Is your grass the greenest?
How would you know if you don’t go over the fence?
Dear Klimber || I’m good at what I do and love the company I work for. I currently work for a manager that has a more traditional way of thinking which impacts the moves I can make when better opportunities arise. I personally view him as a roadblock because any move I make to leave his group would impact him considering my level of responsibilities. I believe that I have a pretty good future here, but I’m concerned that I am wasting time in my current role. Once in a while, I get a call from a recruiter asking whether I’d be interested in other opportunities. Lately, I’ve been wondering if I should explore outside options. But it means a new start and it means having to prove myself again. What should I do? – Jacob S.
Jacob || Throughout your career, you will be courted by companies that want your skill set. They will approach you even if you’re not in the market and may offer you more money or a better title (i.e. increased responsibilities). Given that your manager is actively impeding your career, you owe it to yourself to explore all opportunities and scope out the landscape. As a rule, even if you are happy and have no plans to leave your company, you should interview with external companies and try to get an offer every two to three years.
Why, you ask? Because you are a business. Every business’ value is set by the market. The only way to know the value of your business is to step out into the marketplace and put yourself up for sale. This is also the best way to ensure that your current employer places a fair and competitive value on you. While you may truly enjoy your job and may even have a good future at your current employer, the downside with being at the same company for a long time is that your worth (whether it be monetary compensation or your title) is determined only by one entity. Your salary increases over the years (probably at a paltry 3% – 5%) and the bumps you get from promotions(10% maybe) are typically not a good indication of your value. In fact, your salary growth will usually be at a slower pace simply because your employer is not competing for your services – instead, they are harvesting them.
Therefore, it’s in your best interest to always get a 3rd party valuation on yourself as a business and ensure that you are at least in the same zip code as the going market rate for your skill set i.e. your products.
One way to do this is to cultivate your professional network, especially on social media sites such as LinkedIn. The connections you attain may very well help to propel your career. Another is to be open to invitations from external companies. If they value your potential and you see them as a potential suitor, go to the interview, nail it and secure an offer. That offer will tell you what your market value is.
What should you do with the offer?
Two roads may be traveled. The first is to embark on what I would call a “market adjustment.” This is where you approach your current employer, express dissatisfaction with your compensation package and ask for a re-evaluation. Most likely, they will strongly resist, and if they do, you should be prepared to show them the offer letter i.e. your market valuation. This will definitely get their attention if they did not take you seriously the first time.
I had a friend who followed this approach – He knew he wasn’t getting paid enough so he asked for a salary adjustment more in line with the market. His employer kept telling him that he was, in fact, at market. So, after a week of no success, he decided to interview at a competitor. Once he obtained an offer letter that was more in line with his expectations, he left a copy on the chair of the human resources liaison as he was leaving for the day. He got a call half-way home letting him know that his salary was being adjusted.
This is a very aggressive position to take, so be careful. This tactic is most effective if you are a high performer that exudes KYS (Know your shit!) capabilities.
The second route is obvious – leave the company and move on. You may think that you’re not prepared to take that step. That you do not want to open any doors unless you are in fact, vehemently prepared to leave your current employer. You treat it like marriage – there are a lot of potential suitors that want you, but you can only be married to one. And you’re happy with the one you’re committed to. So why go looking!
Here’s the difference: marriage is a deeply personal commitment. Your commitment to your employer is a business contract. You cannot take it personally. Your employer doesn’t. Your employer is a business that will always act in its best interest. By not acting in the same manner, you’re limiting yourself and your worth.
A constant review of your worth in the marketplace and being flexible enough to pivot your career is the best way to ensure that you and your skills are given proper valuation.