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WARNING: There may be naughty words that follow. You've been warned.

I've had a little bit of a rough time getting to where I am. I made the mistake of not studying computer science in college. Then I made the mistake of going to college early (before I was ready as it turns out), and did not finish. Thus I spent 7 years working my way up from phone monkey to sys-admin to QA. Then I got to spend a year unemployed as a wonderful complication of these mistakes.

After that though, I applied for an entry level dev job posted for about the 60th percentile (according to salary.com) and 15k off my previous position. Got an offer for 15% less than that, and took it. After all I'd not proved anything, and was hurting for cash, and realistically I had no good way to evaluate my skills. Might as well start at the bottom, pickup some missing skills, some years on the resume.

And things went well. I picked up Java and SQL better than half the existing team, got a better grasp of cvs, and spent a good while becoming acclimated to the huge system the team works on/with. I turned around a $1m/year client from a clusterfuck, developed the financial processing for our new setup, added creditcard processing to our site, trained up 3 new guys, about 4 dozen smaller tasks, and about 1/5-1/3 of the bug/tickets.

It was about 18 months in and review time rolls around (first one due to a quirk of the company HR policies). Great work, you've really helped take care of things with no oversight, you've picked everything up so quickly... 5 of 5. Astounding! I'm one of those 'straight B' guys. Work just hard enough to do well, but not hard enough to really excel. A 5 on the performance review is just unheard of. 'The checks will be out at end of month.'

So it's end of month. I am disappointed. To say the least really... more of a speechless, vitriol spewing rage machine. So a 5 on the performance review at this place merits, that's right... 3.5%. Barely INFLATION! (depending on who you ask). It is a fucking joke. Our site has about 250 people and we get, I kid you not, 1-2 emails a week about 'so-and-so has left to persue other opportunities'. I mean, I just thought it was the crappy benefits or super shitty christmas 'bonus' (crappy stuff with the company logo on it) or generally mind-numbing work (your standard 'fiddle with stuff in a DB' operation)...

And it has to be bad business! It has to cost like $40-50k every time someone leaves. It takes 3-6 months to train them into something useful because of the system complexity (10-25k in salary alone + benefits + facilities + time taken from person answering questions + $$$ lost by screw ups + $$$ lost by people waiting on the new guy + time/effort to job-post/screen/interview). Why in the world would you skimp and pay the entirety of the programmers inflation or worse?!? (remember, I got a 5. Others got a bit less than 3.5%)

You're going to lose 1/4 of the team or so (especially since there's 3-4 other guys in my situation of being 'entry level' because of some schooling or inexperience flaw) and are going to spend $40-50k a head to replace them.

Fucking stupid.

So basically I'm owner of a payment processing webapp, a dozen smaller apps, the head IT guy for a half dozen 7-9 figure financial processing clients, and the #2 guy to go to ask about any of the backend financial processing stuff... for 50th percentile salary of an entry level programmer.

To say that I am not pleased is an understatement.
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Welcome to the world of under-appreciation. If you want my advice, set up another meeting with whoever gave you that "5 out of 5" speech. Take what you handle in with you and how difficult/expensive it would be to replace you. Make sure they know that you know how far below the bar you're being paid. You've got solid (if not extensive) experience now so your previous resume shouldn't be an issue anymore. I'd explain that I realise that they need to keep the bottom line tight, but also that they'd be losing more by having to train someone new up.

If you hit ego or a pre-packaged company slogan, there's not point being there any longer. Of course, you'll want to be applying for jobs now anyway.

At least, that's my $0.02.

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Ha, my immediate response even before reading LachlanL's was "Welcome to Corporate America!"; where logic and good business sense are non-existent. Unfortunately, most companies I know don't care about retaining employees until AFTER they've decided to leave. My advice would be to start interviewing and find another job. Job hopping is pretty much the only way to move up anymore.

That said, LachlanL is right about going in and talking to whoever did your review so they can try to remedy the situation. Chances are, when you turn in your 2 weeks to go to your new job is when they'll offer you a raise, fabulous prizes, and yes, more work (since the rationale is that they are paying you more so you should work more).

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Yeh, of course, sometimes this is a conscious staffing decision of the HR department. The strategy is to have a constantly changing roster of fresh recruits. This way they keep expenses at an absolute minimum and just deal with the issues it creates as they arise. Obviously lots of things can go wrong here, but if the department heads are of the opinion that they don't really require the best-and-brightest (or most well-trained) to get the job done, then this is a model they often go for. If that's the case, they aren't going to listen to any talk about losing skills/costs of retraining/etc because they've been here a thousand times before. In this situation you're best off just treating it as a stepping-stone and a healthy slab of "industry experience" to tack onto your resume. Just don't stay any longer than you have to, because any time more than the bare minimum is time wasted.

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Original post by LachlanL
Yeh, of course, sometimes this is a conscious staffing decision of the HR department. The strategy is to have a constantly changing roster of fresh recruits. This way they keep expenses at an absolute minimum and just deal with the issues it creates as they arise.


But at my current employer you pretty much need to learn the db setup, industry specific terminology, and general processes before you're vaguely useful. It's not like a web shop where a form is a form and the details are fairly irrelevant or sys admin work where the general OS/office/troubleshooting stuff is common between employers. The time (and therefore cost) to replace people is substantially more.

I did end up having a nice conversation with one of the folks above me. I still am totally spooked that something is up since not even a company this dysfunctional bleeds money for not even a semblance of a valid business reason. But I do feel a bit better about things and the possibility of future goodness.

Still, my resume got a nice refreshing over the weekend.

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