. Some specific sectors and skills have seen significant growth.

The number of people employed in IT services as a whole as increased which has likely helped keep wages more stable. It's still a good career as far as salaries go.

One thing I've found that makes digging deeper challenging is the preponderance of titles and roles. Title inflation could disguise wage growth to some degree.


You're in the West, probably the US; you already started high. Being from Eastern Europe, my current (net) salary is 100 times higher than 20 years ago and 2.5 times higher than 5 years ago. I expect things have stabilized for me too though :)

To counter that, as a former line manager if an employee just came to me and said he wanted a raise I could only give him so much consideration (big company). If he wanted to get more he'd need to have leverage like a competing offer so that I can go in to the HR team and be able to push them to give me approval to give him more and they would need to go their own managers to get that approval.

Of course, said employee better be good at his job to get this treatment. If you are obnoxious or merely just barely good enough it will be an easier way to get rid of you than go through the hassle of big company firing procedure.

Though I have to admit I never was in this situation as a manager, I did give fair share raises out of the pocket money I got to distribute as raises between my employees.


I think you typify the type of manager that cares more about the bottom line than the value you get out of good employees. Maybe it wasn't spelled out as clear in the article, but much of the point is that the employee is more valuable to retain than to simply re-cycle for someone lessor or equal pay.

Wouldn't care to work for you at all.


The cost to replace a good employee is shockingly high. Organizations that don't fight to keep their good people are chasing short term gains at the expense of their medium and long term. It is why many businesses can't figure out why they can't grow and think they are a great place to work because they offer bottom of their industry pay (which can be enticing for folks looking to break in, get experience, etc.)

For a lone manager, chasing short term gains at the expense of longer term might be the most rational strategy for their own careers.

Agreed. I would then want to understand the overall organizational structure that puts "line managers" in these situations. It is almost always some sort of organizational defect or lack of managerial skill that causes an employee to "save up" all their grievances to the point where they feel the only way to get what they want is through essentially dropping a bomb on their manager.

Managers are paid to look after the bottom line. The good ones do their best to balance that with treating their people well and fostering loyalty, but no balancing act ever goes entirely smoothly -- yet that's the one they're paid to perform. Businesses aren't charities or good-will missions.

You're right that businesses presently are not charities or good-will missions, but perhaps they should be. The way most businesses are currently run (ie, as profit mills chasing growth at any cost) is detrimental to the environment, society, and the economy itself. Business for its own sake is stupid AF.

Why not go and start your ideal business then?


I would not necessarily dispute any of that, but it does contravene the assumptions from which the owners of most businesses are proceeding, not to mention their investors, shareholders and board members. :-)

I understand, and as a development manager who needs to hire and retain technical employees i'd rather make the case to pay an extra 10-20k a year for a well-performing employee rather both risk losing someone for an intermittent or extended amount of time (clear value lost) and than spend time retraining someone (more value lost). All of which lowers productivity and hits the bottom line. Also takes a hit on team morale.

It could also be an opportunity to add valuable responsibilities to the employees role to justify the increase in wages, if thats applicable to the situation. Win-win for everyone.


> I imagine this is good advice in some places, but as a line manager, if you pull this on me I'm more than likely to shake your hand and wish you luck in your new job. In a lot of places, having a talk with your manager about your salary before going off and actively looking for other offers is going to go down a lot better. Most line managers worth working for, value their teams and will fight for them if they are unhappy, without the threats.

That is not my experience at all. Saying that I am leaving brings salary pay raise offer immediately, asking for pay raise brings vague promise for pay raise if this or that, yadda yadda. I cant recall manager raising salary proactively to anyone, ever.

It is not that they would not value their teams, but they do see world in a business negotiation way and see it as their job to manage expenses too.

The threat of disloyalty being punished if there are cutbacks does not seem like all that much threat to me. There are so many factors in the decision, including who likes who and who drinks with who, that this is just a tiny drop in the bucket. Nevertheless, when there are cutbacks, having recent experience with job search and idea about how much money you can get elsewhere helps way more then theoretical sympathy - it reduces stress even if you are one of those who stay.


> Most line managers worth working for, value their teams and will fight for them if they are unhappy, without the threats.

Agreed. I've already gotten my team the best raise/promotion that I could. If they can find better at a different company, I wish them well.

And that's not sarcastic. I genuinely wish them well. It hurts to let a good employee go, and finding/training a replacement sucks, but we're all kind of stuck in this shitty US corporate culture together, and we have to look out for ourselves.


> Agreed. I've already gotten my team the best raise/promotion that I could.

Then again, this employee has just presented you with evidence that maybe your compensation isn't competitive, which is something you can bring to the higher ups to increase your budget. If you're not competitive, you'll have retention problems and business will ultimately suffer.

So you got the best rate you could at the time with the information available, but competing offers could change that equation.


  if your company has to make cutbacks [...] you're name's
  likely to get further up the redundancy list than you'd
  probably like.
If the company's going down the pan, what does it matter if I'm made redundant in the first tranche or the last?

I'm going to need a new job anyway, just in the latter case I've put in a few extra months where there was no money to give me a raise no matter how well I performed.


First batch might get better terms than waiting till the company goes bust owing you pay

Even if the company doesn't go bust, the severance pay gets stingier and stingier on every round of reductions.

Are you making the argument for being a shitty employee allaround?

I hear you, but the lost wages when the change comes too suddenly can be worse for a lot of people. Being among the later to be let go gives you some time to prepare.

What I would add is that as well as there is an "internal knowledge fee" there is also a "good employee/risk fee".

An employee ready to jump ship quicker than his peers means that his value is reduced to the organization, precisely because the long term value of the "internal knowledge fee" is reduced!

I agree with the OP's tactical move, but strategically I'm not so sure the mindset is the correct one. Maybe I was lucky, but I always had managers that stuck their necks for me. Full-time employment is not a consulting job that is fire & forget.


If it wasn't the right mindset, then why are the numbers showing that employees who stay at jobs more than 2 years earn less?

I didnt look at the source of the data, nor I am an expert in the field, but I can see many reasons what that can be ill-portrayed.

There could be a selection bias: does it show how many people switched to a job that turned out to be worse (pay/benefits/quality of work), or people that got fired because they had a much lower tenure than other employees, etc, or the cost of retraining personally for a different position.


> In a lot of places, having a talk with your manager about your salary before going off and actively looking for other offers is going to go down a lot better.

This has got to be some of the worst career advice I've ever heard. I made this mistake once, at my first software job. My employer's response was to say "NO" and then proceed to make my life hell in an attempt to make me quit. With a wife, kids, and a mortgage, that wasn't an option for me. I was eventually fired (for poor performance, a mere 2 months after receiving an 'outstanding' yearly appraisal) and spent 2 months unemployed before landing my next job. On the plus side, the offer I received was higher than the raise I had requested from my former employer.

So, my advice: Trusting your manager to be a reasonable human being is not worth the risk. You are absolutely satisfied with all aspects of your job, including your salary... right up until the moment you hand your boss a letter of resignation.

Now if you have a large amount of savings (say 6 months - 1 year of living expenses), feel free to take stupid risks. Otherwise, have another job lined up when you ask for a raise... you don't have to actually tell your boss about it, after all.


> You are absolutely satisfied with all aspects of your job, including your salary... right up until the moment you hand your boss a letter of resignation.

Would you give this advice in reverse too? Ignoring lawsuits for a minute, as a manager - should you always tell your employees that they are doing fine, even if they aren't, right up until the moment you fire them for poor performance?


Probably not, but that's pretty common. But the point OP is making is that bringing up salary discussions with bosses can be a big risk. Employees only have one employer but employers have multiple employees. If you don't another job lined up and your boss decides to take punitive action against you for daring to try and get a better deal from them, then you are kinda fucked. It'd be nice if you could start the discussion with employers without having to worry about problems but our current economic/social system doesn't allow for that

> Most line managers value their team and will fight for them if they are unhappy

1) It's not a matter of being happy or unhappy. Just about everyone wants to earn as much as possible, the goal being to get as quickly as possible to the point where one no longer requires employment.

2) It's not possible to know how much the market values you without seeking other offers and seeing how much they'll offer you.

3) If one of your employees comes to you and says "I would like a raise" with no additional context, I can't imagine you're likely to offer them much. If they say "I need a raise or else I'm going to start looking at other jobs", I doubt you'll treat that much different from coming to you with an offer already in hand.

As an employee with a manager like you, it seems like my best best is to get an offer first, and then come to you saying "I'm really happy here, but you're not paying me market rate, and I think I would also be happy at this other company that will pay me more."


> the goal being to get as quickly as possible to the point where one no longer requires employment.

Most people don't have this goal. I personally have it (FI/RE), but most don't, even most software engineers. This is pretty evident by the cars that they drive and the other money that they can be seen "wasting".

Some happy medium is really what people want.


you're name's likely to get further up the redundancy list than you'd probably like.

Playing the devil's advocate, here's employee response which makes sense from his/her perspective:

But I have job offer paying 30% more. I could actually get multiple offers like that from several companies. So I am not afraid of your threat of "getting further up the redundancy list".


Then it's in both parties interest for the employee to leave.. everyone is happy at the end, provided the employer can replace the worker, and the former can get a better option.

Yes. Hence why it's the best way to get a big raise to keep your salary in sync with the market and not stagnate. I was just trying to push against the idea that somehow it's wrong to accept a job offer which offers substantially bigger salary. Nothing wrong with that.

I can empathize with a response from a line manager like that. But from the point of view of an employee, if you go into a salary discussion with no recourse to getting a flat no, you're not doing much more than voicing the fact that you are discontent.

It seems to me that you, scarylam, would be a good line manager to work for.

But the reality is that most would not fight for you. Especially not when the two options being weighed are spending more money or having a somewhat dissatisfied employee, and maybe losing them later.

If the employee has some form of recourse the decision is very different. Spending more money or losing a part of your team now.


> pull this on me

make you do your job as a manager?

> having a talk with your manager about your salary before going off and actively looking for other offers is going to go down a lot better

because then the employee doesn't know the market rate and the manager can get away with giving a garbage raise. Of course that's going to go down better, it's less work for the manager to dig it out of the budget or their boss

Edit: Made it a little less personal, my grudges are not with you.


> I imagine this is good advice in some places, but as a line manager, if you pull this on me I'm more than likely to shake your hand and wish you luck in your new job.

A serious question for scaryclam (or anyone who agrees with him): Why is this? Excluding a few people with dream jobs, I didn't get hired at Company X because I love what they do or I feel they add to the world in a meaningful way: you guys needed code written or systems maintained or whatever it might be, I needed money. That is the extent of our relationship. Even if we've worked together for a long while and developed a bit of a friendship, it seems like the whole stigma surrounding bringing job offers into a workplace is based on a few things that when said aloud sound insane:

1) That I would be willing to subvert my own potential success for the good of Company X, which seems at best like a weird trade-off and at worst like some sort of cult;

2) That Company X doesn't want other people in my department to see what they could be making elsewhere, in which case see #1 for each of them and add to it a line of disingenuity to it too;

3) That Company X already knows that there are better competing jobs in the area (or close enough to threaten them anyway) and are taking internal action to prevent those threats from costing them employees in mass by trying to prevent employees from knowing about them, instead of raising pay/benefits to be more competitive

In any situation where a company is attempting to hide information of any kind, you can usually find a solid financial motive for doing so. I'm not saying that a company should always be paying everyone as much as they possibly can; obviously, each side of this table has their side to fight for. But if one of the sides is being dishonest about the facts then that side has already lost points going to that table; you say you'd fire me if I came to you with a job offer? Odds are that's known and I'm already on my way out, and whether you want to call it good or bad, that means you've lost me, and you're probably winding up to lose a few more.


Yea this has been my experience. I usually don't mention that I have an offer but just ask for a meeting and explicitly ask for more money. I never get it and just hand in my 2 weeks about a week after the meeting. Maybe if I revealed that I had an offer I may have gotten a raise but I don't want to work somewhere where I need to "have leverage" to get what I deserve and what's fair.

you're name's likely to get further up the redundancy list than you'd probably like.

But you don't make PEOPLE redundant, only POSITIONS.

If you are using redundancies as cover to target individuals that have annoyed you, then you will be shortly staring at the business end of a tribunal.


Sorry, I think you may have misunderstood me.

If a company has 10 developers and needs to cut down to 7, then the folks who have actively been interviewing in the near past are going to be considered more of a risk, especially by HR, who are likely to be making the list.

Hiring is an expensive endeavor, so if HR sees someone as a risk and they need to cut positions, you can bet that they're going to see it as a better thing to let employees who have a risk factor to them go than others who don't (on paper that is, no-one can know what's going to happen tomorrow).

They definitely don't want to cut the staff down and then have to go into a hiring stage soon after, because someone who was getting itchy feet decided to walk with another offer anyway.

This isn't about targeting people just because they want more money/fairer pay/more holiday/bonuses. It's just about how companies behave.


> I'm more than likely to shake your hand and wish you luck in your new job.

Sounds like it's still good advice if you won't fight for your employees to stay. The alternative to being upfront with your manager is just leaving when you think you can do better - many managers would prefer not to have the surprise.

> you're name's likely to get further up the redundancy list

Not my experience. In some cases, the employees able to leave easily are the better, or underpaid ones.


Don't see it as a threat, see it as me finding out what the market value is of my labor and then informing you about it. I'm going to do due diligence before asking for a raise, if our company was launching a product and I found out what the market value of it was you would presumably be thrilled. I work as hard for myself as I do for the company, just like I know that the company works as hard for our customers as we do for our shareholders.

There is a way to do this right [1] -- true story. Do not actively look to quit, instead, inform your manager that you are getting inbound requests with specific numbers and that you'd rather stay, but the numbers are what they are.

[1] https://medium.com/@alain94040/how-to-negotiate-a-raise-9166...


I agree with telling your manager and hr you want to discuss your salary before dropping other offers on the table, but have the offers.

As someone else put it well, it's a free market. The best way to know MY value in the market is to talk to other companies about openings and salary. So by coming to you, the manager, without doing that is to let you determine my market value without any other input. That's like the Ford dealer getting mad at me for going to other lots to find the best deal on a truck.

Relationships are important, sure, but you have to understand: management is not typically the friend of the worker, nor is HR.


>In a lot of places, having a talk with your manager about your salary before going off and actively looking for other offers is going to go down a lot better

Business is business. If they find someone to replace you at a fraction of your salary they will do it at a drop of a hat. Your manager pbly gets a bonus for reducing spending...


I'd much rather have an offer in hand in case I bring salary up and they shake my hand and wish me good luck.

>And TBH, if your company has to make cutbacks in the future and you've shown you're willing to up and leave at the drop of a hat, you're name's likely to get further up the redundancy list than you'd probably like.

Wouldn't that be a good thing if you actually can get a job at the drop of a hat? If the company is doing badly then staying is probably bad for your career, plus you often get a redundancy payout.

If anything, it's probably worse to be at the bottom of the list - that often means that you're viewed as a bargain - i.e. you're being grossly underpaid.


From my perspective, management often doesn't have the information or tools to be an ally or intermediate to his or her subordinates, and trying to curate that relationship is a one-man effort, unless you have great influence at company leadership.

Some of the tools for a quid pro quo relationship that extends beyond mere money include being able to tell people about big moves so that their lives aren't caught off guard. Coworkers help each other out in this regard. But should management?

People make their plans around timing, geography, and revenue from employment, and when management doesn't reveal big layoffs, big real estate changes, or other big restructurings, people have to up-end their lives. Management knows this, but values some things more, such as the company health. In doing so they set the tone of the relationship.

Management isn't in the position to establish a rich and sincere relationship with employees. There's always an element of insincerity because management isn't telling you things that your coworker friend would, the coworker friend who calls you from another company after the layoffs, recommending you to hop ship to their company. Would management ever tell you to hop ship to Apple?

