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Promotion Or Job Change: Which Is the Best Way To Advance In IT? 247

Posted by Roblimo
from the getting-ahead-one-way-or-another dept.

I've had a couple of management consultants tell me that if you want to move into management, it's better to change jobs or change where you work within your current company than to stay where you are. What if you have to fire one of your old friends? Not cool. Or are you better off starting your management career surrounded by people who know and (hopefully) like you? Read the rest .

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Promotion Or Job Change: Which Is the Best Way To Advance In IT?

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  • Job Change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @05:12AM (#35878150)
    Frequently people who are promoted wind up doing both their new job and their old one. There are advantages too, like a lower learning curve, but this would be the big downside for me.
    • by Splab (574204)

      Indeed at my last job every promotion meant more responsibility, but also had to do my old job. Was fun for a while, but you can easily get yourself killed with the stress.

      Personally I'm done with chasing that career, a job paying enough for me to pursue my hobbies is all that I need.

      Anyone going for a career out there should do it by changing job, internal advancement is a killer.

      • Re:Job Change (Score:5, Informative)

        by dintech (998802) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @05:54AM (#35878342)

        If you have to ask, you need to move job. Although my yearly reviews and bonuses are in the top 10% for my pay grade, I was having trouble getting promoted for political reasons. I could maybe accept their promise of 'it will happen in 2012', but since they've spent the last year hiring a tonne of people in the grade above me, my prestige has been lowered.

        So, I just handed in my resignation. The gaping whole I am leaving has my former employer in a bit of a bind now, since I was the last person with the knowledge and skills to support a key system. They have offered to promote me now, but it's too late.

        I will earn more than double as an IT contractor at a competitor, so that is what I'm lined up to do. I've seen the other side and the grass is definitely greener.

        When I'm ready to go back to being permanent in the next year or two, I will automatically get that grade and set of responsibilities as well as a much bigger pay-packet. It's a no-brainer.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I'm thinking of how non-IT organizations handle this. I'm also looking at it from the viewpoint of your employers. One group I can think of is the military, where the ideal is to progress within your existing unit. On the other hand, I think of the Michigan State Police where they automatically include a location transfer with a promotion. The argument for the former is that it helps unit cohesion; for the latter is that its difficult to be a supervisor over people you've worked with. Like most things,

          • Re:Job Change (Score:5, Interesting)

            by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @08:39AM (#35879080) Homepage

            Typically promotions in the military come within a unit (so you're much more likely to go from Squad Leader to Platoon Sergeant, or Company Commander to Battalion Operations Officer inside the same company or battalion), but they move you around every few years anyway. So you may get your promotion to SSG or MAJ when you moved inside of a unit, but next year you're going to Ft. Stewart anyway. It's kind of a combination of both promotion from within, and moving around a lot.

            The military is also setup in a way that makes continued and regular advancement relatively easy, if not required. Especially for officers. If I decide I really like being Battalion Communications Officer, that's really too damn bad. When the opportunity comes along for company command I better bloody take it, then take the next job to make Major. After more than a few years of the same job (or more importantly the same rank), my raises stop coming; year or two more and I'm looking for a civilian job.

            Using the military as a comparison is really kinda flawed for these reason, as well as a few others (the process of "getting into management" in the military (getting a commission) is not exactly straightforward there either).

            • The military is also setup in a way that makes continued and regular advancement relatively easy, if not required.

              Even though it's not directly relevant to the topic at hand, anybody with technical inclinations and aspirations who does not want to lead others needs to know this before the joining the military.

              I pulled a six year active duty hitch as an electronic intelligence systems repair tech in the army. I loved the training, liked the job, and thought about staying in. The issue here is that at o

        • If internal advancement was the way to go, they'd be offering you significantly more than your external opportunity. This rarely happens. It worked for me in my first job (10 years from entry level programmer to top of R&D), but at the second, I hired in just below director (better benefits and equal pay to "top of R&D" in the other town), and I would have remained just below director for a veeeeeery long time if I had stayed - that place was more interested in "cross pollination" than developing

        • by SQLGuru (980662)

          Parent has it right.

