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Good to note: This company has very low average wages, and is in the U.S.

TL:DR: New project that I'm being put under a lot of pressure to do. I'm asked to perform full-stack developer duties as a low-paid data analyst. I feel abused at my current benefit level with the stress I'm under. It's not acceptable to ask about wage increases at this company, I need a way to effectively negotiate for a merit increase.


I work as a Data Analyst for my current company and have been tasked with a lot of development work as of late. Most recent was a request for me to build a dynamic QA web app for the entire company (Call Centers, 1700 employees, ~65 clients).

The requirements are:

  • Users can design their own dynamic rubrics and QAs
  • Users can fill out dynamic QA forms
  • Users can go back, view, and edit previous QAs
  • There is reporting on QA stats

  • Use PHP

  • Use MySQL
  • Auth through active directory
  • Follow industry best practices for security and coding conventions
  • Create comprehensive unit tests

The time frame is 2 weeks.

I have a year or so of experience designing single page apps utilizing AngularJS and REST APIs, but no experience with PHP or even with MySQL. Never mind having knowledge and experience of best practices related to the two. I have 3 years of C# & JavaScript experience.

I'm being paid $31k/y right now, and am exempt from overtime. My manager is not familiar with software development, or the tools, workflows, or challenges associated with it.


Asking about pay at this company is usually considered a faux-pas, how can I ask for a wage increase, and make an effective case? I don't think it's fair to be put under so much pressure to develop this stuff when I'm not even considered a developer and am getting the pay of a floor supervisor with much more responsibilities, stress, and skill requirements.

I don't expect to meet avg. junior developer wages here, but having the ability to not constantly worry about my financial stability on top of my work stress would be nice.

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    You should be updating your resume and looking for work elsewhere. From the sounds of it you're being taken advantage of. I wish I could get advice like this years ago - there are better companies that will treat you right. – Ethan The Brave Sep 13 '16 at 19:28
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    @EthanTheBrave Definitely, however I am currently waiting on a replacement green card to be sent to me so I am here for at least 6 months. I want to make the best of it that I can. – Douglas Gaskell Sep 13 '16 at 19:29
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    Not only are you being taken advantage of, the task you've been given is not possible to do in 80 hours IMHO. You need to inform your manager immediately that his timetable is not realistic and propose a better one. I would also recommend that you check with your local department of labor to determine if you're truly overtime-exempt - you may be misclassified. – alroc Sep 13 '16 at 19:35
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    Possible duplicate of Underpaid and overworked, how should I approach my boss? – gnat Sep 13 '16 at 19:50
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    80 man hours for a project like this is absurd. I would expect it to take at least an order of magnitude longer. – aaron Sep 13 '16 at 20:14
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Generally speaking it is not my experience that simply stating to your boss "hey, I have more responsibilities than before, I desire more pay" is a winning strategy. What you'd want to do instead is - ideally once you know what you're doing at your job - go to a place like glassdoor.com, figure out how much people who do the things you are doing paid, and then come back to your boss advising them of this fact.

The unstated aspect of this, of course, is that if your boss does not pay you a going rate (and $30k per year as a front end dev is not a going rate) then you will leave for a place that is better paid. You really have to be willing to accept the flip side of this ultimatum in order for it to have any effect. That doesn't necessarily mean that you ought to already have a new job set up but you ought to at least know you can get one.

This is a bit trickier with "jack of all trades" type work, I know, but in a way it's actually easier: figure out which part of your job is the most in demand and take a look at what those people are paid. At the same time, I would highly recommend using at least some of these new responsibilities for dev work as an opportunity rather than a burden: even if you toil at this for 6 months or a year without a pay increase commensurate to your actual value to them, they'll have done you a pretty decent favor in providing you with actual work experience that you can parley into your next job.

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I need a way to effectively negotiate for a merit increase.

This never works. For whatever reason, the company you work for is a bottom feeder. Everyone hates working for a bottom feeder, and, believe me, your managers would have changed things if they could, if only to improve their prospects in the job market.

So, you need to look for a better job. I advise, starting immediately, put in 50% less effort into your current job, and use the remaining time to hunt for better opportunities. If your higher-ups expect X done by Y, let them expect away.

  • Over 2 years later, and I can agree with this now. There is no way to get ahead when working for a "bottom feeder". I've not worked there for 18 months, and they still can't hire another developer to work on the application I left behind. Because they refuse to pay an acceptable wage. The only option is to move on. – Douglas Gaskell Jul 30 at 19:07

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