A Pay Raise

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item A Pay Raise

  • Steve,

    I think that there is a (perhaps not so) subtle age discrimination attitude that is being demonstrated in the market place these days. More and more, it seems that companies who are willing to pay more for entry level or new, younger workers are less and less willing to pay for the relatively small amount of training that would be required to bring older worker's skills up to date. One of the common excuses that I have heard is "We just don't have it in the budget." and, yet, it is somehow "in the budget" to pay more for the newer employee.

    When a company has somewhat "low balled" you in the first place because they "have evaluated your skills and our needs and this is what we consider to be a fair offer that is in line with the current market in this area", I have not found them to be willing to negotiate on much of anything. Perhaps, this reflects where I am as much as anything else but I believe that it also reflects the fact that companies do not actually feel like there is a true shortage or else they feel like they can"get by until the market comes back down" (a direct quote from my recent experience in seeking employment ;-).

  • this sentence in the article does not make sense:

    If you're looking for a job, and if companies have to pay entry level workers more, why not just hire an experienced person?

  • "I have seen the enemy and he is us"

    -- Pogo.

    America has propped up the younger generation with self-esteem programs and non-competitive (formerly competitive) games and sports. We don't want to hurt anybody's feelings so everybody gets a trophy. My kids are partial victims of that train of thought. I've tried to give them a sense of the "real world" but it hasn't been easy.

    How does this apply to some younger workers? In the same out of kilter effort-to-reward attitude. I get newly hired people that after 6 months of work expect an office, an administrative assistant, expense account and a company car. After 20 years of experience the only one I have is the office. It doesn't mater that they don't yet understand "the business" (banking in my case) or that in order for me to "trust them will a lot" they first have to earn the right to be "trusted with a little".

    Far to often older workers fall into the same trap. I'm one of those "older workers" as my age is > 50. Why is it the companies responsibility to keep them current in their chosen profession? Shouldn't they bear some of that burden as well. I've taken it upon myself to learn the new technology that keeps me current and employable. The company should be willing to train you on technologies you have no means of attaining such as business specific applications but each worker should undertake acquainting themselves with at least two new technologies per year.

    In short, neither of these types of workers understand the economics of work. This isn't a blanket that covers all workers. There are many fine workers both male and female, older and younger that understand you have to deliver more "value" to your employer than you take away. That relationship cannot flow for very long in the reverse or the employee will no longer be employed.

    --Paul Hunter

  • Interesting as always Steve.

    I am one who is between the "older" workers and the "young" workers in age and experience. Yet I seem to do better based on the value the company places on me than the others in the IT department, I have asked myself why, in an attempt to help those who were floundering in the same position. Unfortunately each time the difference amounts to the attitude of the employee, not their technical skills. Most business jobs do not require one to be a genius tech, just to be competent. The older workers who want training to get their skills current, well, I can empathize a bit, however I wonder why is someone in the technology field if they do not enjoy it enough to keep up with all the changes? I am sorry the tech world has changed from cobol to C, or java or SQL, but if you really enjoyed your knowledge in tech, you would keep up simply because you wanted to. Now then we have the young ones, hopefully its only a symptom in the midwest but none seem to believe they should actually have to work to get things. I have personally seen several young workers quit inside of a couple weeks at a job because they thought it was too much work. Mind you the rest of us in the same positions felt it was a really reasonable paced and mellow job. Again, the difference is attitude, the younger workers in a broadly general way, seem to think the level of work an employer expects is far too much. Or they are willing to place vast amounts of effort into very short bursts. They are all either sprinters or crawlers, no walkers. Working is not something one can "finish" like homework, there is going to be no graduation point, I wonder if the youngest of that age group really have considered that.

    I doubt highly my company is very much different than the "average" one. I know my skills are not far beyond average, yet I have not the slightest concern about the stability of my job, or the unreasonableness of the employer. I can only think its attitude that makes me different from those who are restless, stressed or angry with their jobs. Now, for my one younger gen attitude, if you don't like the job no one is making you stay there. If the company is unreasonable, if they hire and fire on a regular basis, its likely not a good company to work for, and you should get out of there. The end result in this sort of behavior if more and more people do it? The companies that are bad to work for will be forced to change their ways in order to get staff who are competent.

