I’m at a point in my job where I think I’ve hit the salary wall. I basically have to wait for my manager at my current company to retire in order to move up. He’s older, but I don’t know exactly if and when he plans to leave his post. My best friend thinks I should bail and that I could find a better-paying job at another company. I’ve been here only a few years, and don’t want to look “flighty” on my résumé. What should I do?
Dear, Resigned to the Idea,
I grew up hearing the phrase, “Winners never quit and quitters never win” and come from a generation where loyalty was valued. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but recent articles are swaying me to believe the best way to get a significant raise these days is to quit one job and change to another.
When you stay with a company for many years, your raise is usually based on a percentage of your current salary. The average salary increase last year was 2.9%, according to Mercer’s US Compensation Planning Survey. (There are some standouts that earn a 5%-10% raise, offset by federal employees receiving a 1% raise and those poor souls who get no pay bump at all.) With the inflation rate hovering around 2.1%, the extra spending money after an annual raise may be inconsequential.
In a Forbes article, Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less, a hiring manager explains that if you start fresh with another company, you’ll likely command a higher base salary, which is often more than a raised salary offered by your current employer.
Talk to your manager about what it would take to increase your salary. (He may just spill the beans about his retirement plans.) Before the meeting, check out Salary.com or PayScale.com to see the range of wages paid for your position in your geographic area. You don’t want to use this information to threaten, but to enlighten. If a raise is out of the question in your current position, tactfully explore the option of moving to another department within the organization. Or negotiate for a bonus based on completion of a task outside your normal scope of work or for reaching a milestone.
If pay raises or bonuses are not forthcoming and you don’t feel that you can wait it out for your boss’s chair, consider searching for a new position with a significant salary increase. Mull over the risks to changing jobs. What if that exciting start-up offering competitive salaries and amazing perks goes belly-up? What if your new boss is a micromanager? Factor in future career goals. Some more established companies do frown upon job-hopping. They may have a policy of tossing any applicant résumé that has, say, more than three jobs in the last 10 years. So before you take the leap to another company, be sure that the salary and/or title increase is worth it, both personally and professionally.
Readers: For what percentage salary increase would you consider leaving your current job?
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