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I was hired about two years ago to perform tasks requiring skill A. In the mean time I've spent a lot of my free time outside of work to learn skill B, as a hobby.

From what I know skill B is much more valuable in the market, and people hired to do it earn a lot more than me. But I'm happy with my current job and with skill B being only a hobby.

Somehow my boss found out that I know skill B and now wants me to start doing projects that require it, without raising my salary. Can I refuse without quitting my job? What are my options?

EDIT: Thanks for all the answers. I probably wasn't clear enough that I don't want to make skill B my career, and that's why I'm looking for way out of this situation.

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  • Which country? Your options are better in some than in others.
    – Erik
    Nov 16, 2017 at 20:10
  • 1
    Would you be interested in skill B projects at work if you were paid more? Nov 16, 2017 at 20:29
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    Just to clarify the without raising my salary part: you (a) asked for a raise and he refused it or (b) he simply didn't offer a raise ? Nov 16, 2017 at 21:08
  • Depends on what your job description says. If it's got the American standard "and other duties as assigned" clause, then quitting or threatening to quit is your only option.
    – Mark
    Nov 16, 2017 at 21:41

7 Answers 7

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What are my options?

You only have one choice now.

Your only real option at this point is to get another job. Keep your head down and your manager appeased until you do. Sadly, you will have to do tasks that involve skill B until you can move on, but on the other side you will gain additional experience with skill B.

If a counter offer is made after you get your next role, refuse it, as they obviously did not value skill B until after you went through the hassle of finding other work. Remember counter offers rarely are a good idea to accept.

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  • why are counter offers rarely a good idea to accept?
    – bharal
    Nov 18, 2017 at 1:06
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The long and short of it is: No.

You can initiate a conversation around you getting a raise, however he will probably refuse you, or give you a token raise which does not match market value for that skill.

However, look at the bright side: you can gain some experience doing B at this company, then put that on your resume, and get a new job in that field.

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  • I wonder why you have such a negative assumption of the supervisor's potential reaction. Seems dependent on a lot of things, none of which are disclosed in the question.
    – A.fm.
    Nov 16, 2017 at 21:00
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    @a.fm. - that's the vibe I got from the question.
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 16, 2017 at 21:08
  • @A.fm. I had the same experience as described by AndreiROM, forget the raise, if this new sub-field/skill passionate OP, accumulate some experience then switch job to get the salary that match the market. An exception would be if there is already someone at the company that is paid higher for this skill, that means management recognize the money-value of the skill.
    – Tom Sawyer
    Nov 16, 2017 at 21:13
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Short answer:

No, you cannot refuse without quitting your job.

Longer answer

The smart move would be to do "B", get experience doing it for a year or so, then ask for your title and pay to be updated.

The reason I say wait a year is because you will have actual, on the job experience with "B". If your employer refuses to bump up your title and salary, you start going on interviews.

Then, when on an interview, you will be able to say that you started doing "B" as a hobby and your previous employer was so impressed that you had taught yourself "B", that they had you doing it not as a hobby, but as your job at your current employer.

No, you cannot refuse, nor should you. Get the real, ON THE JOB experience and then leverage that experience for more money, either from your current employer or your new one.

DON'T QUIT: GET THE EXPERIENCE FIRST

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  • Paragraph 1 from "Longer answer" is key in my opinion. If you wish to transition into something what is basically another job, then ask your boss/manager if it's possible to switch jobs or whether there's an opening internally to apply for. If there is no opening and it's not possible to switch internally, but you do prefer "B" over "A" then it is advisable to look elsewhere to fulfill that job. Nov 17, 2017 at 16:23
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Just refusing isn't the right approach. You need to talk to your boss and explain to him that people using your new learned skills are paid more in the market, so you will be quite willing to do the job - for the right pay.

(That's assuming that you don't mind doing B for more money, which would be the most reasonable approach for you).

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Can I refuse to perform tasks requiring skill that I was not hired for?

Of course you can! And your employer can in turn be displeased with you to the point where you are marginalized or ultimately dismissed.

That's one option.

Another option is to find a new job where you can perform skill A all day long.

However, because skills are always changing, and it's important to keep up to date, why not try some skill B? As you yourself say, it's more valuable.

Before asking for a raise, you will likely need to demonstrate proficiency in skill B first, by successfully delivering a project or two using it. This will give you more leverage in negotiation. After all, once you are proficient in skill B, moving to a new job becomes that much easier, in the event that your employer doesn't want to pay market value for your skills.

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I'll take the opposition position for the purpose of exploring what-ifs.

If you refuse, imagine how the conversation with your manger will play out.

I am sorry, but my skillset and expertise is in A and this was the basis of my decision to be employed by this company and in my belief, the total compensation package in return for my expertise. Now it is apparent that skill B is being utilized more in the industry and my role at Company.

I am not willing to not do the job however, what I am asking for is the time and support that I would need to invest my interest in skill B from just a hobby to professional grade that can be used as part of my skill set.

My understanding of the cost of such an endeavor for industry professionals is X dollars and Y time before I believe my work would meet the standard.

You never say you are not willing to do it (unless you are 100% confident you will never do it) but rather, skill B was not part of your original plan and expectation for the job. Now that skill B is, you are asking the company to compensate your time and tradeoff of transforming a hobby to a professional skill.

Professional

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I think it is too early to make a move.

I will wait further to see how the project roll out because management is usually not incline to give a raise before seeing the benefits. A lot can happen in short term:

  • The project may be cancelled
  • The project may be small
  • Technology B may not fit to the business
  • Technology B may be killed by political reasons
  • May be you will never have the time to implement technology B because of task XYZ
  • ...

If the review with your manager is not too soon, it will be a good time to mention it and you will be able to list business value that you bring to the company like

  • technology B is able to save time to other employees, saving X$ to the company
  • skill B make development faster, gaining Y$ to the company

Now management will be more incline to give you a raise because they will see the benefits and the money saved/gained.

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