Low salary offers

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kwyjibo

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Mini rant below.

Background:

Over 10 years experience with electrical design in industrial, commercial, and transportation environments. Experience touches on low voltage, medium voltage, communications, ITS, SCADA, fire alarm/protection, and all those applied to wayside environments (traction systems, rail signal) as well. I also have my PE and code inspector licenses in multiple states as well as a LEED.

No employment gaps either. Been in engineering roles my entire career.

Situation:

On the market for about 8 months. Have received a few nibbles working with both a recruiter and applying for jobs myself. Interviews happened quickly and paperwork moved almost instantly. When the offers came they were insulting. I felt like I wasted my time doing screens and traveling (on my PTO days) for multiple rounds of in person interviews only to get 65-75k offers for senior, principal, or even supervising engineer level positions that were advertised at 100k+. 65-75k is just too low for someone expected to sign drawings and manage direct reports.

I’ve pushed back and there was no room to even negotiate. “Salary is commensurate with experience and it’s more than generous, so take it or leave it” and “your experience is too diverse (whatever that means) and we feel you’re only a 2nd/3rd year engineer at best” are the reasons I was given. It doesn’t make much sense that 2 of these firms have offered me salary in line with what their new college hires are making.

Anyone else seeing ridiculously low salary offers? Or am I just delusional/unreasonable and the market has really become this bad for engineers, especially in the northeast. I totally get companies have to turn profits and minimize their overhead. But IMHO this level of low balling is extreme.
 

14bk41

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Where are you located? And what industries are these companies you talked to? Around here (VA/DC/MD area), the range for 10+ years of exp engineers, with PE, would be 120K-150K.
 

kwyjibo

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Metro NYC and these are all A/E firms of various sizes from a few handfuls of staff to hundreds and thousands if the entire international staff is taken into account. My background is primarily with transportation systems too.

I’m just really annoyed. Why do these firms bother going through the whole process only to extend an offer with a salary that isn’t even remotely close to what the position was advertised. There’s no way I would even consider signing drawings at a 76k salary.

FWIW, my starting salary for my first job out of school was 59k. Being told all I’m worth at this point of my career is 76k at best makes me question life.
 

Pra4surf1

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Metro NYC and these are all A/E firms of various sizes from a few handfuls of staff to hundreds and thousands if the entire international staff is taken into account. My background is primarily with transportation systems too.

I’m just really annoyed. Why do these firms bother going through the whole process only to extend an offer with a salary that isn’t even remotely close to what the position was advertised. There’s no way I would even consider signing drawings at a 76k salary.

FWIW, my starting salary for my first job out of school was 59k. Being told all I’m worth at this point of my career is 76k at best makes me question life.
While I’m struggling to pass the PE I’ve been pretty successful in growing my career over the past 22 years. Here are some tips that helped me. First off I very rarely got a job I was looking for from applying for open positions on the internet. My best jobs starting out were from contacting companies that I researched that weren’t even hiring and cold calling them or just show up. These were mostly smaller companies where I wasn’t just stuck in a corner. One job that really kicked off my engineering career was an old engineer that offered me 50% proposal cost of each design I completed that he sealed. The first year working with him was my largest annual income to date. Second piece of advice is your network (friends, co-workers, customers, etc.). A strong network is essential for success imo. Think outside of the box. Just because a company isn’t hiring doesn’t mean the door is closed. Many large corporations who are hiring are receiving a ton of applications to sort through. Also there is nothing wrong with asking the salary range up front. No need wasting anyones time if it’s out of your range. Good luck!
 

14bk41

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Check the top 25 EAC/CM firms career pages (I work for one of them). Most of them are hiring and some positions are even remote. Agreed with previous poster - networking is crucial and everyone is connected.
 

WingNut

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OK, this is not as complicated as you are making it. If you have 10+ years of experience, then you you should be in the $130-$140K range. If y not there, then there must be some structural problem you have. The argument " you have diverse experience" is a red herring. Your response is that you bring a broad base of varied experiences to the table, making you well worth the money that you are seeking. Now, if the job is very specific, then yes, your broad experience may not count-- all that means is that there is a better opportunity out there.

1. Go find the NSPE annual salary survey-- see what your average salary is for your experience and geographic locale. Salaries do vary by locale, as well as experience-- if you have broad experience, you should be able to ascertain what salary you should be receiving.

2. Attend a local NSPE meeting and network. I have engineers that are crying for folks-- cannot find them-- we get calls every day seeking canddiates and we are NOT a head hunter or employment agency. You have to get out and network. Get some simple business cards and pass them out. Get involved in MMATHCOUNTS, Future Cities, Robotics competition-- anything that gets you out with other people who are dong engineering work.

3. As others said, go bang on doors. I know, you are scared! Everyone today is scared to bang on doors. I know a bank CEO that went to see the Bank Owner every week for 8 weeks before he was given a job as a bank teller. 40 years later, he was the CEO of the bank. Every week for the 8 weeks, the bank owner said that there were no jobs available at the bank. This guy never gave up-- 40 years later, he was the CEO.

