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At the cross roads; career goal vs. ER goal advice
Old 08-17-2014, 12:36 PM   #1
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At the cross roads; career goal vs. ER goal advice

I've been asking for a promotion at Megacorp for a few years and while I have been given the salary promotion they wouldn't give me the title. My performance reviews are excellent my roles and responsibilities match the next title but each time they give me some lame reason e.g. the company is not doing promotions right now, or the company/dept is not a in a position to make this happen this year but we'll reevaluate again etc etc. I've been very patient and they know I do a great job, they also know that if I left it would leave a big gap...but apparently not a big enough gap that they would give me the title adjustment (there won't be a salary increase since what I make is within the salary range of the next title).

I know some might suggest speaking to HR but having been in many HR meetings over the years they're simply there to cover the company's butt. They're not on the employee's side when the other party is a VP or a dept.

At this point my two options are to either swallow my pride, forget the whole promotion thing, be thankful I make a good salary- while keeping my eyes on the ER goal...the other option is to leave. Of course, finding a position in the upper middle management takes time as they don't often come by. The other challenge is proving yourself all over again at a new company- although not really a big deal, I've done this several times in my career. Due to the scarcity of these jobs I have even been contemplating taking a salary cut and/or making a lateral move or even a lower title so I'm not just waiting on someone else to give me what I want- it obviously hasn't worked so far and probably won't. I'm 40 and hoping to ER in 10years...I've got a steep uphill climb to make ER happen.

What do you fine folks suggest? I can't see the forest for the trees...
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Old 08-17-2014, 12:43 PM   #2
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Some folks are motivated by title and there's nothing wrong with that. To each his own.

As for me, salary would be my main concern and it sounds like you believe you're treated fairly in that regard.

As the old commercial went. You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, but you doesn't have to call me Johnson. Or something like that. Bottom line for me. Call me whatever you want....just pay me right.

Also, usually you can put whatever title you want on a business card.

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Old 08-17-2014, 12:44 PM   #3
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Why is the promotion so important to you?

I ask because many of us who have ER'd now find our previous titles completely irrelevant. No one ever asks me what my title was and wouldn't give a flip whether it was manager, director, or VP.

I was very invested (overly so) in my career so this stuff was really important to me. Every once in a while I'll indulge in some "what if's" (what if they would have given me that VP job without moving to DC, etc.). But when I really think seriously about it, my life now is so much better without all of that cr*p and I wish I had been less invested in climbing the corporate ladder and more invested in things that are really important.

Hope this is helpful. Of course, YMMV. Good luck!
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Old 08-17-2014, 12:55 PM   #4
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Sometimes a title can put a target on your back. If I was pretty happy with everything else but my title I wouldn't bother looking.

When Mega started downsizing, mid-management were the first ones cut.
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At the cross roads; career goal vs. ER goal advice
Old 08-17-2014, 01:11 PM   #5
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At the cross roads; career goal vs. ER goal advice

I've literally told my boss i could give a **** if my new title was janitor. I care about responsibilities, opportunities, and compensation, thats it.


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Old 08-17-2014, 01:11 PM   #6
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If the title does not come with a salary increase or stock options, it may be simply more responsibility and longer hours for the same pay. That doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

Remember that you are the CEO of You and Company. And that's really important.
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Old 08-17-2014, 01:27 PM   #7
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To me titles are somewhat important but not quite as important as work enviroment and salary.

Sometimes you have to look around you at who your change in title might offend.....competitive employees see title changes not salary changes. And, office politics sometimes plays a bigger role than it should.

The only downfall to the lack of a bigger title is if you're job hunting. Many want the bigger title because they assume more money goes with it. So, if you're job hunting a bigger title might help in your job search.

The other key is if you enjoy what your doing.....job responsibilities......a mega corp VP once asked me, "would you be happy cleaning bathrooms for twice the money you make now? Would you like to greet your current peers with a mop in your hand?" My answer was no....absolutely not.

I enjoyed my corporate job.....I started my own business and left but I had many job offers and always quickly turned them down.......the people were nice.... my boss was fair.....advancement was available when earned.....income was fair to good.....if I was off for an illness they understood and worked with me......all this was more important than my title.

It sounds like you like your job and the money is good. I would think long and hard before I resigned over your title. Good luck, however, in whatever your decide.
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:14 PM   #8
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I've literally told my boss i could give a **** if my new tile was janitor. I care about responsibilities, opportunities, and compensation, thats it.


