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Sloan the DEV Moderator

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Why I Left 3 Consecutive Jobs

This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough posts to write.

This is a hard post to write..the social-vomit I've seen after the election is all the more reason I'm just now finding the courage to discuss an important topic that keeps slapping me in the face. I am sharing my story in hopes you’ll get something out of it — either courage to stand up for yourself, or the understanding that this !@#$ is happening and YOU can help combat it. It’s not a gender problem. It’s a people problem. I want to be clear - this is not a conversation of qualifications. If I was not qualified, I would have never been hired.

My Story

My first job was the best possible position I could have hoped for. Great company, great benefits, great team, annnd I was completely floored with how much they were offering. I did a lot of research around entry level developer salary, and this seemed above average (the type of technology was new at the time, is actually why). They were also very clear about every new hire getting the same package, which is how it should be right? Over the next year and a half, all of the mid-level and senior developers ahead of me left. I was on my own and plowing through enough work for, well, 3 people. I was doing work wayyy beyond my skillset, and I stepped up to the challenge and totally crushed it. I had team members messaging me words of admiration about how great I was doing. I was on cloud nine.

By this time, it had been just shy of two years without a review, without a raise. But reviews were coming up shortly and I was so ready for that raise. I more than deserved it.. I was killing myself every night, most weekends to ensure everything on my end was done. I became good friends with a few people who were also new hires. One guy got a 5 grand raise. One guy got a 10 grand raise. One guy got a promotion, along with a healthy raise I’m sure. This just pumped me up more knowing they were not put under the stress I was with their seniors leaving the company. My manager slides the paper across the table.. 2k. After taxes, thats $30 a week. Really. An extra dinner is all I was worth. I was absolutely crushed.. and in fact left that meeting room, went to my cube and cried for over an hour. The next day, I collected my emails of praise, a list of all the extra responsibility I had taken on, and marched back in that meeting room and demanded more. I told him what people who were doing my less than job were making..and he was persistent. So I again, took a deep breathe, said “Ok.. I completely understand”.. and went back to my cubical this time, emailing recruiters.

My next job, I was able to secure that 10k raise my peers had been able to secure. I was happy for a while. It was only 2 months into the job where I realized I was working for a managerial chain of sexist, bitter men. That’s a rabbit hole within it’s self, so I’ll save that for another day, but I will say I was not valued. At all. After this realization.. part of me felt regret over leaving, part of me was ready to jump ship again.. but the truth was, with this raise, I was more financially secure. I could actually pay my bills, I could also afford to buy a car which was desperately needed. I continued to look around and finally found a position I thought “Was it”, so after a few years I left.

Being in a desperate situation to leave, both individually and professionally, I didn’t negotiate very hard over my next role. I was confident in the company, I was sure they’d treat me right, I was certain this was it, that I could find peace and refuge and love my job at this place. During the interview, their offer came in lower than what I requested. But I was terrified if I pushed back that they’d walk away - so I took it. I was able to pay my bills.. and at the end of the day I thought that’d be enough. I worked there for a couple more years - never once got a raise, I did get a small bonus, but after taxes, it was a laughable amount. Then, came an email from a recruiter. (Usually I don’t even read these and just delete them.. because after all I was happy with the work I was doing and completely ignorant to, well, life.) But something about the subject line intrigued me.. and not having a raise for a few years, with increasing cost of benefits, I thought why not read. I swore out loud with the 6 figure salary they were offering for my skillset. A 6 figure salary.. for the work I was doing, skill set for skill set. A 6 figure salary that I was about making half of.

After Thoughts

Why is salary so hush-hush? So you don’t get things like this — people realizing they’re making way less than market value, but probably most importantly, they don’t realize what their co-workers are making for the same exact work. I did everything I was supposed to do during each job search, research market value, ask for more, but accept what I thought was fair. So why did this keep happening to me? I was so focused on being mistreated that making what I thought I should have been making for the past year seemed good enough. The job titles I was looking up though was wrong - I didn’t understand the “levels” of developer were different for each company. So if my skillset was at a 2 at company a, they may have been a 3 at company b, or a 1 at company c. This information isn’t available on Glassdoor, only what those positions pay.

