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Salary survey - Carlos Camacho - Mar 1, 2006 07:32 PM

Yesterday, I had a "review" at my new job. It's my second review. At the first review, I was told of my weak points, and asked to improve them. If I couldn't, I would be let go. At yesterday's review, the good news was that my contract was extended to next year. However, the president said that due to my "output/level", my salary would be re-adjusted.

Salaries are reviewed once a year it seems, and increases will be based on my "output power." Anyways, the decrease is $600 a month. That brings me to "aroundish" $2,000 a month, which is 1/2 of my last job at the electric company (where I worked at for 7 years.) I do realize that figure would be a dream job to many people around the world.

I'm now thinking of what I should do. On one hand, I feel that at 36, I should be at a much higher salary (based on, what my friends make, what I want in life, etc.) I should also be in management or within reach of it. (I was a manager at age 22 in the US). At my present job, management is impossible because (a) there is only one position to move into (b) that guy won't EVER leave because no one else will hire him © me not being Japanese (ie I would need to be 100% fluent in speaking and writing -- an impossible task.)

Skill wise, I moved from marketing (which was mostly B.S.) to web design now. (ie mockups in Photoshop, slicing, HTML). The company I work at doesn't do dynamic sites -- all static, as they outsourced any dynamic stuff. I feel I am the "key" into getting them into dynamic sites and into the year "2006." Wink Heck, I had to explain a simple benefit of using a short PHP snippet to display the current year for a copyright tag, rather than have the staff update dozens of pages by hand! So, while I might make them 500% more productive, and bring their designs up a couple of notches, they seem to be satisfied with the "status quo."

OK, back on topic. Web related work I've done has all been "hobby" sites. aka iDevGames. So, I suppose what is holding me back from leaving Japan now is the fact I don't have a strong portfolio, and that I won't be able to compete with a teenager that knows AJAX, Ruby on Rails, and all the newest buzz words. So I tell myself, "Grin and bear it for 1/2 a year. Hone your skills, build a portfolio, and then go back home."

Of course the other way to think is, "Go back home. Get in at the ground level, learn from my 'peers' and enjoy climbing the ladder." What I mean is... At my present job, everything that I will "pick up" will be on my own. I don't feel there is much to learn from "peers." (Accept for 'Japanese web design.') I do feel that I've learn a good bit of things on my own these past few months though. I can certainly pin-point the mistakes the web team at my company is making. (Yes, I have submitted proposals that went on deaf ears.)

My wife, bless her, isn't a very motivated person. So, with the salary cut, she isn't saying, "Don't waste your time! You can do better! Let's get out of here!" So, the choice is mine, which can be good and bad (only married guys will understand.)

In the back of my mind there is a, "dream plan." The dream plan has me staying in Japan at present job for a dozen months or a year. Build my skills and start getting freelance work on the side. Then partnerup with my Japanese friend (he is a coder) and start our own design studio. I would be happy doing that.

I welcome all advice. However, salary talk might only be helpful from people who live where I might move to (i.e. back home to New England.... initially.)

About salary. I enter "web designer" and select CT at I see about 65k a year. Is this BS? That is like 3 times more than what I make! (What I made at my last job!) I think the term "web designer" has a wide range though. From "using Front Page (shudders) to savvy dynamic site development." So I think that figure must be off.
I also see various companies mention 401K and dental, etc etc. That is also something to consider. Bottomline though, without having a portfolio, I'm a lame duck IMHO. But how to work on a portfolio when I get home each night not wanting to touch iDevGames, iDevApps, or other web work (aka from doing it all day at work)?

I think this must be the third post I've made on this topic in the last two years. I apologize! I need the community's help to tell me what to do! LOL

Because if I can't sort out my career problems, I won't ever be able to sort out those postmortems. Wink


Salary survey - KittyMac - Mar 1, 2006 08:15 PM

Why not a little of both? Create a portfolio with what you have, and then apply for positions online. The majority of the time you'll have a phone interview first, at which point you can gauge whether it is worth leaving your current job/life behind. At the very least, you might learn what areas of your portfolio need work and can focus on the next 6 months on improving it.

Also, try and spin your intimate knowledge of Japan to your advantage. Surely some businesses out there need to deal with Japanese businesses on a regular basis, and having a technically competent person who can communicate would be a plus.

Salary survey - igame3d - Mar 1, 2006 08:26 PM

$600 a month deduction?!?! And they want you to work? They are joking right?
What a bunch of slave drivers and monitor thieves too!!!

Look for jobs on craigslist in the area you would return too, if the market seems good dump Japan like a used kleenex.

Its not like you can't return there later on.

Seems like Japan has you running in circles, a change of pace, change of scenery would do you good. And your parents aren't going to live forever, go home and get to know them again now that you're all grown up.

