“Should a young professional who likes his job change jobs for 50% more pay?”

Question: Hi, Alan. I’m a young professional, having graduated with a BS about 3.5 years ago. I’m fortunate that my degree, skill set, and experience provide me with plenty of job opportunities in a declining economy.

I’ve been with my current employer for almost 2 years now. I haven’t had a review or raise. I’m currently being paid less than the average wage for my position. From what I can tell, I’m far above average compared to others with comparable experience level. After 1 year, I brought the review up with my boss, who said that “we should be doing that.” I haven’t heard anything since.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting many job offers with salaries at about 50% higher than what I’m making now. One hiring manager said to me, “You’re grossly underpaid and I can fix that.”  However, I haven’t accepted any offers because I really like working for my current employer. I’m also worried that I may not like a new job as much.

What should I do? Am I crazy? Should I just leave now?

Irving, California

Answer: Dear Dave: Superb questions, both for their relevance to younger employees, and for their universality with all employees.         

1. First, you are not crazy (at least not from what I can tell), just “torn” in different directions. Each day each of us is faced with choices, some of which we do not even know are before us. You are now faced with an agonizing choice about your employment relations, and your career. There are many different and competing considerations to think about, to weigh, to consider, and to choose among. It can make you feel, well, even crazy. The important thing is to focus on the various considerations of importance to you, one by one, and to make a reasoned decision after weighing them. There’s also a lot at stake here, which only increases the anxiety, concern and, at times, confusion any person would feel.

2. Second, I congratulate you for what you are really doing: Examining Your “Employment Values.” Whether or not you know it, Dave, you are engaging in the most important part of workplace navigating: examining your “Employment Values,” that is, saying to yourself, “What parts of a job are most important to me?” Is it money above all? Being happy and fulfilled in your function? Having freedom to try new things? Intellectual curiosity? Opportunity to become a partner? Like – or hate – international travel? A good and happy career and life is comprised of a balance of these, and other things. I have written a newsletter on this very topic entitled “Your Employment Values – Why Take (or Stay In) This Job?” To read it, just [click here].  

3. Third, don’t leave your present job without at least trying to improve your present situation with a “Triggers of Value” approach. Please do not leave your present – and valuable – employment relation until you are confident it is lower in your overall interests than is another job. I strongly suggest you use what I call a “Triggers of Value” approach. This is essentially how it works:  “Boss, is there anything in the world I could do to justify a 30% raise and promotion? Perhaps increase revenues 10%? Lower costs 20%? Bill an extra 100 hours a year? Bring in a great new client?”

If the answer is “Yes, if you bring in $1 million in more revenues,” then, if you think that is reasonably achievable, it is for you to say, “OK, then, can we agree on that, and may I send you an email to memorialize it?” If this works, you have done yourself a great piece of positive and productive negotiating.

If the answer is “No,” then you have just been told that “Nothing in the world will result in your getting the raise and promotion you would like.” At least then you would know where you stand.

The answer you receive should not be the sole determinant of your decision, but rather one of the many driving factors, based on your “Employment Values.” For example, if your boss says “No, but I will give you 25% of the company stock,” or “How about lifetime job security?” you just might be the happiest rooster in the barn, and on that basis decide to stay “on the farm.” 

Please read my newsletter article entitled “For a Raise or Promotion, Use ‘Triggers of Value’” to help you more in this approach. You can do so by simply [clicking here.]

If you’d like to obtain a Model Letter to be adapted to your facts and the “Triggers of Value” approach, entitled “Model Letter for Requesting Raise or Promotion,” simply [click here.]

4. Fourth, before you decide to leave, (a) do your due diligence homework, (b) remember your “Employment Values,” and (c) confirm in writing (that is, make an email record) of what you are promised. But, hey, don’t forget: there are two sides to every bridge. No matter how disappointed you may possibly be in your “Triggers of Value” approach, as you acknowledge, the other job may bring you even less happiness. Before agreeing to make a move, do your homework, and focus, again, on “Employment Values.” If the other job pays you 50% more, who wants it if it requires you to work 365 days a year, 15 hours a day. Don’t be afraid to “inter – view” even after the “interview.” And, too, confirm the “deal” in an email to make sure no one “forgets” what was promised. (Please excuse my concern for such “forgetfulness.”)    

5. This “mindful” approach to your employment relations will give you the best chance of overall success in all you do. These paths forward constitute a “mindful” approach to navigating and negotiating to career success, at every stage in your life. You are to be commended for starting with it at such a relatively young age; many people in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s still have not learned to take advantage of it. With your “mindful” manner, I have every confidence in your career success, no matter where you work. Oh, sure, you’ll hit “bumps in the road,” but you are definitely headed in a good direction, and have sound footing.

Dave, thanks for writing in. Feel free, of course, to view our free YouTube videos on these and related topics. Now – go get ‘em.

Al Sklover

Received a Job Offer? Be Wise: Use Our Model Letter Confirming Basic Points of a Job Offer. To Get a Copy, Just [click here.]

P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other workplace-related subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. (Even 5-minute “Just One Question” calls). Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can be accommodated.

Repairing the World,
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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