          I've been at the same title for 11 years. During that time, my salary has gone up at a decent clip, but at some point, you want recognition that you are worth a lot to the company. While I haven't tendered my resignation, I'm looking for the right opportunity. Strongly considering the contractor/consultant direction for a while.

        • Re:Job Change (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mcmonkey (96054) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @11:04AM (#35880836) Homepage

          The gaping whole I am leaving has my former employer in a bit of a bind now, since I was the last person with the knowledge and skills to support a key system. They have offered to promote me now, but it's too late.

          Well there's your problem. If you make yourself irreplaceable, you'll never get promoted. If you wanted to show your previous employer you were serious about changing positions, you would have trained someone to replace, or at least documented as much as you could, so you could be replaced.

          In other words, if you were really ready to move on, you wouldn't be leaving a hole.

          I see so many folks in IT and IS who set themselves up as gatekeepers of information and then complain when they don't get promoted. As much as your boss wants to help your career (and many bosses really do want to see people advance in the company) they don't want to leave a gaping hole when you're gone.

          Make yourself easy to replace and you make it easy for your boss to promote you.

          Some might reply, you make it easy to fire you as well. So be it. Look around. Is this where you want to be, what you want to do, for the rest of your professional life?

          • by zero0ne (1309517)

            Did you think that this may have something to do with management? IF they are micromanaging us, prioritizing our projects, tasks, requests, incidents, etc, how can we ever spend time on documentation? They see it as a waste of time ("why should I pay you to document? You will be here to do it again anyways").

            I would love to NOT be a gatekeeper of information, and frankly, I technically am NOT a gatekeeper. The problem is management not properly following the procedures, and instead coming directly to me

            • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
              Yet here we are, pounding out a comment on slashdot. 20 minutes here and there for documentation - before you know it, you have a good base. Refine over time - the hardest part is starting.
        • Everyone thinks they can earn double as a contractor, until they realize they have to pay taxes, benefits, 401K. Add to this the fact that you don't have work guaranteed, and suddenly you're about even with a salary worker. Yeh, there are benefits to working for yourself, and sometimes you make more, but I know that we outsource the really shitty projects to contractors and keep the 'good' ones for ourselves.
      • by gander666 (723553) *

        I am not in IT, but I wholeheartedly agree with this. I have never had my old job removed when I got promoted. Oh sure, there were thin promises of finding (or authorizing) a replacement, but reality has ALWAYS been that I now have two jobs.

        Go to a new department, or better yet, to a new company. It is the only way to be sure you don't get jacked into doing double duty.

    • Re:Job Change (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @05:49AM (#35878328) Journal
      Often this is not the case, but it'll still work against you. If you are good at what you currently do, management will always be reluctant to promote you. They'll prefer to leave well enough alone, and instead promote the guy with mediocre performance but strong communication skills; maybe he'll improve his performance in a management role. From your manager's perspective, it kind of makes sense to take a chance on promoting a non-performer or hire a new guy, rather than promote they guy who is already doing a good job. That is why it makes sense to look for the next step in your career outside your own company... or you should be training your replacement from day 1. Never be irreplacable.
      • Re:Job Change (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kangsterizer (1698322) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @06:00AM (#35878370)

        to take with a grain of salt since if you're replaceable you can also just be dumped when you ask for a better salary after 5 years.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Don't you guys get yearly increases? Anything less than the rate of inflation is a pay cut.

          • by cervo (626632)
            Mostly increases are at rate of inflation or slightly more....... Job change tends to be much more of an increase
          • by gander666 (723553) *

            My company's OFFICIAL policy is no annual pay increases. I just went through training on how to explain to my staff why this is a good thing, and how they should value the true merit based pay scale.

            Yes, I am looking for a new job.

        • by umghhh (965931)
          you mean there is anybody on this earth except Mama that is not replaceable?
        • by bemenaker (852000)
          Everyone is replaceable. If you think you're not, you have an ego problem.
          • Depends on the definition of "Replaceable". Many small, and some large businesses go under because the founder left or died. Apple almost went under after Steve was forced out.

