Thread: Job advice

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    Job advice


    I need some job advice, as a recent college graduate (m.s. in computer science).

    I currently work as a contractor for "Company A". I currently make about 2/3 of what I believe I should be earning. However, after the 3-6 month contract, "Company A" will be offering me a permanent position (about 99% probability), and I was told the probable salary would still be about 5/7 of what I should be earning. Apparently though, the company assumes the perks (which are quite nice I must admit) are worth about 1/7 of that salary I should be earning. So altogether, if I took the position I would be earning approximately 6/7 what I feel I should.

    So I have to be honest, I don't particularly like this job much, and was originally planning to let the contract run out, and try to get something else lined up with a more reasonable paycheck to transition to immediately. My contract expires sometime between October and January, and I haven't had much time to spend looking for anything else yet.

    However, one big thing came up over the last few weeks. "Company A" is actually owned by "Company B". And "Company B" is owned by "Company C". "C" is a very large company, and happens to be the source of most of the perks available if I were to sign a contract with "A", besides a few that are local to just "A". The big news around here though, is that "C" is divesting of "B" with a goal of selling "B" by January, either as a whole, or in parts (like, "A" could go one place, and the rest elsewhere for instance). "A" and "B" are both doing very well, so I'm not worried about job security.

    Here's where I need the advice. If "A" can no longer guarantee most of the perks they would have when I was first hired as a contractor, with the suggested salary when they decide to hire me full on, is this the time (or as soon as possible), to start negotiating a better deal for salary on-hire? I realize that I can't provide all the information necessary to give the best advice, but I'm just wondering if anyone else has been in a similar situation (or not even) and has some good advice for me here.

    The hard part for me, is that I don't like this job much and was planning to leave after my contract ended because it wouldn't look so bad on my resume that I only worked here for 3-6 months with that reason, as opposed to if I get hired and then leave shortly after. I figure if I could get a more reasonable paycheck, I'd be more willing to stay awhile longer at least. Maybe a year.

    I dunno. Any thoughts?
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    Code:
    i =  2/3 
    p=.99
    s = 5/7 
    w= 1/7 
    a= 6/7
    After running it through thorough analysis my application concluded that you have overvalued yourself. It's run this analysis for millions of people, and not once did it ever find a specimen that felt it was overpaid. Coincidence?

    Try thinking about it as a human. Focus on the "I don't like this job" vs "I really need a steady job with good benefits" and discard the math.
    Last edited by medialint; September 11th, 2008 at 11:14 AM.
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    Originally Posted by medialint
    After running it through thorough analysis my application concluded that you have overvalued yourself. It's run this analysis for millions of people, and not once did it ever find a specimen that felt it was overpaid. Coincidence?

    Try thinking about it as a human. Focus on the "I don't like this job" vs "I really need a steady job with good benefits" and discard the math.
    I could very well have over-valued myself. I've been basing what I believe I should be earning on three factors: what my step-dad tells me I should be taking home- he's a project manager in the same industry with the same degrees I have, 2) what my friends who graduated with the same degrees are earning at companies in the same geographic area, and 3) what I earned in an internship I had a few summers ago.

    Which leads me to the question: What am I worth?

    My step-dad's advice was that a BS in CS should be making 50k/yr, and that an MS should add 10k/yr to that, so 60k/yr. A number of my friends got offers from other local companies at 70k/yr (or so they claim). I earned 50k/yr on a summer internship 2 summers ago.

    My contractor wage here comes out to approximately 43k/yr. They are planning to offer 50k/yr when they offer to hire me. My goal is 70k, but I would be willing to settle for less. I think the lowest I'd be alright with would be 55k/yr, although I would like more.

    But yeah, it definitely comes down to "I don't like this job" vs "I really need a steady job with good benefits". There are few reasons to stay here, besides the fact that I have this job already and have some sort of income. I've already decided I'm not staying here long, I think what I'm trying to determine, is how much longer I should stay here. And if I find out I've over-valued myself, thats good to know too.
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    Originally Posted by smacd
    My step-dad's advice was that a BS in CS should be making 50k/yr, and that an MS should add 10k/yr to that, so 60k/yr. A number of my friends got offers from other local companies at 70k/yr (or so they claim). I earned 50k/yr on a summer internship 2 summers ago.

    My contractor wage here comes out to approximately 43k/yr. They are planning to offer 50k/yr when they offer to hire me. My goal is 70k, but I would be willing to settle for less. I think the lowest I'd be alright with would be 55k/yr, although I would like more.