One might argue that management ought never be in a position to establish such rich and sincere relations. One gossiping manager and you might trigger an early exodus. Or a wave of salary conversation. So managers ought not even know the very information which would help their employees stabilize their life against the uncertainty.

Also, if leadership doesn't want a union, and plenty of world-class places don't like unions, what is management's position to play then? Obviously squash the union talk.


> Most line managers worth working for, value their teams and will fight for them if they are unhappy, without the threats.

Demonstrating that you're undervalued is not a threat, it's feedback on how the market values your employees. You give feedback on how well your employees are serving the business right? Why shouldn't it work the other way around?

Your work is not your family, this isn't personal judgment or criticism, this is just business.


>I imagine this is good advice in some places, but as a line manager, if you pull this on me I'm more than likely to shake your hand and wish you luck in your new job.

Well, glad that people know that, so that they can wish the company good luck in getting second rate talent.


> Most line managers worth working for, value their teams and will fight for them if they are unhappy, without the threats.

Most good line managers will recognise their employees contributions to the company and suggest a raise/additional compensation without needing to be prompted.


Which is what the sentence you quoted means. Line managers aren't mind readers though so sometimes you'll need to talk to them about things.

I would get the data first before approaching you and then lie about whether I had already done so. It's the sort of white lie that protects both parties. If your dog died that day, you might just fire me on the spot. Or if I'm making close to market rate, I should STFU and stop trying to microoptimize.

But if I have uncovered a huge pay discrepancy, you have already failed me. Both you and your HR department in fact. Sadly, I suspect that across many individuals, this is a winning strategy because most people don't actively manage their careers (to their detriment).

If the company has cutbacks, everyone's head is on the guillotine and it's time to jump ship anyway before the signal hits the employment market.


> I imagine this is good advice in some places, but as a line manager, if you pull this on me I'm more than likely to shake your hand and wish you luck in your new job.

A fool and his employees are soon parted.


> you're name's likely to get further up the redundancy list than you'd probably like.

Sure but at the same time, that's only going to be one of the many elements that influence your position on the list. Actually, as far as redundancies go, being treated as an individual instead of being handled in bulk with specific project/team means that you are already rather higher up or a key employee for some reason meaning either your are a political animal or with a very good negotiation position.


I'm not sure about most places since I've been a contract employee for most of my career, but at my last employer, a large government contractor, extortion of this sort was literally the only way to get more than the nominal raise.

And TBH, if the company is making cutbacks, all of the competent people will be scurrying away first; you might as well be one of them.


In my experience managers tend to have their hands tied as to what they can offer. You may get 3% if you ask for a raise. Companies tend to give managers more options when they are trying to keep an employee from jumping ship. This is all from my time with megacorps though.

  > I imagine this is good advice in some places, but as a line manager, if you
  > pull this on me I'm more than likely to shake your hand and wish you luck in
  > your new job.
Fortunately for us not all line managers have such inflated egos and don't take such requests down to a personal level.

It's not ego, it's just "do not negotiate with terrorists" approach adapted to the workplace.

If you make such concession for one employee, the next day you'll have 5 others with similar demands.

EDIT: One more thing: the reason why it is often easier to get a raise by changing jobs instead of negotiating it in your current workplace is information asymmetry.

Your current employer knows you all too well, so it is hard to convince them to pay you more. Potential new employer does not know that much about you, plus they are in need of new employee so they are more likely to give you more money.


Well if you're paying half a dozen people below market, that's sort of to be expected, isn't it?

Management knows the market rate for a given role. Let's say a good-not-great senior developer (as in give them a code base and a quiet room and you've got substantive code on day 1 or 2) commands $100k cash comp to make the math easy. You take the job for 10% below market for whatever those reasons happen to be. Maybe your last job was only $95k but this one has a much better vacation/retirement package.

If you go to your boss after 6-12 months of being a good senior dev and a good employee (meaning all the admin nonsense that comes along with being an employee - meetings, timely communication, generally not being an asshole, etc) and say that market rate is $100k, you're getting paid $90k, and you'd like $100-105k, they know that's a fair ask. Whether they are willing and/or able to actually pay you that ask is another thing.

My point being that there's nothing "terroristic" about asking for what you're worth. You can do it without a competing offer, but often times a competing offer is the easiest way to get something close to a market rate number.


Who said anything about paying below market?

Illusory superiority[1] is a real issue - about 70% of people think they are above average, so they keep demanding above-market salaries.

Plus, as I mentioned in my previous post, other employers have harder time evaluating person's skills through interviews than a company that currently employs them. So they offer above-average salary to your average employees and by the time they realize that they overpaid for their skills it usually is too late, so they keep them on payroll anyway - that's basically how IT salary bubble works, most of the time :) (at least that's how it works in Poland, I don't know a thing about US job market)

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illusory_superiority


It's not a illusion if they can get it.

So what you are saying is that they can get and retain a higher salary elsewhere, but that isn't what they are worth? Sounds like the market is disagreeing with your price evaluation, and the market is more right then you are.

The whole point of showing up with an offer is so that the market is known, and to avoid any delusions of grandeur.

I honestly don't know what's the point of mentioning an offer to your current employer. If you have a better offer - take it, don't let me hold your career back, good luck, no hard feelings on my side.

From my experience the reason why employees who have another offer even bother to mention it to their current boss, asking for counter, is because that other offer has some serious downside that prevents them from just accepting it right away.

Anyway, I can probably replace you with someone that will gladly take your current salary. And if I can't and end up paying your replacement the money you demanded (or more) at least I'll be paying that to the guy who is happy to work for me, not to someone who is already actively looking for other jobs.


Following this argument to this logical conclusion, all your employees will leave, and you won't be able to hire anyone new.

If you're not offering similar compensation to other organisations, then anyone interviewing and getting offers from multiple places will likely not pick your organisation, unless you can compete on some other metric.

> the reason why it is often easier to get a raise by changing jobs instead of negotiating it in your current workplace is information asymmetry.

Yes, probably. Because without interviewing at other places you don't know what your skills might be worth, and your employer is probably not going to tell you how much your colleagues are getting paid and your 'boss' probably tells you "you're getting above industry average."


If your entire team is able to get competing offers higher than you are currently paying them, you have bigger problems (ie your entire team is likely underpaid compared to market rate)

Couldn't agree more. Basically your current employer should really pay you what the salary you would get somewhere else plus an additional markup for the internal knowledge which you have already acquired (you should put a value on that as well).

Also don't believe any line manager or anyone else here posting that this is not a good strategy, because remember, every line manager is only an employee as well and has a line manager as well and they want to get paid a fair salary as well, so they either will do the same or they will have 100% understanding for it and if they don't then you know that the company has no interest in paying you a fair market value for your contribution.

This is the free market, companies love to play the game when it comes to having people let go (like SoundCloud), when it comes to taxes and when it comes to profit distribution and growth, so they should also expect to play the same game when it comes to negotiating employee salaries.


> Couldn't agree more. Basically your current employer should really pay you what the salary you would get somewhere else plus an additional markup for the internal knowledge which you have already acquired (you should put a value on that as well).

This works both ways.

The value of internal knowledge helps both parties, because as an employee you dont know if x other company is good to work at, or that you would like the responsibilities there, etc. The fact that lots of people stay with a lower salary in a job is a testament that it is often the employees that choose to pay that fee.

The company is frequently interviewing. So if the company finds a candidate that would work for less (minus the internal knowledge comission) it should fire you and replace you!


This doesn't go bothways, because there's either more demand for developers than supply or more supply than demand. Currently we live in a time where there is more demand than supply, hence why developers get treated relatively well in comparison to other professions. There's a reason why developers get ping pong tables but not accountants.

So the fact that "company is frequently interviewing" only shows how much demand there is and how hard it is to fill a position with the right person. Once you have the right people on board, they can ask a lot more than what they get, because replacing them can be significantly more time and resource/money consuming and then it's not even guaranteed that they will be as good as the ones you have right now.

This is basic free market, the side of it which has the upper hand right now needs to play its cards to max out wealth and every employee should be encouraged to do so, because it will overall only increase economic growth. It doesn't always has to come from business growth, if workers can gain significant wealth based on the same principle then they should, because it will only increase more spending and investment of those people into new areas again.


Devs get ping-pong tables because they can be bought off in other ways besides money because they are naive.

I loved your comment about "max out wealth" because that is the underlying truth to all of this--you get maybe 30 years to make as much money as possible and that's it!


Agreed, this is really the best summary "you get maybe 30 years to make as much money as possible and that's it"

And if you think about it, moving every 2 years is 15 different companies. If you stay a bit longer at the ones you like, say 5 years, then that's 6 companies in your employable lifetime. To put it another way you have 5-10 big projects that you can do in your (employable) life. (I think Jeff Atwood said something like that before).

This is of course for people that value what they do at work and want to make meaningful impact professionally in their lives. For other people family is much more important so it doesn't matter if they don't min/max the projects they work on.


> The fact that lots of people stay with a lower salary in a job is a testament that it is often the employees that choose to pay that fee.

That employees "pay that fee" doesn't indicate why. It also doesn't provide insight into whether it makes economic sense for them to do so.


As the line manager is employee herself, the strategy only works, if she is applying it herself, too. Otherwise her salary might not be competitive and you as her sub-employee are risking the most severe of all offenses - asking for more than what your supervisor makes.

> as her sub-employee are risking the most severe of all offenses - asking for more than what your supervisor makes.

This is a flawed philosophy. As a manager I have had a few critical pulling in higher salaries than my own. If you are a superviser who is artificially holding an employee back from reaching their full potential (seeking compensation that matches the demand person's talent in the open market) than you are doing your company (yourself) and that employee a major disservice.

Just because you are a manager doesn't mean you can do what your employee does (and vice versa). Artificially holding a sub-employee back is a sign of fear for one's own ineptitude.


you are argumenting from an optimal-employee-perspective or what you might choose to call it. Fact is - even supervisors are humans and 90% of them will be hesitant to have somebody "under" them while making more or as much money. I fear that's just a fact.

I disagree based on personal experience. I am currently a line manager who is a developer himself and manages 5 other developers and my salary is not the highest and I have absolutely no issue with that. One of the devs has been with the company for 8+ years, has knowledge of literally every corner of the software and has a great work attitude which adds a lot of value by helping other devs to become as productive as possible. This person earns a lot more than me and I have no issue with that, because as a line manager I am more afraid to lose this person than anything else.

EDIT: My main responsibility is to keep the team happy and productive. If this developer would leave the team our productivity would drop and we wouldn't achieve our goals we set for ourselves this year. It would have a direct impact on my bonus as well and it is in my highest interest to keep great people at every possible cost. If I think I don't earn enough then I will have that chat with my line manager, but I will never try to destroy my team based on some personal ego crap.


Agreed. But I think that's why encouraging a servant leadership model in your company is beneficial.

Which is better for the company? (A) Leader acts in such a way to make him or herself 150% effective, or (B) Leader acts in such a way as to make all of his or her direct reports 115% effective?

If a leader can't make their team more effective, then why have them in leadership?

(Edit: Essentially, what dustinmoris said!)


It's true that some supervisors operate in this manner (i.e. oppressing employees based on their own compensation), but those are egregiously sub-optimal supervisors indeed.

Even if they are accepting of you earning more, their own boss and/or Human Resources may well have a different opinion. Woe unto those whose supervisors are also underpaid.

Can you provide a source for your "90%" assertion, please?

In technical fields it's not uncommon for supervisors to earn less than those whose authority otherwise ranks below them.

It is basically just a question of market forces. If a particular position is sufficiently specialised when the supervisor role is more generalised then you might expect to pay the specialty more than the generalised role - even though the generalised role is more senior.


The markup doesn't necessarily make sense, unconditionally, because there's also the your own adaptations to the company to consider. If their environment makes you reasonably comfortable, that's a risk mitigation versus other jobs that's worth something to most people.

Also, few people are truly indispensable. In all my time working, I've never seen a company fall apart from the loss of one important person. In fact, it usually takes a shorter time to cope than anyone anticipates.

I do agree with you, In the sense that as an employee, you're in great shape if you're seen at being essential, to some degree; I just don't think you're capturing the entire market dynamic.


It's possible to be more valuable to another company. I had a developer ask me for more money and I was just honest, if he likes working here he can stay because he was a good developer but he would undoubtedly earn more elsewhere. He just wasn't valuable to me because I had to be more involved in is projects, going to meetings with him for example. He was a great developer, but the climate of my company was a smaller company with strong personalities at the mid-level for the groups we worked with, if you weren't confident you got destroyed. He ended up getting a much higher offer, tried negotiating a small raise (especially compared to his offer, he still would have been at least 30% below that offer) and he just literally was not worth another penny to me but I know he's doing really well at his new company.

I love how you whitewashed the "strong personalities" bit--yeah, those people are assholes who mistreated the developers. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Great, but that most certainly does not work at all companies.

The last company I worked for unequivocally treated their non-management employees like garbage. The company basically had the same management for 10 years prior, with a few "loyal" employees promoted to manager along the way. By "loyal" I mean that they were willing to sell anyone out to advance their own careers.

If the company even caught wind you were looking elsewhere, your life would become a living hell. Get ready for extra hours (Salaried, no extra pay), weekend work, Holiday work, getting your vacation time denied because they are "too busy", etc. Pretty hard to find a job when your employer is making you physically ill from stress.

In the meantime, the moment they catch wind of you looking elsewhere they start bringing in new candidates. Easy to fill those Bachelors-level positions after all, lots of recent college grads willing to not have a life in lieu of work, and they will probably want less money than you too!

I saw entire teams of 10+ people replaced within a year, then again, having to retrain their own replacements. The company even outsourced our work to Malaysia and we were warned not to tell our clients about it or we could face termination.

The only way to survive in corporate America nowadays is to be a cutthroat scumbag, no thanks.


Are you talking about developers? Currently the market is in favour of employees, as there is more demand for them than supply, at least that is my feeling based on constantly being harassed by head hunters trying to desperately fill positions and not even having luck by recruiting people from all around the world.

If a company can afford to treat its employees like "garbage" then they will and that is the exact point that when the market is in favour of employees, they shouldn't be shy to treat their employer with the same scrutiny. Demand every penny you can get and if they are not willing to give you what you can get elsewhere, then be prepared to just go, because as you said very well, if the company would have that advantage they would do it as well.


> Currently the market is in favour of employees, as there is more demand for them than supply

I don't think that's the case, most of the time it's just employers being unreasonably picky. "10 years of C++ experience? You definitely won't be able to hack it in here, we use insert popular language of the day". Or, à-la Google, "we only hire the best, because doing mind-numbingly boring work that will have zero impact on the company bottom line needs the brightest minds on the planet". Or "can't hire gramps, they're too old". When there's a shortage you take what you can get and make the best of it, and it's not the case now.


Pharmaceutical research.

Do you know what the incentives were for training their replacements? I've always been curious on this.

Employment-at-will cuts both ways. If a company asks you to do this without adequate (and I'd definitely say bonus also merited) compensation, tell them to pound sand and walk away that day.


"Get offers from other companies" mean you are doing a job search and interviewing to get a job in that company. Once they offer you a job, you get that offer letter. Most people do this when they are already fed up with their current employer and are ready to move on. So this advice means -- actively search (best time to get a job is when you have a job).

Pitfalls with this advice: your current employer is not dubious. They may know you are actively searching. In addition, once you have an offer and you bring this up -- your current employer will "try" to match that offer to try to keep you. Why? Often times this is the default to avoid disruption and often times you are well-liked and they actually do want to keep you. They may also try to "keep you temporarily" -- until they can replace you. Once you have said "you have an offer" it acts as a flag to you. Which can also mean you may be the first to go if anything happens such as layoffs. Thread carefully.