            Often, I'm not replaceable because I'm the low bidder. My employer would never be able to find anyone who could do my job, at the salary I'm currently making.

            Thinking of it from an employer's view: Could I live without this person? Yes, I can live no matter who leaves me. Will I die without this person? Yes, everyone
          • There's replaceable and replaceable. Everyone is replaceable if you *have* too, but some people are hard enough to replace that managers will go out of their way to not have too. To use a very high level example, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates are replaceable. Indeed, Bill's been replaced, and Apple will have to figure out Steve in the next few years most likely. Doesn't mean MS or Apple want (or wanted) to replace them. Doesn't mean the boards of directors won't go out of their collective ways to avoid it.

        • by J4 (449)

          Or just denied. Let's face it, if one's strategy for success consists of asking for a raise after 5 years, you aren't hungry enough to leave.

      • Often this is not the case, but it'll still work against you. If you are good at what you currently do, management will always be reluctant to promote you. They'll prefer to leave well enough alone, and instead promote the guy with mediocre performance but strong communication skills; maybe he'll improve his performance in a management role. From your manager's perspective, it kind of makes sense to take a chance on promoting a non-performer or hire a new guy, rather than promote they guy who is already doing a good job.

        I've found that good worker-bee skills don't always translate into good management skills. I can see why you'd see things the way that you do, but it's worth looking at it from the other side.

        In no particular order, here are some qualities that I look for when I'm considering promoting an employee to a supervisory role:

        • Be a people person and be good at communicating, and enjoy interacting with people. You can't manage a team with your nose buried in your monitor.
        • Caring about others and wanting to help othe
    • This is true, at least for a time. The same goes for transferring between teams.

      However, if we consider delta salary per year worked, I would say that I had the biggest delta when changing employers anyway. It makes sense, when you think about it, because changing employers is a bigger risk than waiting for a promotion or transfer, so naturally, the reward should be greater, else why (save for an employer from hell) would you do it?

    • Re:Job Change (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @09:36AM (#35879696)

      This stuff is due to the fact companies fail to take HR as a serious part of the business, they limit their jobs to just handling vacation and making random policies. Employee turnover cost roughly 150% to replace an employee, but will do little in terms of inside promotions and raises often account more of a cost of living adjustment (FYI Inflation averages 3% Raises are usually over 10% a year) then a real raise. HR is limited in actually evaluating each employees skills and making a choice if they should get promoted or not. It is usually left to the local manager who really doesn't want to loose a top performer from their department, and sees your professional growth on a day to day bases and not as overall so they forget that your starting salary that you are getting paid at was for work that you could do then and not what you do now. Because they are not getting paid what they are worth an employee will look for additional work which will give them.
      1. An honest assessment of their value.
      2. A job that will pay their current value.

      Back in the old days when people worked for the same company for their professional life. It was mostly due to the fact that there wasn't much competition for jobs in the area, and most people wouldn't or couldn't travel to the next town and city to see if there is something better. Today it is much different companies need to realize that and invest into HR. It is better to keep the employees then loose them, but they need to keep in mind that they are in competition with more then just there competitors but with the rest of the community for human work resources. During recessions there is less competition so the businesses and get good talent for less but once the economy picks up the tides turn to the employees who have more choices.

  • Being a manager means spending more time dealing with politics and paperwork rather than technical issues and I know from experience it's a lot less fun so I don't understand why people crave management so much.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      Advancement doesn't need to mean management.
      • Does it mean not giving examples?
        • by luis_a_espinal (1810296) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @07:59AM (#35878842) Homepage

          Does it mean not giving examples?

          Here, let me help you with some examples where technical advancement does not imply moving into management: Programmer/code monkey > Entry Level Software Engineer > Sr. Software Engineer/Tech Lead > Software/Systems* Architect > Principal Engineer/Architect of a major engineering project.

          Obviously, each technical advancement *must* entail some type of managerial skills as you will be expected to lead, mentor and delegate junior members under your belt while performing technical tasks that you possess via your extensive expertise. But that is not management proper (as in a pure definition.) Besides management runs the spectrum - you don't need to be a manager you to "own" a particular responsibility, and if you have to work with peers and juniors while supporting the section of the system that you "own", you have to displays implicit management skills. Otherwise, you will suck at it from a technical point of view.

