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Asking for a raise outside of my review period?

doctor_von_n0strand

I took a job opening a few months ago at a 20-ish person office. At the time, I really wanted to leave the corporate setting and get some hands-on experience at a growing firm.

When I got the offer, the salary offered was lower than my pay at the time. After informing the partner of this on the phone, they matched my then-salary and gave me a verbal promise that in a few months they'd "put me where I wanted to be," assuming everything went smoothly in my first few months.

Its been about 6-7 months since then, I've been chit-chatting with a lot of folks in my network, and I feel that I could be getting paid more; as in, I could be getting paid the salary I wanted from the start. Now is a great time to leave and seek better pay, given the market, but I've started making friends here and have been more or less enjoying the variety of work.

We have performance reviews in June/July, but I've already made up my mind that if I don't get my desired pay bump then, I'm setting off for greener pastures. Is it out of line to set up a conversation and ask up front right now? The thing that's making me lean toward jumping ship is that the salary number I requested at my interview was 10% higher than what I'm actually being paid. I find it hard to imagine that they'll bring me up by that percentage based on a verbal promise made at the time of my hiring. And I know for a fact that people with my experience etc. have been fetching that salary elsewhere.

If that's gonna be the case, I'd rather know now and start doing the legwork on leaving than hold tight for another month or two to wait and find out.

 
May 9, 22 1:40 pm

Speak with the firm owners about this.  They said within a 'few months' and it's been 6-7 months.

Regardless of when you speak to them about this you should already be doing the 'leg work' to find a better frim now.  

Also - don't say you're going to leave unless you get paid more.  Have a new job lined up and if they don't pay you more give your notice.  

May 9, 22 1:45 pm  · 
4  · 
doctor_von_n0strand

Good advice! Thank you. I have updated my resume and portfolio already, but the dread of having to go through the job-hunting process again after a few short months really hit me. I suppose need to get over it though—I really do think I can find a more inspiring place to work at better pay.

May 9, 22 1:56 pm  · 
1  · 
midlander

Make your ask just to see their reaction. If they seem at all surprised or reluctant to follow up on their promise you will know you must leave sooner or later. 


It will be funny in 10-15 years when you look back on this and realize what they just did to you. The lesson will help you watch out for the clients looking to do the same in hiring their architects on the cheap too. Getting taken advantage of is one of the things even an ivy league degree doesn't teach you to watch out for.


10% of a junior level salary isn't much money. If it's at all an issue for them their business is in no position to support hiring.

May 10, 22 1:16 am  · 
3  · 
doctor_von_n0strand

Good advice. And yes, I've been noticing a few other red flags related to the firm's finances. Half of my time has been logged as non-billable even though I've only worked on 100% billable projects the duration of my employment...it seems like every other client is getting a discount, seems like understaffing has been an issue for a while...bosses are noting that "junior and intermediate staff need to be putting in more hours"...etc.

If there's anything I've learned in my relatively short time it's that this whole profession is exploitative by nature, and boomer bosses will expect loyalty and blood, sweat and tears from you simply for having given you a paycheck and a place to go during the day on weekdays. It's hard pushing back when the school environment teaches you to be submissive to your "elders," but you're right. This is a useful real-life experience in not letting people walk over you. Even well-intentioned people will still want what they want from you, and will simply take it if you don't stand up for your needs.

May 10, 22 10:45 am  · 
2  · 

Some firms are exploitative - I think that's because the owners where exploited and they simply can't be bothered to figure out how to run a firm differently. Not all firms are like this. Find a firm that values it's team members.

On a related note, are hourly or salaried?  

May 10, 22 10:49 am  · 
5  · 
midlander

as an anecdote, i asked for a 20% raise 6 months after starting my first job... and got 14%. there is no fixed rule on when you can ask, especially in a small office. the most exploitative offices generally are the ones whose leaders don't value their own work adequately, and expect everyone to put in their share of extra effort. it's a kind of collective victimhood, and very poisonous to your future development. based on what you write, there will be no potential benefit for you if you stay - just find a better job, they really do exist.