You should interview defensively at least a couple times a year IMO. It is good to know your market value. HR knows your market value. When your pay and your market value go wildly out of line, it's time to step up. This happens disturbingly often with long-term risk-averse employees.

That said, if you can't stomach risk, then don't do this. But try to understand that by not taking risks now, you're taking a huge long-term risk on your financial future.


"Once you have said "you have an offer" it acts as a flag that at you." I've found this line of thinking to be false but so many employees are afraid of this. If it does happen you just leave again, big deal.

Well, your manager and your boss's manager may KNOW that you had a job offer and is "wanting to leave the company". In addition HR flags you as well, perhaps they make notes about it, especially when they have to counter the offer. This is not really false thinking, this is how it works! Whether they blatantly flag you or they have it in their head, it acts as a "flag". If you are very well-liked and indispensable, it may be a good thing, since they will do what they can to make you happy moving forward. If you are not on the good side, you have to now understand that your manager and your manager's manager are informed that you had the intention of leaving.

Never stay at a job once you've shown your manager you have other offers. Use the current job to up your salary in the next job. Again never stay...you'll be gone in time for sure.

That's good advice. Chances are if you are thinking about moving on it is not just the pay that's a problem.

I have seen this situation play out so many times. People who don't move around aren't being paid what they're worth and are effectively leaving money on the table.

The Forbes article only scratches at the issues involved in the tech biz and each point made could have a full article written about it.


I had the pleasure of arguing for a team members promotion once (ie a raise effetively). The domain our team of 5 worked in was pretty challenging (heavy algorithmic stuff). I spent a year trying to train up my team, and although they improved, I still felt like I had to do the hard stuff myself. With the exception of one developer. For example if a project was particularly hairy or the time frame was too short, it was either me or him doing it. And I couldn't give him all the hard stuff so I ended doing a lot more coding than I had time for.

I went to my boss and said, X is carrying my team, he does more than any two other developers combined. He needs a raise, I can't lose him! And he got it.

If you got someone who's good, that's what it boils down, either play ball or lose them.


I think this is considered bad advice. Nearly every HR article about this subject states that doing this will on average results in being let go after a year.

As a general rule, you shouldn't threaten to do anything you aren't willing to do. So you shouldn't threaten to take another job offer unless you are willing to do it.

If you value staying at your existing job more than a raise then you are right, you shouldn't do this. But if you are okay with walking and talking about offer them this can be beneficial. I have even heard managers state that certain raises are not possible without another offer that they can bring to HR/whoever to prove that they need to pay someone more to retain them. Doesn't mean the manager necessarily wants to replace you, but it could be a sign of oddities within a large Corp.


> I think this is considered bad advice.

I agree, but for a different reason. Not only would this behaviour annoy your employer, but it shows that your employer doesn't care to pay you market rates or what you're worth.

So why do you keep working for people who don't pay you what you're worth?

Accept the outside offer and move on.


"So why do you keep working for people who don't pay you what you're worth?"

Worthiness may be a mater of debate and thus the related pay - a subject for negotiation. If the employers recognize your worth (or just yield under your worth self assertion) and are willing to pay you accordingly, then you may discount malice from their part. If that happens, then there's nothing wrong with continuing working together. Count that former under-appreciation as a little misunderstanding that was addressed in a timely manner. You may choose to stay with them simply because it may be better to work with people that you already have a track record of good report than taking your chance with new/unknown business party. Other than that, elnygren offered a solution where you get both the benefit comparable with job switching without the bad consequence of appearing disloyal.


> it shows that your employer doesn't care to pay you market rates or what you're worth.

As an employer, it's hard to know how someone's market value fluctuates. The only way to really know is for the employee to do a job search.


> As an employer, it's hard to know how someone's market value fluctuates. The only way to really know is for the employee to do a job search.

There are several ways to figure out the market rate for a position:

1. Post an opening and see what the salary expectations are of applicants

2. Talk to recruiters and see what similar positions are paying

3. Use your network of people at other companies to find out what similar positions pay

4. Look at salary data for your industry and region

I agree you probably won't get a precise answer from any of the above, but it should at least give you an idea which end of the spectrum you fall.

You can also talk to the employee and try to get an idea whether they're happy with the position and compensation. My personal preference is for this to happen multiple times per year, instead of just at an annual review.


Once again, keep in mind that HR exists to benefit the employer, not the employee.

All the dbag responses saying that they'd take this as blackmail is exactly why you shouldn't do it. Either take the new offer or don't. If you want a raise, tell your boss why you deserve one and then ask for it or don't. Even if you ask in advance and nothing happens, then you show other offers, you're still screwed. You will get pushed out and treated badly by the dbags who are underpaying you anyway. Just move on...or don't.

True. And although I wouldn't do this every 6-12 months myself, I do interview a couple times a year just to keep my interviewing skills sharp because you're right, everyone is an expendable at-will employee.

I only escalate if I find out I could be making 25% more or greater by leaving for a desirable gig elsewhere. At that point, yep, I'm underpaid. Otherwise, I suspect you are overoptimizing one axis of employment potentially at the expense of the rest.

That said, I've never been at a tech company where people have been promoted every 6 months. At best, every year, and more like biannually or worse.

Finally, don't play games like this if you're not a superachiever. You will be shown the door. And while you can fool some of the employers all of the time, once you've hopped enough times, it starts being used against you in hiring.

But I agree that one shouldn't get attached to any job, it could go away in an instant.


Awful advice to try and pull that one. Most managers will shake your hand right there or they are going to have in mind that you were previously looking for work and considering another offer, so are not a candidate they can build plans around. If hard times hit and companies have hiring freeze, followed by a head count reduction, you will be one of the first out of the door.

Bad idea, in my opinion. This comes across as manipulative and underhanded. My personal policy is that if the companies I work for are not able to compensate me commensurate with my value then I 1) have a conversation with the appropriate people about my dissatisfaction with my pay and the value I provide, and 2) begin looking for another job.

If they value me, and respond to my forthrightness then we'll figure out something workable for us both. If not, I find another job and leave.

Alternatively, you can talk to your boss ahead of time (say 6-12 months) and specify what you want and ask what it would take to achieve the goal (promotion, raise, etc.). Then you execute your agreed upon plan. If, at the end of that period, they fail to uphold the agreement then look for another job and leave.

Your recommended approach is akin to being in an unsatisfying relationship, and, instead of talking to your spouse/partner/etc. you go find someone else then go back to your spouse/partner/etc. and say, well, I'm going to leave you unless you do X, Y, Z. Hah! For most of us that approach would not work out very well, and for good reason. It's not the way reasonable, mature, people of integrity behave.

Plus, I don't want to work for anyone who doesn't actively recognize and reward my value, and who requires (yes, there are places like this) you to go through the whole job hunting process and bring them an offer letter to give you a raise. F that. Ideally, the employer recognizes the value I provide and proactively rewards that value. Second best is employers who will give real raises (10%+) when an employee points out how much value they provide. Third best is real, 10%+, raises annually.

The current status quo of 2-5% increases amounts to little more than COL, and is utterly offensive. That's not a performance based increase, that's simply a retainer.

As an employee I'm acutely aware, as year #2 comes to a close, that if I don't get out there and find something better (better title, better pay, better benefits) then, in terms of opportunity cost, I'm losing money. Though my current position my prove to be the exception to that rule. We shall see.

And yes, I run all the numbers on the total value of my compensation package and any improvements/increases which have transpired over the previous years.

But getting other offers and then using them to force your employers hand is just childish, in my opinion.


What you are describing has typically been called "the shakedown" by management at companies for which I have worked when the employee shows up with competing offers. When the employee shows up and resigns, it's called a "dive and catch." These are perceived very differently by the people involved even though the basics are the same except for the trappings.

What I find interesting about the article is that an average time-in-place below about two years and absent a few longer stints basically takes a normal-ish resume and turns those short gigs into red flags

The really short work time thing shows lots of potential issues. Employee has never "shipped" and lived with the consequences. Employee flees after making a mess, either personal or professional. Employee has a problem with chasing the new shiny. Employee makes terrible decisions about fit and chooses gigs that aren't a fit for bad, ephemeral, etc. reasons and then when those cease to apply (financial stress alleviated, no longer a dog friendly office, etc.) employee bails. Another variant of poor fit is maybe employee tends toward emotion (desperation - I NEED A JOB NOW) and takes something they never would have taken otherwise. Maybe employee picks fights with other employees. Employee doesn't know how to bond ... the list goes on. Even simple pattern matching: The people everyone has known who are frequent short-time-in-place hoppers tend to be flakes so maybe employee is just a flake.

Someone below has a pretty good comment - "You get about 30 years to make as much money as possible and that's it." At least in technology, that is very true; less so in medicine or dentistry for example, and naturally capital doesn't really benefit from employees understanding that. It's so much more obvious to me 20Y in how true that is.

One thing I think is interesting: the average genXer that I know has never, ever thought strategically about their career and has spent the last 15-20y assuming things would follow a sort of generic life sequence; the sort of "a career is something that happens along the way" mindset. In contrast, while I personally may not like the stereotypical millennial aspirational trappings, at least some of them are viewing career as something they should be piloting instead of being along for the ride; not just waiting for a layoff or firing. At least they give the appearance of being better about it. But then again, so much of their appearances are curated fictions so who can tell.


This strategy is likely to make your employer keep you until they can find a replacement at their convenience.

Every single time I tried that I end up leaving. Once I got offered a bump but it felt too little, too late.

As an employer, I've never countered when given a "choice" like that.

If they do make a counteroffer and you stay, you can be sure they are now looking for a replacement.


Your advice is in direct contradiction to common wisdom on career path building and offer negotiation because:

1. Even though you may be able to get a 50% more offer somewhere else, your value to your current employer (note not perspective employer) is mostly determined by your contribution to the team and comparable peers at your team/position in the company. Your market value was already considered when you first offered/joined the company, after that it's usually not a major factor to determine how you worth.

2. Your many short term tenure employments and the tendencies to job hopping is a STRONG bad sign for the long term health of your career development. And it deters future employees. It may be fine to be a junior engineer to hop jobs frequently BUT it's really hard to move up the ladder to management. More importantly, it shows that you have no loyalty to any single past employers and will not willing to invest in a long term career development track to rise up (with a few exceptions). For example, I was told anecdotally that BridgeWater Associates would not consider anyone who hops more than 3 jobs in a ten year period.

3. You rarely accrue long vacation where most companies offer that based on tenure, again with a few exceptions (companies with unlimited vacation days policies).

4. You have to build up personal relationships with a new team every other year (assuming you job hop less than 2 years in every job.) Trust me, your personal relationships with your close teammates is a big factor in job satisfaction. Meeting new people new team every other year could be cumbersome and tiring. This matters if you are aiming for a long term career development.

5. Less than two years of employment might not be long enough to really build up your values. According to Jesse Watson[1], as a software engineer, your value really lies in "the synthesis of programming skill and deep context in the business problem domain, in one skull." And it's unfortunate that less than 2 years does not strengthen that synthesis one skill but rather makes your more vulnerable to be replaced by outsourcing as a commodity monkey coder.

I used to work for TheLadders.com first job out of college and gained a lot of insights because of that. And I am very thankful for the valuable advices my former colleagues gave me. Although I job hopped a lot when I was a junior engineer but not anymore given all the reasons above.

So next time when you are at the crossroad for a switch, make sure you truly understand the consequences of pros and cons. And be sure to ask yourself, is my career development ready and worthy for short term 50% bump?

[1]: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hard-thing-software-developme...


> Your employer would let you go and throw you under the bus if it made business sense.

I agree that you shouldn't get too attached to your employer, but this is way too cynical. Employers are people like everyone else, with individual personalities, and aren't typically soulless profit maximizers.


I owned a web company and anytime an employee told me they had another job offer they were considering, I either let them go or started recruiting. I never wanted to keep someone on let alone give them a raise if they were considering leaving. If they came to me and wanted a change in their job or salary I'd work with them, but as soon as you considered my business "one of your options" instead of where you enjoyed working, it was time to move on.

This was a small company though. I'm sure larger companies where mid-level management is in charge of hiring, the strategy of taking competing offers to your boss works well.


If they're going out and getting outside offers, that means they don't believe they can come to you and ask for a salary adjustment.

How does this work with equal pay legislation though - if you're male then you can't get a pay increase above a female because if that's discovered the company is in for a heap of pain??

The men and women at any given company who do the same job are probably being paid similar amounts of money without any regard to "equal pay legislation," because the gender pay gap goes away when you control for the choices that people make in developing their human capital.

So it's not relevant and nobody should be blaming women for not being able to give you a raise. If someone in management at your company tells you that, they are lying to you and you should change jobs.


Lol I don't mean to sound mean but this is not how the world works

Actually, it is how the world works. If there was really a gender pay gap for women who are doing the exact same work as men with the exact same experience as men, then it would be trivial for employers to reduce their costs by only hiring women. Yet, nobody ever does this.

Your argument hinges on the assumption that (a) employers can easily determine the relative "value" of an employee and (b) that employers then make rational decisions based on that data.

I don't think either is likely.


Really? Do you think people are wildly overpaid by their employers?

It is true that in a purely rational system, there would be no pay gap (controlling for ability and impact).

But guess what...


Corporations are rational.

They care about one thing, dollars. If you are making them money, they will keep you no matter what. If you are not making them money, they will get rid of you. Pretty rational I think.


That's just ludicrous. Corporations routinely do astoundingly stupid, financially damaging things for all sorts of reasons.

Seconded I have seen many occasions of outstandingly dumb decisions

As my sibling post states, you're being silly here.

Corporations are run by people, and they draw on a huge variety of sources to make their decisions. Including, obviously, some that are not rational.


There's no pay gap?

Your conclusion is, then, that all people are rational?

No. Rationality has very little to do with it. How rational the participants are doesn't itself change the fact that there is a competitive labor market and that salary offers thus must be competitive.

If women choose to forgo higher salaries in favor of something else, that's a different issue and it doesn't immediately mean that they are being "irrational", it just means they favor different things than men do.


The rationality of the players is central to any argument you make in the line of "there is a competitive labor market and that salary offers thus must be competitive".

If the hiring managers (of any gender) have an irrational bias towards thinking that women are not as effective as their male counterparts, this will affect the respective pay scales even within a competitive market.

Note that I'm not providing evidence or making a claim about the gender pay gap. I'm just saying that the claims you've made have many possible consistent explanations, including irrational bias against women.


This is a nice argument that I actually believe myself, but you could counter it by saying that, due to sexism, even when women and men do exactly the same work, the males' result are valued more. Hiring managers don't have to be perfectly rational, they could be (unconsciously) sexist.

You could counter with that, but you'd be redefining what we're talking about away from whether or not similar men and women are paid the same to something far more nebulous and difficult to measure.

And rationality of any one particular hiring manager isn't going to make a big difference; they still need to compete with every other hiring manager in the labor market and must offer something competitive accordingly.


No, they'd be redefining it to something more analogous to the real world.

We were discussing salary differences between men and women who do the same work and have made the same choices. Salaries exist in "the real world," so you're going to have to try harder to change the topic to whatever it is you want to talk about instead.

[flagged]


Wait, you just said, "women are paid less because they are valued less". Sounds logical.

But the grandparent's point is a sticky one: "it would be trivial for employers to reduce their costs by only hiring women." And yet ... no employer ever does this. They hire men and women. Also logical.

Either you're not telling me everything you know, or you're wrong. Without radical argument surgery, to make what you said square with GP, we have to consider changing the parameters in some pretty distasteful ways:

* It's actually the women themselves who value their time less, and let themselves get taken advantage of in salary negotiations.

* Men are more skilled than women for some jobs and those skills are in short supply. They get hired alongside women, but command higher salaries.

