It has been a crazy year career-wise for me. To recap, I published my strategy for getting a promotion and busted my tail at work all of last year in the hopes of obtaining a large salary increase. When I presented my accomplishments to my department director, he said that, despite doing everything right, the big jump I wanted wouldn’t happen without an opening in the role.
There are two tracks for my job–we’ll call them tracks A and B. I was on A, the lesser-paid track, and overqualified. My discussion with the director was to try to have my previous role made into a Track B position, but no dice. I was told that unless a position opened on Track B, the best I could hope for was an in-line promotion on Track A at my annual review in December.
Between August and December, our company was bought out, and we had a baby. Both of those things made me unsure if any promotion possibilities, regardless of track, would pan out. I had been noisily self-promoting for several months, but I was not there to advocate for myself at annual review time. While the buyout seemed positive, it was still an unknown in the equation. And, to throw in the final kicker, my team got a new boss while I was on leave.
However, I am pleased to report that I received both promotions in the span of two months! For my annual review, I received a cost-of-living raise of 4%, effective in January. No one told me it had occurred, but the salary changed on my check, so I was able to do the math and work backwards.
A week before I returned to work from maternity leave, a Track B position was listed for our team. I immediately applied. When I returned to work the following Monday, I found out I had also received an in-line promotion in my current Track A job at my annual review. The promotion was for another 11%, on top of the cost-of-living increase. The promotion did not go effective until I returned. The two raises combined brought my salary to $39,200. My goal with the switch to Track B was to crack $40,000, so I effectively already achieved my goal while still doing my Track A job.
Two weeks later I interviewed and got the Track B spot, receiving a further salary increase to $42,000. That made for a total pay increase of 23% over the last 90ish days. Plus, while I was nearly at the top of Track A, I am now at the bottom of Track B, so I have plenty of room to climb again. Not too shabby for one year’s work.
On Negotiating… Or Not
Once I got the Track B offer, I had to decide whether or not to negotiate. I was a little wary of doing so, since I was already receiving a 23% salary increase in one go. Statistically, women do not advocate for themselves as much as they should, though. I thought I should do it on principle.
In the end, though, I did not. After speaking with anyone willing to talk to me about negotiating salaries at my company, I concluded that HR simply does not negotiate salaries for internal job changes. You can negotiate at onboarding. After that, you get what you get.
The other reason I did not negotiate I will share in more detail in a later post, but basically I was already in discussions with HR about another matter. (Edit: The post is here!) I did not want to push on two fronts at the same time, so I let it go.
Do I Feel Satisfied?
When I received the offer, I was pleased. I met my salary goal, and while I had hoped for another thousand or so more, it was close enough. Based on the research I could do for the area, I am making the average salary for my role while still on the lowest rung of the ladder. I am also closer to salary parity with Mr. Steward.
Then, as if on cue, negativity about my new salary poured in. Other members of the team, who had not shared their salaries before, pointed out that they earn $3,000-$8,000 more. It’s not an apples to apples comparison since they are more qualified, but it was certainly not what I wanted to hear. I spent an afternoon or so feeling insecure, wondering if I made a mistake by not negotiating, and regretting not being more aggressive at onboarding.
I rapidly realized that I had a decision to make. If I let comparison rob me of feeling good about the salary goal I had just accomplished, I was never, ever going to be happy with my pay. There would always be someone making more than me, or making the same at a younger age. I will never be able to answer if, somehow, I could more optimally engineer my career. Letting my thoughts continue that way would simply result in madness and eternal dissatisfaction, despite having accomplished exactly what I set out to do.
Instead, I am focusing on the positive and leaving the rest behind. My new salary lets me provide abundantly for my family and aggressively pursue all of our money goals. Our family now makes almost double the US median household income. Compared to the way I was raised, our combined income makes us unfathomably rich.
I will continue to work towards future promotions, of course, learning new skills on-the-job and obtaining certifications that will help. For the rest of this year, though, I intend to take it a little easier career-wise than last year. I’ve got a newborn and a life I’m trying to maximally enjoy this year. While I’m never the sort to simply rest on my laurels, I feel comfortable enough in the new salary that I no longer feel desperate for an immediate promotion. That was, after all, the goal. And I nailed it.