    Maybe its just my attitude again, but it seems to me to be more than a bit unreasonable to expect a business to cater to the employee's ego and greed. Fairness is on both sides in my vision of the world. {Oh, and yes that vision does get broken at times, I do know there are unfair employers out there.}

    Just my musings on such things.

  • Good points and some interesting things I hadn't thought of. I haven't seen or been a part of age discrimination yet, but I'm sure that I won't be thrilled when it happens.

    The sentence referenced above was a point I wanted to make. If you have to pay more for entry level workers, as mentioned in the editorial and linked article, then why pay for no experience? Maybe you should move that pay towards someone with more experience.

  • I agree there Steve, I do have some input on who gets hired to work with me, and I would much rather have someone with experience than an Ivy League degree.

    I was fortunate enough to be working in an IT department for three of my college years, it gave me a rather unusual perspective. The experience on the job so far outstripped what I was learning in books, and was far more valuable.

    I believe the experience gives a person a better view of their own skills, and a more realistic one. This to me makes a world of difference when your working in a company.

  • I believe David's post is spot on. It is attitude and not aptitude that makes the difference in the employee.

    There is only one company I've had the misfortune to deal with that treats all employee's as a commodity. It's not difficult to find many ex-employees from that company and they all tell a similar story.

    Most employers I've worked with from the largest (70,000 world wide) to the smallest (5 total employees) have been reasonable about getting any training that was needed. Training just for the sake of training has been harder to obtain.

    As the manager of the department, I always figure out what's needed to maintain knowledge and then add $5,000 per person per year for "value-added" training. This serves two purposes as it helps me keep the workers I've got and sharpens their skills. I believe in trying to put "golden handcuffs" on my workers so that they don't want to go somewhere else.

    --Paul Hunter

  • Being a young person in IT, I find it disappointing that more companies are not taking chances on younger employees. Most are looking for experience, but my major concern when I started, was how to get this experience that "they" speak of. You cannot just all of the sudden have it one day. Companies have to be willing to take a chance on the younger generation and help them grow. A lot of the burden of learning the role falls on the person themselves, but with hard work and a little direction from the company, you can mold a new employee into the worker you need them to be. Create an "associate" or "junior" position so that they can have a chance to prove their skills (I was lucky enough to land one of these). It would also give the more senior members a chance to be in a mentor type role. I have a great respect for those more experienced than myself and do not expect to be compensated in the same way that they are. They worked hard for a long time and deserve it. I do, however, expect to be respected for the fact that I willing to work hard and learn my position. In time, compensation will come with that. You have to tap into the young workforce now, because when the next generation starts retiring or moving up the chain, there is going to be no one "experienced" enough to fill all of the open roles.

  • Perhaps I may not have presented my thoughts as clearly as I could have. My point with regard to training appears to have been somewhat misinterpreted.

    Why is it the companies responsibility to keep them current in their chosen profession? Shouldn't they bear some of that burden as well./quote]

    A company does not have the sole responsibility to keep their employees current in their chosen profession; however, given the cost of the tools to work with new development languages or database and the cost of the training involved, neither do I feel that it is the employee's sole responsibility. If the employee is willing to take the time to attend available courses after work to keep current, then it would seem to be in the best interest of the company to assist the employee. If, on the other hand, the company decides to radically change direction in its toolsets, then (IMHO) the company would be better served by providing the training during.

    A perfect example of my point has occurred in the company where I am currently employed. Our web-based applications have been written in Delphi for the last 10 or so years. However, a decision was made about 18 months ago to convert them all to C#. This was a "management decision" and, while perhaps there could be some debate about some of the points in it, as such it is now "The Law". However, none of the current developers were "up to speed" in C#. The approach that Management took was to hire 2 contractors (one on a Contract-To-Hire basis) and have rewrite the basics (as in about 85%) of the suite of applications. Each of the current workers were scheduled for a 2-week OJT consisting of 1 week of "co-piloting"(i.e. sitting and watching as the contractor explained what was being done) and 1 week of having the contractor co-pilot.