I tend to think there is no gender pay gap, but only if we adjust for people's choices to take breaks from their careers in order to raise families, pursue hobbies, mental health, etc.


The grandparent point is based on a false premise.

Which part was false, and does the false part invalidate the whole?

I think the point being made was, if women are paid less, and thus cheaper to employ, they'd dominate new hires - presumably because salary is the largest cost for most businesses. So, as as an employer you'd want to minimize salaries.

Men are still getting hired, and that's the logical fly in the ointment that one needs to overcome - unless we allow for other distasteful variables to float, as I pointed out above. Or, we can consider there is no pay gap.


Companies want to pay the lowest salary for the best worker.

Companies think women are not as good workers as men.

That is why men are still hired.


This thread suddenly became gold. Don't you dare die on me, thread!

I'm glad I made your day :D

Yeah, I was ready to pop some popcorn.

Life is so good when rational arguments can hit a higher pitch than the virtue signals. ;)


Single, childless women make 8% more than single, childless men across the country, and as much as 20% more in some cities. This only changes when they have children or when they work fewer hours.

But don't let facts stop you from repeating the same tired lies that have been debunked for years

http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/apr/09/...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EK6Y1X_xa4


More: http://blog.dilbert.com/post/114055529676/my-verdict-on-gend...

It contains links to many more sources at the end.


Please keep your tone civil. It's one of the factors that keeps HN discussions worthwhile.

we are talking like for like jobs and id prefer a less biased source the ONS for example) than right wing thing tanks

the gender pay gap was just another myth created by the Chinese....

No it isn't I know one large uk tech company that is Terified of its gender pay gap becoming public.

Like wise the BBC being forced to disclose pay rates for talent some Male presenters have taken pay cuts btw


Individual companies having a gender pay gap doesn't mean the market has a gender pay gap. And if you work at one of those companies and are told that you can't be given a raise because of the internal, secret gender pay gap, you should quit that company and find a new job.

I mean, even if it's true that particular company is paying its women worse than its men, and even if legislation means they can't quickly fix it (I don't know how onerous this legislation is in the U.K.), the proper response on the part of any employee who is given these excuses ought to be "Look, that sounds like you have a difficult problem, but that isn't my problem. My problem is that my salary is $X when it should be $X+Y." Because at the end of the day their excuses aren't going to change the fact that they can either fix your problem or not, and if they don't fix your problem somebody else in the labor market can.


Even when this company has > 100,000 emploees and has individual divisions with more engineers than Google

What does the company's size have to do with whether or not you are being paid the amount of money you want?

Because they set industry standards for pay which is why the pay suppression cartel was so important

FWIW in the UK the pay gap favours young women I gather; it changes over somewhere around the time a lot of women take a career break (32 IIRC, will try and trace the source).

It's interesting because younger women hear the USA stats and complain about how they're being hard done by.


The same dynamics happen in USA. The statistics people report in the USA in the media are aggregates between all men and all women, which is why they're misleading.

In both cases, it's because women choose to leave the labor force for a while, which makes them no longer like the men who made similar choices as them up until that point.


It's not blaming women to describe a disparity.

Sometimes men get awards in UK under equal pay legislation too but if it's true that men on average negotiate pay more effectively (and it appears so) then they will disproportionately be affected. When they negotiate and win a pay rise they are unlikely to get it for being male, it's going to be based on merit (largely) & retention needs; but equal pay legislation means a company takes on a risk if they can't sufficiently differentiate that workers output from another - of the opposite sex - who can claim to be doing work of similar value.

Example case http://www2.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/..., see also the ASDA case where working in a different location, doing a different job haven't been considered enough to warrant different pay.


I agree that this is a problem.

Women are socialised to be less aggressive than men. They are also much less likely, statistically speaking, to negotiate their salary when starting a new job - never mind proactively seeking a raise based on their market value.

The solution - of course - is to have an employer policy of paying market rate, all the time. Satya Nadella got in hot water for talking about this problem in a gender neutral way, but the unfortunate reality is that an individual contributor can't hope to simply do good work and be recognized for it. Employees have to be proactive about ensuring that management has visibility into their work. Employers are incentivized to pay below market rate where possible and this will bite them in the ass when it comes to equal pay audits.


It's not agressiveness that's the main difference, men are willing to sacrifice a lot more for their careers on average.

But that's... He just...

How would _you_ describe an agressive attitude towards one's career?


Got any studies for this?

https://www.vox.com/2016/8/1/12108126/gender-wage-gap-explai...

Long, but worth a read. Here's a section from the middle of it:

> Right now, the burden of child rearing disproportionately falls on women

> Some of this could be by choice — but there are also cultural forces outside of a woman’s control at play.

> Consider a study of lawyers’ salaries from Mary Noonan at the University of Iowa. She found that men see their salaries decrease more than women when they switch to a part-time schedule for a year.

> "It seems that men in the legal profession who take on non-traditional gender roles (i.e., taking responsibility for child care) pay a high price for that behavior," Noonan and her study co-authors write.

> If the workplace penalizes men more than women for taking breaks from work, then it could be the wiser financial decision for a mother to take on more caregiving activities — the decision that society overwhelmingly expects.

> And even before having children, just the act of becoming pregnant will mean more doctor appointments and actually delivering a baby — all things harder to do in jobs with rigid schedules.

> There are some arguments that women have lower salaries because they don’t negotiate salaries as well or aren’t as naturally competitive

> Studies do find that women negotiate their salaries less frequently than men — but also that they may choose to do so with good reason. One series of experiments found that managers were less interested to work with women who asked for higher salaries in job negotiations.

> The data tells us that this can’t be the entire story. It can't explain why the wage gap is so much bigger for those with kids than those without. One 2015 study found that childless, unmarried women earn 96 cents for every dollar a man earns. Remember that study we started with, the one about the MBA graduates? It showed that women with kids had a wage gap twice as large as women without.

> "There are really three groups: men, women with children, and women without children," says Bertrand, who worked on that research with Goldin. "Things like negotiating skill might matter on the margin, but it is not the core issue."

> If the problem were that women aren't competitive, it couldn't address why the wage gap is smallest when women are youngest. It's not as if women would lose their negotiating skills over time.


This attitude is horrible just like the Forbes article.

This situation is only happening because of bubble cash and a lot of inexperienced leadership with too much money on their hands.

Once the bubble pops you will see all of these people with a resumes full of 6-12 month stints and outrageous salary expectations working at Starbucks (if they are lucky) and everyone who puts in years for reasonable salaries still employed at profitable companies.

Enjoy it while it lasts.


To play devil's advocate, what makes them unemployable in that scenario? Is it just that employers are so picky as to commonly choose people who stay at a company longer over all other factors? Also saying they have to work at Starbucks implies they can't get ANY software job, which I'm not sure I see the reason for.

Not unemployable but less likely to be employed.

Long term employment is very important to increasing productivity as a software engineer. The first 6 months is just learning existing systems, so from 6 months to 12 months doubling productivity is normal.

As you work longer you build more infrastructure that supports future productivity gains so from 12 months to 24 months you should be able to double your productivity again.

After 24 months your productivity is so much higher than newer employees that you can continually invest time in developing tools and infrastructure to enhance your productivity so your productivity continues to grow.

When there is a recession there will be unemployment for software engineers so a certain percentage will not be able to find work.

These job hoppers are the lowest skilled since they have never learned how to develop their productivity over the long term and they will be demanding the highest salaries based on their past experience so they are the least likely to be employed.


I think it's important to understand that there's a significant amount of selection bias possible here. In general, folks who switch jobs every two years are the folks who are not getting offered big raises by their current companies. The ones who are getting offered big raises may still choose to leave due to other reasons, but they often will choose to stay instead. And they won't be making a big fuss about it online.

There's another phenomenon here. Almost by definition, average developers are not going to get big raises. They'll get average raises. The average developer raise is probably 3-5%, which is not big but it's more than the average raise across all professions, at least in the US.

This leads to an interesting question: why can the average developer get a big raise by switching jobs? I think at least part of the answer is that companies simply have more information about employees who've been around for at least a few years than they do about potential hires still on the market. It's a lot easier for a company to realize an employee is about average once that person has been on the job for 12+ months than it is during the interview phase, where the questions are heavily sandboxed and generally focused on basic problem solving ability rather than the candidate's ability to convert that into business value.

Finally, in general people who are average but think they're above average really do not like to confront the fact that they're average. So average developers with big egos being offered average raises will often very vehemently argue that the problem is all with the companies they've worked at and never with themselves.

---

Another point worth focusing on here is that raises are really determined by the business value that you're producing, not your raw intelligence or passion for coding. Very smart coders may or may not be any good at converting that talent into lots of value for the company. It may even be that sometimes a less talented coder gets offered a much bigger raise because other skills allowed them to create significant value.

I think this explains why so many folks are average but think they're above average. It's because they might indeed be above average in some metrics, but not the metrics that matter to their employer.


> selection bias possible here. In general, folks who switch jobs every two years are the folks who are not getting offered big raises by their current companies.

The article is saying that those who stay don't get offered big raises. The article says that if you stay you get 3% or less. There's even a pretty chart to make this point.

Employees aren't paid what they are worth, they are paid as little as the company can get away with. The delta is profit to the company, which is the whole purpose of the company's existence. Employees who stay are demonstrating they can put up with flatter wage development, and they are being taken advantage of by the employers.


This is true even when a company is hiring someone. They will try to hire you at the lowest possible tier. Of course there are exceptions to this.

The negotiating situation is different when hiring someone vs when offering a raise.

I hoped it was clear I was discussing this topic beyond what the article says. After all, that is what comment sections are for.

> Another point worth focusing on here is that raises are really determined by the business value that you're producing

I mean, notionally, yeah. But that's putting the employer up a pedestal of competency that may not be justified. Less poetically: it's forgetting just how hard it can be to measure that value, and the role of optics and "managing up"; there's also the consideration for excellence on never-released projects; in such a case, do you or do you not deserve a raise?

There's many more factors that go into "your business value"; intelligence, passion, communication, and luck (right place, right time) are some, but not all, of the factors.

What you are saying is definitely correct in an ideal world, but we live in a sub-ideal world; that's why there's valuable problems to solve in the first place.


The more correct way to say it is that you should be paid based on what value you expect to bring to the company in the future. Value you have brought to them in the past is a good indicator but there are others.

> Finally, in general people who are average but think they're above average really do not like to confront the fact that they're average.

I don't think this is necessarily a consequence of overinflated egos. I consider myself an average to slightly above-average developer, yet my salary is consistently higher than my peers. It's higher because I'm willing to negotiate on my compensation. I don't concern myself with what I'm worth or what business value I produce. I simply try to maximize my pay

This quote from Mr Robot sums things up brilliantly: "Power/wealth belongs to the people that take it. Nothing to do with their hard work, strong ambitions, or rightful qualifications, no. The actual will to take is often the only thing that's necessary."


> myself an average to slightly above-average developer

His point was that everybody thinks this about themselves. This is the "I'd rate myself about a 8/10" thing.


I understand. My point was that it isn't necessarily true. A lot of people say the "Id give myself an 8" because that's how you get higher compensation. I think a large number of people don't really care how good they actually are because a lot of people aren't especially excited about their jobs, they're just there for they money

Most of our labour laws and policies are based on long term employment, as close to permanent as possible.

There are several "stories" we could formulate, though it's hard to know which dynamic is significant or dominant in the overall scheme of things. That's why it's hard to get conclusive results from ex post analysis (expiremental study is rarely possible).

Maybe young people (on a faster learning/earning curve) switch jobs more often. Maybe underpaying employers have higher attrition rates. Maybe people only leave if the prospective job offers a big raise (causation is reversed).

There is also the question of lead indicators in changing markets. 6-7 years ago, new employees (where I live) were earning far less than old ones. The labour market was terrible, so you could hire new employees for cheap. Older employees were earning salaries based on raises they received during the boom years, 2-3 years previous. As the market changed, the newer employees got bigger raises. In this case, the dominant ( I think) dynamic for about 3-4 years was a slow gradual reaction to a big market shock, because salaries are negotiated iregularly an seldom adjusted downward.


This jives with another phenomenon I have noticed over the years: the smartest or best devs in the company aren't necessarily making the most money.

Imagine you have a very talented engineer that joins Company A out of college. They pick up new skills quickly and do an excellent job with everything they get thrown their way. The reality is that the company isn't likely to give them a 50% bonus overnight just because they deserve it.

Whereas you can get another person that comes in from another company (and many more before that) and due to the nature of jumping around has the title and the base salary going for them. They very well aren't as good as this other person, but just because they have what they have, they keep getting it.

To be really successful as an engineer, you need to know your stuff, and also know what you are worth. I've seen so many talented engineers stick with companies that are paying them way under market value just because they don't feel like applying anywhere else and they don't know how much more they could be making elsewhere.


> In general, folks who switch jobs every two years are the folks who are not getting offered big raises by their current companies

I think the selection bias works in the opposite way that you assume. The employees switching jobs every two years are the ones that are in higher demand and are easily able to get and pass job interviews. They're the ones that better know their market value and the ones that are most easily able to leverage one offer against another to negotiate a better offer.

It's this phenomenon that leads companies to even consider morale zapping policies like always laying off the bottom X% of their employees. The theory behind that idea is that if you just allow other companies to poach your top employees, you'll be left with nothing but your bottom employees who have trouble landing other work. Having seen this play out in a few of my employers, I believe it's a very real danger, though forced layoffs are a really terrible way to deal with it.


Old joke, not mine: 90% of developers believes they're above average.

90% of a population can easily be above average in a real life scenario where most of the group is roughly equal with few elements dragging the average slightly below their level.

Example: nine 11s and one 10, the average is 10.9 and 90% of the population is above it. If you want to split a group in half then you need to use the median.


I'm glad that someone is finally giving the 0.1x programmers like myself the credit the deserve.


The wisdom I [like to] hear is that as long as you're above 0x, you're golden.

That would still be higher than the 0.0x Wally in the Dilbert comics.

Also, developer skill is not a one-dimensional attribute, e.g. you could be better at writing maintainable code but worse at translating business requirements into $$$. Most developers are probably above average in one metric.

90% of programmers are almost certainly better programmers than an average person. 90% of programmers are almost certainly not better programmers than an average programmer.

Alternatively, you could have nine 5s and a 1 and you have an average of 4.6 with 90% above average.

> significant amount of selection bias possible here

There's another one: I once heard the phenomenon described as "the difference between having ten years of experience versus having one year of experience ten times". The kind of people who end up having ten years of experience will typically be the kind of people who will want to move on and do something new/more after having mastered a given set of tasks. Sometimes they can do this inside the same company, but oftentimes they will need to look outside and switch jobs for the challenges they're after.

The other kind will typically value stability and comfort over money (and let's not underestimate the stress of applying, interviewing and switching jobs). Sometimes they will have "fallen" more or less accidentally into this mode, but I've met more than a few good people who actively choses this, and explicitly acknowledges that it's not exactly a money-play.

When the former kind makes more money, it's not because they switch jobs often, that's just a symptom. People in investment banking or management consulting with clearly defined up-or-out career paths are subjected to the same dynamic, and also make a lot of money.


Great analysis. Small addition, it highlights that being a developer is such a different skill than interviewing well.

It all makes me feel so much better.

/me gonna dig up them yearly salary letters and checking some percentages.


Most companies do some kind of review where they tell the employee how good they did. I assume they review employees based on business value.

So, if one consistently gets good reviews and small raises it's quite clear what's happening.


There is a plateau as one reaches senior positions.

As I went from "no" experience to my current position my job switches (every ~2 years) always were for 10%-25% (in one case, 100%, but that was Midwest to Bay Area so other factors are at play). I never got more than 5% merit increases otherwise.

Most of my friends who have been at the same place for >10 years in engineering (not software) are just now reaching parity with my base salary (CoL-adjusted) and they didn't spend 6 years in academia before transitioning to industry.

