Advice on Changing Times and Salary Expectations

Thread Starter

Capt_Karnage

Joined Jul 28, 2022
1
I'm having a little internal turmoil about my career, unlike what I've experienced before.

I've been a EE for nearly 20 years. I've nearly always been happy with my jobs - when I started not being happy, for whatever reason, I found a new job and I left.

I haven't been at my current job long - not even a year, but I am enjoying it very much. I'm working in an industry and with technologies that I've been wanting to work with since before I graduated from college. I'm also working with a great group of people, and it currently has a very positive corporate culture. When I got my offer for this job, the money and benefits were above my expectations, they blew me away. Since I've been here, I've been getting noticed, getting complimented, being praised for doing things well - even things I'd never done before this job - from colleagues, department heads, even vice presidents. I feel I have agency and influence here unlike any of my previous jobs. I really don't have any serious complaints.

In my current job I have responsibilities beyond engineering. I'm both an engineer and a manager. My team has openings. I have been struggling to hire people for these open positions. I've been reading articles, getting a feel for the current job market, talking to HR, making sure we're aligned with the current market conditions for these positions. Currently, EEs are in high demand with not enough people to fill the positions. In addition to this, EE enrollment in colleges is down - so there's not a likely source to backfill these positions as fast as they are likely to come open in the next 4 years. Salaries are climbing higher. As a manger I have to know these trends, I have to see these numbers. I may make an offer soon for an engineer that if I had received at their age, I don't even know how I would feel. Excited for sure, but beyond that - indescribable. I had the same salary 2 short years ago and I thought it was great then, and I had more than a decade more experience than this person.

I am making considerably more now. I have pretty rapidly gone up over the last two years. In fact, I'm making more than I used to imagine making at the peak of my career while still doing engineering work (I figured I might have to move to upper management to get this level). In fact, I felt both at my last job and when starting this one that I was being overpaid. However, my family has had huge medical problems and with that huge medical bills. We have also had a few personal disasters occur, home repairs, etc that have made my expenses pile up very fast as well and inflation is certainly not helping. All of this causes me to "feel" like I'm not making the same amount of money as I'm making on paper, like there's a gap in the money they're paying me and what I'm getting (aside from taxes), as a lot of it goes out to pay these things as soon as my paycheck comes in.

Before I took this job, I had another offer. I was also in the hiring process of a third job - which I didn't have an offer yet, but I was a shoe-in for getting. That job actually would have paid more. But, this job was doing more of what I wanted to do - so I didn't wait for that process to finish, I accepted this offer after a little back and forth. It wasn't an easy decision. In fact, my family wanted me to hold off and wait for the 3rd offer. They ultimately supported my decision to take this one, but they made it clear they REALLY wanted me to wait and take the 3rd one.

All this time, despite turning off all of my career profiles on various sites, I have been getting phone calls, emails, and social media messages from recruiters constantly since I took this job. Some of the minimum salary figures they've thrown at me have been more than this one... even some that are 100% engineering, no management. I have not entertained a single one. I have either not responded or responded with "not interested". I genuinely have not had any interest in jumping ship. I like my job. For reasons stated above, I have no regrets on accepting this job, even over the potentially higher paying one. However, these numbers have been on an upward trend. There could come a time where I see a number I can't ignore.

I've not even been at this job for a full year. When I interviewed for and eventually accepted this job I sold myself - not only in my abilities but also in my desire to do THIS job and to stay with it long term and I was able to sell myself that way because I truly believed it at the time.

But, seeing these numbers thrown at me. Seeing the numbers I need to put forward to hire people with much less experience than me, reading all the articles about the current market trends, heck even talking to HR on salaries and the market in general, and how good my department is doing right now... has all made me believe I'm worth more than what I'm being paid. That thought is fighting with another thought in my head that I'm being greedy by even thinking these thoughts.

In my ideal world, I would show these numbers to my boss - he would agree I'm underpaid based on the current market, and I would get a raise to make me feel more comfortable and be able to continue saying "not interested" to all the recruiters and continue doing a job I enjoy.

In the real world, there's a chance that bringing this up, especially after being here for such a short time, could cast a negative light on me. They could see me as being disingenuous or even deceptive in my interview process. They could see me as being greedy & opportunistic. They could see me as a future risk as someone who might jump ship at any moment for the right offer. It could break the great rapport I have established. It could cause a breakdown in communication with my boss and the higher ups. It could cause my ideas to be more likely to be ignored. Those are my fears and anxieties right now - and obviously I don't want any of that to happen.

But I also don't want to get short changed, and additional money would help my personal situation. If I could get out of medical and other debts faster, it would be a big burden and stress off of me and my family. I could breathe easier.

It helps to type this out and express it all... but ultimately I don't know what to do. Should I have a conversation with my boss about this, or keep quiet?
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
8,831
This all depends on the kind of relationship you have with your boss and what sort of person your boss it.

The best approach, in general, is to talk with your boss and her know how you feel. During on series of interviews the hiring manager's boss asked what kind of salary I was looking for. My answer was met with what you might call shock.

Later in the interview process I told the hiring manager that when I mentioned how my expectations for a salary were seemed to affect his boss. I told the hiring manager that I really wanted this job because I felt it was the right job for me, and I didn't want salary to stand in the way of getting the job. I received an offer, but when they handed out annual raises I told my manager that the salary did not match the superlatives in my review. There on out that manager did every thing he could to bring as much money my way as possible.

If you are as valuable to the company as you seem to feel you are and if you really like the job and where it might take you then an honest heart-to-heart talk might bring both of you what you each need, but be patient and understanding of your boss's situation.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
5,251
Data shows that people who change jobs every couple of years do better than those who stay with one employer. That said, staying probably ends up giving you more influence and the pick of the projects in the future. So, you have to balance these two.

When I changed jobs the first time, I took what I thought was good raise over my current job, where I had just gotten my annual raise. After one year, the new company gave me a 33% raise, which was way beyond any expectations.

What I would recommend is to wait for your first annual review, let your boss know that you are aware of changing salaries, and see what happens. If they lowball you, call them on it and be prepared to leave if they do not pay you what you are worth.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,036
Some things to consider:

Your employer would never pay you more than you are worth, they would consider that bad business practice, they would also not sell your services (or the outcome) for less than than the competitive price without the expectation of ultimate gain (e.g.: a loss leader to get more customers engaged).

Why would you accept less than you are worth? That's as bad for you as for them too pay you too much. If you expected that having a lower salary would get you some future benefit, it could make sense like a loss leader—but what would that benefit be?

Also, all of us have status quo bias, that is, we value what we already have much more highly than we would even we didn't already have it. This makes a situation like yours prone to error. It's a weird bug in our brains, like not properly ignoring sunk costs in decisions.

Last thing, if you are determined to stay, even with the ideas above as part of your analysis, consider asking for a substantial retention bonus. HR departments are much happier with one time payments than increases that will be there every year.

Good luck.
 
Top