Want a job teaching English in Taiwan? I could send some contacts your way?
The "house" we are going to move to in four years is sitting empty right now, its rather convienant to downtown (like right on top of it), and LARGE.
My father in law would love you for your athletic experience, he was Taiwan's champion hand ball coach for decades. Let me know.

Salary survey - akb825 - Mar 1, 2006 08:30 PM

From your previous threads, it appears that even if you wanted a different job, most people wouldn't take you since you're foreign. To put it bluntly, that's a crap salary for a web programmer. I say you just head back to the US where people will treat you fairly and try to get a job. Even if you have to climb the ladder again, you'll likely be earning a good deal more than $2000/month. (cutting your salary by nearly a quarter is just Shock Shock You should leave just for that, even if your salary was better in the first place)

Salary survey - monteboyd - Mar 1, 2006 09:52 PM

I voted for going home to the U.S. because I agree with what has been said above and just generally because it seems like you have become unhappy with living in Japan over the last year or so.

But then you just have to deal with taking the wife out of her home country. Wink

Also, I have no idea what the web job market is like in New England, but I reckon you could score a job here in Australia if only you were allowed to work here! Smile

Salary survey - kelvin - Mar 1, 2006 10:14 PM

Um... $2000/mo??? wtf? that's like $12.50/hr. You make more than that working a couple years at a supermarket stocking shelves here. Please tell me that pay is not for 40hrs/week.

Contract work? dwtf! Contractors are supposed to get paid higher gross wages! This is outrageous!

If you want AJAX pointers, I'll learn you up. Just ask.

Salary survey - LaRue - Mar 1, 2006 10:59 PM

I make 11.51 an hour right now as a teaching assistant for C/C++ and that is with only one semester of formal C/C++ training. You can earn a whole lot more here doing basically anything else. I made $2,000 a month cleaning glassware at a lab during the summer. Come back Carlos!!

Salary survey - Fenris - Mar 2, 2006 01:24 AM

I voted Other. I'm saying that the question you asked is the best answer you need. If you're even thinking along those lines, you're not supposed to stay. No reason in the world to stay. Cutting back your wage is done for two reasons: they want you out, but they want you out on their conditions. Make no mistake, you can expect to be sacked shortly anyway.

I say: you've made your Japan trip. You're definitely richer for it. Like KittyMac said - firsthand experience with Asia is a definite plus, considering the emerging markets there. Relocate. I'm not necessarily saying the US, but unless you want to live in Japan (as in, not only work in Japan) you should try some other part of the world. Either, you go home, or you go somewhere else. South Africa? Moscow? Germany?

Though, don't just jump ship. Start planning the transition today. Expect to be kicked out within six months or something. Build your portfolio at work, learn new stuff at home. Since they don't let you work smart at your current job your skills are wasting. So, start looking for jobs now. When you find something, quit. And don't accept a counter-offer.

Salary survey - Chris Ball - Mar 2, 2006 02:37 AM

Carlos Camacho Wrote:I won't be able to compete with a teenager that knows AJAX, Ruby on Rails, and all the newest buzz words.

I don't think you need to know the popular nonsense to do well in an interview. I never have. I find the people that hire need to be reminded about what's important and what isn't during an interview, so that's what I do. The job never matches the requirements anyways. Focus on what you have and show that you're adaptable to any problem.

If you're 35 and can come-off as shrewd and capable, then no teenager can compete with you.

Quote:(Yes, I have submitted proposals that went on deaf ears.)

I can't abide that sort of thing. If they aren't reasonable and don't allow you to exercise your skills with dedication then find a place that's more to your liking.

Quote:I see about 65k a year. Is this BS?

It is not BS, not by a long shot.

Quote:In the back of my mind there is a, "dream plan." The dream plan has me staying in Japan at present job for a dozen months or a year. Build my skills and start getting freelance work on the side. Then partnerup with my Japanese friend (he is a coder) and start our own design studio. I would be happy doing that.

Then that is my advice.

I left a job where I was making many times your salary + ipo stock and went to Hawaii to walk on the beach. I'm glad I did, I was getting stress related disorders from working under a PhD EE who programmed like a 12-year-old and listened about as well as my cat. Spin the wheel.

Salary survey - Zwilnik - Mar 2, 2006 05:30 AM

It's definitely worth looking out for a better job. The 'privacy compliance' rubbish was a pointer and it generally looks like the company you're working for is suffering from Dilbertism. Generally that means that there's no long term future there, either they'll go bust, fall badly behind their competition or get bought out. Either way it'll be the staff that get it in the neck.

You're in the situation now though where you have a job paying the bills (hopefully), which means you can do a less panicked job hunt, which usually means you can probably find something a bit better than when you're job hunting to survive.