Two year tenures isn't job hopping. It's a reflection of how this industry works. Very few companies offer sufficient breadth and depth of product complexity, career advancement, or other similar things to make it worthwhile. I'd say the sweet spot is 2-4 years, except at very large companies (e.g. Google) (EDIT:) or companies which are developing complicated products with physical engineering or regulatory factors complicating development. Anything longer, especially if there is a lot of long-term stasis on a resume (e.g. "tech lead on product X" for more than a year or two), is an indication to me of someone who either isn't capable of stretching himself or doesn't want to. Anything less, especially if more than one project per job exists, indicates an inability to see a project through to maintenance or someone who is easily bored.


> Anything longer, especially if there is a lot of long-term stasis on a resume (e.g. "tech lead on product X" for more than a year or two), is an indication to me of someone who either isn't capable of stretching himself or doesn't want to.

That's insane. Someone who is the technical leader of a project for more than two years doesn't "stretch himself"? I see no reason to believe that's true. If anything, it takes years for you to realize design flaws in components of the earliest-developed systems. The extent to which you can learn about how to design well-designed systems is going to be quite limited if just peace out after a year or two, as you suggest.


Yeah, it's taken us more than two years to bring our product to market. It is a medical device. 2 years seems specific to web apps or something, where there isn't any hardware to support and there aren't any other engineering disciplines changing their stuff. After the first year of development we had a prototype. After the first year of verification testing we learned a lot about how the product needs to work to meet standards. After the second year we've learned about most of the edge cases.

Now that we have a working product we're marketing it, and we'll finally get feedback from the field rather than product-market fit data. That's easily two more years of data.

I hope GP isn't really throwing out candidates that have more than two years in the same position.


> If anything, it takes years for you to realize design flaws in components of the earliest-developed systems.

This is more a symptom of the lack of engineering that occurs in this industry than it is an indication of deep technical knowledge gained over years of study.

I'd agree with what you say if I thought there were anything like engineering happening. I've worked on code bases and systems that are quite large. I never saw the learning you suggest. I saw lots of fighting the last battle and the accumulation of years of poor engineering decisions, usually by people who had been a lead for years.


That's insane.

It is insane, but this is how this market operates. Do you feel strongly enough to not play along, at considerable cost to yourself? I'd love to stay and grow somewhere for 10+ years - haven't managed it yet...


According to the modern thinking, in two years you're supposed to switch stacks twice, and rewrite the whole thing five times. With that much churn, there's no value in seniority.

The recent expansion of the industry mean that people with little or no experience massively out-vote those with lots.

Great point.

I actually don't think the one has valuable experience until one spent 2+ years on the same project. All bigger projects get more chaotic and complicated over time and that needs specific set of skills to get managed in all directions. Until you experienced it first hand, you are really just a hello-world-on-steroids.


But once somebody has done that once, it's unlikely that additional years will contribute to experience: there's a steep drop off in the marginal experience gained for additional time spent.

That's why I wrote what I did: longer than a year or two on the same project in the same capacity is a negative indicator. It's not a deal-breaker, especially if it's just a small fraction of the employment history. If it represents the majority of the developer's history, then I expect to see significant expansion of his role as time progresses. Otherwise he's just doing the "same experience, N years over" trick, just on the other extreme end from the guy who never lasts longer than a year or so to see a project from initial development through maturity and maintenance.


'Only once' can't be true. Its like saying that your first long term project will be ideal in providing every type of experience. That is impossible.

IMO, you need to have long standing projects all the time, its a domain on its own. I agree with you that it may mean staling for some people, but no generalization is possible.


Yea, at least in tech, the whole "get a 10% raise by switching jobs" thing works great early on, but pretty much ends once you're 10-20 years into your career. There's a ceiling that you asymptotically approach. Here's an example, adjusted for cost of living but not inflation (sample size = 1). This spans about 20 years, switching roughly every 3-4 years:

Job 2: 33% raise over Job 1

Job 3: 15% raise over Job 2

Job 4: 10% raise over Job 3

Job 5: 0% raise over Job 4

Job 6: 2% raise over Job 5

Job 7: ??? we'll see!

Unless my experience is unlike most, I'd say the job hopping strategy is best when you're more junior.


Base + signing pay for me over the past ten years:

Job 2: +14.29%

Job 3: -18.75% / 23.08% / 25.00% (Motionloft... let's just say Mills and Garrison were full of shit and it took a while for me to get what had been promised initially)

Job 4: 25.00%

Job 5: 8.00%

Job 6: 31.11%

Job 7: 2.64% (back to employer #5, so about 35% over that)

I know everyone likes to look at total comp, but especially if you're looking at smaller companies the non-cash stuff is often worthless. Even when the non-cash stuff is valuable, the extra base pay helps. For example: ESPP purchases by law can be at most 15% of your pay, 401k matching and profit sharing may be a percentage of your base pay, and so-on. Technically total 401k contributions may be limited by your salary, but this only comes into play if you're making around $50,000 annually in a job where your employer is willing to make very generous contributions.

This last time around though I traded some cash (base and signing) for RSUs because the company is large and publicly traded. Total comp while the RSUs vest is a bit north of $200k, but once the RSUs vest my take home will definitely take a hit. The sad part is that this company was willing to authorize a heft hike in base pay over my previous gig... but for the fact that I was a rehire. The didn't give a crap how much I was making at the previous gig, they cared how much they were paying me previously. Lesson learned: always go for the cash. Always.


Are you in Bay Area/Seattle/NY? 200k total is not much for somebody with 10 years experience. Picking right employer and sticking with it could have netted you better pay.

Yeah, sticking with an employer could've been beneficial, and by leaving when I did cost me the opportunity for about $90k income from stock. Not returning could've also been beneficial. Being a rehire lowered their offer by 20-30k base. However, while I'm sure there are some places that do pay more, without jumping to an architect role $200k total comp looked to be pretty typical for a senior ops/SRE gig to me.

There were a number of reasons I chose to return, but among the top were the commute and culture. Which is to say no, I'm not at Google or Facebook and that was a very deliberate choice. Likewise I'm not stuck driving to the middle of San Mateo (or worse) on a daily basis either.


The issue is that "the right employer" where what you describe is possible is also almost certainly highly competitive for junior roles and gets worse the higher up the tech ladder one climbs.

The actual data indicate that for the vast majority of developers "sticking with it" puts them behind the salary curve. In this industry especially that's bad because of the effects of ageism.

What you describe is possible, but represents a minority of career tracks, especially in this industry.


Are "average" developers really making much more than 200k/year in base/signing in those cities?

No. In fact most make much less, on the order of $140k all-inclusive.

I figured Glassdoor was not crazy!

You have to wonder, if most people who say things like "You only make 200k, you should try $x" are such great developers that they don't realize they are unique, or if they are full of it.


There is a lot of ego in this industry. A lot. And a lot of denial about how very much like many of the people they deride its practitioners are.

> Two year tenures isn't job hopping. It's a reflection of how this industry works. Very few companies offer sufficient breadth and depth of product complexity, career advancement, or other similar things to make it worthwhile. I'd say the sweet spot is 2-4 years, except at very large companies (e.g. Google) (EDIT:) or companies which are developing complicated products with physical engineering or regulatory factors complicating development. Anything longer, especially if there is a lot of long-term stasis on a resume (e.g. "tech lead on product X" for more than a year or two), is an indication to me of someone who either isn't capable of stretching himself or doesn't want to. Anything less, especially if more than one project per job exists, indicates an inability to see a project through to maintenance or someone who is easily bored.

I don't work for a large company, my job title hasn't changed, and my salary has doubled from the starting salary over 5 years.

Sometimes stasis exists because valuable people are paid extremely well not to leave. So well they can't actually find a job that will compensate them comparably despite repeated attempts to find one.

Why exactly should people like me leave when even places like <insert large company> want to pay me 10% less than I make now?


> Why exactly should people like me leave when even places like <insert large company> want to pay me 10% less than I make now?

You shouldn't, necessarily. However consider that <insert large company> may offer more career advancement (if that's your goal). Also consider that you're going to be well-liked by hiring managers who mistake "years at the same company" with "years of experience", and those managers are much more common than not. They're as mistaken as the people they deride as having "the same year of experience 10/20 times", but because of the way work has evolved they have a lot of cultural inertia behind them.


> Sometimes stasis exists because valuable people are paid extremely well not to leave. So well they can't actually find a job that will compensate them comparably despite repeated attempts to find one.

Sometimes you work at a different kind of unicorn too, there are companies that offer reasonable raises to valuable employees and provide new challenges on a regular basis. I've gotten two raises since I started at my current employer 3 years ago, and I make out well for a work-from-home employee in Idaho. There's always an interesting new project for me to work on, new technologies to explore and potentially integrate, and my input and experience is valued at a personal level by the lead on our team as well as our new manager.

Also, there's always standard benefits to consider - my employer matches 150% of my 401(k) contributions, plus profit sharing contributions. I'd easily have to put a hefty chunk of my own money into my retirement working somewhere else that might negate any salary increase I'd get.


You have to balance what you're doing now with where you want your career to go, whether you like where you are now (work, location, etc.), and how much you're getting paid. If you're getting paid a lot to occupy a niche that's a career dead-end, and probably won't carry you through retirement, you should leave, even if it means taking a pay-cut. If you're terribly unhappy with what you're doing there or your company or team, you should look for something better. If you hate the area you live in, you should look for a way to move someplace you like better. But if you like where you live, you like the company and the work, and you don't see it as a resume-killer and don't see a problem getting a similar job if something goes south with this one, you might as well stay.

"Anything longer, especially if there is a lot of long-term stasis on a resume (e.g. "tech lead on product X" for more than a year or two), is an indication to me of someone who either isn't capable of stretching himself or doesn't want to. "

Or someone who's found a technologically complex niche they like and feel they can grow in. For example, two years is a really _short_ time to achieve anything in my niche (CAD, more or less).


Coding the same thing over and over may mean stagnation, but projects that change tech leads that often are usually mess. It takes time to get up to speed to that position, it takes time to people around to adjust (handle related turf wars and what not), create relationships and all that political stuff. Nor does it allows you to see long term consequences of your decisions.

> Coding the same thing over and over may mean stagnation, but projects that change tech leads that often are usually mess.

Absolutely.

> It takes time to get up to speed to that position, it takes time to people around to adjust (handle related turf wars and what not), create relationships and all that political stuff.

What you describe has value within an organization. These skills don't actually mean one is better at designing or implementing any software. They also don't necessarily transfer to another company. The people, political systems and bureaucracy at a given company aren't the same as at any other.

> Nor does it allows you to see long term consequences of your decisions.

True, but the way this industry works in most cases there is very little one can do about that after the fact. And, even if there were, it doesn't necessarily translate into having learned something.

There's a reason it's common that it is hard to get time and resources to work on technical debt: it's because companies (generalizing here--exceptions exist) don't value what you describe.


It means that if you was tech lead for two years and then for a year, I don't really want you for long term tech lead position here. Because you don't value nor see precisely things tech leads needs to do and be good at. Júst being good in architecture is not enough, through you need that too. Political and negotiation skills are transferable actually, you learn then with experience. Fine for coder though.

As for your last point, we are in the middle of rather large refactoring. New people here are not trusted with refactoring, because they are not trusted as much. If you have track record not to underestimate difficulties, you are placed at positions that are assumed to require refactoring. The issue with refactoring is that many if not most refactoring attempts fail and leave system in even larger mess. That is why many managers are scared of it. Inexperienced highly confident person trying, unfinishing due to difficulties (whether technical or political) and then leaving mid job.

Refactoring larger project where half the team is still learning and the other on the way out sounds like bad idea. Of course you need to change people to get new ideas in, but positions for stable and less stable people are different.

Guess I am lucky with my current job.


> It means that if you was tech lead for two years and then for a year, I don't really want you for long term tech lead position here. Because you don't value nor see precisely things tech leads needs to do and be good at.

Being tech lead on the same project for more than a year or two (or possibly longer for more complex systems) yields rapidly diminishing margins. Put it this way: other things being equal a person who was lead on the same project for 4 years has less added experience than a person who has been lead on two different projects for 2 years each. In fact, the second guy very likely has a much larger cumulative value, because he's carried two projects through and has the perspectives and experiences of having to make different tradeoffs.

I'd rather have one of my tech lead reports leverage his skills learned from leading one project to leading a different one. Then he can draw on the experience of leading each in addition to having the ability to compare different experiences. That is is itself valuable experience, and positions him to grow even more.


Job 2: 47% raise from base (10 months in Job 1)

Job 3: 30% raise from base (9 months in Job 2 - relocated to Bay Area)

Job 4: 32% raise from base (3 months in Job 3)

Job 5: 10% raise from base (10 months in Job 4)

Job 6: 0% raise from base, 25% raise from base in RSUs/bonuses (22 months in Job 5)

This is spanning 4 1/2 years, and even turning down up to as high as $400k in total comp between job 4 and 5, which would have been a little less than 200% raise over job 4. Some of my friends have even better results from job switching.

I currently make a little more than $200k in total comp (including RSUs). I could easily switch to get even more (I've seen as high as $250k base salary), but I am pretty satisfied with comp in the industry for myself, and don't really hurt for money. I like what I do, and I am happy with how things are going.


I really wish it was as easy to get this outside of the Bay Area. I don't really want to move to the Bay Area (nor does my girlfriend) but I've been stuck making just over half of your current total comp out near Chicago after almost 10 years of experience in various tech stacks.

I know in theory it should be possible out here although Glass Door salary averages for the region are about what I'm making currently, so I don't know.


I will say that my route hasn't necessarily been easy either - I am the fastest coder most people I have worked with has worked with, and I have worked with few who match or beat my capability for strong scalable abstractions prior to my current job (and those handful are working/have worked for the big tech giants, i.e. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.). I also have had to work 60-80 hour weeks for 2 of my 3 years in the area.

I have also seen many people not able to attain such compensation boosts as well - the market is fierce for developers here, where if you don't measure up to a certain level, it can be difficult. The number of extremely smart people I have encountered in the tech industry here dwarfs anywhere else I have been (although percentage-wise not as high as where I went to grad school, UIUC).

However, those who spend a couple of years here (or even one if you choose right) can take those benefits with them when they relocate away from the Bay Area in compensation and knowledge. I once worked with a junior developer who spent a little under a year in the Bay Area - he used the opportunity to level up his skills, and when he moved back to NYC after the company fired him, he got into a unicorn and boosted his compensation dramatically (went from $130k base to over 100% increase in total comp - a little less than half in equity) since he was able to take the skills he learned working in code bases of various qualities at the company (very strong to very weak) and apply the knowledge to companies that have no concept of such knowledge or thought processes.

Just food for thought - obviously many factors come into play in choosing what to do, foremost being personal situation.


What is your rent? How much does it cost when you go out to eat?

I don't know much about Chicago, but a quick look online suggests that almost all of the difference would be eaten up by cost of living differences.


About $1600/month. We rent a townhouse in the suburbs. I know that's a huge difference (I've heard people claiming they'd happily pay $4500/month for a 2 bedroom apartment in San Francisco), and it has been a contributing factor to not moving out there.

Usually out there's not even really a distinction between 'base salary' and 'total compensation' out here. It's practically one and the same. So that higher base salary in SV usually covers the higher living expenses, and in addition to that, they usually throw in additional forms of compensation as well, and that seems to make a big, big difference.

Going out to eat is probably similar. We often spend ~$50 when we go out between the two of us. Although my girlfriend was recently in SF for her job and she said it cost her $18 for two tiny tacos out there, that were half the size of what you'd get here for like $6, which does seem pretty ridiculous.