          To be technical does not mean having to do anything but l33t hax0r mayhem in complete isolation. Engineering does not work that way. * and by Systems Architect, I don't mean the guy who lays out the hardware (which is how we typically use the term in IT), but one who has an architectural role in the realm of Systems Engineering [wikipedia.org].

          • thank you.
      • by iangoldby (552781)

        Depends where you work.

        I think there are still a few places where you can reach the top of the ladder in a purely technical role.

        There are probably others where you clearly have to become a manager and this is explicitly stated.

        But the current thinking seems to be that certain universal 'behaviours' or 'competencies' are required for more senior grades, and these always include things like being able to provide examples of where you have dealt with performance issues in others - even if your particular job

        • Depends where you work.

          I think there are still a few places where you can reach the top of the ladder in a purely technical role.

          Define "top" - anywhere I have been, the ownership sharing (stock options, etc.) topped out around 1% for techie types, while the "leadership people" would be holding 20% (each) and up.

          In larger organizations, the percentages were smaller (due to higher overall head count), but the ratios were similar - management track always brought high multiples of the tech track for stock options and bonuses. They'd whine and cry about how techies got a higher base, but the numbers broke down something like 100 base f

      • Unfortunately, at the majority of companies it does. So if you work at a company like that, and you want to remain in the loop technically, the clear answer is "job change".
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @08:01AM (#35878856) Journal
        DEC had a system where management and technical tracks were parallel. You could transfer between them, but managers did not earn more than the engineers that they supervised, so the only reason to switch to the management track was if you actually wanted to become a manager. It's a shame that more companies don't understand this.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Many companies do this. I am an engineer on the management pay scale.

          Too many people with the "senior engineer" title were leaving because there was no where to go. Now an engineer can go to manager level, senior manager, director and even get all the way up to VP level pay, bonuses and stock options while remaining an engineer. It's not common, but we have a few at VP level. They have been here a LONG time and know our systems inside and out. Of course, they designed a lot of those systems.

          You can kee

        • by steelfood (895457)

          That's what happens in an engineering company. How many of those are out there these days? And DEC isn't exactly the best example out there of a successful company, though management types probably wouldn't know any bettter if you wrap the idea into a nice powerpoint. Not that they'd ever go for it...

    • Amen to that. A colleague at my previous company was promoted to team lead and then spent about half his day in meetings.

      When quizzed by his boss as to why progress on his project was so slow, he complained that it was because he was spending so much time in meetings he simply didn't have time to work on the project. His boss simply replied, "But you wanted to be a team lead, and this is what happens!"

      • Amen to that. A colleague at my previous company was promoted to team lead and then spent about half his day in meetings.

        Keep in mind that you can affect the direction of a project or product in meetings. If you're not involved in the discussion then you usually end up coding what you're told.

        • If they still expect you to code as much as you did before being promoted to lead and spending half the day in meetings, that's where the problems begin.

      • Heck, I'm not even a team lead and I spend way too much time in meetings!
      • It's a bad idea to have people who are supposed to be managing others also working on technical projects. There is never enough definition for the role and people expect basically two full-time equivalents out of you.

    • Being a manager means spending more time dealing with politics and paperwork rather than technical issues and I know from experience it's a lot less fun so I don't understand why people crave management so much.

      I like management because there's only so much you can get done on your own - as a manager you can achieve a lot more by building guiding a team. It's also a way to build capacity by imparting your technical wisdom to your underlings. It's important to keep up with some techincal stuff as well, but it can be hard to find the time.

    • Being a manager means spending more time dealing with politics and paperwork rather than technical issues and I know from experience it's a lot less fun so I don't understand why people crave management so much.

      money and making the proper decisions for their lower-in-the-chain friends

    • Money: more responsibility the more you get paid. Money doesn't buy you happiness but it prevents many areas that can make you miserable.

      Power: you can get things done your way and the higher up you are the more of your way you can have done.

      Security: you could be high enough to not be targeted in the first round of layoffs.

