I’ve been with my current employer for 2.5 years.
I have held 4 positions- all upwards moving in that time. My Quality Assessments have always been in the high 90’s, and since January my scores have been a consistent 100%. I’ve demonstrated my ability to learn new tasks and positions quickly, and to hold my own in discussions with the strategy department, development department, and even the founder of the company himself. I’ve been assigned tasks well outside my pay pay-grade, and completed them minimal need for revision and editing (mostly to make it more visually appealing). Despite all of this, however, my pay remained well below industry standard for my job description and experience. I knew that if I stayed, this is how it might be how it would always be.
That’s why I decided to entertain other offers.
It’s nothing personal toward my employer. I do like most of the people I work with, the work I do, and the flexible culture of the company at large- but at the end of the day, money does talk. They can tell me they appreciate me and my work day-in and day-out, but it’s hard to believe they the company see’s me as a valuable asset, when I am paid less than most other workers in my field. When I got an offer form another company, my current employer scrambled to match, or even surpass their offer. They wanted to keep me, but wasn’t sure the price it would take. After 2 years of low pay, they were suddenly interested paying me what I was worth. But, that go me wondering to myself: “what am I worth?” The last few months I relieved that the answer was “More than being treated like this.”
Your company will throw you aside without hesitation.
I am going to be very blunt and tell you the cold, hard truth: your employer doesn’t care about you. Your co-workers might. Your manager might. Hell, even the owner of the company may like you on a personal level. But, at the end of the day, the company itself will toss you aside if it will help their bottom line. Long gone are the days where you took a job out of high school or college and worked there until you retired. Company loyalty and “lifers” are relics of a bygone era. Your employers know, understand, and except this as fact. They only give pitiful “cost of living” increases of a few dozen cents a year, and vague promises of “growth opportunities” because they have deemed it more financially viable for their business. Again, it’s nothing personal! It’s how the game is played. Why pay more for the person who is already doing the work for less? The odds are rarely in your favor as the employee, not as long as you can be replaced. So, your options are to become irreplaceable, or leave.
But what about the Post-Covid Market?
In 2020 thousands of people were laid off their jobs. Companies attempting to save their businesses from going under were forced to reduced staff to skeletal crews. Those of us lucky enough to remain employed often faced reduced pay or benefits, all in the name of saving money. It was a stressful time for those of us in the lower ranks who constantly feared losing our income, just as we did (or our parents did) in the economic crisis of 2008. But now, in 2021, an unexpected change in winds occurred. Instead of another economic crash, we are seeing a boom in new businesses popping up, and companies calling for workers. For the first time in years, there are more job openings than there are job seekers. With some many open positions, and so many people willing to wait for the right offer- we have an employee’s market for the first time in over a decade. Finally, the employees have the power to negotiate.
What does this all mean?
For me it meant that I could finally get the pay I should have all along. I could shop for other employment opportunities, and know I had a good chance of getting it. Competition is down, and salaries are up. For the first time since I graduated college (or even since I graduated high-school if we are being completely honest) I felt like I had the upper-hand when going into job interviews and salary discussions. For the first time in my professional career, I had companies fighting over me, instead of me desperately trying to prove my worth. And I am not the only one. Almost all of my friends have gotten long-overdue raises and promotions in the last few months, with promises of greater growth to come. While we are far from rich, many of us are able able to pay rent AND utilities without stress. Some of my friends were finally able to quit their second job or side-hustle and go down to a normal, 40 hour work week. Some were able to start putting money aside for retirement, or start saving for a new car. Some have even dared-to-dream that they might be able to buy a home of their own someday. These are modest dreams, but they mean a lot to those of us who have been overworked and underpaid for the last decade.
How Long will this power transfer last?
I am not naïve; I know that this employee-market won’t last. Soon the hiring boom will end, and we will all be shuffling to find out seat before the music stops. But, this doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this newfound negotiating power while it lasts. Since January I have raised my salary from $32K to $60K. I’m finally breaking into the middle class that a hardworking, college-educated adult should have been in from the start. No matter what your current circumstance it, I hope you are also fighting it by looking into your options. You are worth more, and your employer knows it. It’s time you showed them that you know it too.