What Women Can Do

I don’t want your pity, I want you to learn from my mistakes, and boy do I have a lot of lessons out of this experience.

1. First, and most important. DO NOT DISCLOSE YOUR SALARY. In some states, it’s illegal for them to even ask, but ultimately this is used to sabotage your offer against offering market value.

2. During your initial conversation, ask the range of salary that this position pays (after asking about the position of course). Your primary concern should be the position, the team, and the company, salary and benefits second.. but it should be apart of that initial conversation. Generally there is a range available, and your experience will determine where in that range you fit, but at least from that you have a number you can ask for. Also ask about the career path - make sure the position you’re interviewing for is on par with your skillset and that you’re not interviewing for a level 1 when you’re a level 2, or etc.

3. When a number is thrown out, take a deep breathe, count to 5. Negotiating is difficult, your brain is going a million miles an hour, but this will help calm you, and also put the pressure of awkwardness on the other end of the call. I’ve heard of women getting a 5k-10k boost by just waiting to answer.

  1. Always have a number in mind. Try to aim it with the position range you were able to find out, but do have a number in mind that is the absolute lowest you would happily accept and be comfortable with.

  2. Research. There’s a lot of resources out there to help you in negotiation, use them. Also.. get more practice with it while buying and selling things. Perhaps some stuff you have sitting around the house. And double win, a cleaner house will give you a cleaner mind.

What Men Can Do

Men, we need you. Not to be our knights in shining armor, but to stand with us and support us in the fight.

  1. You don’t need to disclose your salary to your peers. But at the very least, please put in your information on Glassdoor and other salary reporting sites. These sites are anonymous and ensure people are getting what they deserve based on job title and qualifications. If you do feel comfortable disclosing your salary, then even better. I feel the more comfortable we are with money, the more companies will be demanded to pay everyone equally. You may be getting the short straw too and you may not know it!

  2. If you are a manager.. for everything good in the world fight for equal pay for people under you. DOOO the right thing. If you are a recruiter.. you know what the position pays and what others in the same position are making.. stop short changing people. It costs more to replace someone than it does to pay them fairly.

  3. If you are apart of the interview process, do what you can to ensure they are 1) interviewing for the right position and 2) being paid fairly based on their peers salary.

Whatever you do, please start the conversation.

Top comments (13)

annarankin profile image
Anna Rankin

Thank you so much for sharing this. I didn't negotiate at my first job because I, too, was taken aback by the amount (it was way more than I'd ever made before going into tech). It took me about a year to discover that I was making less than my peers. I was lucky enough to have managers who supported and advocated for me to actually rectify the situation, but I see the opposite is true more often than not. Thank you for your story, and especially for this great advice! I second putting your salary info on Glassdoor and doing the right thing.

rapasoft profile image
Pavol Rajzak • Edited

I would add a few points to "What men/women could do", since I don't think this is gender only problem. I saw a lot of people being worried about outcome of salary negotiation, it depends on nature of person. Unfortunately people you usually negotiate with are trained for these situations. So basically, you just need to prepare as well.

If you are already employed and looking for raise be prepared to leave. Contact few recruiters, maybe go on few selected interviews, see what the market can offer. Once you see that you cannot achieve the salary you want in current job then leave. I know it's not always about money, but you can always persuade some of your colleagues to go with you ;)

If your not working for a under-budgeted startup having a solid salary raise shouldn't be a problem. If you get arguments like "we cannot afford to give you this kind of money" it usually means "we can, but I was told not to". You shouldn't be personal when it come to this, it's not your bosses money, but money of the company.

eljayadobe profile image

virtual hugs

In some countries, salaries are public information. Not sure what prevents that from being the norm here.

One of the things I've learned the hard way is the value of work-life balance.

A friend of mine works at a company that is known in the industry as a grueling 80+ hour a week company. Lots of stories about people burning out there. I won't mention the company, because it isn't relevant.

My friend takes the bus to work, and puts in an 8 hour day. Works 5 days a week. A 40 hour week.

