Wondering about a job

Hi all

For about 1.5 months i have been working at an ID firm. I just graduated in april and only did small projects since then before this.

I really like the job but it only pays 30k / no benefits / before taxes (they initially mentioned 40k earlier at an informal offer but say they don’t have the funds now which is a little shady).

Some details:

  • small place with great atmosphere
  • been learning lots
  • i am not in SF or a big city, so rent is not bad, but …
  • 30k seems awful low, I’ve looked at other posts that said this is no longer a decent salary. My parents told me it would be best to look for other options.

Am I a fool for looking for other options? I would not leave unless I had something lined up. But since I do like this work, is it best to “buckle up” and live with it for 1-2 yrs? ccc

Thanks all any advice

I’m not going to comment on your salary and benefits because my employment experience is UK based.

You’ve landed a full-time design position (relatively quickly), are learning lots, and the great atmosphere tells me you enjoy working with your colleagues and peers.

I would certainly always keep an eye on the employment market, however I believe your job can give you others gains rather than salary.

That said, I wouldn’t recommend you go on accepting your current salary for long. Depending on when your performance/salary review is due either hold out or arrange a meeting to discuss your aims/areas for improvement and how this may sit alongside future raises in salary, input, responsibility etc etc.

If that doesn’t work then I’d recommend staying put, continue to learn from and enjoy your job, while seeking another position elsewhere. Just make sure you consider all aspects of a possible job move.

Cant speak for USA in terms of salary and conditions.

But negotiate, state your wish and if they ‘say they don’t have the funds now’, ask if you can have review/neg at your 6 month point in time. If things have improved you should be able to get a raise. If they say no to the review then its shady and them ‘saying they don’t have the funds now’ is dishonest and in bad faith.

if they pay less than working full time at Costco…then you should be looking for new employment. They of all people should know the value of design.

That being said, it can’t hurt to talk to them about it again. Show them the coroflot salary survey, salaries from glassdoor, and even IDSA has a salary guide. Use those tools to back up your argument, taking it from your opinion to more of a fact.

Sorry to say but using the coroflot salary survey is not a good tool as it is far from a true statistical representation of salaries. glassdoor is usually a little unrealistic as well.

I get that, but it’s a far cry better than having nothing to counter with. It does seem that when you ask people to report their salary you can sometimes get an inflated statistic. When I last negotiated I ended up pulling around five or six different sources, then averaging those out and asking for a range that was around that average, which seemed to work out ok.

With this additional advice to the OP i would agree.

Also one thing no one has asked…

Why are you worth more then $30,000… if you cant prove that you are in trouble.

i.e if the average salary is 40g. are you a average level designer

above average - 45-550 g

or below…

What value do you bring to the company, how do you rank against others in skill sets and values…

When i taught i told students never to come to me and ask for a better grad because they worked hard or worked harder then someone else. Provide me with insight and justification as to why you feel i may have provided you with a grade less then you deserve. Same rule applies to people i manage, don’t tell me you’ve worked here for 10 years so you deserve more money show me how you are a valuable asset to the company and how if i where to lose you the company would be at a disadvantage. What do you do above and beyond what you where hired to do. How have you grown since we originally agreed upon your current salary. Remember the company didn’t force you to accept the 30 thousand dollar salary… poor upfront negotiations on your part are not the fault of the company.

Also for a small ID firm, not having the funds is not all that uncommon, in today’s economy many firms run very lean and 10 grand can effect the bottom line (depending on how large the firm is)hard to judge… or they could just be cheap sob’s trying to keep you cheap so they can have more profit…

Why are you worth more then $30,000… if you cant prove that you are in trouble.

This is actually relatively crucial. I agree that $30k is low but you gotta be generating value for them to want to invest additional cash into you.

Fair enough, I also agree with the comments about justifying what makes you worth that raise. Without that, the salary info is pointless.

The OP has 30 working days of experience. Right now, there is no doubt his billables are less than his salary. If he came to me at this point asking for a raise, I’d say he’d have a 50/50 chance of getting canned. It really would depend on my mood.

We have reviews at 3, 6 and 12 months. I suspect most companies follow suit. Coming to me before hand a pointless endeavor. We are still in the getting to know you phase. I have no idea if your potential billable hours will exceed your salary and usually in your first year, I am happy just to break even. And that only occurs if you kick ass in the last quarter.

btw, 5% of the ID respondents on the coroflot survey were at $30k. And that is with all levels of experience. I don’t have access to the detailed info but I would guess that the percentage at $30K with 30 days of experience will be higher.