    But yeah, it definitely comes down to "I don't like this job" vs "I really need a steady job with good benefits". There are few reasons to stay here, besides the fact that I have this job already and have some sort of income. I've already decided I'm not staying here long, I think what I'm trying to determine, is how much longer I should stay here. And if I find out I've over-valued myself, thats good to know too.
    I think your step-dad is reaching a little high now that we're in the days of outsourcing for pennies.

    Also, it depends on where you live, cost of living, included perks, etc etc. I have my MS, make about 55k+, which is a little low, but I also work at a county government. I could make at least a 3rd more working in the private sector, but I wouldnt have the security I do now. The person who has my job left for a private sector job for making a lot more, and was downsized and let go 3 months later.

    Also, look at the benefits you pay yearly, compare them to what another job would (or wouldnt offer).

    Also, with the economy like it is, be lucky that at least your job is in your field. A lot of people go into a lot of debt, only to find out that the job market in their field is oversaturated.
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    If a company with good perks is paying you 60K (say) as a contractor, then they should be able to hire you as an employee for 40K and leave you with the same disposable income. That's because they're picking up the insurance, retirement, half the FICA, and the overhead of withholding and paying your taxes. Whether or not that also includes the overhead of office space and capital equipment/tools depends on the kind of contract you have.

    If they give you any kind of raise in terms of equivalent hourly rate, then they're giving you a big raise. This presumes that you're taking care of the things (mentioned above) that you should be taking care of. If you aren't, that calls into question your judgment, which calls into question the accuracy of your assessment of your worth.

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    Originally Posted by Veamon
    I think your step-dad is reaching a little high now that we're in the days of outsourcing for pennies.
    Right. People that still have jobs haven't gotten a pay cut, but new hires can't necessarily expect to get the same base pay in the current state of the economy.

    It is good just to have a job. Many aren't so lucky.
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    ahh. i see. Well that is good to know.

    So back to the original question, given the turmoil in the company I'm currently at, should I be trying get myself a higher salary then? Or am I expecting too much?
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    Do you dislike your job because you dislike it? or do you dislike it because you think you should be earning more?

    If it's the first one, I'd drop the job look and look for something better. It's not worth sticking around. I probably make less being self employed rather than if I were employed in a traditional sense. But I enjoy the style of work involved enough that I am ok with this.

    However if you dislike it because of your compensation. I would rethink it some. A steady job with great perks at 50k isn't too bad (especially for a first year of employment), if you can; perhaps try and find out the likelyhood of a pay increase and how much to expect (and when).

    If it looks like would be sticking to 50k for a long time you may want to consider working somewhere else. I would say your worth more than what they are offering you (55k-60k sounds more reasonable). Look on government websites in your area to get average salary figures for your position.

    Speaking with your employer about your salary may or may not be a bad thing. If they like you enough to keep you, they might like you enough to pay you what is necessary. At the same time they might not appreciate your attitude, it all depends on who it is.
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    You're young, right? Don't have a family?

    Go for largest disposable income and f*ck job security. Learn a ton of new things, get downsized and learn what it feels like, meet many people and see who you like and who you don't, and build connections with those you do. When you want to settle down and raise a few anklebiters, you'll have the connections to find a job and the experience to keep it.

    Or, don't. I don't know you; you know you. What's important to you? My advice is based off of the advice I'd give myself: If you can live thin, if you're sure your talents are needed somewhere, job security shouldn't be a worry. Live it up while you can and while the only person you are responsible for in your life is you.
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    Originally Posted by misterdanny
    Do you dislike your job because you dislike it? or do you dislike it because you think you should be earning more?
    I dislike this job for a few reasons. The position is basically to take this piece of software my company makes, and re-configure it for each customer- these reconfigurations take a couple thousand man-hours usually.

    I dislike the pressure to be "billable" in my work.

    I dislike the software itself (it's a huge behemoth that suffers from poor design decisions early in development).

    And probably the biggest problem- since the software is completely proprietary, there is very little I feel I can add to my resume other than "time served", at least nothing that is a personal skill I can use at another employer. All coding is done by the engineering team, which I'm not a member of. Any actual coding I do is in a very altered form of JScript.

    When it comes down to it, neither of my two goals in a job are being met here. The first is that the company uses my abilities effectively. The second is that I will acquire new abilities while working here. Maybe I'm asking too much.
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    If altering a program in predictable ways takes thousands of man hours... well, have you considered OOP? It's very good for that sort of thing, yaknow.