It wouldn't be, unless one just had to live in the city center. When I moved from the Midwest my housing spend doubled, but I also doubled my saving rate (started saving 30% of my previous gross salary annually). The increased cost of living is well worth it.

Maybe true. But if you save 20% of your income for retirement at either job, and would go retire in Florida or some constant place after you are done working, you'll have a lot more money to retire to if you work in a high COL area with high pay.

I respectfully disagree that you can tell whether or not a person is "capable of stretching himself" or not based on length of stay at a job.

There is an overwhelming amount of outside factors that can dominate those decisions much more than your own personal ambitions. The most important of those would be the needs of your family.


I'm trying to figure out when to switch myself, due to a changed situation on my team (doesn't fit the focus I want for my career, etc.)..

The problem is I've only been full-time 7 months and before that I was an "intern" for basically 10 months, though I worked on the exact same tasks pretty much as everyone else except for being on the PagerDuty schedule.


I do the same :)

[flagged]


We'll ban this account if you won't stop violating the guidelines.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I don't get people who say, "Well I would never hire someone who has never worked more than 5 years at a single place!!!"

I would never have increased my from $68k to $115k in 5 years.I probably would've been somewhere at like $80k right now at best if I was didn't switch jobs twice.

If it means some hiring manager is going say some snarky opinion, then yes I'll take my extra money.


On the other hand, look at it from a hiring manager's perspective: people who have stayed in a job long enough to see how things go wrong are also less expensive. I'll be honest, if I'm looking at a CV for someone with 10 years of experience and they have changed jobs every year or two, I will suspect that they are missing some pretty important experience as a senior developer.

Everybody makes serious mistakes that don't show themselves for years. Those who don't stick around usually assume that any mistakes they find in their new company were due to incompetence. Similarly, people who have not stuck around for years have never been instrumental in doing difficult culture transformations, or fixing long term architectural problems.

It's truly unfortunate that the industry rewards those who don't tackle these kinds of difficult problems. The legacy is an industry where the problems are ubiquitous: flavour of the month architecture, my way or the highway bullying, either process of the month or "pragmatic" (aka ad hoc) processes, absolute disrespect for coworkers (I'm the only one with an ounce of sense).

Yep, I'm happy to take the discount on the developer who is humble, knows how to navigate political mine fields, knows how to recover from mistakes, knows how to refine techniques and processes, etc, etc. I'm also happy to take the odd "rock star" if they are actually good enough, but I'd never build an entire team of them (willingly).


> It's truly unfortunate that the industry rewards those who don't tackle these kinds of difficult problems. The legacy is an industry where the problems are ubiquitous: flavour of the month architecture, my way or the highway bullying, either process of the month or "pragmatic" (aka ad hoc) processes, absolute disrespect for coworkers (I'm the only one with an ounce of sense).

Yep. However I'd say it's less of an industry thing and more of a generational thing that you can see that from customers all the way on up to C-level people and out.

Perennial favorite ISP Sonic.net is a great example. They're giving away free basketball tickets, free service (6 months!) to customers who are referred via NextDoor, additional discounts for new subscribers, etc. Existing customers get told to pound sand and complimentary rate hike. Other ISPs do this as well, but it's funny to see the supposedly good guys succumbing to the idea that loyalty is worthless.

CEOs, of course, get tasked with propping up short-term profits and get showered with cash when their short-sighted efforts fail (ex: Yahoo, HP). Of course this isn't particularly new either as Gordon Gekko style corporate raiders have been around for decades.


It isn't one or the other, there is value in both staying for a longer period of time and moving more frequently. When moving more frequently, you can be exposed to a wider variety of problems and have a more complete picture of the profession and the various pitfalls. Plus, you may have the opportunity to learn from and correct the mistakes of others.

It can accelerate your growth and pay substantially if you are doing it for the right reasons. I would never fault anybody for doing so without discovering why they moved.


I think it's good to have a bit of variety - one or two roles where you stayed 3, 4, 5 years, then a bunch of companies only 1-2 years each. You'd have some depth of experience as well as breadth.

I think it should also depend on what kind of projects you are working on. If you work in a middle sized to big company, you can change teams and positions easily. You are likely to change them within 3 years. If you work in a small shop, you are unlikely to change the team (since there is only one) or position (there are not that may of them). Most startups fail within first few years and I would not blamed a coder who worked in startups for changing jobs as the old company ceasy to exists or changes into pure hell.

Once you hit the job that really really suits you (say you like algorithms and this job occasionally needs some), you are less likely to move no matter how experience you are already. While you are on positions that are meh to you, you are more likely to want change soon.

Of course you don't want company stucked with only people who are new there nor only with people who never worked elsewhere. But then again, company should have idea about which position requires more stability or how many of each type is there already and factor that in into decision process.


> if I'm looking at a CV for someone with 10 years of experience and they have changed jobs every year or two, I will suspect that they are missing some pretty important experience as a senior developer.

I call this the "one year of experience, ten times" phenomenon.


Ironically I find the developers, who have stayed at company for 10 years the worst for this. They've been maintaining the same product, for similar requests for the past years. Doing the exact same thing.

Moving to different employers means you get a wider experience of different technologies.


There may also be a big project that takes years of development, with each completed part serving as a prerequisite for a new one. It's hard to judge one's career from a face value unless the CV explicitly states details like "X years sunk in product maintenance".

>I call this the "one year of experience, ten times" phenomenon.

As a side note, I always find funny reading "Our team has 20 years of combined experience in ..." as if a two people team with 10 years each was the same thing as 20 people with one year each.


I don't think that's really accurate or fair.

In my experience, you learn very different things in every workplace. Could be a different language or framework. Could even just be a different team arrangement or workflow.

Bottom line is this: if you feel like you're not learning and growing in your current environment, why stay? Better yet, why would anyone expect you to stay?


I agree (that it's more funny than perfectly descriptively fair). The point is that a lot of people with 10 years' experience aren't necessarily more valuable than those with 3 years' experience.

There's a steep initial ramp of learning that can readily plateau out if someone is complacent or actively disinterested in learning new things.


3 years' experience may sound sufficient only if we're talking about something very narrow and/or confusing "getting aquatinted with" with "mastering" something, otherwise you don't have to go to 10 years - you'll sense the difference even between 3 years' and 5 years' worth of experience.

Interesting counter-example: I learned these lessons in long-term ownership at my first programming job, which I stayed at for 5 years, at a company in the Midwest which most people don't seem to ever leave.

Then I moved to a much larger software market, and I have been job hoping more than once once a year, but because the teams and companies themselves have no notion of long term ownership, preferring instead to cut whatever corners to get the thing right now done most quickly, without regard for the future.


> Everybody makes serious mistakes that don't show themselves for years.

I'd rephrase that as simply knowing the trade offs, knowing in which conditions your solution is valid, and estimating how long these conditions will be present, and then estimating what's next, and then taking that into account when choosing a solution (and trade offs).

Some people are absolutely terrible at estimating change and pace. Some people don't see when it's time to involve higher ups, and some don't know when to do the inverse of that.

> Those who don't stick around usually assume that any mistakes they find in their new company were due to incompetence.

That's too general, but also not completely unfair.

> Similarly, people who have not stuck around for years have never been instrumental in doing difficult culture transformations, or fixing long term architectural problems.

Again, too general. Maybe you get hired for a transformation/migration/rewrite project, and basically you have a good chance to be hired as the Captain for the mighty Failship.

And now let's discuss how all of the aforementioned are discussed to death in [Project] Management 101, and all of the following are discussed to death in [People] Management 101, yet what you write is still valid as ever.

> It's truly unfortunate that the industry rewards those who don't tackle these kinds of difficult problems.

Industry is full of incompetent showmen, useless middle managers, and a lot of extremely biased, uncompromising, uncooperative, power-hungry completely regular but overstressed underloved normal guys/gals.

Yet society has a freak approach to freaks, because people think oh fuck them, why can't they just behave, but when I freak out, it's because reasons. And when Joe from IT is a social trainwreck then it's ostracization time!

> The legacy is an industry where the problems are ubiquitous: flavour of the month architecture, my way or the highway bullying, either process of the month or "pragmatic" (aka ad hoc) processes, absolute disrespect for coworkers (I'm the only one with an ounce of sense).

Yes, indeed. And this largely happens in other industrial sectors, but since change is slower there, these problems usually don't present themselves so acutely.


They didn't say: "never hire ... who has ever worked less than 5 years at a single place". If you're looking for a mature leader, who you can trust to own, carry a team or a product line, for a number of years, after ramping up in the domain of a complex company and product, maybe you want someone who has proven and can speak to having done this before. (If I want a smart kid who has a wealth of technologies in their toolbox, I may care less about lengthy tenures.)

Do you mind sharing what region you're in? You may have found it was easy to significantly increase your compensation because you were significantly underpaid, instead of just because you were frequently changing jobs.

I think in the past 5 years there's been a ton of realization from non SF/NYC/VC-tech companies in the fact that they are competing from the same pool of talent and thus have to offer competitive salaries on a national basis, not just competitive for their area/city. There is still a ton of progress to be made in this regard, but it is changing. for example, a hypothetical newly graduated programmer with some skills and experience should be able to land a starting position for at least ~$80k+. companies that would have previously been trying to pay ~$40k in their area are now realizing that by offering a competitive dollar amount, the actual cost of living makes their offer the most compelling one. Whereas before, they'd offer the $40k and say, well, our offer is lower because it's cheaper to live here. The right attitude is matching the ballpark competition in dollar amounts, and saying, you should accept our offer because your money goes further here.

Hmm, a lot of young people have the mentality that they'll learn more and go farther in their careers if they go to SF/SV to start, even if their adjusted salary is lower. I can't say whether they're right for sure, but it sounds right to me. I think my career has "suffered" for never having lived there. (I'm still doing just fine.)

i've been working in the midwest, but I don't doubt that networking is much better in the Bay Area / Seattle.

midwest. My starting pay was only a couple thousand below my my university's CS program's average (wasn't the strongest student coming out), but it was within range of glassdoor reviews. I stayed at for 2.5 years at each role.

I had the same experience with the same numbers too. Except I've now been at my current employer for about 5 years, after accepting a matching offer a few times. I would never be anywhere near where I am had I stayed at those first few companies.

My contrary opinion is that people who job hop every two years are the ones who come in, make enough progress that management thinknthey are pretty nifty, then leave before they have to domany maintenance on the technical debt they left behind.

Sure, it is good to be highly paid, but the situation just reinforces the idea that people who wear suits are paid far too much.

Though I find myself i the situation of wanting to earn more, so I am seriously considering switching to SAP. Sell my soul, buy a house, live with my conscience formthe rest of my life?


What about people that job hop because of that left behind technical debt? Often it's the long term employees that don't realize how much technical debt and other craziness they have, it's a kind of stockholm syndrome. The can also be woefully out of date on the industry and have likely reinvented many wheels out of ignorance.

If you've done this once or twice, sure, I think it's reasonable that the companies you worked for were exceptionally bad at keeping up with the times and ignoring technical debt.

By the fourth or fifth time that you've moved jobs for this reason though, I start to question your judgement. Every company is going to have some degree of technical debt, and the speed that trends come and go in this industry means that any company older than a few years is going to have some technology that isn't the latest and greatest.

A skilled developer isn't someone who refuses to accept any technical debt whatsoever, it's someone who knows how to manage it appropriately and balance it with the ability to execute.


Problem is that the companies with the biggest issues are the one that need to hire the most and the ones hiring you are often the most oblivious to it because they've stuck around so long. You don't find out how bad the code is until you start the job and you don't find out how the company really intends to handle it for some time, possibly months.

What we really need is corporate code reviews when interviewing. They give me code tests for my competence, I should be able to do the same for the hiring organisation. Then I could at least ask about specific issues and ask how and when they intend to deal with them.


It's up to the management to ensure that high turnover doesn't lead to technical debt, or simply prevent that high turnover.

This is a really poor article, and I'm surprised Forbes would publish it. As far as I can tell, there's absolutely no data behind any of the assertions in the article, and the title is just conjecture by the author based on a whole lot of assumptions.

> I'm surprised Forbes would publish it

Unfortunately much of Forbes has become nothing but a fancy blog, very much akin to Business Insider. With the amount of "contributors" posting to the site nowadays the Forbes name in the URL isn't exactly a positive indicator, if not a warning sign.


Was Forbes ever a respectable publication though? I ask with all sincerity. It seems their volume is super high and that's about it, so they get name recognition from repetition, not sure what else from.

Opinions vary, but I never though of Forbes as respectable. They are in the "business porn" industry, i.e., uncritically presenting the latest and greatest business moves so the masses will dream about what the rich are doing.

I'm not sure, but I'm sure they aren't now. I'm actually kind of thankful for all the horse shit they throw up before allowing you to actually view an article, because it's almost always effective at fizzling out the curiousity gap and leading me to close the page in exasperation. It's gotten to the point where whenever I see I opened a Forbes article in a new tab I just automatically roll my eyes and close it, like a Pavlovian response.

yeah, it used to be. It's literally 100 years old. As recently as in the 80's/90's it was a medium weight business magazine. Some time in the last 5 or so years it hollowed out and is just a republishing platform. They have a lot of algorithmically-generated articles on the stock market - this made me start blocking them. They are worthless trash now.

Yes. Like the Bruno Mars song says "I want to be on the cover of Forbes magazine...". At one time that was a big deal.

You're charitable. I had always chalked that up to Bruno Mars not know what the hell he was talking about.

basically, forbes.com/sites/... = trash

For anyone interested (I was...), here's a good recap of Forbes' "contributor" model which is based in 'entrepreneurial journalism.'

Non-professional writers get paid based on unique visitors (like presumably with this piece). So you get what you incentivize.

http://www.poynter.org/2012/what-the-forbes-model-of-contrib...


Your link really helped me sharpen my thinking.

The grain of truth behind the article is that if you move into a new position with more responsibility you will likely receive a good jump in pay. And conversely if you stay in the same position your pay rate is likely to stagnate or rise with inflation at best.

But the author has conflated this basic principle with changing companies, which I believe is a false statement in general. The effectiveness of changing company as a strategy to increase pay will vary wildly across industries and professions.


Also the few data points are for the general job market, salaries in the 40k-80k range. What happens above is another story entirely IMHO. (And so below)

Yes that never made sense to me. Employees who have been around for a couple of years are much more efficient and know their way around - They are worth more, and yet they always get paid much less than 3-month or 6-month contractors or even new full-time employees in many cases.

Also if they say that they want to leave a company, usually employers let them go relatively easily without making any significant counter-offer. It means that employers don't even see the value there; they actually think that every employee is 100% replaceable and don't account for the massive efficiency loss incurred.


> yet they always get paid much less than 3-month or 6-month contractors

I'd be careful comparing the salaries of fixed employees to contractors. The math works significantly different for contractors: They need to spend time on job acquisition, billing, ... etc. They don't get any of the benefits that an employee gets - PTO, potentially health insurance, retirement plan, whatever, ... They're also the first to let go when things turn sour.


Not really, there are plenty of 12-months and indefinite rolling contracts.

I've met a few engineers who made $800 USD per day for several years and many (including myself) who earned at least $650 per day doing rolling contracts... You can stay as long as you want - The main problem is boredom that kicks in after 3 to 6 months.

I don't usually have any gap between jobs. On two occasions, companies offered me to work for them for two weeks because I had a 2-week gap before starting at a different company. If you plan correctly, have a broad enough skillset and you know your value, there should be no gap; on the contrary, there should be a queue.


> companies offered me to work for them for two weeks

Damn. I haven't yet found something like this, most companies want a six-month minimum. I would love to take a two-week contract in Australia, just so I can delete "visit Australia" from my bucket list :)


A friend of mine has a small dev shop, he likes recessions. Why? Because when things look up for big corps, they hire like mad, no outsourcing, yes insourcing! But when life gets harder, it's easier to start with a small company, just order an app, a website redesign, and maybe just provisionally start a project about that new backend feature, you don't have to sign a 1 year employment agreement and so on.