      Respect: fancier title allows people to respect you more.

      Sure they arnt noble reasons but they are real ones

    • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @08:49AM (#35879198)

      I don't understand why people crave management so much.

      Because, as you approach the top 10% of any company I've ever known, techies hit a glass ceiling. They say that there's a parallel technical ladder, but it in reality it doesn't reach the top. Technical track compensation hits the wall before the hockey stick curve gets interesting.

      Even if you don't care about making 7 figures, if you're not being invited to board meetings, they're "protecting you from details you shouldn't have to worry about or don't care about," and also steering the ship without your input.

      It's hard for me to feel content as an engineer below decks on the Titanic.

  • Quickest ever dup on slashdot!
  • Here's [techtarget.com] the actual article.
  • by Migx (551367) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @05:25AM (#35878236) Homepage
    I often see people leaving a company and then returning at a much higher level a few years later, something like "internal promotion" cannot beat the "go away and then come back" strategy.
  • Ugh, management. Paperwork and stress, and loss of creativity. It sucks when that is the only option for career advancement, when you really want a technical promotion path so you can do more with the skills and knowledge you actually have, rather than suddenly be expected to balance budgets and make reports!

    Anyway if you are promoted to management ask for some training courses, and they should clear up professional boundary issues. I guess that if you are open and honest with the people you manage, and try

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @06:24AM (#35878442)

    I've had a couple of management consultants tell me that if you want to move into management, it's better to change jobs

    By "management consultants" I presume we're talking about recruitment agencies. They have a vested interest in getting people to move jobs and will frequently say anything to make their case. Not only do they earn a huge commission from placing a person with a new company, they then have prior knowledge of a vacancy at the old company and will try to fill that one, too.

    It certainly used to be common, that the route to promotion was to change company. However, these days with so few places hiring and the loss of (in the civilised world, at least) job security when taking a position with a new company, the advantages may not be as great as they were - though still better than having to wait for someone in your existing company to die, before you can move one step up the ladder.

    Although why a techie would want to move into management is a question worth asking. Generally management jobs pay better, but they carry greater risk. At least when you're producing stuff, or even just solving problems, you have an inherent value to your employer - they can see and count what you do. As a manager, your value is not directly quantifiable and in most cases imaginary. That makes the position much harder to justify and much easier to cut when times are tough. Management jobs are also harder to get at the interview stage, since there will be many candidates applying: none of which will have any quantifiable skills that would justify their employment. That makes the selection process a lottery (which could work in your favour, if you're not very good).

    So, it's a high-risk/medum reward strategy. The "consultants" advising you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain by having you switch jobs. You could, possibly, go back to a technical job if the management career doesn't work out - although you'll probably find that the position you left will be filled by someone earning less than you did, so you'll probably take a drop in pay if you can scramble back in. It's not a career choice I'd make and most management positions are incredibly dull and unrewarding.

    • As a manager, your value is not directly quantifiable and in most cases imaginary. That makes the position much harder to justify and much easier to cut when times are tough.

      Any decent manager knows how to take credit for the output of her workers, even if she credits them. Everyone, in any position, always needs to know what they bring to the table, and during performance reviews makes sure that gets noticed.

      "Last Quarter, we saved the company one millions dollars, because of my project XYZ." Part of the trick of management is to dodge assignments that aren't going to have a payback, and take or create assignment that have real dollar value in revenue or cost savings.

    • By "management consultants" I presume we're talking about recruitment agencies

      You're definition of "management consultants" is pretty narrow. In this case, it may be a recruitment agency, but more likely, these are consultants who work for a management consulting company (e.g. Deloitte, Accenture, PwC to name the big boys, but there are plenty of boutiques) who have been contracted by the poster's company for a relatively short term project or need. I should know, I am one. They are also not necessarily

  • You have to ask? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @06:37AM (#35878472)

    Subterfuge. It works every time. When I started in this industry nearly 33 years ago it was your attitude and your quality of work that determined your path of promotion and success. Nowadays the people I work with are more interested in Social Networking, gossip and "Diversity." It's not just in IT but all industries within white collar environments. The smart players keep their head down, know when to throw in a political jab and to document failures and whine about the mistakes of others. Don't sell it short but schmoozing pays too.

