I've been working for the company of a very close friend of mine for the last two years. I really enjoy working for the company and I have a great working relationship with everyone there.

I've known the MD and her entire family for 20+ years and we have a great friendship, they helped me to get out of a dead end job and begin working towards something I loved, Web Development.

The problem is, I am underpaid by quite a large amount. I had no issue with this but after two years and really showing my worth I've seen little movement in this changing. I'm at a point in my life where I do need to start making more money.

Is there a way in which I can approach this without creating a rift between myself and the family? I've seen other family friends come and go through the business and it didn't end well, so much so that they don't even have a relationship as friends anymore.

I'm afraid that the same will happen to me... part of me feels that I owe a debt for them helping me, but at the same time I work very hard and really do earn what I'm paid.

I've been approached by a few companies who're offering a substantially higher salary. I really don't know what to do!

Do I approach this as any other job, attend interviews and eventually hand in my notice and move on. Or should I approach them and be honest, up-front and explain the situation?

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    I think just be honest and upfront. Tell them what you told us. – Strawberry May 12 '17 at 17:09
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    If this is such a long and strong relationship, I would have a heart to heart with your friend before taking any action at all. – Old_Lamplighter May 12 '17 at 17:23
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    Friends who help friends don't talk about favour debt. Any debt you had by winning the position has been paid by working the position to your best ability. – Mindwin May 12 '17 at 20:21
  • Thank you everyone. I appreciate your comments. This has put a few things into perspective. I just needed to see someone else say it tbh.. I think I plan on seeking a payrise and moving forward from there. If they cant see my worth, then someone else will. – Joe May 12 '17 at 23:25
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    Also keep in mind that - particularly in software development - it's not all that uncommon to change jobs every few years. I've been switching jobs every 3-4 years since I graduated university - and not because I quit or got fired! Things just sort of happen. If this is your industry, your friend may not even bat an eyelash about the idea that you're moving on to greener pastures. – Steve-O May 13 '17 at 1:36

Well if they paid you less than your work is worth then they aren't really your friend. He is just exploiting you and you should act accordingly.

Ask for a raise, explain your point of view and if they don't agree accept other company offers. Of course you treat this negotiation as polity and professional as you can.

But think like this, if the roles were reverse and you have a friend who found a great job opportunity to career development what will you do? Resent him for leave you even when you can't match that salary or be happy because now you friend can advance in his career?

  • even when you can't match that salary - spot on. – Stephen S May 13 '17 at 18:55

It doesn't sound like they did you much of a favor if they hired you at a rate lower than the going market rate for someone of your skill level. Moreover, it doesn't sound like they even hired you to get you back on your feet after losing your job or anything, just as a normal career change. So, while two years is perhaps somewhat short for a job, it isn't unreasonable that you would look at other opportunities, and if the director is really your friend then they should understand that business relationships only last as long as both parties are happy with the relationship.

That said, you could consider asking for a raise instead if you want to continue working at the company. It's not unreasonable to ask, and if the raise doesn't or can't happen then you can take another job knowing you gave the company a chance. If even after denying a raise your friend is bitter that you left his company, then perhaps he is not such a great manager or friend after all.

When it comes down to it, if your friend cannot keep his business and personal life separate, you can't fix that. Do not let that prevent you from doing what is best for you (while remaining professional, of course).

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