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    One does need to be careful. I once had an engineer come to me (after apparently comparing salaries) and tell me he needed $XX to stay. I knew what he was worth, so I advised him to go. He took the advice, which saved me the trouble of implementing it.

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    Originally Posted by gimp
    If altering a program in predictable ways takes thousands of man hours... well, have you considered OOP? It's very good for that sort of thing, yaknow.
    I'm going to assume they they don't have a dev fresh out of college making the major architectural decisions just yet.

    I admittedly did a lot of job hopping during my early years, and yes, it was usually for pay. Once I reached a comfortable threshold in my income those priorities changed a bit. It became more about the work I did and the way I was treated by the company.

    We have a lot of idealist who say that caring about the money should always be secondary. I guess I'm a shill in that way, I wanted to show off for women by moving out of my parents basement.

    I would weigh the pros and cons of your job though, and I mean all of them. Money can still be at the top of your list if you want. Also remember that a job is what you make of it too though. I found some of my best experiences in development came during the times when I had my back against the wall.
    I've been a consultant/contractor from the start and find that the lifestyle rather suits me. I feel that it pushes me to achieve something, evaluate new ideas and assimilate when I have to. I also like a new kind of work every once in a while, new people, new places.

    If your interested in what people are earning, I think something like payscale.com(I think that's what it is) can give you a decent idea. Last time I checked I was on top of the 1st standard deviation for my years and experience (which feels good) but it tends to be fairly accurate.

    I've actually been receiving a good amount of calls lately for full time positions with wonderful companies and even more money than I make now. I've told them all though that I'm happy where I'm at and would need something pretty spectacular to rip me out of it. The thing that's making me stay is the feeling that I have some control on my destiny here. While I don't have the pressure of the company welfare my shoulders, I can still have an impact on what initiatives their taking and where I'm going to be placed. It also allows me the time I need for my own side companies and of course working in the garage ;0

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    Originally Posted by smacd
    I dislike the pressure to be "billable" in my work.
    Then don't work for a consulting company, or in the customization part of a product company.

    In these businesses, its typical to expect you to be billable 170 hours a month. This is, in case your calculator is not handy, is roughly 100%.

    Some companies don't get serious about bonus and/or promotions until you run 200+ hours a month for a year. I worked at a place that expected 1000 hours of unpaid overtime each year. Billable, of course.

    My advice is find a job you love, do it well, and money will come.
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    Originally Posted by smacd
    I dislike this job for a few reasons. The position is basically to take this piece of software my company makes, and re-configure it for each customer- these reconfigurations take a couple thousand man-hours usually.

    I dislike the pressure to be "billable" in my work.

    I dislike the software itself (it's a huge behemoth that suffers from poor design decisions early in development).

    And probably the biggest problem- since the software is completely proprietary, there is very little I feel I can add to my resume other than "time served", at least nothing that is a personal skill I can use at another employer. All coding is done by the engineering team, which I'm not a member of. Any actual coding I do is in a very altered form of JScript.

    When it comes down to it, neither of my two goals in a job are being met here. The first is that the company uses my abilities effectively. The second is that I will acquire new abilities while working here. Maybe I'm asking too much.
    If your going to be working in the consulting field, your going to run into "poor code" with many design flaws all the time (in fact, I wouldn't be afraid to say in every project). Upper management of course doesn't want to hear about rewriting an entire system, instead they just want to put ketchup on it.

    The fact that you aren't doing any actual coding and being dissatisfied with that is totally understandable (and not unreasonable).

    That is definitely something to speak with the company about. If anything just bring up that you can do the work your doing, but you don't feel challenged, don't feel that your being utilized fully etc. and perhaps they'll try and get you to go into more of the coding instead. If they tell you that there is not and never will be a position in the area you want, screw them and work for someone else.

    Enjoying your work should be the most important factor. At the same time, you may need to be put through some crap positions before you can build up the experience for the actual job you want (it sounds like you want to contribute to the development of the software). Maybe doing this lame configuration stuff for a year is necessary for that to happen. Just make sure that you are at least moving to where you want to be, and you will get there.

    A good way to make sure that happens is to make sure your employer knows what your intentions are. They won't be hurt knowing that you dislike the work you are given right now, in fact they may of hired you to do that work just because no one else wants to do it. I've been known to outsource work from time to time just because it's very mindless and time consuming.
    Last edited by misterdanny; September 11th, 2008 at 02:51 PM.
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