            Don't get me wrong, I still consider myself successful, it's just now I work as a consultant and get to watch this go on all the time. It never ceases to amaze me when my clients promote some of the worst folks that I've ever seen and watch the ensuing anger and confusion it causes. You see if you want to get ahead in an organization you need to not create too many waves. That's for entrepreneurs and companies that want to be progressive. By and large, most organizations just want peace and quiet with the associated slow, I mean really slow, progress that it promotes.

            If you're aggressive and talented, don't get into a large organization. You'll be frustrated and upset with the politics that go on and constantly in bewilderment at why Joe down the hall who hasn't produced anything in 4 years and who's last major project was a disaster is now a VP.

    • by David Off (101038)

      > and constantly in bewilderment at why Joe down the hall who hasn't produced anything in 4 years and who's last major project was a disaster is now a VP.

      As you allude, and contrary to popular wisdom, those are the guys to watch. If they've survived 4 years in an organisation without producing anything tangible they must have a lot of powerful friends. You have less trouble with the producers, because they are doing stuff the scope for doing something wrong is much greater.

    • Subterfuge. It works every time. When I started in this industry nearly 33 years ago it was your attitude and your quality of work that determined your path of promotion and success.

      It's always been this way, since before the Roman Empire. When you are young, attitude and your quality of work do make a difference. Alternatively you can get ahead if your dad owns the business.

      When people get older, they tend to get more conservative. They tend to get locked into where they live, and what they do. That means less risk taking, less wave making. Once people find a comfortable job close to where they live, they'll settle into a groove and learn politics. There's a lot of politic

  • What's the difference between a shopping trolley and a consultant?

    You can fit more food and wine into a consultant but at least a shopping trolley has a mind of it's own.

  • --if you want a job in management, try failing as a programmer or admin
    --if you want to avoid firing (or laying off) people, don't go into management
    --if you want to avoid winding up with a job jacking off elephants at the zoo, don't look for career advice on slashdot

  • by jafiwam (310805) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @07:45AM (#35878750) Homepage Journal

    Quit.

    It's as simple as that.

    Quit, after finding another job that is.

    Promotion means shit if it doesn't produce more money. And in 20 years in the business my best raises came from the old FU to the previous employer to move on. Even the smallest job switch is still over twice the dollars of any 5 year period of "raises". Even when promotions come, or more likely some "redefined job description" BS that includes all the higher up's work (or more likely, the work of some fool that knows some higher up who's dead weight they finally couldn't tolerate anymore) but no change in status, power, or pay. 30%, 50% jumps in salary just DONT HAPPEN unless you are the CEO or similar. If you are still a tech in any way, there's little extra money room to go for.

    So quit. Make sure you are always polishing your resume, and getting skills that can be written down and skip over the company specific complicated crap you can't take with you. (Hint: if you learn their proprietary and crappy system well, guess what you'll be doing for the rest of your stay there? Being invaluable at your job means no promotion. Be good but not in a way that keeps you down.)

  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @08:09AM (#35878886) Journal

    I know my manager makes probably 50% more that I do, but she's in meetings over half the time she's here, has boatloads of reports to file, etc. She's also salaried, (I'm hourly), so she often has to put in more than 40 hours. I hate meetings & paperwork, so I often tell her I'm glad I don't have her job, and she says I'm welcome to it any time I'd like.

    If you're just looking for extra income, I'd strongly recommend checking into your local community college and seeing if they have any openings for adjuncts in technology courses. I teach a couple of computer courses and its easy money, and its also pretty fun.

  • Change jobs (Score:5, Informative)

    by willith (218835) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @08:15AM (#35878908) Homepage

    I'm 33, and I've worked for a single large aerospace company since getting my undergrad degree 11 years ago. I started off as a desktop support guy making $42k, and then was bumped to $43k after a year, then to $45k after another year, then to $46k after another year. In late 2004 I was promoted to junior sysadmin and was bumped to $50k, and through yearly raises got that up to $55k by 2006, when I transferred formally from sysadmin to the enterprise architect side of the house. That got me a bump to $68k, which brought me up to the minimum salary level for that position, and then between 2006 and mid-2010 the pay rose to $74k through those yearly incremental raises.

