Firstly, let me start by telling you a bit about my work history. At 20 years old, I started designing web sites and pages for small companies around town. It went well, but I hated having to find new customers, sell them, and then collect the bill once the work was completed. I liked the work, so I decided to get my foot in the door at BigCorp, redesigning their internal websites.
BigCorp is a large fortune 500 company with around 2000 local employees. I worked in the IT department along with about 800 other individuals. My dad worked there and was able to vouch for my skills, so they hired me, reluctantly it seemed.
It was the first salary i'd ever had. At only 22, they hired me at an entry level position (we'll call it Level 1), making the minimum salary. It was the most I had ever made, though, so I was completely happy.
However, as I worked the job, it became clear that I was very overqualified (and underpaid) for the job title I represented. I don't mean to brag or tout my own abilities, but I was able to pick up the new technologies and very quickly surpass my peers in knowledge and productivity - and my manager noticed this!
As every year came around, my manager would try and try to get me a promotion, but as things go in big corporations, its about money and not about productivity. At BigCorp, in order to wear a certain job title, your salary must fit into that job title's range. The first it was easy to give me a promotion and a bit of a raise - my new salary would fit into, though be at the bottom of, Level 2's range.
This means the 2nd year, in order to get a promotion, BigCorp would also have to give me a massive raise - somewhere in the neighborhood of 25%. Well the HR department said "no way can we give anybody a 25% raise, that number is way too big!" - I'm paraphrasing of course.
So instead of a 25% raise and a new job title, the best my manager was able to do was a 10% raise, no promotion. Well, 10% is still a big raise, but I still was the lowest paid person on the team. Coworkers that I would train and educate were getting paid a lot more than me. My responsibilities naturally outgrew my job title, and often my manager and peers would acknowledge this.
This went on for the next few years, raises with the promise of a promotion right around the corner. Finally, this past year, I got another new job title (Level 3), once again making the minimum salary that position could hold - mind you this is what a Level 2 would get hired at.
I asked many people why this is, why are there people out there getting paid more than twice what I was, with half the worth - in both knowledge and responsibility. It bothered me that a freshly hired Level 2 would make the same or more than me. I was told, in this industry, in order to increase that job title (and salary) is to move between companies. I was afraid that my lack of corporate experience would reduce my chances of finding a new position.
Well, now I have a chance to find out.
The long and short of it is, I yelled at the wrong guy. So, my boss' boss pulled me and my manager into a room, and terminated me. I was shocked. My manager was nearly in tears. So, I put together a resume, trying to puff up my experience at BigCorp as much as I could. I had done so many things and learned so much there, it was easy to fill my resume.
I put my resume on Dice 2 days ago, and am completely blown away at the number of emails and calls I've received from recruiters and contracting companies with clients looking for professionals with my exact skills.
What surprised me the most? The starting salaries and wages they carried - more than twice what I was making at BigCorp! I had known I was underpaid, but not by this much! After meeting with a few of the recruiters, it became evident that BigCorp has somewhat of a reputation when it comes to underpaying their employees. I had no idea what I was missing, I just knew there had to be more.
A few are promising, I've had several meetings with contracting companies, and I have a couple of job offers that I'm currently considering. I had no idea that I'd be able to pick and choose from a number of offers.
Now, I have a psychological problem. BigCorp was the first corporation I worked for, the first salary. BigCorp was my corporate parent, and taught me what I needed to know about corporate culture and life. They conditioned me to believe that you get what your title says, and that you can't excel faster than your peers. I learned that we all have our ladders to climb, and that we climb them at the same rate - no skipping rungs. Period.
Turns out this is wrong. I'm learning now that I should be getting paid what i'm worth, I should be equally titled. If I have the skill set to be at this level on the proverbial ladder, then I should be there.
Yet I feel the pangs of guilt accepting a position and job making twice what i was previously. I feel like I haven't earned it. I haven't climbed that ladder enough.
Thanks for reading.
Note: I didn't include dollar amounts in here, as I'm not sure its relevant to the point of the story. However, I do realize one could easily look up market values for the job I described above. I also recognize that numbers speak. If you think dollar amounts would have an outcome on your comments or questions, please let me know, as I don't have a problem sharing that info.