4. Yes, this is frustrating-- however, don't give up-- power through it-- a good opportunity will result.
 

kwyjibo

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Thanks for all the support. I'll keep searching. I'm glad to know I'm not being irrational rejecting these offers. I'm going to take a break for a month to regroup first and maybe catch up on my hobbies that have been neglected the last 5 years. I have a few Lego sets that have not yet been opened. :)

It's been super frustrating that the firms I've interviewed with will say one thing during interviews, put it in writing, and then offer half or less than half what they originally stated as the salary for the position. 2 of the roles were even direct referrals from contacts working at those firms for positions that needed to be filled "immediately."

I question a firm's ethics and motives when this bait and switch is done. It just makes no sense. Either I'm qualified for the role or not. There should never be a situation where anyone can be qualified for the job to the point an offer is extended, but at the same time not qualified for the salary that goes with it.
 

youngmotivatedengineer

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While I’m struggling to pass the PE I’ve been pretty successful in growing my career over the past 22 years. Here are some tips that helped me. First off I very rarely got a job I was looking for from applying for open positions on the internet. My best jobs starting out were from contacting companies that I researched that weren’t even hiring and cold calling them or just show up. These were mostly smaller companies where I wasn’t just stuck in a corner. One job that really kicked off my engineering career was an old engineer that offered me 50% proposal cost of each design I completed that he sealed. The first year working with him was my largest annual income to date. Second piece of advice is your network (friends, co-workers, customers, etc.). A strong network is essential for success imo. Think outside of the box. Just because a company isn’t hiring doesn’t mean the door is closed. Many large corporations who are hiring are receiving a ton of applications to sort through. Also there is nothing wrong with asking the salary range up front. No need wasting anyones time if it’s out of your range. Good luck!
This is how I got my current job which kicked off my engineering career. After college, my 1st job didn't work out, partly my fault,and then I spent 5 years doing management with a home renovation company. Got laid off and started contacting engineering companies in the area I was looking to work in. I ended up setting with an energy audit company that I enjoyed working for. After around 1 year, I got random call from one of the companies I emailed a year earlier and it's been nothing but progress ever since then.
 

youngmotivatedengineer

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Mini rant below.

Background:

Over 10 years experience with electrical design in industrial, commercial, and transportation environments. Experience touches on low voltage, medium voltage, communications, ITS, SCADA, fire alarm/protection, and all those applied to wayside environments (traction systems, rail signal) as well. I also have my PE and code inspector licenses in multiple states as well as a LEED.

No employment gaps either. Been in engineering roles my entire career.

Situation:

On the market for about 8 months. Have received a few nibbles working with both a recruiter and applying for jobs myself. Interviews happened quickly and paperwork moved almost instantly. When the offers came they were insulting. I felt like I wasted my time doing screens and traveling (on my PTO days) for multiple rounds of in person interviews only to get 65-75k offers for senior, principal, or even supervising engineer level positions that were advertised at 100k+. 65-75k is just too low for someone expected to sign drawings and manage direct reports.

I’ve pushed back and there was no room to even negotiate. “Salary is commensurate with experience and it’s more than generous, so take it or leave it” and “your experience is too diverse (whatever that means) and we feel you’re only a 2nd/3rd year engineer at best” are the reasons I was given. It doesn’t make much sense that 2 of these firms have offered me salary in line with what their new college hires are making.

Anyone else seeing ridiculously low salary offers? Or am I just delusional/unreasonable and the market has really become this bad for engineers, especially in the northeast. I totally get companies have to turn profits and minimize their overhead. But IMHO this level of low balling is extreme.
You may need to do a little more research for the companies and see exactly what they are looking for. For some companies, they may be looking for someone with long-term experience in the work that they do. For the company that said you are only a 2nd or 3rd year engineer, they may get move heavily involved with designs, or have a higher workload than what you told them you have done. As a result, when you look at your 10+ years of overall experience, the direct experience you have related to what that company does may be equivalent to what their 2nd/3rd year engineers are doing. You have to remember that time isn't everything, and people won't pay just because you've been in engineering field for 10 years. Maybe you need to reevaluate how you present your experience to potential employers to show that you are good fit for them.

Think about it from the standpoint of a high school athlete. He may be a great overall athlete, hard worker, always the 1st one at practice and last to leave and puts in extra work on the off days. However, he also plays multiple sports throughout the year so he's constantly busy and hasn't really perfected 1 particular sport. When the Division 1 football recruiters come around, they will notice him, but they may end up giving that full ride scholarship to the athlete who only plays football and in the off-season works on improving his football skills to become a better football player.
 

kwyjibo

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The offers received were jobs that were either direct referral from someone within that firm or their HR inviting me to interview. I thought I was a good enough fit that offers were extended. These positions have all been in line with my previous roles in transportation engineering design and construction management.

Am I being unreasonable?

Logic would tell me a employer would only extend an offer to someone they felt would be a organizational fit and could do the job. No one would willingly make a hire for someone that could not do the job. So, that answers my question about if I am qualified for the positions I’ve interviewed for and received offers.

Logic would also tell me that a reasonable salary should accompany the offer, especially if the job is advertised with it. This is where I’m having difficulty connecting the dots why the offers are in the neighborhood of 50% below what is advertised. I don’t think anyone would want to be a director and sign drawings for a salary less than the most junior cad operator or engineer in the firm.
 
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