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Bad timing affecting my salary

August 4, 2009

I don’t like to think about this (because it frustrates me) or blog about it (because it seems insensitive given the past years economic ravages), but here it is anyway.  I do not feel that I’m being paid in line with my education, experience, and skills.  I got a really nice raise in the spring, but I am still not satisfied.  Why not?

I have over three years of experience, and despite getting really great annual reviews, I’m still suck at “level 1” employee.  Industry standard is to promote you after 2 years (if you are good enough — and I am!) or to start you at “level 2” if you have a M.S. degree.  (I have 2/3 of one so far.)  Even though I’m in a higher paying organization and I’m at the high end of level 1 employees, I’m stuck in the wrong pay band.

Why?  Mostly timing.  I switched jobs to move to California after working 1.5 years, so they refused to hire me into “level 2” due to lack of experience.  Fair enough.

My first annual raises were after being employed roughly 1 month, so obviously no raise was granted.  We had some other discussions towards the end of 2008, and I’d proved myself enough that my manager agreed I should be promoted to “level 2”.  His timeline was “next year”.  I was satisfied that the topic had been covered and we were on the same page.   I was given a high rating and received complimentary reviews from my daily supervisors, so I was confident things would progress smoothly.  (Cue collapse of the world economy.)

It’s been “next year” for 9 months now, and nothing has been mentioned.  Why?  Bad timing.  Things with work got really bad around January, and there was a lot of shuffling and a few layoffs.  I didn’t have a permanent position in hand — it obviously wasn’t the time to be fussing about salary.  Amidst the turbulence, my manger helped me secured a permanent position on what should be a long term stable assignment — exactly what I need to launch me from entry level to a mid level expert.  I’m excited about the development — but I’m still quite frustrated with the pay band I’m stuck in.

I have a mid year review coming up this month, and it should be interesting.  How did I do the first half of the year?  Well, I survived.  Goals were ambiguous to start, then were deviated from anyway due to higher forces out of our control.  At least I should get some fresh ones to work on.  It’ll also be an opportunity to discuss when my promotion will be happening, and if needed, why I have earned it (but since he’s already agreed, I think it is red tape and bureaucracy rather than doubt of merit that is holding it up).

I’m hoping my leap from level 2 to level 3 will be much quicker.  I should get my Masters degree early next year, and if I do well in my new position, I should be in a good position to move up quickly.  But that’s what I thought a year ago too. . .

I guess I”m open to thoughts/advice, but I already know what I plan to do:  Bring it up with my manager and do really really well in my new position.  Which I should be in as you are reading this!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2009 6:47 am

    I totally hear you. I was basically promoted in June, in that I was given ALL of the responsibilities of the person above me when she moved into another department, but I wasn’t given a raise or even a title change. And it’s “bad timing” here, too, because there are salary and hiring freezes. But it’s very demoralizing to be doing work that I should be paid $10,000-$15,000 more to do, and have no one recognize that. I mean, a title change is free. An extra week’s vacation would do! I really want the salary increase more than anything, but if it’s just not possible, there are other concessions I could be given, you know?

    I’ve decided to bring it up to my new boss in a few weeks, and see what happens. I don’t want to not speak up and keep stewing about it.

  2. tom permalink
    August 4, 2009 7:24 am

    This exact topic was presented to the VP of HR a while ago and was revisted yesterday with HR reps and some professors visiting our company. Merit based promotions is something that’s in desperate need of attention here, espcially when the economy turns around and Gen Yers start shuffling as we did a few years ago. Then the same old retention issues pop back up. I think someone could make a career out of revamping our entire HR Strategy. Hmmm… maybe I’ll have to pursue that!

  3. August 4, 2009 8:04 am

    I feel you…I am really frustrated as well. And my supervisor throws really vague goals at me and gives me instructions to “think outside the box” when coming up with next year’s goals. WTF does that mean! I know things are tough, we’ve had to cut costs etc so i’m not expecting a raise, even though I had a stellar review. But I still can’t help being annoyed. What good is a pat on the back?

    I hope things go well with your mid-year review. In a good economy, we’d be getting our raises and if not, we could just look for another job. But now…we just have to be happy for even still having a job. The way I see it, if nothing comes out of your review, just ride it out until the economy gets better, then jump ship for a higher paying job. You’ll have a lot more experience under your belt as well.

  4. August 4, 2009 10:16 am

    I feel the same way… My one year review is coming up on October, and I feel like I’m worth more, but it’ll be another thing what the company thinks. They are laying people off still so I feel bad wanting/expecting more money.

  5. Erin A permalink
    August 5, 2009 11:15 am

    I am not sure what industry you are in but you need to be realistic. Many companies have furloughed workers several days per month or instated salary freezes. My company has instituted a salary freeze and I too am unhappy however I am greatful to have a job. In my industry (construction/engineering) there have been pretty extensive layoffs so the workload has increased for everyone even if it is at the same level as before.
    I think it bears mentioning without being whiny. I think that they playing field right now is changed.

  6. August 5, 2009 7:35 pm

    @little miss moneybags – I hope it goes well for you — some of it is just about the respect. It is insulting to have the same title as someone who graduated a week ago.

    @tom – glad to hear I shouldn’t take it personally. While they don’t need ME in particular, they do need to retain people like me in general.

    @la daze – if they aren’t giving a raise, they should at least address the topic with you instead of leaving you hanging! It is frustrating

    @Jessie – I feel bad, but I also know what other people are getting paid with similar (or less) experience and it bugs me

    @Erin – I don’t intend to be whiny when I bring it up, but a bad economy is not an excuse to withhold a deserved and promised promotion. I’m fairly confident I could find another job right now (though it would likely take more time than usual) and get paid more — but that isn’t what I want to do, and it isn’t what my company wants to do. I think I’m being realistic. Well, I hope so! We’ll find out.

  7. August 6, 2009 12:16 pm

    Bring it up at your review, you may not get bumped in level and pay but at least you aired your concerns and perhaps management will give you a better idea of how to move ahead. I think it is important to show that you want to grow as an employee, managers want ambitious people. Hopefully once the economy turns around you will be in a better position to advance. Lots of luck!

    Oh and my mom just had something similar happen, she was promised a certain raise after 1 year but due to the economy her boss could only give her 1/3 as much!

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