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I just got an email last night from my boss asking me to give him an hourly rate that would make me stay for the next six months. What reasonable figure or range should I give?

Background (you can skip this part):

I just graduated last year and am now working as a home-based software developer earning a "more-or-less average" salary at an hourly rate. I've been with the team for about 6 months. Needless to say, I somehow find the job enjoyable. I haven't seen my boss, nor my team's members, and I honestly don't have any idea about how and what they earn from the products we make. All I've heard is that we're receiving good funding.

However, I recently moved to another country with my parents. It was their decision and although I had objections, my arguments weren't strong enough to convince them to stay.

The standard of living is very high. My current salary is only 15% of the minimum salary that people earn here. I have applied for more than 20 job positions. Two weeks have passed and I still haven't gotten a single call. It's frustrating and depressing at the same time. I always find myself waking up in the morning feeling utterly useless.

I have told my employer about me applying for jobs in this country, and I've told him about my situation. He's been very understanding and supportive, but I honestly do not know if it's a good advice to stay for the next six months while I'm still looking for a job.

Back to the question

Assuming I decide to stay, what makes a reasonable figure? Is it something like 105-120% of my current salary? How do I know if I deserve the range I'm giving? Should it be an amount instead of a range? If you're gonna ask me what I honestly want, it's twice my current salary, but I doubt any employer would want to hear that. I'm also sure I'm overestimating myself.

  • Are your parents supporting you? What are your financial needs? – PurpleVermont Jun 20 '14 at 2:58
  • @PurpleVermont Yes, my parents are supporting me. However, only my dad has work and he's earning minimum salary. I just need food to get by for the next few months, but I also need extra money for insurance and other emergency expenses. – davecroman Jun 20 '14 at 3:04
  • Are they asking you to commit to staying for 6 months? Or are you employed at will and able to leave with 2 weeks (or some other amount) of notice? – PurpleVermont Jun 20 '14 at 3:08
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    In your financial situation I would focus on finding a job in your new country of residence, even if it is a temporary low paid job. In UK 20 job applications are usually not enough even for a local resent graduate. Someone told me that according to statistical data from 100 applications one can expect 15 interviews and 1 job offer. Can't provide a reference to this but based on my daughter and her friends experience (all of them graduated from very reputable universities) it might be true. I also know highly qualified immigrants working on minimum wages until they found a better job. – greenfingers Jun 20 '14 at 9:12
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    He does not asking you to be reasonable he is asking what pay rate you need to guarantee him another 6 months of your service. Figure out what the number is. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 20 '14 at 13:51
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I honestly do not know if it's a good advice to stay for the next six months while I'm still looking for a job

Since you've applied to 20 jobs with no call backs, you should definitely try to keep this job. However, you're in a tough spot, because the job will certainly not pay anything resembling a reasonable salary relative to your new location given the huge difference in salaries between the two locales. So committing to it for 6 months is tough. That said, I would lean strongly toward making the commitment to staying. 6 months will give you time to get better settled in your new home, meet people, develop a network of contacts that will make it more plausible for you to get a new job in your new country. And at least you'll have some income in the meantime.

As to how much to ask for, you noted in the comments that they're asking you to take on a more active role, so do take that into consideration. What you need to do is research what the job you will be doing is worth in the country where your employer is located, and be sure that what you ask for is reasonable in that context.

Consider this thread for good information about how best to make that determination: How can I determine a reasonable salary to ask for?

It sounds like your employer is anxious to keep you on for another 6 months, so you're in a decent position to ask for more than you are being paid now, but I wouldn't ask for more than a 10% raise unless

(a) you learn that you were being drastically underpaid before, or (b) you are taking on a much more involved role, that commands a higher salary

When you do respond, state a specific figure, not a range. They may make a counter-offer, so you should ask a touch on the high side, but not outrageously high. Good Luck!

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I just got an email last night from my boss asking me to give him an hourly rate that would make me stay for the next six months. What reasonable figure or range should I give?

You should determine what rate you could get elsewhere - now, and over the next six months.

Then determine what non-monetary value you get out of this job (experience, work culture, travel time, etc), compared to other positions you could get elsewhere over the next six months.

Then compare the two and make your decision.

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Most important question to ask: are you eligible to work legally in new country? If not, you need to decide between working illegally (for presumably less than minimal salary) or working legally on your old job (if you can do it legally from different country).

Another question: do your parents expect you to contribute to family budget RIGHT NOW, or can you survive somehow on your father's income until you can land better paid job? Because if you accept minimal job now, you may have harder time to improve skills and land better paid job later.

To elaborate on @Joe Strazzere answer: Your old company pays salaries reasonable for low-expenses country. It was your/your parents decision to move to higher expenses country, and you cannot reasonably expect your company to match much higher minimal salary of your new country. But apparently your boss values your skills and wants to keep you. From which we can deduct you do have marketable skills, which might be of value also in new country, and you should continue to develop them. And to develop your skills, it might be in your interest to work on improving your skills and become more marketable, even if you work for less than minimal salary.

You can tell your boss what minimal salary is in new country, and that you are willing to work for less than minimal salary to gain skills. And that you will be looking for a job using your skills in new country, if it is legal. And that you keep promises: If you promised to work 6 more months for X, you will. So it might be in your interest to lock yourself in shorter contract in your old job.

Obviously, best for you is to find better job ASAP, while keeping some income, and keeping promises. Only YOU can decide how your current and future needs compare.

  • Yes. I have valid unrestricted work rights, but I am not yet a permanent resident. It will take 2 more years with my current visa before I become permanent. I'm guessing that's also causing the setback. We really are in need of money right now that even my trivial salary counts. It annoys me too that my parents had to suddenly decide on moving to another country without enough financial planning, but I don't want to blame them. – davecroman Jun 20 '14 at 14:50

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