(This is mostly EU, so no fire at will going on.)


contractors != permanent employees

Never understood why companies will refuse to give valuable employees reasonable raises but when turn around and pay an unproven new hire even more money to replace them. So you refuse to give me a 10% increase because "never negotiate with terrorists" but will gladly pay the 20% increase that I'm getting at my new job to my replacement (because that's the market). Just seems so short sighted.

Because it's easy to say "the employee is just doing the job they're paid to do, why give them a raise?". Also, "we need to give an extra 20% to convince this person to come aboard, whereas we already own these employees".

Sure, what about training costs for the new employee?

If that question somehow arises, management will probably say the new employee will pay for themselves very quickly by generating loads of value. There's always a rationalization available for justifying irrational decisions.

Maybe I'm more conservative than others here, but anything less than 2 years tenure at a company seems suspicious to me. The people I've known who bounced after ~18 months or less were often the ones I would've wanted to quit anyway, who weren't cutting the mustard and weren't on track for promotion. For them, talking a big game at interview time every two years probably is income-maximizing because the longer they stick in the same job without promotions the more obvious their stagnancy is on the resume.

In the big tech hubs, 2 years is pretty much the norm, for a variety of reasons (what's talked about in this article, but also just the sheer amount of opportunities).

It's not a great thing, but thats simply the reality. It's not too uncommon to see a company open an office outside of SF/SV/NYC/Boston/Whatever with the primary goal being to attract employees that will stay longer.


I keep seeing articles like this that fail to point out an important fact. The economy has been strong for a long time and it is a workers market. Once there is another downturn it will be an employers market. Job hoppers will be lucky to land interviews, much less command high salaries. That is unless you are in the top % of your skill level or have some skill like Oracle DBA that is highly sought after.

I worry about younger people shaping their world view and career around the last 10 years. I did that an in 2002 when I was laid off it was a painful few years of realization not finding work.


Two points:

- 2% GDP growth is not exactly what I would call "strong economy": http://www.multpl.com/us-real-gdp-growth-rate

- it is not a workers market - if it had been, incomes would not have stagnated

I do agree with the rest of your post, though. Things will get even tougher.


The technology growth and the technology labor market is quite different from the rest of the economy; we're seeing a much higher GDP growth in this sector, much lower unemployment than the average of all industries, and incomes haven't really stagnated in our domain.

"- it is not a workers market - if it had been, incomes would not have stagnated"

In general, no. But in terms of software engineering, it very much is.


There are a few pockets of good markets, I am sure.

But the whole shortage myth is created by companies (often startups) posting "Magician" ads.

Example of a "Magician" ad:

"Looking for a PhD + min 10 years of experience in a very narrow domain we are trying to provide a solution for (Big Data experience in Scala required). The hire will need to do his/her magic to get us out of the s... we are in, because we don't quite know what we are doing. We pay $60K/year in Boston."


And.. I doubt anyone today believes their skill set will be in demand 20 years from now.

Get as much as you can right now... Cause there is no guarantee of a future


Yet large companies still launch investigations into why retention is so bad and have employees fill out surveys to try to figure out why people are leaving. Multiple-choice surveys, of course, with no questions about compensation.

They do this amongst mergers and spin-offs and contingency staffing plans, oh my!

Sad, I am. I think I'm perfectly capable to sell myself to the next job. But I like what I'm doing, I like the goals that are still ahead and being worked towards, great team, all good. And whether you read the article with a bit (or a lot) of skepticism, it seems common knowledge that the biggest steps in salary are made when going to that next job. So... where's the silver lining for loyal dogs? Should I just pick up a book on negotiating, and take it up with my VP of People?

Job hopping works. But the more you do it, the more you can expect to see skepticism from hiring managers.

Software development is a little bit different because right now there is more demand for workers than there are good developers. It hasn't always been that way and it won't always be that way.

When you're working for the right employer at the right salary, an extra 25-50% isn't going to be enough to lure you away. That and at some places stock options are worth something and vesting schedules actually play into the decision process.


"extra 25-50%" - That's really bad financial mangament on the employees part. 20-50% per annum extra, invested and compounded is A LOT of money. Literally for some people that could be an extra million at retirement.

Working for the right people has benefits beyond monetary ones. Knowing the right person can be helpful to getting your kid in the right school, or in to see the right doctor. Being vocally appreciated in a field where that is not particularly common helps you sleep better at night. Being given a certain level of autonomy can be more rewarding for some people, being given a constant stream of tasks can be more rewarding for others.

Money is a big factor with employment. It's not the only one.


It's a bit strange that this sort of job-hopping isn't a red flag to employers. You'd think managers would be reluctant to hire an employee who has jumped ship many times before, just as they were becoming useful.

Well I'm sure all other things being equal (which they never are), managers would prefer someone with a less chaotic job history. However, employers seems to have a never ending list of wants including that prospective employees be highly educated, very experienced, self motivated, hard working, good at whiteboard coding, prolific blog post writer, conference speaker, active open source contributor, willing to accept part of compensation in equity, and so on. Companies are lucky to get somone that satisfies 2 or 3 of the above. So from that perspective, perhaps it is unsurprising "company loyalty" often doesn't factor into the hiring decision.

It's a symptom of how hot the job market is, IMO. The traditional view is that employees had to compete to get regular raises and stay employed. It's flipped a bit, and now there's more effort that employers have to make to keep high-value employees from leaving for better pastures.

Someone who job hopped five times in ten years has convinced five different employers to give them a significant pay raise to poach them. Someone with one job in ten years is likely in the "I'm just lucky to be employed" category and is less of a hotshot.


With how thin the job market is, any time I interview a good candidate the situation is that they have competing offers and the hiring team/our whole company is the one applying to have the candidate.

In my experience, good candidates ramp up very quickly (<1 month) and having them on board for 2 years is plenty of time.


There are a lot of variables in quick ramp-up time. For development, it depends on codebase (the more mature, bespoke, convoluted, the longer the ramp-up) and developer style (I've seen copy/paste/modify specialists ramp up very quickly, but they plateau at an intermediate level and don't have a good filter on what they choose propagate in the codebase).

Making bigger changes takes longer; taking leadership on a new top-level feature without breaking other parts of the app or distorting the architecture isn't going to happen in a few months for a codebase of any real size. The question is: is a developer who ramps up quickly going to be able to do that eventually?


Certain places place high value on domain-specific knowledge and trained employees.

I work at a wholesale insurance company (middleman); we have over a hundred individual systems, some simple, some quite complex. Some of those systems can be maintained by any programmer that comes in. Others really shouldn't be maintained by someone who doesn't have good experience in writing maintainable code.

But many projects require domain-specific knowledge---and not just to specific parts of and companies within the insurance industry, but _our specific company_.

For a few years, we hired less experienced candidates with the hope of training them, because the talent in Buffalo NY is hard to come by (which could also be an outreach problem, but our last three hires were from out of state). Our team's consensus is that it takes approximately two years of experience with our systems to have a good, balanced grasp on them. Because of the small team size (five at our highest, two right now), we place great value on team members who have been around long enough to know the systems, the rationale and design decisions, history, etc.

This relates directly to Peter Naur's concept of Theory Building.[0]

We've had the past four candidates leave in ~2, <2, <1, and ~3 years. Because of the upfront training cost and distraction from the more experienced programmers (the two that remain at the company today), and in some cases the degree of maintenance problems ("technical debt") introduced, I consider three of them to be a wash: we're no better off having hired them than we would have been not hiring them. Possibly worse off.

Because we have the tendency to lose employees at around two years, I'm no longer in favor of hiring more "junior" candidates---having to train in both domain knowledge _and_ general programming is too risky and hasn't panned out well. So hopefully we can hire programmers that can immediately get into the code from a general programming perspective, but it's going to take them quite some time to really understand what the systems are all about.

I've been there for over eight years, and the last programmer that remains with me has been there for six months longer than me. One of our programmers transitioned to technical director, and has been there for over ten years. My supervisor dropped programming for project management responsibilities, and he has been at the company for nearly ten. Our sysadmin has been there for over ten. We just lost an employee that was there over ten years. We're a close group. Would I be making more money job hopping? Probably, yes. My point here is that the company I work for---the team I work with---values experience with the company, and so long-term employment history is attractive.

[0]: http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~remzi/Naur.pdf


If you could have made more money by job hopping, and your other programmers left for more money presumably, is your company really valuing experience?

It's very easy to say you value experience, but if you wont allocate resources towards employees with experience then your company is signalling that they don't actually value it.


There's an unfortunate difference between value at a company level and value at a team level---we have the hiring decisions as a team, and we won't hire without certain criteria we value.

The other programmers didn't leave for more money, though.


They value it if it comes cheap.

Your company does not pay more or enough more for people with more experience in its code base and domain knowledge, such that you and your coworkers will have better compensation when job-hop. That is the exact opposite of valuing experience.

> I work at a wholesale insurance company (middleman); we have over a hundred individual systems, some simple, some quite complex. Some of those systems can be maintained by any programmer that comes in. Others really shouldn't be maintained by someone who doesn't have good experience in writing maintainable code.

It sounds like you have far too few developers to cover those systems. My company is similar, although with much fewer individual systems. The biggest problem we have is that we expect developers to be familiar with all of them and it's simply too much ground to cover, especially when you add in decades of technical debt. I've been there over a year now and picked up almost no domain-specific knowledge because the cognitive load of all the projects and their intricacies and the constantly switching between them is just to high to learn anything in detail.

The second you aren't working on something your knowledge begins to fade. If I have to pick up something I haven't touched in three months then it's pretty close to being a new product to me.


> It sounds like you have far too few developers to cover those systems. My company is similar, although with much fewer individual systems. The biggest problem we have is that we expect developers to be familiar with all of them and it's simply too much ground to cover, especially when you add in decades of technical debt.

We definitely do. Unfortunately, it's difficult to hire in our area.

We've settled into our specialties, but that gives a terrible bus factor---the more senior the employee, the more the company suffers if they get hit by a bus. And goes back to the concept of theory building. We do what we can to try to mitigate certain aspects.

> The second you aren't working on something your knowledge begins to fade. If I have to pick up something I haven't touched in three months then it's pretty close to being a new product to me.

Yes---it's very useful to have people who have been there long enough to jog eachothers' memory. There are some core projects that are touched frequently enough to stay mostly fresh in our mind. It's always fun to look back 5--10 years and think about the history of the projects, or joke about the hardships. That's where the real knowledge lies.


I'm curious, how much more do you think you could get by leaving, or if you had been job hopping? Companies say they value loyalty, but that can seem fake if loyalty ends up costing the employee money.

tbh, I haven't had the will to job hunt, so I can't say for certain; I can only speculate based on data for my area. There are other positive factors that keep me at my job.

What I maybe _should_ have said is that I may have been able to make more money more quickly if I job hopped. There's an unfortunate disconnect between a development team that understands value (and is responsible for all hiring decisions) and a non-technical upper management. I'm fortunate to have a supervisor that fights on my behalf, and I'm pretty aggressive in pushing it myself.


> Certain places place high value...

So, you're saying that you get paid a lot more than you would make at other companies, and so do your other team members? That's what placing a high value on your knowledge would look like to me.


I think it's a bit strange that employers don't consider a fully trained employee to be worth more than a fresh recruit, and compensate them accordingly.

Fully trained employees are worth more to the company. They just don't want to pay for extra value unless they have to. To get new recruits, they have to.

Most employees don't want to change jobs if they can help it and employers use that "static friction" to pay them less than market.


Depends on the company. Some will hand out 30%+ annual pay increases to keep people at market rates. But, many companies are happy to have high turnover in exchange for lower pay.

The only company I know of that publicly makes this (bringing existing people up to market rate) is Netflix. Can you name other companies that actually do this?

I've worked for companies that do this, although it's not publicized so I can't point you to a press release or something. Usually a very strong indicator is to look for companies who publish salaries, either publicly or to all employees. It's almost impossible for a company to underpay people when everyone knows everyone else's salary.

I believe Adobe is known to aggressively hand out raises like this. Here in Utah, at least, it's extremely difficult to get Adobe engineers to switch jobs.

Stitch Fix also does that, at least in the data science team.

Depends if there's a legitimate reason - 2 roles ago I was there for 3 1/2 years and my manager basically said to me I'd do best in my career to leave by then (loved working for her), previous job was 18 months and was doing well, but my current position came up and was something completely different that would be a fantastic development experience.

However, I don't think it's a good fit, both from mine and the company's perspective - do I stick it out to ensure my resume doesn't have a half life, or would a next employer understand it was something I had to jump to, but was in everyone's best interests not to drag it out? (we're talking <5 months)


> just as they were becoming useful.

If it takes that long for a employee to become useful then the company has much bigger issues and the need to compensate for whatever it is that makes those 2 years of experience so vital.


If a company has a large and old codebase with lots of interacting systems built with a lot of specialized tooling, it can take a while for a new arrival to get on par with the rest of the team. Two years is a lot, but six months to a year sounds very believable. Imagine trying to wrap your head around the Windows codebase or the Google ad serving stack.

When I talk to my director he seems to actually dislike people who have worked under him for more than 5 years. He likes "fresh blood". If you stay around you are a loser.

For how long has he stayed around? Or does he not report to anyone? Director sounds like an employee role too...

Director is a position often used in the UK in lieu of C level positions, and in SME's there is a strong correlation that the company director is also a major shareholder/founder.

based on my unpublished anecdata


Director is the UK term for CEO

This particular guy is a middle manager. In the US typically right under VP.

He has been there for around 10 years. The fact that he has stayed on for 10 years while mistrusting people who have worked for him for the same time doesn't make sense. But neither does it for managers who have nice offices to promote open office arrangements for their workers. Hypocrites are everywhere.


LOL

It is a red-flag but not an automatic disqualifier. Anecdotally, this is especially true outside of the major metropolitan areas, even just in the suburbs. I worked in the NY and CT suburbs outside the NYC area and it was absolutely used, whereas in NYC it feels like it's expected that most people will leave around the 2-year mark. Realistically this becomes a bigger red flag the longer the company takes to hire and train people.

The article carefully keeps repeating the two years... I feel this is often perceived as a bit of a magic number, after which it's okay to switch without getting yourself a bad name. One year... raising eyebrows. (I'm sure, like some other suggested, that perception may differ between industries...)

It's more of a red flag in some industries than others. In the tech field it is quite common, though it's still viewed as a minor red flag, in my experience.

Much more important are skills, experience, and team fit.


This article flies in the face of what I have been reading for years. This article is taking some simple data "employees that change jobs get X% raise" and extrapolating it to a whole lot of wrong. It does vary by organization.

For example if you are at an organization where you are basically the most senior employee already and you can take on a new role at a larger organization with new responsibilities or skill growth a job change can make sense. If you are just bouncing around between say Amazon, Google, and Facebook this can often be a dud strategy in the long term.

Take this with a grain of salt, since I don't have time to dig up citations, but I have read that the long term compensation is actually higher for individuals that don't switch jobs so often. I guess the career employee is a bit of a legend in IT these days so we could have a lively discussion about the selection and difference in a big tech firm and a more traditional F500, but I think in the long run these things will normalize because they are basic human nature and organizational structure problems and nothing is intrinsically special about technology companies. They are the special darlings of the era, so they get to break the rules a bit. Maybe it really will foment a long term change in "the rules" or always be a bit of a bubble in terms of how the organizations operate.


a few comments, this article seems to want to incite people to jump ship which is fine, but fwiw, i have been with the same company for about 14 years and i dont think i'm getting paid less than my peers, rather i think i'm way above most with similar experience and titles. part of it maybe that this article generalizes and doesnt segment the different industries, i work in software and my company has done a lot to make certain that they're competitive and do not lose key people. i met a guy at google, he has been there since 2004, i doubt he's making less than his peers, there are certainly benefits, say restricted stocks (please look at goog from 5 years ago and you'll understand). this article is probably grouping everyone who works the counter at mcdonalds to investment bankers, nice work forbes.

also, i think working for the same company does give you more opportunites to understand different parts of a company that you certainly would miss out on if you jumped ship every two years.

also note that as a hiring manager, i look down on candidates that jump ship too frequently, no matter how strong his/her skill.