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+1000. Call me waterboy if that is what you like, but pay me.
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Old 08-17-2014, 02:43 PM   #9
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When I worked for a utility company, the time to take a project lead to be promoted to manager is at least 10-15 years. Some never got promoted before they retire as project lead.

When I worked for a high tech company, the time it takes for next level promotion is about 2-3 years sometimes shorter. So, in few short years, some Sr. Engineer went all the way to become a VP.

It really depends on how company handles promotions. If your company tends to take longer on average, you many just have to keep waiting. If your company promotes faster, and you are being put on hold, there might be issues between you and your manager that they did not tell you.
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Old 08-17-2014, 05:59 PM   #10
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The titles never bothered me, other than they were associated with the pay level. What I mean is that some folks in other companies might have fancy titles that would be two or three pay grades above my title, but yet I was paid 150% of what they were making. (I had the opportunity to interview a few of those folks.)

When I first started, as an engineer, there was no such thing as paid overtime. We worked a mandatory 8 hours unpaid overtime, of which at least 4 hours had to be Saturday morning. When the union contract came up and they went out on strike, they paid the office folks overtime to clean the bathrooms. For many years, the best money I made at the company (per hour) was when I was cleaning bathrooms!

I knew a few hotshots that were climbing the ranks and jumping companies. One of them ended up without a job due to a merger, and found nobody interested in a 45 year-old ex CFO type. The economy had sagged, and there were no open spots on other companies ladders. And, a number of companies didn't want to put him into a lesser job. I suspect they figured he would jump as soon as he found another opportunity. He was almost prepared for retirement, and his wife had a good job. He 'w*rks' doing finish cabinetry projects. And seems to enjoy it.
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Old 08-17-2014, 06:24 PM   #11
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Thanks all, it's so nice to see your perspective on this because some of you are where I want to be in the next 10yrs.

As for why it's important to me; well it's how I was raised I suppose, go to school, get good grades, choose an engineering degree, find a good job and climb the corporate ladder. It's all I've really known to use as my personal roadmap. It's the next rung to climb on for me and I feel stuck. Some of my colleagues at the said megacorp (and friends elsewhere) have gotten similar promotions; honestly I'm better at what I do than them, manage a larger team, larger budgets etc. I'm constantly asked for advice by them. I just feel I deserve it since I'm already doing the work, they're even paying me well so I don't get why they won't just match the title.

In any case, as most here have suggested I should give a higher priority to the main objective rather than jumping ship for perhaps a lesser paying job.
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:15 PM   #12
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I don't know your company or industry, so it's hard to understand the subtle distinctions that may be made between titles. In high tech companies I've worked with, there is some overlap in pay between Director and VP level positions and between VP and Senior VP positions, but there is also a very big (and rarely discussed) difference between these levels in bonus and stock awards. Sometimes 2x to 10x. In most of the engineering track, up through Engineer 1 to whatever, Senior Engineer, Principal Engineer, Manager, Senior Manager, Director, it was usually easier to get a bump in job title than an outsize bump in compensation. Sort of the reverse of your situation.

But the jump to higher bonus level (and higher stock awards) was very difficult to come by and more often awarded to outsiders joining the company than to internal promotions. Which of course meant that people wanting to make that jump had to somewhat literally jump to another company to advance.

Are there compensation elements (bonus, stock, etc) that you expect at the next level of promotion? If so, then behooves you to fight for it. If not, then you are probably better off where you are. In compensation review, you will be compared to others in your category and you are clearly doing the work of the next higher job so should compare very favorably. If you are already compensated fairly for that, then the favorable comparison should work in your favor for future raises, or even the actual promotion (long overdue). Be sure to ask for a bump in pay when you get "promoted" as a general rule promotions (no matter how superficial or overdue) should carry increase in compensation.

And if ER really is the prize, keep your focus on how these promotions or not, salary or other compensation, moves you toward the prize you want. Getting a prize of a promotion that doesn't advance you to your ER goal is a distraction.
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:37 PM   #13
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Screw titles. Titles don't pay the bills. Money does. As long as the salary is in line with my expectations, they could give me any title they want.

Titles mean nothing to me.
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:43 PM   #14
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Where I worked, titles mean little and new ones can be invented at any time!
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:22 PM   #15
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Few trivial things about titles:

Jerry Yang, Yahoo's Co-founder, was 'Chief Yahoo' for 16 years before he left Yahoo.