So I asked him, "Don't they ask you to work 80+ hours a week?"

He said, "Nope. You can if you want. I don't want to do that. I do a solid 40 a week, and I'm done, and go home. There's more to life than work. No one has asked me to work more than a full work week."

Hmmm. So those people that are putting in the long hours there and burning out... self-inflicted. Maybe competitiveness and peer pressure are big factors, too. But still, ultimately, self-inflicted.

I've had bosses where I was putting in 60+ hour weeks. That set the bar, and became the expectation. Was that extra effort appreciated? Rewarded? Nope and nope.

The lesson I learned is I was allowing myself to be taken advantage of. And I wasn't even asked to put in that extra effort, I had done it to myself, voluntarily. Self-inflicted. I don't blame anyone but myself.

What about deadlines? About all the work that has to get done? I've discovered that I'm a software developer... I'm not the project manager. It's the PM's job to worry about deadlines. It's my job to work on what needs to work on, as prioritized by the PM.

If the PM wants to know how long it will take me to get something done, I'll give my best estimate. I don't pad it long, nor try to be overly optimistic. But it is just that: an estimate, not a commitment.

But if the PM just pulls the numbers out of thin air and scribbles those imaginary numbers on the Gantt chart... well, garbage in, garbage out. Gantt charts are just a planning tool, not gospel.

rhymes profile image

Thanks for having the courage to write about this. It's very important.

I wish, I know it's an utopian thought, that salary were public knowledge everywhere.

I also wish more companies were like Buffer with their "transparent salary" strategy:

eljayadobe profile image

Another industry that has a public and transparent salary is... the United States military.

rhymes profile image
rhymes • Edited

Isn't that because it's a government job? Even the Senators salaries are public I guess

iedaddy profile image
iedaddy • Edited

Just to add a couple thoughts to this…

The salary thing is more about marketing yourself and your worth to the company and less about the day to day tasks you perform during your job.

For instance, you mention that it was two years without a review. That’s a huge red flag because every company should be giving you constant feedback on how you’re contributing to their success.

In general, if you keep your head down, complete your tasks on time, do extra work on the weekends, have your co-workers send you emails of appreciation and praise then that will get you the bare minimum of raises. And after your review it’s pretty much too late to get an adjustment because a lot of budgets are approved and set at that point and a manager isn’t necessarily going to go to bat for you after they have submitted all their numbers – because that would be admitting they got your review wrong.

Instead, you have to be constantly marketing yourself and the business value you are bringing to the company to show what an excellent investment you are.

As an example, you might say something like, “I completed all my tasks for Project Unicorn on time and helped some of the other developers with their assigned tasks. We also came up with some great ideas for future enhancements.” And that would be a true statement, but there’s no motivation from the company to necessarily reward that behavior because isn’t that what they are paying you for to begin with?

Now instead, if you said, “Working on Project Unicorn, I delivered on time allowing the company to implement a $750K project and realize over $2MM is profits for the fiscal year. In addition, I mentored several team members to increase the overall expertise of the project team. During the course of the project we worked collaboratively with the rest of the team and were able to propose several additional features that are projected to make the company over $1MM in the next two years.”

Now your manager can attach a dollar amount to your contribution. When they go to bat for handing out those raises and bonuses they have some real and concrete values for justifying a 10% raise or a 20% bonus. They can’t afford not to keep you happy because you contribute to their success in a tangible way.

In many ways, salaries are not about equal pay for equal tasks or expertise, let’s face it in technology it’s such a rapidly changing world we’re all constantly learning new things – it’s about the impact you make to the company’s bottom line.
Or, to put it another way, which employee would be more valuable to the company’s bottom line?

Employee A: Super experienced with all sorts of technology, spends a year learning amazing technology (say, blockchains for instance), writing code and completing all their assigned work but none of it ever makes it into production.

Employee B: Junior coder who is often late with assigned tasks and on average only writes 10 lines of code a week in QBASIC, but that code is implemented into production.

