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I am a junior iOS developer with 9 months of experience and in short there will be my first performance review. I believe that I was hired at the right price on the market; but I have learned from my company that since there was no management at all during the past year (it’s a very small company), the salary raise will be fixed for everyone and it will not depend on the performance review.

I am not sure of what I say, but I believe that it is easier for junior developers to get a big salary raise since the learning curve is still in a peak (correct me if I am wrong). So my impression is that the fixed salary raise percentage comes at my disadvantage, and at the advantage of seniors because it’s harder for them to get big raises since they’re learning curve is flat. If my assumption is correct, I should contest this decision (individually, for my own salary of course) and ask them an ad-hoc raise.

First of all I would like to ask: is my assumption (that juniors generally get bigger raises) correct? Second: can I have an idea of the percentage of raise that a junior can get after 9 months?

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  • Might this be country specific? It's not something I've encountered in the US, but one data point isn't that much either. – thursdaysgeek May 21 at 18:08
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  • How are you basing your assumption, exactly? Every company has their own policies on raises and bonuses. My company do raises and bonuses based on performance, contributions, patents, and how much our team makes. It's impossible to say what your raise will be or if you will even get one. No one here knows how well your company is doing. Smaller companies that don't make a lot of revenue probably won't give you a raise until you have more tenure. – KingDuken May 22 at 5:56
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First of all I would like to ask: is my assumption (that juniors generally get bigger raises) correct?

No. Most companies do raises as a percent of your current wage, or as a flat dollar amount (I've usually seen it as percentage when you're talking salary, and fixed dollar/partial dollar with hourly). For most positions, this translates to lower-salary positions getting smaller raises (definitely if they're doing flat % across the company). My boss and I may get a 10% raise each, but for me that translates to +8k, and for him it translates to +20k.

As a flat % across the company, it's likely a "cost of living" raise - one that's meant to keep all employees at roughly the same wage once accounting for inflation (usually a little more or less, but that's the goal).

can I have an idea of the percentage of raise that a junior can get after 9 months?

This one is vastly more company-specific than the first. For "cost of living" raises, ~5% would be the top end of the range (I've seen anywhere between 3-5%). Other times I've seen a performance based wage give a 25% increase in wage. It depends heavily on your company culture, budget, size, your performance, the team's performance, etc.

When it comes down to it, you may be learning a ton which makes you more valuable, but experience is equally or more valuable. More importantly, salary increases are good for morale and good to keep your senior staff around. If I just gave all my developers 5k raises every year, after a few years my senior devs would leave, because a new company will hire them for a 50% raise. If I'm giving them a 10% raise every year, it's more enticing to stick around for a long time. And lower turnover on senior positions (people who really know the codebase) is vastly more important than lower turnover on junior positions.

  • You could consider noting that some companies start people out on provisional salaries and do give large raises at around the year mark. This is mostly common with new college graduates. – dbeer May 21 at 22:04
  • @dbeer Yeah, this is hugely company-dependant. It's not unusual for new hires to get a 35% increase at the one year mark at my company. – Omegastick May 22 at 9:29
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As a caveat, the answer to your question is likely to vary from employer to employer. Still, we can answer in generalities. You asked a few questions,

First of all I would like to ask: is my assumption (that juniors generally get bigger raises) correct?

If we're speaking of annual performance-based increases, I don't think your assumption is correct at all. Generally, an annual increase is tied to a budget with some sort of normalizing factor. That is, a department may be budgeted 5% of their payroll for increases, and then it's up to them to distribute based on some formula or factor - for instance, people with good reviews get 6% while those with poor reviews get 4%, and the 5% default goes to "average" employees. I have never seen a case where new, or junior, employees are given larger increases by default just because they're newer.

Your premise that newer employees are learning/growing faster may be somewhat true, but it's also subjective. And it's easily counter-argued by pointing out that your employer was essentially over-paying you during your first few weeks/months as you were learning, essentially with the result that everything cancels out.

Second: can I have an idea of the percentage of raise that a junior can get after 9 months?

That's really hard to answer and will be very dependent on the employer. In many cases, there is a basic fixed rate that is meant to be slightly better than inflation (or the cost of living). But there are many, many other factors that may go into the equation.