One Cheers episode showed that Sam and Carla both argued with Rebecca about getting a raise, until she calmed them down with new titles: "Executive Bartender" for Sam, and "Sr Executive Waitress" for Carla, or something like that.
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Old 08-17-2014, 10:00 PM   #16
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It may well be that the title that is coveted can't be given out because that postiion was eliminated by the company. This sometimes happens when a company is pushing for cuts and someone eliminates an empty authorized position since they know the same work will still get done. But if it really bothers someone, why not look around and see what jobs are out there. Who knows? That might get you to ER even sooner.
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Old 08-18-2014, 12:23 AM   #17
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I also wondered reading your post if the next level up had a more of a bonus, stock options or some other perks attached to it. Usually titles are easier to get than the salary because companies can give out titles for free (like the Cheers episode). So maybe there really would be more money in one form or another at the next level above straight salary considerations?

If your main goal in life is ER and not to rise the corporate ladder, and you are currently well compensated for your skills with a relatively secure job, then if it were me I would probably stay put and work towards ER as a priority.
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Old 08-18-2014, 08:07 AM   #18
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As for why it's important to me; well it's how I was raised I suppose, go to school, get good grades, choose an engineering degree, find a good job and climb the corporate ladder. It's all I've really known to use as my personal roadmap. It's the next rung to climb on for me and I feel stuck. Some of my colleagues at the said megacorp (and friends elsewhere) have gotten similar promotions; honestly I'm better at what I do than them, manage a larger team, larger budgets etc. I'm constantly asked for advice by them. I just feel I deserve it since I'm already doing the work, they're even paying me well so I don't get why they won't just match the title.
Some of the items in this paragraph make me a bit concerned for your transition to adjust to RE if that is indeed your goal.

You seem to take seriously society's expectations of you. Society at large takes a very skeptical view of RE's. This includes family, friends, and new acquaintances. Within 5-10 minutes of talking to someone new the question usually comes out about what I do for a living. I usually lead with I was an engineer for (Megacorp) for 22 years. This of course leads to "and what now -- Are you retired? " There is often a sense of envy or a doubt that my story is truthful (ie "so, they didn't let go?").

I personally have always tried to take societal norms with a grain of salt. When I RE'd, though, I knew this would be one of the bigger challenges for me despite this.

Just some food for thought. Good luck in your endeavors.

-gauss
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:30 AM   #19
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I don't know your company or industry, so it's hard to understand the subtle distinctions that may be made between titles. In high tech companies I've worked with, there is some overlap in pay between Director and VP level positions and between VP and Senior VP positions, but there is also a very big (and rarely discussed) difference between these levels in bonus and stock awards. Sometimes 2x to 10x. In most of the engineering track, up through Engineer 1 to whatever, Senior Engineer, Principal Engineer, Manager, Senior Manager, Director, it was usually easier to get a bump in job title than an outsize bump in compensation. Sort of the reverse of your situation.

But the jump to higher bonus level (and higher stock awards) was very difficult to come by and more often awarded to outsiders joining the company than to internal promotions. Which of course meant that people wanting to make that jump had to somewhat literally jump to another company to advance.

Are there compensation elements (bonus, stock, etc) that you expect at the next level of promotion? If so, then behooves you to fight for it. If not, then you are probably better off where you are. In compensation review, you will be compared to others in your category and you are clearly doing the work of the next higher job so should compare very favorably. If you are already compensated fairly for that, then the favorable comparison should work in your favor for future raises, or even the actual promotion (long overdue). Be sure to ask for a bump in pay when you get "promoted" as a general rule promotions (no matter how superficial or overdue) should carry increase in compensation.

And if ER really is the prize, keep your focus on how these promotions or not, salary or other compensation, moves you toward the prize you want. Getting a prize of a promotion that doesn't advance you to your ER goal is a distraction.
I think this a great point I did not originally consider. Generally speaking IMO titles mean nothing. But when it comes to executive retention programs, bonus programs, and the like, official titles (position) can make a huge diffference to your total compensation. So, if that applies to OP's situation then everything changes and you are very correct to care about your level within the organization.
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Old 08-18-2014, 10:30 AM   #20
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Some of the items in this paragraph make me a bit concerned for your transition to adjust to RE if that is indeed your goal.

You seem to take seriously society's expectations of you. Society at large takes a very skeptical view of RE's.
Ditto on this. Are you sure early retirement is for you? Arriving at FI is only part of the story.
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