    At this point, one contractor has been hired, a second young programmer has been hired, and 5 of the existing 6 programmers have been given the 2 weeks of training and actually assigned some C# work to do. My training was interrupted due to "production problems" and has never been restarted. As a result, I am now the official "legacy systems repairman." There are no C# courses I can take in the area from a college or from a training school that do not conflict with my work hours. Since we used to have 6 of us maintaining and enhancing the legacy applications, I pretty much have a full time job just maintaining them. Of course, in about 3 weeks, the new C# version will be rolled out and most of the legacy work will immediately go away . . . but I will also not have any knowledge of the code involved in the new version.

    The point of this is not that I am concerned about being "redundant" (I have other skills that I am shifting my emphasis to) but, rather, that the company has taken a somewhat disingenuous approach to the process. The reason given for not providing more or better training was that, having seen (and felt) the price offered for C# developers, the company didn't feel like it should train its employees so that they could just get a better paying job somewhere else. (Doesn't that sound like an admission that the employees were underpaid? 😉

    Paul's experience,

    There is only one company I've had the misfortune to deal with that treats all employee's as a commodity.

    , is almost totally the reverse of mine. I have, in fact, had a manager explain to me that the company had a vested interest in having its employees' skills be somewhat out of date because that meant that it would be harder for them to change jobs and would provide an incentive for them to not "rock the boat" when they were required to work overtime without compensation. I have also been told that "there are 10 programmers waiting in line to have your job." I have had 2 companies that did not seem to treat their employees as commodities and, interestingly enough, both of them not only supported but actively encouraged their employees (IT in articular) to keep their skills up to date and even to take courses not 100% related to their current position.

    Bottom line: I think it is in the best interest of employees (especially IT employees) to keep their skillets current . . . however, I also think it is almost as short sighted of a company to not bear a part of that burden as it is for a company to conclude that payroll expenses are the fastest way to cut costs and to lay off all of its workers to "get back in the black."

  • Ralph further makes the point. All developers should take an active role in keeping their skills current with market demand. The cost to their future marketability is dangerously high.

    About the cost of the tools. The cost of a C# development environment is --- free. You can download the C# Express version from Microsoft for free. Same for SQL 2005 (Express) or SQL 2008 (CTP). They don't have all the features of the full version, but they does have enough to get your started. After all C# is just a language like Delphi or VB or Java. You can gain 80% of the required knowledge in a short period of time and then add "fluency" the more you work with it.

    --Paul Hunter

  • I once worked short order at a Denny's, but I'm guessing that Ralph meant skillSets, not skillets 🙂

    Though those are pretty handy as well.

    I like growing people and I think it's a good strategy to keep fresh ideas and keep people motivated. Not that long term employment isn't a good thing, but it's been rare from what I've observed in my career and others.

    However I think you should pay less for less experience and it's hard to get people to accept that. Or at least I've seen that. The goal should be to make it a place people want to work and then they'll stay for a period of time. Keep them happy, including training, and they'll stay and help you.

    The key thing, in my mind, is to manage the changes. So make them feel like they won't get booted if they want to leave. Help them find a new job when they are looking, and you might end up getting a few others to stay longer.