All of the above aside, it's important to note that most employers differentiate between annual performance increases versus promotion increases. In other words, if your title is Junior Programmer and you stay in that role for 3 years, you can probably expect a small increase each year (say, 5%). But then, in your 3rd year, if you have shown significant growth, you may be promoted to Senior Programmer at which point you get a 30% increase in compensation. Generally, the process of handing out regularly-scheduled annual increases based on performance is separate from, and smaller than, a large increase given as part of a performance. And since you expressed that you're expecting to grow and learn rapidly, you may find that the increase you're expecting as a result of that growth comes in the form of a promotion rather than as part of the annual cycle.

Finally, you commented,

If my assumption is correct, I should contest this decision (individually, for my own salary of course) and ask them an ad-hoc raise.

While it's noble to contest the decision, keep in mind that for many employers, by the time the discussion about annual increases is being had with employees, the numbers are locked solid and not up for debate.

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    Nicely put! "I'm a junior so that should be reason enough to get a bigger raise" simply isn't a strong enough argument to justify a bigger increase. – motosubatsu May 22 at 8:01
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    And adding to this that the 5% is just an example. In several companies, small increase is between a straight 0 and a 1%, no matter if you are junior or not. – Ara May 22 at 9:11
  • The generic nature of answers so far should emphasize importance of understanding your employer's policies. For instance, my current employer has a salary normalizing factor built into annual increases; employees in the bottom half of their salary bracket automatically get a higher multiplier than those in the top half. This serves to drive salaries slowly towards the middle of each pay grade. So in essence, if you're a brand new "junior" and in the bottom of your pay grade, you may actually get a bigger increase (percentage wise) than those with similar performance in the top of the grade. – dwizum May 22 at 12:45
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This is a tricky thing to answer since the answer will be mostly empirical and personal. In my experience, you're correct that the first year growth is critical because you're learning a new trade, and you might come to the table with new ways to do things and show the most enthusiasm. Eventually you will settle in. But this is where it becomes tricky because in most cases you settle into a particular niche and if you're a key player, then you can offer more to the table during the yearly review.

I am not sure of what I say, but I believe that it is easier for junior developers to get a big salary raise since the learning curve is still in a peak (correct me if I am wrong). So my impression is that the fixed salary raise percentage comes at my disadvantage, and at the advantage of seniors because it’s harder for them to get big raises since they’re learning curve is flat. If my assumption is correct, I should contest this decision (individually, for my own salary of course) and ask them an ad-hoc raise.

I think what you're worried about is not having material after the first year. You want to come to the table with, "Hey look, I learned all these things, and did all these things." Next year you might just come to the table with, "Hey, I did stuff."

In my experience for 15 years, I found the following to be true: software developers get the least vertical growth, but the most horizontal growth. What that means is that within a company you're in your position and that will likely be your position for a long while. You might grow vertical one step and be team lead, but that is it. So that means since you can't move vertical in a company, you're likely stuck at the pay you're in now. You might get 2-3% growth per year, and maybe a substainial growth if you're good to go and budget allows. I found instead you have to move horizontal to get the most growth and pay raise. So you stay at a company and eventually get into the typical 2-3% raise, then after a while, move on for a huge pay raise (20-30%). It has worked thus far and something common within the industry.

I believe in 50 years, stories about making it to the top after working as a software developer will be the fortune 500 success stories like how today's CEO might say they started off as the janitor.

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I believe that it is easier for junior developers to get a big salary raise since the learning curve is still in a peak (correct me if I am wrong). So my impression is that the fixed salary raise percentage comes at my disadvantage, and at the advantage of seniors because it’s harder for them to get big raises since they’re learning curve is flat.

Your salary has nothing to do with your "learning curve", whatever it is you mean to say by that.

You salary is determined by competition in a market of willing buyers (your employer) and willing sellers (you) of the services you provide. Intrinsic measures of how much you know or have learned have nothing to do with this market value, which is ultimately determined by how scarce your skills are.

When you don't know anything special or unique to your employer, then you're not very much different from other people who are just starting their careers. There are many other people like that. You would be more likely to get less money than senior people, who have knowledge and experience that are more difficult and costly to replace.

First of all I would like to ask: is my assumption (that juniors generally get bigger raises) correct?

No.

Second: can I have an idea of the percentage of raise that a junior can get after 9 months?

0%. At 9 months you haven't even proven you are worth keeping at your current salary.

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