I was in an almost exact situation as jfd_blues in my first design gig, the only difference being that I didn’t land one until almost 2 years after getting my degree, and while I had jobs that paid the same or more in those 2 years, they were not design jobs.

$30k is certainly low, but you haven’t been there long to ask for a raise, and I agree that asking for one now, or within the next 3-6 months could get you canned. I wouldn’t recommend putting a time limit on your time there, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be keeping an eye out for another opportunity. You’ll know that it’s time to move on when the low salary really starts to inhibit your financial freedom/quality of life, or when you plateau in what you can learn there.

If you’re learning, you like the workplace, and you are making enough to stay out of Mom and Dad’s basement then I’d say you’re off to a far better start than lots of recent grads.

All that said, if you genuinely want to stay there then wait for the right opportunity, such as after you have had a major success, and then go in and let them know that you enjoy working there and make a case for a raise/benefits.

You can’t feel too bad about the pay. You did take the job offer.

Work for a while a see how it goes. Asking for a raise now or immediately leaving over pay alone are not smart career moves.

Pay is also commensurate with experience and skill. Dud you do any internships? How would you judge your skills compared to others? Post a portfolio for maybe more deep advice on how to get where you want to be.


I agree with rkuchinsky here, you like the job and you’re happy, just hold on and learn as much as possible. It´s your first job, maybe the payroll won´t allow you to do everything you’d like to, but at least you are enjoying 8 - 10 hours a day doing something you really like and that´s going to help you in the future. Follow the advice of the fellows here and negotiate the conditions once you’ve been working there for 6 months. Once you’ve been there for a while, you’ll know a bit about how things work, how much money is the company making with you and you’ll be able to ask for rise with figures backing your point.

I understand the struggles of the company but, in my opinion, that would distract him from doing what he’s supposed to do. He’ll be thinking he’s not being treated fairly or not having what he deserves, checking new job offers rather than being focused on designing and making money for the company. The company is undermining the productivity of a employee just by doing that. It’s a bit what happened on the first TRUE ID Stories, the guy was offered less than promised and when he found out some co-workers were making more doing less, he started freelancing and looking for his way out.

Thank you so much all for the responses.

I was considering asking about pay but thanks to this advice, I will hold off until a formal review after some time. Since they are this low on funds, however, I have already been applying places (this company is pretty new and I understand that if there isn’t the money, there isn’t the money, so it could be best to move on).

@RKuchinsky: I have had 2 ID internships before (+ 3 non-ID earlier) but I think it would be risky to post a portfolio with all the Google crawlers and stuff … definitely appreciate the concern / interest though.

@Greenman: Thanks for the perspective, you are totally right about the state of new grads, especially in more expensive cities, unpaid internships, etc.

@IDAL: that is spot on about how distracting it is to be looking for new job opportunities, but I will try to avoid that! I also don’t know I missed those True ID stories but will have some good reading to do.

Thanks again for the help.

Hi all,

Another update on a related note:

I am scheduled to make a business trip to NY (flight) with the company but they said that they will not cover airfare. This does not seem right to me, as either I will have to pay for it out-of-pocket (difficult) or ask to not go, which could seem like I don’t care! Ideally I would find something new by then, but they are telling me to get a ticket now in advance. Not quite sure what to do here : /

Really appreciate any thoughts.

To ask you to pay for your own ticket on a business trip seems highly inappropriate.
I would absolutely not do it. Especially not as you are being low-balled on your compensation as well.

If it isn’t worth it to them to send you there, don’t go. Seems to me like a good opportunity to draw a line and stand your ground.

I would completely agree. A business trip is a business trip.

Is it a business trip where they can expense the trip back to a client (such as a presentation) or is it a business trip that can’t be billed back (such as a trade show)?

The former is unacceptable.

The latter may have good intentions but puts you in an awkward place.

Either way, it sounds like your employer has some ongoing and serious cash flow issues. Prepare yourself.

iab’s right, it depends on what the trip is for. If it is in fact to go and conduct/secure business or work on-site, absolutely do not pay for this yourself.

If the trip is to attend (attend, not work at) a conference, tradeshow, team building event, etc., and you see personal value for yourself in attending then consider it, but just know that many, if not most employers fund these things as well, especially if they are asking or suggesting that you go.