  • [qoute]About the cost of the tools. The cost of a C# development environment is --- free. You can download the C# Express version from Microsoft for free. Same for SQL 2005 (Express) or SQL 2008 (CTP). They don't have all the features of the full version, but they does have enough to get your started. [/quote]

    Let's look at the costs involved for the developer:

    Cost of C# Express: Free

    Cost of SQL Server 2005 Express: Free

    Cost of C# books to learn C3: about $45 per book (probably requires at least 2)

    Cost of SQL Server 2005 books to learn SS2K5: about $45 per book (requires at least 1 and probably 2)

    Cost of Server to provide 2 Tier tools: approx. $1000

    Cost of time spent working on becoming proficient instead of working on being a part of the family: Priceless

    Cost in terms of loyalty to company and/or manager: depending on the situation, could be total

    Now, consider it from the following stand point:

    If the company/manager offers the training in exchange for a 1 year commitment to stay with the company, I don't know of many developers who would refuse to sign the commitment. Now, if the training is offered on a periodic basis (e.g this spring, C# training; this summer or fall, either additional, advanced C# training or, maybe, training on better use of SQL Server 2005), it should be possible to continually get a 1 year "commitment to stay". Of course, this assumes that there is a corresponding culture of improvement and appreciation with regard to the developers. This is the sort of thing that requires pro-active efforts to retain devlopers rather than a supprissive appraoch that tries to make them unable to get a job somewhere else.

    As for the Skillet vs SkilSet . . . what can I say? I ran the Spell Checker and thought I said, "No." when it asked about that change . . . but, now that I think about it, a 10" skillet just might improve my feelings about my manager if I applied it correctly. 😉

    The best managers I have had were very pro-active about encouraging employees to keep their skillsets fresh and even to expand them. The worst I have had were the ones who tacitly or actively discouraged their employees from doing so. Yes, it still takes effort and sacrifice on the part of the employee but the manager and company can make the effort more or less of a sacrifice and ordeal. If the employee sees the company/managerr as being support of their efforts, their thoughts tend to not be of getting the skillset so that they can leave but, rather, getting the skillset so that they can improve their contribution to the overall well being of the company and their team.

  • Steve Jones makes some good points.

    I'm sure the situation is different in every country. In Sweden where I live and work however, salary for academic people are quite low compared to england and germany and Switzerland. There is also somewhat of a gap here rightnow for good IT people so here I expect the salary to grow for people. After all we are living on a market that builds on demand and the amount of resources. If the demand is high and the amount of resources are low the price goes up just like it ought to do 🙂

    For companies that wants to keep their employees, me as an employee gets hurt when I see the executive get a bonus of 3,5 Million SEK ~ 550 000 usd for one years work with a company of 1000 employees. And they encurage us to work hard for a very small bonus (need to work 95-100% to get a bonus each month, which is nice to get each month, but if you need one days leve or are sick for two days, you are screwd for that month) and not so high salary, no wonder people leves the employee. They do give us some nice courses once in a while and wants us to study for certificates on our own time even, going to courses that lasts an evening is fine since I'm interrested but still it is a bit annoying that they expects us to do it all for free and still work 8 hours 5 days a week. Times are chaning and the employees that does not change with the time will suffer, at least as long as the demand is greater then the amount of resources.

  • Being in the middle ground (i'm 31 with 10 years SQL experience) I can see both sides of the coin. In the UK (I assumes this happens in the US) larger companies have programmes for fresh graduates that promise rapid career progression. This usually entails about 6 months dogsbody work in all the different functions of the business then you are placed into a position that you seem best suited (or where they short of head count). Now some of these programmes are very well run and if you are willing to put in the effort and time a well rewarded career awaits. However I see the point that programmes such as these ignore the more experienced staff and can also breed a sense of 'deserving' just for being young and in a graduate program. A couple of my friends have gone the graduate route have been prepared to put in the work and are reaping the rewards.

    I however wanted to choose WERE I worked aswell as WHO I worked for and was lucky enough find a small company who were willing to take a risk on youth (risk was mitigated by the fact they paid me peanuts). However they were not willing to pay me more as my skillset increased. This has been a feature of my career and number of former colleagues of the same generation that to be fairly rewarded for my knowledge and effort I have to move jobs.

    I am now at a stage where I am helping to find staff to fill a DBA role and I would just be happy to find someone capable regardless of age, experience is great as long as its good experience


    The argument I have received so many times is that my salary is matched with the local average for my role. If that is true how come I find it relatively easy to find a company that has managed to find a higher average?

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