What is your life worth?

Let’s assume you sleep 8 hours a day, leaving 16 hours for you to enjoy life, hang out with your spouse, walk your dog and take your kids to the park.

I want to purchase half of that time.

clock1I’m willing to give you some holidays and weekends, but at least 5 days a week and 8 hours per day, your time is spent on stuff I want you to do.  Subtract out 3 weeks of vacation and I want to buy about 52% of your time.

How much will you charge me?

I’m not the first person to ask this question. I bring it up because a tech recruiter recently asked me to explain my salary requirements.  What she was really asking was: “You are still in development and you are still in eCommerce, why are you asking for so much more than you did 17 years ago?”

Let me explain.

KeyboardDevil - circa 2005

In 1999, while still in college, I accepted my first full-time developer position with JP Morgan Chase.  We were a team of six, working on the website CreditCardsAtChase.com.  It was a pretty simple JSP site who’s purpose was to educate banking customers on the differences between credit cards and market them.  The technology was entry level (DHTML, baby!), the pace of work and rate of change were very reasonable (as you’d expect at a bank), and there was no need for on-call or late hours. As first jobs go, this one was pretty much perfect.  I got to work with a small team and hone my code skills without overtime or unexpected timeline stresses.

Over the years, I moved up through the levels of developer inevitably graduating to the architect/manager split and choosing the latter.  Each time I changed jobs a little more focus was required, and each position demanded a little more responsibility and accountability.  But most importantly, the required time increased. More responsibilities means more deliverables, I had to fit more into a work week.  This meant longer hours, and sometimes, the occasional Saturday.

When I started at WDPRO in 2005 we had no on-call expectations.  At that time the importance of 24/7 eCommerce hadn’t gripped the Walt Disney company like it had with others.  But that changed in 2009, I was on-call one week out of every 8. As our online application count increased, so did our on-call expectations.  When I started at Chico’s as tech manager in 2012, I was on-call 24/7 and pulled into live-site issues 3+ times a week (for the first year or so).  Due to late night batch jobs, the website most frequently broke at 3 o’clock in the morning.

My iPhone receives my work email and text messages from co-workers.  It comes with me on vacation, it’s with me at the movie theater, when I’m having dinner with my family, it’s in the bathroom, and in the dentist’s office. Realistically, the only time I really unplug is when I’m out of cell phone service coverage, or in the shower.

At this point in my career, I’m rarely every “not at work”.

So, what would you charge for 99.9% of your time?

Be Sociable, Share!

One thought on “What is your life worth?

  1. That is an excellent example of why some people have such a high expectation of what their salary requirements are. I don’t think I’ve ever really thought of it that way. I am so adapting this to future negotiations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *