A promotion isn't always the most important thing

Getting a promotion may not be the only goal in a job. One TechRepublic member is getting valuable experience instead.

I got an email from a TechRepublic member who expressed frustration that his job at a small company has changed drastically, yet he hasn't had a title change. His email:

I have been working in the IT business for over 12 years. I've gone from corporate environments, to contracts with the local government. From large manufacturing businesses to small financial offices. I went from working full time to being laid off for 6 months.

I am now working in a small financial business. I was hired as a computer programmer (my trade) but quickly found myself in an environment with no real internal structure to talk about and a large project ahead of us (PCI Compliance). This allowed me to "shift horizontally" and got me involved with project management, policy writing, management meetings and sort.

Don't get me wrong, I like all of this. I am a "challenge lover" type of person, but I do realize that I am doing more than I am supposed to and frankly I don't see a promotion at all ahead of me (again, small shop, no structure, owner micromanaging without ever being in the office... yeah... that bad).

Hopefully that gives you a good enough picture to answer my questions:

- Should I assume this "informal promotion" and discuss with my colleagues the need for a programmer, considering I am too busy with everything else?

- I know that my education doesn't warrant me for a management position (high school), even though I started my college education for a bachelor degree, but is this experience going to help me when I present myself to another job? And how do I present this "informal promotion" in a resume?

My answer:

Let me start by pointing out that the experience you're getting outside of your specific field of expertise, computer programming, will definitely help you when you present yourself to another job. That's one of the best things about working for a small shop or start-up -- you get lots of great experience that looks good on your resume. Small shops, out of necessity, often have staffers working in several areas.

I don't know if the company you're working for is working to expand. If so, you're in a good position for seniority by just hanging in there. Either way, it wouldn't hurt to approach your boss to ask about a change in title and salary.

If I were you, I'd approach your colleagues with the idea of hiring a programmer to help you since your duties have increased. You might even offer to supervise this employee, teaching him/her the ropes, etc., since you, more than anyone else, knows what this person should be doing. At the same time, you are gaining "management" experience that you can also list on a resume. That and your newly acquired hands-on experience with a compliance project will look very good on a resume should you decide to look elsewhere.

Now, of course, since it's a small shop, your request for a raise may be turned down. In that case, I would ask about a title change to something more representative of your full role -- this also will help on a resume. Trust me, having on your resume that you worked on compliance is a big plus.

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