May 10, 22 11:10 am  · 
2  · 
Bench

If you're already within 6-8 week of the review period, it might be worth simply waiting for the anticipated meeting. Asking two months earlier than they had already said it would take place seems unnecessary. In the meantime, it will likely take a few weeks to chase down some promising leads in the meantime and get interviews set up. The timeline all seems fairly reasonable as it stands...

May 10, 22 8:44 am  · 
3  · 
doctor_von_n0strand

Good advice also. As of this morning I've started pursuing some other leads. I think I have good grounds to ask for my desired salary at my review based on the work I've done here and how competitive the market is right now. The office is really hurting for people—they've been unable to staff up to their desired level for a few months now because they haven't offered candidates high enough pay. If they say no I want to be ready to leave immediately.

May 10, 22 10:52 am  · 
2  · 
torr

Look at the market, their is a recession in the works.  I would wait it out.  Although the job market is hot, I think it is not real.  The interest hikes is going to affect the multi-family market and others.  It won't tank, it'll just slow down. Also, Covid is not over.  

May 10, 22 11:59 am  · 
1  · 

I agree with 1/3 of that. Even if a recession took place I think the OP's employer would probably fire the new hires . . .

May 10, 22 12:16 pm  · 
1  · 
doctor_von_n0strand

I'm not an economist, or even someone intimately familiar with the ups and downs in recessions from a business side, but wouldn't the effect of a recession on AEC industries be a little less pronounced this time around? I feel like there is a lot of backlogged work as it is, and demand for new housing is climbing steadily. I also imagine that even with the disappearance of easy credit there will still be work on the books at most firms for at least a year or two, no? To me, it feels like the time horizon for projects that have already started or are on the books, or are still coming in, would eclipse the length of a recession. 

May 10, 22 1:49 pm  · 
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I think if you could figure that out and accurately predict this economy you'd be a wizard of immense power.  

Like this due . . .


May 10, 22 3:02 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

Nice magic the gathering reference there Chad.

May 10, 22 3:17 pm  · 
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Damn right NS. If you're going to reference a wizard make it a good one. :)

May 10, 22 4:35 pm  · 
1  · 
Jay1122

What kind of pay difference are we talking about here? Just thousands? or tens of thousands? Jumping because of a few thousand salary difference sounds silly to me. I would just negotiate with the firm if you think the salary is below average. A few thousand is definitely reachable. The annual review is near, wait and see if there is promotion.

What about the firm itself. In terms of culture, workload, people, projects, remote policy, commute distance, etc. Heck, even office spaces. Don't laugh. a Manhattan firm where I went for an interview fresh out of school many years ago has an office space smaller than a bedroom. The stairway in the building does not allow 2 people to pass without going sideways. 4 people jammed in a single room. Desks along 3 walls, printer on the fourth. I bet the owner just wanted that midtown Manhattan address to fool the remote clients. That is like working in a prison cell.

May 10, 22 3:58 pm  · 
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doctor_von_n0strand

Eh. The workload is honestly very poorly managed, the last two weeks I had worked 40 hours by Wednesday night. This week is very slow—and people are generally discontent with the partners' management style. I feel like the firm doesn't really have an intelligent creative vision and that sort of matters to me as well.

May 10, 22 4:11 pm  · 
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doctor_von_n0strand

The salary difference is in the between five and ten thousand range. It may seem like a small difference but it would make a difference to me. Many of my classmates working at various sized firms make the salary I'm requesting so it seems reasonable to me to expect the same.

May 10, 22 4:22 pm  · 
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proto

only suggestion: give them an explicit number you can live with

i had a similar conversation once. They came back with a low number and i said that's too low. They asked what do you think is appropriate? I gave them a range (from quizzing friends at my level in other places) thinking they could acknowledge my good performance they noted during a review. Or that somehow a range offered them some choices instead of looking like I was unwilling to negotiate. The new number proposed was the bottom of the range. I learned some things that day...

