Salary Question - I am the director of digital marketing at a start up agency. I understand start ups usually pay less, but right now I am only making 30K/year with hardly any benefits. I feel stuck in my job because if I leave, the whole thing would most likely fall apart. I also love my job, I love my company, I love everything about it, except for that fact that I only make 30K/year. I know now that my worth is way above that. Any suggestions on how to ask for a raise?

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It’s simple... you need to find the money. Whether it’s at this company or the next. Until you’re making enough to really cover your costs , you need to chase the salary. Once you’ve hit 6-figures or whatever your number is, then you can take a step back and say you are staying for the people or the mission or the interns or the clients. To be making that little in a start up has to be comped in some other way — ownership, PTO (can’t believe you didn’t have any until recently!!!!), expense account, and so on. Remember, you can always come back later when they offer you a real salary related to your title and experience. This is not a non-profit! You are working to make the owners succeed... not yourself. So... chase the money.

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FWIW when I was a Senior Associate 5 years ago, my agency (boutique) promoted me from Senior Associate to Managing Director with only 5 years experience (and a master’s degree) because they knew I was unhappy and, I’m pretty sure, did it knowing that it would look ridiculous on my resume and make it harder for me to leave. I then went in-house, but when applying for my current job at a global agency, I made sure to adjust the Managing Director title accordingly on my resume to show self awareness and to ensure I didn’t hurt my opportunities getting an actual Director-level job. I suggest you do the same when you’re ready to leave to ensure you’re considered for positions that actually match your experience and qualifications!

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That’s not a livable wage and is not in alignment with your title. Do you have other elements to your comp? Find out what others in your start-up agency are making, do research on market rate for the nature of your work, and make your case in the context of business value (ie, are you bringing in clients? Retaining them?)

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Assuming you are based in the US, this company sounds exploitative and sketchy. Using unpaid interns for essential tasks (ie the business couldn’t function without their labor, which I’m guessing is probably the case here...) is illegal and if someone reports it to your state dept of labor, the company could be ordered to pay back wages to unpaid interns. That’s not even getting into the question of whether or not your salary is legal - you should look into your local labor laws regarding minimum wage and overtime pay because it’s possible you’re not even making minimum wage, especially if you’re ever expected to work over 40 hours a week.

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I want to add that you owe your company nothing. If it falls apart without you, that is NOT on you. Everyone is replaceable, and companies are not loyal to their employees. I learned that the hard way. And wish someone had told me sooner. Good luck!

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Yes. Yes. Yes. You don’t owe them a thing. They owe you about $30k more.

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When you decide to get prepared to leave , i would change your title from this job to marketing specialist / associate on your resume. If you’re title says director but your amount of experience is on the junior side , they may not pick up your resume for the jobs you would be most qualified for and hurt your chances! Just food for thought that can help you move sooner.

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Agree with most of what’s been written here and have one more thing to add- a director title is at least 5-7 years away for you, given that you’ve got less than one year of experience. Going into your job search with expectations of that title is only going to lead to disappointment.

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Wouldn’t be able to say without seeing your resumé. I’m happy to give it a quick look if you want to DM it through.

Unless this is a start up with college friends a few hard truths; 1- at 23 you are not a director equivalent of anything in marketing or advertising 2- nothing is going to fall apart without you 3- $30k is $10-15k under staffing agency job in mid-tier city (Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle) 4- if you like your job and think you are learning something that will take you to where you want to go (not another 23 year old) the. Ask for $10k and stay - that’s a good entry level salary

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Right now your salary is more junior than director and even then, extremely low. I want to be realistic with you. Based on my experience, getting huge jumps in the same company is super unlikely. I don’t know how you arrived at this salary in the first place or if there was any negotiation. I am confident 30k ➡️ 40k will be possible for you. 30k ➡️ 35k more likely. 30k ➡️ 50k - a stretch and anything beyond is highly unlikely. The reason I’m giving you numbers is because you need to ask YOURSELF if you could even live and be happy on those numbers. I have gotten a 10k jump before (sub 70, so a huge percentage considering) I have watched a friend get a 10k jump and and she secretly was wishing for 20k and her company was baffled, because for a small place, 10k is already huge. I don’t want to lecture, just be honest with yourself. Tips on getting a raise: - Market comparison. What are people making out there for your role? Glassdoor, LinkedIn, etc. find the range. Don’t compare it with a huge company with 10k employees. Same size, same level of experience, etc. - What are your contributions? How have you helped the company grow? Clients, sales, etc. Name everything. - You said the place would fall apart without you. Tell them in nice words how. How many people are you directing? - Interview somewhere else and get an offer. Only do this if you are prepared to leave. Again, I want to be honest with you because I’ve watched SO many friends deal with low pay over the years and in the end, it’s a job. You might love it but it’s, really, really hard to move past “except for I make X amount...” because that affects the quality of your life, emotional stability, self esteem etc. Look up the numbers and see if you could live on these amounts.

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As long as you’re not trying to go for director or senior positions, it’s not a huge deal. I probably wouldn’t write that on your resume still. It’s good you have other work, it just all depends on where you want to go next and what kind of roles you’re looking for. You can always write Digital Marketing Lead etc. Like another person we can take a look at your resume if you want.

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Seriously? As a director you should be wiping the floor with your current salary

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How many years of experience do you have? And are you in a place like Nyc? Will be helpful in asking for a raise to have done your research on what you could get elsewhere, including taking into account value of benefits or equity. Might also help shift your mindset from feeling stuck.

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Agreed - if ur 23 and this is ur first job, ur in the same range as my first NYC job (I made $35K - my title was Associate, tho, so dunno y ur company is calling ur role 'Director' - prob an HR hiring tactic). Curious wat ur boss and boss's boss call themselves.. instead of CEO, is ur company's CEO called KING OF THE WORLD..? Given this, if ur happy/r doing associate-level work at an associate's salary, u can consider staying IMO. But u can also use ur 'Director' title to ur advantage, and job search. GL!!!

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You're making WHAT?! Entry level pays more than that

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What is this 1970? Seriously, your salary is ridiculous! You should find a new job and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. They are taking advantage of you, plain and simple. If the company would truly fall apart without you, then you should be paid for it. A guy would never accept that salary.

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Also only 2 weeks ago I negotiated some PTO. Before I didn’t have any. So I feel bad coming back just a few weeks later and asking for a raise, however I can’t keep living on such a low income. Especially for what I do.

I made 35k in NYC as a bottom rung nobody over a decade ago. 30k for director is ridiculous. Find a new job! The company's success is not your responsibility unless your title is CEO, Founder, or President. I would also follow the advice above and change your title to something else on LinkedIn and your resume. If I saw someone's resume with current title as director but only 1 year of experience, I'm afraid to tell you it would go in the no pile for me. Titles matter to an extent, but experience matters more, and such a mismatch would raise some red flags. I'm sure you are talented and you work hard, probably way above entry level. Play those skills up and you'll have a better, more appropriate job in no time.

Also when looking for a new job, research how much you should be being paid. Do not tell them you’re a Director making $30k or they would use that to way underpay you. My first job out of college at 21 was an Assistant Media Planner and I was paid $48k. Get what you deserve and don’t settle for less. I get you love them but you have to make a living too.

My first job (in NY) at 23 (12 years ago) I made $50k plus generous benefits. $30k is not acceptable for any first job. Find something new.

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