As far as salary etc. is concerned, it's all relative. It's not what you earn compared to everyone else, it's what you earn relative to the lifestyle you want and how much it costs you to live where you are. Moving back to New England might reduce your cost of living such that you can actually enjoy life more on the same salary as you have at the moment, or even less. Then again, the cost of living there might be more. I'd consider other areas of the US or other parts of the world for the cost of living vs salary vs have they got a football team test.

When I left Argonaut to set up Strange Flavour I effectively ended up with about half the pay I'd had at Argonaut. However, because we'd moved from the super expensive London area to Newcastle, I still had all the facilities, but at a much lower cost (5 bedroom detatched house for cheaper than a 2 bedroom flat for starters). End result much better standard of living despite less money.

Salary survey - gatti - Mar 2, 2006 03:53 PM

I'd suggest that you attempt to pitch yourself into some form of IT/marketing/web management position for a Fortune 1000 company. From your descriptions, you seem to have the strategic knowledge of tapping into technology to deliver information. Combining direct web knowledge, graphic skills, marketing, and people management can most definitely help you score a position where you do a mix of those things and don't need to dive directly into each one. To do a mix of those 2-3 things can most definitely bring you into a 50-85k range (in U.S dollars that is.). Also, if you have Mac knowledge in basic network and system setup, you can also lobby those skills since graphic studios always love the graphic/techie person.

Another thing to note...If you make the move back to the U.S., the beginning salary for web developers is 35k.

I think for career purposes, since you aren't native to the language and writing of the country that you reside in (core elements for most business transactions), it may continue to limit your growth. It may be better to go to a more "English" business atmosphere. Where is your "legal" residence?

Salary survey - funkboy - Mar 2, 2006 04:03 PM

Definitely look to moving out of there... your dollar amount has my eyes hurting. I am graduating with a B.S. in Computer Engineering and plan to make no less than $50,000 in the midwest. Maybe ~$45,000 if I stay in a smaller (~100,000 people) city.

You can always create a portfolio while you are working your day job - I would follow your "dream plan" if possible, since that *is* your dream, and why not stick with your dreams? Your wife seems supportive of that course of action, too.

I have never heard of an employer reducing an employee's salary in the US... ever. Not unless there was some REALLY weird circumstance, or the company was bleeding money and everyone had to help out. Only then, everybody took a pay cut, not a single person.

Look for an out.

Salary survey - gatti - Mar 2, 2006 04:12 PM

If you want to build a web portfolio, I'd focus on assembling screen captures of all the sites that you've worked on and then design your own site (3-5 pages) to represent and support your graphic and technical web dev skills. This will be your Carlos Camacho web design selling point. Also have a PDF of your resumé available on the site so that people can download your full information.

Salary survey - BeyondCloister - Mar 2, 2006 04:15 PM

As soon as you stop enjoying what you are doing it is time to move on. You only have the one life so why waste it doing something that does not make you happy?

I know many people who have suffered ill health due to being stuck somewhere they do not enjoy.

Just don't forget the golden rule though - don't leave until you have something else unless you have cash reserves to live on for at least 6 months.

Salary survey - Carlos Camacho - Mar 2, 2006 10:27 PM

>Where is your "legal" residence?
He he.. I have permanent residence status in Japan. My passport is US. I haven't been back to my home state in years (CT). So long, that my driver's license can't be renewed from Japan anymore -- I need to go to the DMV for a photo.

>Only then, everybody took a pay cut, not a single person.
I confirmed yesterday that it was only me. Sad

>As soon as you stop enjoying what you are doing it is time to move on.
Wise words, along with other good feedback from everyone. I suppose I am a type of person that once is "settled in", I tend to drag my feet in changing. More so after I got married I suppose.

This morning, I was thinking that when I was in my late teens, I made more than right now! Along with everyone's advice, that has shaped my action plan.

My wife's VISA will take several months to clear. We need to bring cats home with us, and they can't travel during very hot weather. So I'm thinking, stay at present job since $2,000 is better than $0 sitting at home. Although it might be peanuts, any work I do can go towards future employement (ie portfolio). Around June-ish, I should resign. Then I can spend the summer packing and sending resumes home. I'll then come back in Sept/Oct. Sadly, I said the exact same thing last year but kinda chickened out and stayed. I hope everyone yells at me enough this time so that I have no choice. Wink

Of course, I could speed up my action plan if I manage to build a suitable portfolio sooner.

One thing is for sure. There is no sense working beyond 6:30 each day if this job has no future. In other words, what is the point to work more if I'll see a measly pay increase after 1 year! So, if I go home when the whistle blows, I'll have from 8pm to 12pm-ish each night to work on my personal stuff.

>I'd suggest that you attempt to pitch yourself into some form of IT/marketing/web >management position for a Fortune 1000 company.
I could use you as my agent Wink

I'm going to need to search for a company that can work with me to create a good resume. Any links/recommendations?