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So I'm only 17, but I do a lot where I work. The hotel I'm at originally hired me to do bussing/hosting in the on-property restaurant. Well, about 2 months in, while I'm still 16, the Front Office Manager, who handles all of the check-in, rooms, and sales, took a liking to me, and started cross-training me at the front desk. The previous General Manager who was promoted to Vice-President of the parent company also made it very clear that he liked me, my personality, and especially my work ethic. So, I start working the front desk, and pretty soon the Front Office Manager would rather have me, a 16 year old, on the front desk than the people actually hired for it, and the VP wholeheartedly agrees. Pretty soon I'm not really working in the restaurant anymore, but now I'm basically a special activities employee; anytime somebody has a "project" they pass it on to me.

Well, the Front Office Manager was promoted to General Manager. Along with that, now I'm her de facto assistant. Now, this whole time I have 2 different salaries; in the restaurant I'm making 8.25, but when I do anything else it's 10. At first, I was more than happy to work for that rate; it's my first job. However, I feel like they've been taking advantage of me, especially since the new GM was promoted. Now, the VP has me running through the finance data for the hotel and wants me to work with the Director of Sales to optimize and modernize the new year marketing plan to present to upper-management and ownership. After that, he wants me to go through the balance sheets for the hotel itself and all the departments to analyze it and create visualizations using software like Tableau to find out why the hotel isn't operating on a relatively good profit margin. If the ownership likes it, he wants me to do the other 13 hotels in the parent companies portfolio (including teaching the GMs). I'm perfectly fine doing that, but I don't feel like it's fair that they would realistically hire somebody for 25-30$/hr to do that at minimum.

So, I was upfront with the general manager and basically said, "I think that I should see an increased compensation because my entire set of responsibilities has changed." Her response was neither up nor down. She seemed open to the idea but I guess I was wrong. When asked what I thought was fair, I lowballed at 20%, which would only be 12/hr. She said, "There's grown adults here making less than that." So I simply inquired, "So is it solely because of my age?" She was frank and said, "It's not not because of your age."

I understand that the hotel isn't operating on the best profit margin, but I don't think that it's fair to expect me to work a job that somebody would get paid almost 3x to do simply because I'm only 17. What would you suggest I do? What's the next move?

Edit: I'm actually planning on attending University of Chicago, and not for hospitality or finance, so I don't plan on being around the location (York,PA) or industry for more than a year. This is honestly just a job I never foresaw, and I do have a number of other academic and volunteer engagements, so I want to make sure that my work is actually worth my time.

closed as off-topic by Dukeling, Wesley Long, gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, DarkCygnus Jan 2 '18 at 17:45

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  • This question is too broad. Decide what you want first and then you can ask how to achieve it - we have no idea if you plan on going to college or want to stay at this job for the foreseeable future, for example. Location would be helpful, but long story short is that it's not usually illegal to discriminate against someone for being too young. – IllusiveBrian Jan 2 '18 at 4:28
  • @IllusiveBrian I'm actually planning on attending University of Chicago, and not for hospitality or finance, so I don't plant on being around the location (York,PA) or industry for more than a year. This is honestly just a job I never foresaw, and I do have a number of other academic and volunteer engagements, so I want to make sure that my work is actually worth my time. – Gianni HIll Jan 2 '18 at 4:39
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    1. Yes, they can refuse to give you a raise for any reason. 2) What you're being asked to do now is "business analysis." Generally a lot more lucrative role. 3)What other people make is no concern of yours, higher or lower. 4) At your age, you may consider a title of "business analyst" worth more than a pay increase. Your call. – Wesley Long Jan 2 '18 at 5:08
  • It is going to be difficult to answer a broad question like that. I think you should summarize the situation, it is too long. Your real question is how to negotiate your salary. Your manager is clearly a bad negotiator, it is going to be difficult to get a raise staying there. – Adam Smith Jan 2 '18 at 5:09
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    In the US it's not illegal to discriminate based on being too young, but it is illegal to discriminate based off of being too old (specifically over 40) – Egg Jan 2 '18 at 5:34
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The age issue is totally irrelevant. The boss in question made this offhand comment ..

"There's grown adults here making less than that."

Again it's just an offhand comment - it means nothing.

That person could have made any of a zillion offhand comments about how they don't want to pay you more. It's just negotiation.

What you have to do now is learn to negotiate hard.

It sounds like you're on your way to a successful life, so this is a fantastic opportunity to learn this lesson.

And there's only one thing you need to know about negotiation. You have to be prepared to walk away. If so, you have all the power.

Here's all the language you need:

"Hi Steve, yeah as discussed I'd really need 30.00 an hour to stay in the job, and that would have to be starting this pay period beginning Tuesday. That's the 14th isn't it? I really understand if the company doesn't want to do that - as you know there's a huge amount of work around, so, if the company's answer is no that's life. How does that work for the company?"

If he says no, "OK, it's probably best that we wrap up today, don't you agree?"

I'd urge you to leave that day. It's just a minimum wage job, and you clearly have a bright future. Believe me, every single place that hires such staff is desperate to find someone competent. You'll have a new job with more money within the day, it's a non-issue.