May 10, 22 4:27 pm  · 
1  · 
Jay1122

Of course, the more $$ the better. We can all agree on that. Just consider other things as well when looking for firms. Also consider growth potential and nepotism. Some firms hire with high base salary then pigeon hole. Some firms promote based on buddy relationship with the principal/manager rather than work. Just some things to keep in mind. Of course, you can only spot those things after you are in there for a while.

May 10, 22 4:36 pm  · 
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doctor - a $5-$10k range is NOT a small amount until you in the six figure range. 

On a related note: it's no uncommon to have the OCCASIONAL work speed ups and slow downs week to week. If this is happening all the time it is a sign of bad management.

Are you at least paid overtime for the extra hours you're putting in? 

May 10, 22 4:38 pm  · 
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doctor_von_n0strand

Nope. No overtime. Salaried. Got a few free takeout dinners at my desk and the morning off following the night of the project deadline lol. Not even a cab ride home (NY office) leaving the office at 12am...

May 10, 22 4:49 pm  · 
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Jay1122

is it NYC or NYS. I am surprised that the office does not even have remote ability. At least give the employee the option to work at home if extra work is required near deadline. My office has 2 days remote hybrid policy. Paid overtime is rare in this profession. But the key point should be how often do you work overtime.

I hope your office is not in NYC. That is not a good place. The lows will get really low. The highs are usually very abusive.

May 10, 22 5:04 pm  · 
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In some states paid overtime is required by law if you're not licensed. Unfortunately NY is not one of those states.

May 10, 22 5:40 pm  · 
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Black_Orchid

OP, definitely ask for an off season raise. If you don't like them, ask for the raise and leverage that for a new offer from a new firm. It is an employee market regardless of what anyone tells you. Happiness is real, but at the end of the day you need to get paid and I do not care what people say. Your name is not on the door, you work for someone else. Get paid and move forward.  I think in this market, who knows what will happen. It seems every office is flush with work and cant find anyone to hire.

Better for them to pay you more than pay even more money to replace you IMO.

May 10, 22 8:40 pm  · 
1  · 
doctor_von_n0strand

PREACH! I’m gonna bring that energy, (and a few pending job offers hopefully) into my performance review. Our bosses sat us all down a few weeks ago to talk about how architecture is a “profession, not a job.” Well architecture is indeed a profession, but being an architecture employee is definitely a job! We all need to act like it!

May 10, 22 10:40 pm  · 
1  · 
Black_Orchid

Re reading my post, shit Grammer and English (damn). Anyways, it's a huge problem as a profession for have that viewpoint of a profession not a job. Akin to being an artist, it's fueled by passion. Similarly, you see a difference when an artist paints for themselves vs. when they paint on commission. Architecture is a service industry and nothing more. Firm organization, fee structure aside.


It's not fair for employers to try to brainwash or coax us into this mindset that we are somehow more special than any other workforce, therefore our sacrifice of time and energy overpowers getting paid fairly. Firms will do whatever is in their best interest at the end of the day to keep the lights on, case closed.


It's not that you should go looking to burn bridges but as my boss told me recently "business is business" which was refreshing to hear in almost a way to remove my emotions from how I see my employer. I can love my job for my pay, and I can love another job for more or less. Architecture just isn't set up like some other professions where we can easily bounce around every year or two due to project time-frames, so we just need to work within those bounds.


I actually was looking to quit and interviewed around. Got offers for 13k over my current salary, then found well, I like my job but wish they would pay me more. Brought the offers to my boss and said look what other firms see my value as, will you match this? And they did.


Sometimes it's just about "shooting your shot" and even if you're rejected you at least put yourself in an uncomfortable situation which will only make you grow a bit more.


Good luck!



May 10, 22 11:14 pm  · 
1  · 
reallynotmyname

Good work. Coming in with multiple legit job offer letters from other firms is the most effective tool there is to start discussing a raise with a current employer.

May 11, 22 12:08 pm  · 
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