Career Advisor by Edgar Saadi

What to do when your boss keeps you waiting for your raise

Also, now that you've been given the honor of starting a new team, what's the best way to go about the hiring process?

May  1998
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Edgar counsels a new boss about where and how to hire new employees. He also discusses the prestige and promise of a QA career. And one promoted employee wants his boss to show him the money yesterday. Should he remain patient for the pay off? (1,500 words)

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Dear Edgar,

I'm a Java/C++ programmer who has been working in the financial industry in New York City for the last three years. Recently, my company gave me a raise and a new position heading up a new group that focuses on internal Web development. This group doesn't yet exist, as I'm expected to build it. I've begun doing research and laying out an infrastructure, but I am unsure how to go about hiring a team.

Recently my boss mentioned something about volunteers and interns, which now makes me wonder how serious he is about this venture. Should I be trying to hire from within, look for interns, or insist that we recruit new people?

New Boss

Dear Boss,

Ideally, if the budget and the go-ahead is there, you want to hire new employees who clearly know what they are doing. You won't have to spend as much time training, and if you lead them well, you can mold a high degree of loyalty.

But this can be expensive, as your company may have to go through a recruiter, and starting salaries in this industry are still on the rise. In addition, even if the people are experienced there is always a fair amount of training involved with new people. In the first few weeks, you may spend half your time telling them where the pencil sharpener is and how to enter timesheets.

If you do not hire an experienced person, but look to bring on young blood -- such as smart kids coming out of college -- you have an opportunity to build even greater loyalty. But on the other side of that coin, the risk of loss is also greater: Many times I've seen eager new hires change their minds and leave not long after training is through. They decide that it's just not for them.

If management seems reluctant to to hire new people for your team, your only route may be to look within. But, be aware of the political pitfalls here. Though you may get less resistance from upper management if you hire from within, you can easily cause a rift with another manager by pulling away a good person from his/her team.

If this is your first time managing people, perhaps it may be in your best interest to start by actually taking on an intern or some volunteer help. Show your boss that you can produce with even limited resources, then it won't be long before there's a request into HR to hire you an experienced person that can help you take the team further -- which is ultimately what you want.


What about QA?

Dear Edgar,

I was schooled in C programming; I have worked for a few years in systems administration; and I recently find myself back on the programming side of things at a Web development company in San Francisco. I work primarily with Perl, Java, and some Lingo.

Recently I was offered a new job in which I would build a quality assurance team that checks all sites before they go live. This is clearly a promotion, as I now report to upper management. I have moved out of a single team to work across all of production.

I'm convinced that what I'll be doing is crucial to the company, but I know that quality assurance is generally thought of as a lesser profession. Although I'm clearly taking a step up today, is making a move to testing and quality assurance a step down in the long run?

QA Guy

Dear QA Guy,

A decade ago, there wasn't much QA at all in this industry. Then recognition of its importance grew, and a push began in all software development houses, large and small, to integrate testing into all teams. Managers were drawing hard, fast lines in the sand and declaring that nothing would get out the door until it was given the green light by their quality assurance team. It seemed that QA people were as important as anyone in the company.

Although this is true on a certain level, QA has never quite reached the level of a glorified position. It's much farther along than it was 10 years ago, and it is considered good and necessary all across the industry; at the same time, it is not considered an elite position either. Though it is important, it represents a job that most people don't want to be responsible for themselves. It is not everyone who can understand the code, see the particulars, stay organized, and catch all the errors.

That said, your situation does seem like a good one. They clearly think that this is something that you can do, and you seem to think that you can handle the task -- so enjoy the opportunity. Besides, you can do this for a year and not necessarily be pigeonholed as a QA guy. Just be sure that if, after a year, you decide this path is really not taking you where you want to be, you change directions.

When will they show me the money?

Dear Edgar,

I was hired six months ago as a production manager for a fast growing software development house in Silicon Valley. In recent months I've gone beyond my duties and gained some notoriety helping out with new business and leading the way with new technologies. A month ago I was offered a new position exploring new technologies and advising the executive vice president on strategic direction. My hours are longer, but the work is good. I'm just a bit concerned about two particulars: title and salary.

A week after the promotion I brought up the issue of salary. My boss told me that he was writing a review of my performance and not to worry, any raise would be retroactive. Nothing happened, so a couple weeks after that I asked again, and he said that all salary reviews were made in July. "So just hang on," he said, "it'll happen." I don't want to make this a big issue, but I've already gotten the promotion, and I think a raise is in order now -- not a few months down the road.

Also, after accepting the positon, I was given the title Interactive Strategist. I feel, however, that I should have a word like "Director" or "Chief" in the title. When I brought this up once, I was told not to worry about it. "There will be plenty of room for promotions," I was told. But, I just want the title to reflect the position. Also, I feel people will be more apt to join a team led by a "Director" rather than some "Strategist" who's off writing white papers.


Dear Anxious,

You're doing a great job, and they seem to know that. You've made a big decision to change your path, and now you want action. Relax -- it sounds like you're already on the fast track. Everything won't manifest itself in a day just because they've now recognized your worth. Besides, they may be waiting for you to make the next move. Not the next gripe, but the next move -- successful action, completed project.

Just because managers give out promotions doesn't mean that all the glory, fame, and money come following right behind. Any good manager knows that patience is a part of instilling good work over time. It is possible that they could be playing games with you. But it's also quite possible that they're just staggering the rewards, in hopes that you will continue to produce.

You've already let them know twice that you want the raise. Now just be sure that you both understand each other in terms of timeframe. If they are saying July, fine. Put your head down, concentrate on the work, and move towards July. Then, be ready to jump if they don't hold up their end.

As far as the title goes, you have a point. But here, too, be patient. They've bumped you up in six months and may be looking forward to the day when they can make you director. And in the meantime, titles don't mean as much as they're often made out to be. If you were negotiating for a new job in a new company, you may want to take a harder line with this. But, more importantly, you seem to have put yourself into an excellent role. Don't let the title bother you at this moment. They probably want you to go there, but may just be looking for a little proof first.

Once the gas is turned on and things really start to move, it's easy to get impetuous and want to run things out to their logical end. But, it took you a few months to get where you are now. It may take a few more to get to where you want to be. Be smart, but also be patient.


About the author
[Edgar Saadi's photo] Edgar Saadi is senior vice president of Pencom Systems Inc., the largest open systems/advanced systems recruiting firm in the U.S. He specializes in guiding advanced systems careers and helping employees explore all staffing alternatives. Reach Edgar at

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