Here's another language tip:

"I think that I should see an increased compensation because my entire set of responsibilities has changed."

huge mistake! You didn't mention an amount.

"As you know my entire set of responsibilities has changed, a more realistic hourly would be 30.00 now. What figure does the company have in mind?"

There's only one thing you need to know about negotiation. You have to be prepared to walk away. If so, you have all the power.

In your position there is absolutely no downside. You have ALL the power, everything. Grasp it, and learn how to run your life. This tiny lesson will serve you incredibly well the rest of your business life. Good luck!

  • "Again it's just an offhand comment - it means nothing." Offhand comments may be nothing, but it can also be everything. Part of effective communication is picking up the subtle hints of intent that is the silver lining of how we communicate. If you casually brush off words such that this, know that you may be missing something important in future conversations. – Frank FYC Jan 2 '18 at 13:46
  • hi @FrankFYC ! The critical elements here are: (1) there's no reason at all they can't pay more money. (2) the specific reason given, whether just a rationale or reality, is totally irrelevant. If, they won't pay more money - then the OP has to leave. It just does not matter, at all, what the reason is that they won't hand over a higher hourly amount. If the OP is thinking "reasons-rationale" then OP has already lost. The entirety and totally of the reality is: (A) the OP states in words "If you don't pay me X I am leaving" and then (B) if they don't pay him X, he leaves. ..... – Fattie Jan 2 '18 at 14:35
  • Naturally, he should phrase that in a polite and businesslike manner. But when you go in to a McDonalds, the sign says "give us $4 and we will give you a Big Mac, or you are free to leave." So, OP should be saying to them "I am happy to work for you for $30 an hour, as of date/time, otherwise thanks a million for the work to date and goodbye." I hope the OP does it! – Fattie Jan 2 '18 at 14:36
  • OP can certainly ask for $30. But that is unrealistic given the details that OP has provided. The goal here is to leave the negotiating table with all parties in agreement. OP with a raise, management with an experienced and (now) motivated employee. It is a net loss for OP if OP leaves the job without another in hand (and the chances of it being $30 is extremely low). – Frank FYC Jan 2 '18 at 14:44
  • hi @FrankFYC - yes, whatever figure the OP feels is correct (I think that's the figure the OP mentioned "25" or something in the post or an earlier edit; I have utterly no clue about prices in that industry, whatever it is). – Fattie Jan 2 '18 at 14:47
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The key part:

I'm actually planning on attending University of Chicago, and not for hospitality or finance, so I don't plant on being around the location (York,PA) or industry for more than a year. [...] I want to make sure that my work is actually worth my time. [emphasis mine]

It makes it really easy. Switch jobs, if you see anything better available here and now (relocation maybe?).

The easiest wage negotiation happens when changing an employer.

Start worrying whether your job/industry switches are too frequent after you're 30. Certainly not at your age!

If you have any loyalty, have less of it. Employers are not schools or families (the organizations you've maybe experienced the most; the organizations that are designed to suck you in and are traditionally hardly switchable). An employer can be easily switched. An employer deserves respect, but also deserves zero loyalty upfront. Z-e-r-o. They can eventually earn some loyalty, by doing/giving something more. Paying you is not enough - it's an expected bare minimum!

If you want to stay for personal reasons, feel free to be really irritating with your continuing re-negotiation attempts. It's not something that can be ever brought against you. It doesn't show on your CV. You took extra responsibility, they implicitly agreed, so do demand a raise even twice a month.

Your boss should ideally do negotiating for you. It's not theirs money, is it? You feed arguments to GM, who talks to VP about your pay. If your boss doesn't wholeheartedly support the idea that the team should be paid more and more and more, the raises won't happen. Ever. Try to convey the idea, but anyway it's only a first step on a long hard road.

Their negotiation seems more like a haggling to me. I wouldn't overthink their arguments. Haggling is more often about how quickly can you come up with a great number of varied artifacts of speech only remotely related to the topic (the "too young" argument is exactly of this sort).

  • The overwhelming issue here is, it would be absolutely trivial for the OP to get another job, any day of the week. This means the OP has total, overwhelming negotiating power. kubanczyk's final paragraph is totally correct! – Fattie Jan 2 '18 at 12:02
  • "If you want to stay for personal reasons, feel free to be really irritating with your continuing re-negotiation attempts. It's not something that can be ever brought against you." The topic itself might not be, but being annoying will certainly affect people's perception of OP in a negative light. There is more to work than just $, one has to consider the culture and way people treat you as well. – Frank FYC Jan 2 '18 at 13:44
  • @FrankFYC You are right about "negative light". In this specific situation obviously my suggestion is to risk that bit of negative light, yes. – kubanczyk Jan 2 '18 at 14:39
  • I'm all for risk vs. reward. So I ask what is the risk here of negotiating aggressively? At worst, termination; at best, OP offered more than what OP asked for; but at all points of the scale what is the probability of success for each? – Frank FYC Jan 2 '18 at 14:45

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