During the 8 years I’ve been employed with my current company, my responsibilities have increased dramatically to the point where I am basically doing more managerial type work than production type work. The work I do warrants at least an additional $8K – $10K per year in earnings.
For the past 3 years I have been complaining to my employer that my pay does not match the work that I do. I have spoken to my manager several times about this and for the most part he seems to genuinely agree with me, but hasn’t been able to give me the type of raise that would make it right. Normal yearly increases are not going to cut it (those don’t even cover the rising costs of food, gas, etc.).
A couple years ago I told my manager that I did not necessarily feel under-appreciated, but rather just underpaid. He said that he was glad that I knew the difference. But now I am questioning if there really is a difference? Is being underpaid synonymous with being under-appreciated? Is it possible to be appreciated, yet underpaid?
I have been told several times that they were planning to promote me into a different level of “banding” which would entitle me to a much larger pay increase, but I’ve been being told this for 3 years with no action as of yet. Most people tell I should be looking for another job. Problem is two-fold though: First, I love my job… I don’t want to leave. Second is what I do is an extremely specialized niche of my industry. It’s not easy to find a job doing what I do. It’s ironic actually, because the only company in my area who would find my skills to be a major asset to them is the company I already work for. It’s sad really.
Underpaid does not always mean under-appreciated. In any case, under-payment does make one feel under-valued. In some cases companies are genuinely limited in what they can pay employees. The reality is they risk losing talented employees when they do not properly pay them. Based on what you are saying, your employer wants to pay you more, but is financially unable to pay you what you merit. In this case, you have these options:
* You may elect to stay with that employer because you love your job. If so, schedule a follow-up meeting in three months to discuss a pay increase. The smart questions to ask may include: When will planning for the next budget year begin? What is the forecast for the company in terms of increased revenue?
* Looking for another job is a smart idea, even if you decide to stay in the near term. You may think that there are no other jobs. Trust me; there are always opportunities if you put the time in to research and network. The new job may be a variation of what you do. You may have to expand your niche. The upside is that you may discover a new job and company that you love even more than this one. The other reason to look for a job now is to protect yourself from a possible downsizing. If your company is struggling to the point where they are under-paying employees, that is a sign that the company is not doing well.
The fact that you wrote me today tells me that you may not love your job as much as you say. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Your company’s underpayment may not be a sign of under-appreciation. However, it is a signal of something just as bad. Your company may be mismanaged, in decline, or both. This is a good time to look for a new job. You never know what you might find.