Ha, this is funny. I rarely ever stay longer than 2 years at a company and every time I jumped, my salary went up significantly i.e. >10%+ HOWEVER, I've seen guys who have stayed with a company earning less for years, ending up as the VP/Presdient of the company eventually and their pay going way up.

Survivor bias much? Obviously SOME people will become VP/President by sticking to the company. 99% of long-term employees will not.

I think this is a risky strategy. For one, the only way to succeed this way is to be the best (or at least last the longest). Second place on the VP promotion doesn't mean anything.

Secondly, if your plan is to advance significantly up the management track at your company, take a close look the makeup of the current VPs / leadership team. I've worked in many companies where the CEO almost exclusively brought in outside talent for the VP level, and never promoted up. In those sort of situations, you're probably always going to be looked at as rank and file, even if you get into middle management positions.


I wonder how strongly this holds after you're into the higher end of the salary range?

My best increase ever was going from my highschool/college web dev job to freelance, where I more than tripped my hourly rate from $12.50/hr to $45/hr. (It probably wasn't quite 3x after accounting for taxes and healthcare and such, but it was still a good jump, and brought more flexible hours too.)

Since then, I've gotten 20-25% increases a couple of times, topping out at $120k.

I was switching more like every 3-5 years, so a 5%/year raise actually ends up being in the same ballpark, if not slightly better. Every two years might be better from a pure cash perspective, but I didn't feel like I was "done" with my roles until the 3-5 year mark - I think I learned more delivered more value, and achieved a better sense of accomplishment doing it my way.

I also live in Ohio, with the exception of one year I spent in SF. I imagine I could double my current salary moving back to SF or over to NYC, but I'm happier here. (And $100k+ goes a bit farther here...)


> I also live in Ohio, with the exception of one year I spent in SF. I imagine I could double my current salary moving back to SF or over to NYC, but I'm happier here.

I once joked to a recruiter in SF that California dollars aren't worth much. He understood.

Have you tried/considered charging SF/NYC rates to companies that are based there?


> Have you tried/considered charging SF/NYC rates to companies that are based there?

Yep, that's basically what I do :D

Moving to SF and then moving back was one of the biggest boosts - both in the immediate pay raise, and in giving me the sense of self-worth to ask for more in future roles.

I'm now at $126k base + bonuses and retirement and such. I know that's on the low end for SF/NYC, but I've definitely seen jobs there offer less. I lease a small office that's a 6-min bike ride from home for $250/month and work from there most days. All told, I'm pretty happy.

($60-80k is upper end around here. Elsevier once offered me $100k to work on site in Dayton - apparently they have trouble finding smart people who don't hate them - but I was already up to $120k and working from home at the time.)

My rate when I quit freelancing full-time was $125/hr, mostly working for companies in bigger cities. I'd charge more than that today, and probably switch to a daily or weekly rate.


If the article was even based on actual facts and figures, wouldn't survivorship bias be a huge factor here? Maybe the bottom of the barrel are bringing the average down because they are stuck with jobs with no mobility and aren't valuable enough to get the raises.

Correlation != causation.

Seems perfectly plausible to me that the more confident candidates are more likely to be poached by other companies, for example.


I was thinking the same. An attractive offer that leads to a change of employer is usually rounded off with a sallary boost.

From 2014, but still relevant. Unfortunately, the best negotiating tactic is to bring a competing offer and essentially threaten to quit. Or just switch firms every ~18 months like the post suggests.

For software I feel like you will start to max out from switching alone once you reach sr software engineer from FAAMG. Past that you have to make real changes such as improving your skills to become something worthy of staff or become some sort of manager.

FAAMG?

Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google

Apple has a frustrating system for individual contributors where you can get promoted pretty quickly up until level 4, but then it stops. In order to get any kind of raise beyond that (level 5) you need to be pretty much a wizard with godlike job performance. Basically there is no career path past level 4 for most mortals, unless you want to go into management, which is also a difficult chasm to jump. Basically once you get to 4 and all your initial stock vests, you have to start looking around.

Wouldn't the pay be pretty good at level 4?

They don't give refresh grants?

> Apple, Amazon

I was under the impression that Apple and Amazon tended to fall lower on the compensation scales.


Amazon has a fairly low cash salary cap if you're not upper management. They make it up (nominally anyway) with an initial cash bonus and stock options. Don't count on any raise after getting hired though. Plus the average stay there is far less than the vest period for either bonus or stock, because Amazon is pretty much the hellmouth.

Bonus is amortized over the non stock first 2 years paid per paycheck so there's basically ko vesting on it now. Hasn't been for several years. Eg if you get 30 stock over yet 3&4.. you'll get 30k / 24 (Amazon is monthly pay) for the first 24 paychecks for 60k non salary pay.

Source: offers.


Apple tends to match after you work there for about 2-3 years or your a 'special position'. So it's a good place to be an intern and go up since the differences are minor.

Thanks!

I have been self-employed since age 22, but from 18 to 22 I had 6 jobs at 5 companies in 3.5 years. I started out in tech support at a small local ISP, hopped, came back as a sysadmin, then became primary sysadmin, and really cut my early career teeth there (and am ever grateful for the experience!). But it was a small college-town operation that ran on student-type labour; at my peak, I think I topped out at $16/hr. The next job hop was a move to Atlanta, where I commanded a $55k salary (about double my peak hourly earnings at NEGIA) and ultimately reached $70k at 21 — not terrible for a 21 year-old in Atlanta in 2007.

It's easy to place big gains when moving up from entry level, especially if you entered into an employment bargain that presumed being paid vastly below market for doing fairly sophisticated and diverse things in exchange for having a diamond-in-the-rough skill set. I learned more at the small company than I have ever learned in my life, and more quickly, and was able to effectively parlay that into big-boy corporate jobs in Atlanta.

In one sense, this validates the thesis. But it's important to remember that it does plateau. When moving up from entry level and early-career pay, you're flying close to the ground and it feels like you're going fast. The ground rushes past you, and it's intoxicating. Minimum-wage checkout clerk to full-time salaried assistant store manager? Zoom!

The momentum doesn't last. Had I continued in W-2 employment, I would have likely hit low to low-mid $100k by now, after ten years, but no more.


I wish these studies would incorporate the value of benefits. Benefits are a huge reason (especially for people with families) why people stay at jobs. Imagine having a job for $60K with four weeks of vacation and good 401K matching compared with $80k with one week vacation and horrible health insurance.

I wonder if it would be the same in Europe since most benefits are mandatory and at big companies salaries and yearly increase are negotiated collectively between employees and employers.

But if this proofs anything you should keep your options open and, even if you don't want to change companies, use outside offers as ammo for your yearly negotiation.


The single most important change that should happen to change things like this is having salaries being public.

The day that happens, salaries statistics will very likely take a huge jump.


I believe they already are? Glassdoor

Hardly. Glassdoor shows that people really want to consume that information, but the one glassdoor provides has bias, is insufficient, and lacks precision.

That's been my experience as well.

But it didn't happen because I was on the lookout for a fat paycheck. It happened because the companies I worked at the time couldn't provide the stimulation, technical capabilities, working environment and personal development I was looking for.

Then I realised very few of them do where I am, so now I do 6-12 month contracts and it's helped with saving a bit of my soul and getting paid a bit more.


This is unfortunately true in our industry, from my experience. The only way to make substantial raise for top performers is to have a new job offer with +20-30%. Otherwise the HR department will give you X reasons why you asking for such big raise is inappropriate.

This is part of free market economy, companies are trying to minimize their costs and maximize profits so it makes sense not to waste money giving big raises. This is why you need to play the free market game and force their hand.

Once you get a much better competing offer, your current employer will probably offer to match it. But at that time why stay anyways if you had to force them to consider a substantial raise by going for interviews and getting a better offer?

Also, there is an old advice which says to never accept a counter offer.

I do think there is a ceiling for this approach. You can probably do it 4-5 times and get to quite high salary (150-200k). After that this tactic does not work as well anymore so staying at one place for a long time and earning an internal promotion becomes better option.


I'm reluctant to apply this mindset to the tech, or at least SV tech, industry. While it's common practice to hop jobs every 2-5 years, it seems to be more for new or different opportunities (Different sized company, a new domain, new technical challenges, etc.) than it is for a more competitive offer. Internal promotion, both in compensation and position, seems to be the relative norm.

> Internal promotion, both in compensation and position, seems to be the relative norm.

My experience and observation suggests exactly the opposite. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


I'm at the point where I think developers should bid on specific projects and not be full time employees, ever.

When I started in this industry, my father, who also works in this industry gave me this advice. Something along the lines of "if you want a raise, go somewhere else, that's the only way to move up quickly". He was right, three times in the last 4-5 years.

I'm not sure why companies prefer that someone leave and take all of their institutional knowledge with them, then hire someone new at a higher wage that would have kept the first person at the company. They are not taking into account the value of knowledge. If your domain knowledge increases 20% within a year, then you should be getting a 20% raise.

With the elimination of pensions, the only vesting time that most people have is for their 401k, which is usually only a couple of years. Not sure what employers are expecting to happen or why they're surprised when their hot college grad employees decide to leave for a big pay bump.


Sure, I mean who gives you more than a 20% raise?

When you change jobs, you can renegotiate everything. More money, more holidays, less hours, etc.

Last time I changed jobs, I worked less hours and got 20% more money, my last boss would have laughed at me if I wanted this.


Um... I've gotten a 20%+ raise before, I also have several weeks more vacation than I started with. If you prove yourself as valuable and ask for compensation to match, your employer may be more flexible than you realize. You can renegotiate your current employment at any time as well.

You have to actually prove yourself as valuable first though.


Thoughts:

1. A company can be underpaying for the employee's experience but paying correctly for the skills the company needs.

2. It should not be a bad thing for an employee to leave a company to advance their career - the current company may not offer the needed opportunities.

3. Managers should be proactively asking the question of the employee: "Let's talk about recognizing when you SHOULD move to a new position at XYZ or some place else?"


went thru many comments here and despite lots disagreement between people, I believe one thing people will all agree with is: in this game, individuals are much weaker than companies and much more vulnerable regardless.

company can never go bankrupt because of loosing one super star, but a worker and his/her family can be in a bad situation if company decides to do something to him/her. So the whatever negotiation between company and works can never be a fair game at any point.


Employees != IT Employees

What makes the most sense to me is making moves early on in your career then hopefully finding a company/CEO/team you really like and settle in for a while. You aren't going to learn some of the valuable lessons if you swap jobs too often as you will never really become an expert at what you're doing.

Certainly valid you are underpaid and don't particularly enjoy your job.


Not bad advice, but be careful to calibrate "like" correctly, which can be difficult. In the land of the blind, a one-eyed man is king. It's easy to get comfortable in a group of nice people that just aren't very good developers, and believe that you're becoming an expert at something, and then by the time you get slapped in the face by reality, it might be too late. Switching jobs every few years ensures exposure to a much wider range of people, skills and group dynamics.

Every time I've switched jobs, I've had my eyes opened to some things that we did at my previous jobs that might not have been helpful.


Depending on size of company, there may be some distinct departments.

I stayed on the same team, 6 years, but multiple promotions. Only 20+k in salary different. Jumped teams twice in next 3 years, +20k.

Now I have doubled my salary I started with. Been with company 10 years. The only thing I regret is not jumping teams earliar.. a few years max. Great learning experience through different roles on my original department... But didn't help me financially


I often refer to this gem on salary negotiation: http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

How much does this apply to senior employees? I have a PhD, started out at the "Senior" level as a new grad, and I just recently got my first promotion to "Staff" Engineer, which represents roughly the 85th-90th percentile for pay in my company.

I just hit my two year mark. Guess it's time to start job hunting.

My current employer 401k contributions vest at 3.5 years- would I be out of line insisting that my 'next' employer make a one time contribution equal to what I sacrifice?


Absolutely not, and I think you should. They may still say no, but it can be a valuable tool in your salary negotiation. I've done this before when switching jobs -- "you want me to start in March, but I have $X in options that vest in July; to switch I would need you to add $X to my signing bonus". Both times they've agreed to do so. Recruiters seem to generally have more leeway with signing bonuses than salaries. (And of course on top of this you should be aggressively negotiating your salary etc.)

As I often told my friends, go to a company like Netflix. Netflix actually tries very hard to make money not a concern to its employees, and they do hell of a great job.

This might be corrupted because people who switch are willing to move geographically.

"It’s a fact that employees are underpaid."

Forbes?


(2014)

There's this management mythology that:

- Worker bees will stay because they're clueless and don't have the initiative to keep moving.

- Pressure from on high to fudge performance reviews downwards to "save the company money." (At where my mom worked, a middle manager blanket reduced all subordinate reviews down because BS: "people are overly generous.")

If you want least turnover / most morale / most productivity, pick people whom can grow the most and grow them until they no longer can keep up or find something else. Develop people (training, mentoring, promotions, bonuses, raises, perks, etc.), don't just consume them as static widgets to fill a hole.


Also a great way to increase your salary is to Take the lowest pay possible at first. Here is what I mean https://medium.com/the-mission/take-the-lowest-pay-possible-... And this is not my article and I don't have any affiliations with it :)

Correct me if I'm wrong (I read the article, but am a little confused), but shouldn't the message of that article be "Take the lower pay, assuming that also corresponds with a higher level of [Job Satisfaction, Growth Potential, Work-Life Balance, etc]"?

I don't have much experience, but my initial instinct is that some of that article is not universally true.


I agree that you should choose your job wisely. The author claims that it's best to be open to a lower pay in the first 10 years of your career. It's similar to everything actually. You gain your reference experiences and build up your image within your world and then expect higher pay. Nobody will give it to you just like that.

> Jessica Derkis started her career earning $8 per hour ($16,640 annual salary) as the YMCA’s marketing manager. Over 10 years, she’s changed employers five times to ultimately earn $72,000 per year at her most recent marketing position.

Amazing, thanks Forbes. I never knew that if you started out on minimum wage and then moved into a mundane professional role, you'd earn considerably more!


Why the hostility? Are people not allowed to talk about events happening now?

I mean, do you make a similar comment on all the articles you read?

"Oh thanks a lot ENCODE for telling us that 80 percent of the genome had a biochemical function. I didn't know we were going to repeat stuff that everybody new in 2012."??


The hostility is because it's ridiculously obvious that moving from a minimum-wage job to a run-of-the-mill professional job is going to net you an incredible percentage increase in salary, especially in the US where the minimum wage is a joke.

And where is the 'events happening now' in what I said? Job-hopping? Not exactly a new thing.

> I mean, do you make a similar comment on all the articles you read?

So... I can't be rhetorical to call out bad behaviour, but it's okay for you to do so. Nice work.


The person was working as a marketing manager in her first job, so it was a "a run-of-the-mill professional job" from day one, and she's still in marketing, only with 5x more salary.

Then again, her first job was at YMCA, and non-profits tend to have low salaries.


Since when is an $8/hour professional job 'run-of-the-mill'? Are you seriously saying that that is a typical example of a professional?

But 8$ an hour is burger flipper wages and by definition professional jobs are salaried not hourly paid

It was a dumb example, that's all. In 2005, I went from being a state employee to a contractor and doubled my pay that year. Is that relevant, though?

Don't take ENCODE's word for it: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23431001/




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