    In 2010 I was a senior architect, making decisions that directly affected the technology direction of a Fortune 50 company with $65B in revenue, making $74k a year. It was nice, of course, and the job was fun, but the compensation just hadn't scaled to the job. There were other benefits--outstanding and near-zero-cost insurance, stock, a functioning pension program, and as near a thing to stability as it's possible to get in an American job--but I wanted more money, so I left. Now I work as a presales engineer (that's "engineer," not real engineer) at one of the same vendors that used to sell to me, making $120k. I would have had to stay at the first job for another 20 years to hit the same level of salary. More, I left on excellent terms, and I wouldn't mind going back there some day.

    This experience echoes that of my much-older peers at the aerospace job, where I was one of the only folks in the group less than 50 years old. All of them, without exception, had left at some point for between 1-5 years and then come back, bringing with them a large salary bump. Even in a company that gives you near-guaranteed 2-5% incremental raises, the only way to get a massive salary increase is by leaving.

    • by jomama717 (779243)
      When I started as a lowly tech support/junior developer at a software company making $39k in Chicago it didn't take long for me to realize that I needed more money. I did good work for 3 months then asked to sit down with my manager and laid out a case for more money including evidence of similar jobs in the market that paid much more, and evidence of my own good work and accomplishments - this resulted in a 25% pay increase after 3 months on the job. I left that job 3 years later around $70k, took a cons
  • by J4 (449) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @08:28AM (#35878990) Homepage

    Where am I? Since when is aspiring to management a slashdot thing?
    I thought suits were to be distrusted and ridiculed?

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Suits are to be distrusted. But middle management plays an important role in a company. Too many layers is a problem, but upper management simply doesn't have the time to deal with the wants and needs of every productive employee. Middle management is meant to bridge that gap, to provide the attention needed to the individual worker bees, while filtering those same needs from upper management.

      A good manager is one who's capable of understanding the technical (and hence the needs of the technical) and also g

    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      If you want long term job security you damn well had better aspire to management.

      The people I know who've stuck to the same roles for 10+ years have seriously stagnated. They haven't expanded their skill set and are so dependent on their current job that if they ever laid off they'd be seriously screwed. They're too expensive given their now limited set of skills.

      It may be possible to thrive without ever getting into management or starting your own business, but it's certainly a challenge.

  • It's about being effective. If you can be effective and liked for that effectiveness, that's good. All-in-all, this makes managing people you do not know easier.

    Also, even if you don't have to do your old job you can get pigeon holed at your place of employment. You can be the person known only as the "foo expert" and expected to solve their problems in that area. It's better to start fresh.

    If you want to go down the management track I suggest you learn and develop soft skills, including negotiation skills.

  • Sounds like an awful waste... But if you're completely burnt out on the technical side, I guess it's either management or recruiting --assuming you have the soft skills. My advice, in changing job functions or your entire public persona, is that you need to make a clean break. Coworkers at your current job will have difficulty not thinking of you in your old role and it may be difficult and alienating to go from comrade to boss. (I have seen some people pull this off by erecting an emotional wall overni
  • by hoppo (254995)

    Particularly in IT, every situation is unique. Changing jobs can enable you to broaden your knowledge and skills, but it can also mean a bunch of lateral moves. Promotion can show a progression in your career, but that can often lead to dead end middle management paper pushing. It really depends on what you're looking to do, and what the climate is like in your current situation. I hate to speak in such useless platitudes, but you really have to look at your own fulfillment, and decide for yourself whether

  • They don't promote anymore. I kept waiting and it never happened. Managers are happy to just giving more and more work and responsibilities, while only giving you incremental pay increases. If you want to get ahead, change jobs, multiple times. I think it is sad, but it is apparently how things work now. The most successful people seem to now only stay long enough in a position in order to put it on their resume and then move on. The crazy thing is, it usually takes longer than their tenure to actually fini

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