I know it’s hard sometimes, but you need to be constantly marketing yourself to your manager. No good manager likes writing mediocre reviews. Give them the ammo they need to stuff your review full of specific concrete examples of how you’ve contributed directly to the company’s success. Make it easy for them by forwarding those congratulatory emails to them throughout the year so they can include them in the review, not printing them out after the review to prove how wrong they were about your performance. Discuss your job performance with them every week and connect the dots on how your specific actions are contributing to the company’s success. Write it up in a weekly or monthly email to them that they can go back and easily reference as it comes time for them to write your review. Basically, write your own review throughout the year (and send it to your boss) so when it comes time for them to write everything up, they can just go and copy and paste your review from all the performance update emails you’ve sent them throughout the year.

ozzyaaron profile image
Aaron Todd

I've got about 20 years experience from jobs and positions as described here as well as hiring and having a say in salaries etc.

I'll just make a couple of observations that may or may not apply but I think are important:

1) People with the same responsibilities can have wildly different values and wildly different net impacts
2) People can think they're doing a great job and be doing a TERRRRIBLE job, some can think they are skating on thin ice whilst performing INCREDIBLY. It constantly surprises me the number of incompetent people that are shocked when they're fired for poor performance. Sometimes it is managements' fault for lack of metrics but I've seen truly low performers have the ego Einstein would deserve

With that in mind I think it is much better to remove the gendered part of this discussion as it doesn't add any value. People that have lower ability to judge their own performance and further stand up for what they're worth come in all flavors, shapes, sizes, whatever.

Public salaries are probably a great resource for jobs where the same title exactly describes the requirements otherwise they also need to involve hours worked, output and other important metrics. I've seen developers with the same title put in wildly different hours however the developer putting in extra hours might have a lower net output or net impact. Many people work extra hours to make up for their lack of ability for instance.

This, especially in knowledge based work, isn't as simple as equal pay for equal title. Furthermore if you have a team of developers working on highly technical and difficult work paving the way for developers doing less intense or difficult work how would that break down? This is common practice that in an organisation different skills have different values. I could absolutely see something like all seniors in Team A get $x, all seniors in Team B get $y and so on being perhaps possible.

In the grand scheme of things, especially in jobs where output is difficult to measure and value, I think equal pay for equal work is difficult to achieve by management. I would not want it at my workplace as we do not have the ability to measure it. I am not as a valuable as my colleagues which is not to say I am more or less valuable - just that it is different. To me it is the same problem as tipping in a kitchen. You either realise that we all as a team contribute to output and feel okay about all of us agreeing to this new scheme - or we do not. Having it pushed top down is just another move that is as much collective punishment as reward.

As a team in a previous job we at drinks would play a game where we'd start at $x and as we announced $x+10k, $x+20k we would drop our hands as the figure passed our salary. It gave everybody on the team an idea of where they sat and other than a few instances people were happy with their position - essentially their value on the team.

I'm sad to say but I think this post is probably by someone that either hasn't thought about the problem enough, had enough experience, or just is a overly annoyed to see the issues with what they're suggesting. I really hope people don't think this is a good solution to a problem that in a lot of ways doesn't exist. If it is a problem I would urge you to raise it inside your team and find ways to come up with bottom-up solutions to the issue. Essentially you're building a mini union and collective bargaining is almost always better than the alternative.

kyslik profile image
Martin Kiesel

Yep, pretty much. The better the measurements the better the “equality”.

sansseryph profile image
Kyla • Edited

Thank you to person sharing their experiences. As a newer woman in tech, I feel so completely lost when navigating the corporate world. Posts like this help me get an idea of what I should expect and how important it is for me to be assertive about my value and place in the industry.

damirtomic profile image

It's the same for guys :D

stojakovic99 profile image
Nikola Stojaković

It's definitely not same for guys. Yes, it's hard for all, but it's still at least somewhat harder for women.

codebubb profile image
James Bubb

That's tough but thank you for sharing.

There's a lot of work to bring about equality in tech but I feel more awareness of this kind of thing is a positive move forward.

I have this conversation with my wife quite often. I feel companies only reward those that bring business to a company. Sales, Marketing - these are the departments that deliver cold hard cash to a business whereas Support, Customer Service and Development are required but (in general) don't raise the company's bottom line.