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Early Career Crossroad - Which way to Turn?

By vjcant ·
I am a currently a systems engineer and in the second year of my professional technical career. I work for a very large, prosperous, prominent company in the DC area. I am currently doing java, j2ee, struts, and sql development on a government contract. My problem is that I am beginning to become frustrated with the salary issue in that I am not getting paid my worth. At one time I was looking around at other companies and most were willing to offer me a minimum of 40% more than what i'm making now. I do like my current company and the work is pretty good, but the annual raises are minimal and I feel that I'm just not maximazing my potential. Any advice, suggestions, or thought on what is the best thing to do?

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Career Turns

by glen In reply to Early Career Crossroad - ...

If IT there is anything like where I am, you would be better to stick it out in a more stable position. I have seen others and done so myself, gone to a higher paying employer only to find that the conditions or employers are not as good and in some cases lost the position due to disagreements. Thats the way I see it anyway, some income is better than none.

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by jck In reply to Early Career Crossroad - ...

If you like the work, your boss, co-workers and the environment, I'd say to stay there for at least 4 years and see if you are promoted and given a good raise.

If you are not moving technically forward like you would expect and feel that you're falling behind the curve, or if you are not happy with the work environment then I would suggest you move on to something you find more appealing.

The one commentor before me said money isn't everything. That is right. Don't think that more money should be a reason to move. Technical and career advancement is more important than the amount on your paystub (so long as you are not financially in jeopardy).

I worked at a government contractor for over 2 years and saw those same kind of raises: annual increases for SE3s of $500 a year, no merit raises, etc. I was there and produced significant technology myself and was never promoted, given any benefit, and was promoted behind others who actually started after me that had fewer years of experience.

You need to weigh it all out. But if the work environment is good and you're not unhappy, I'd say tolerate the pay for another year or so and see if you are given a promotion or some kind of perk that makes it technically or professionally beneficial.

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Majority Rules (you are in DC after all)....

by paul.thomas In reply to Early Career Crossroad - ...

I have to agree with DCGuy & DMambo. Cool your jets a little and don't let your career end up being only about the money. If that is all that drives you, you're in for a rather bumpy ride. Develop and hone your skills, put in some time to show that your serious about your work and not just looking for the highest bidder (that shows ego is in charge), make your resume state that you are a team player and willing to put in the time to help the team succeed. After a couple more years where you are, your resume will show your a long term kind of guy and potential employers worthy of competent, team minded individuals will give that aspect of your profile as much weight as your "skill sets". There is where your true value will be demonstrated. When you are young and just out of school, it is difficult to have the patience to convince yourself to stay the course. It WILL pay off for you if you give it time to work. Job jumping is not going to impress potential employers. If you want to go that route, consider working as a contractor where you can bounce from place to place for the highest wage and no one cares. But remember, those savy in the biz will think twice before investing in someone as an FTE who has a track record of job hopping. Good luck to you.....

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Think of this like a chess game

by RobRoyNJ In reply to Early Career Crossroad - ...

Think beyond your next move. It sounds like money is your primary consideration. Why? Are you not meeting rent, saving for a wedding or other significant item (I'm not asking for an answer just giving examples If this is the primary concern then your choice it clear.


Where do you want your career to go? Do you want to have your own consulting biz? Is work on government contracts what you'd like to do in the future. What is the next step in your current company? Ask someone what you need to do to get to that next level. If you don't make it about money but about career path these discussions can be very productive. If you went to a higher paying job now, how would the answers to the questions above change?

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Move on.....

by Mr_Rutherford In reply to Early Career Crossroad - ...

I'm still in my first year of my career, and to be totally honest, it's about money and experience right now, and you guys that have been in the business for 5-10-20 years can look back and say it was the same when you started. I know that the company I'm working for is using me for cheap labor. They knew that I just graduated, and that I needed a job and because they knew this they lowballed me on my salary. Granted I did take the job because I needed experience, but if some one came along tomorrow and told me they would offer me 40% more than I was making today, you better believe I'd take it.

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Show Them A Competing Job Offer

by bschaettle In reply to Early Career Crossroad - ...

Show your supervisor a written job offer for a job similar to yours, with a current date. Politely explain to your supervisor that you like where you work, but you can't ignore the salary differential. Ask if there's any chance your compensation can be increased to match the market. Be prepared to hear a lot of excuses why that can't be done for you. Also be prepared to actually accept the competing offer and leave -- if you stay on after an encounter like this, they'll know they don't have to pay you a competitive wage.

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Talk to your employerer

by mwalsh2 In reply to Show Them A Competing Job ...

If you are doing a good job, they will not want to try to replace you. Especially if you are not paid much. Talk to your immediate supervisor and let him know you are expecting raise in the near future, but don't threaten to leave. If you don't like what he says, jump up the ladder and speak to your supervisor's boss. Maybe they can move you within the organization. If that doesn't work, then move on.

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I agree

by WelshBilly In reply to Talk to your employerer

Yes I agree, speak to someone first before even finding a competitive job offer.

If they value your work they will try to sort something out.

I have been in this position and I just left a previous employer. I now regret not speaking to someone first before doing this as I now believe they may have been able to offer some sort of compromise.

At least if you speak to your boss and it doesn't work out, and then find another job, they can't complain that you didn't talk to anyone and they can't say "if only you had said".

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Dig in, build creditials & portfolio, and step up for opportunities.

by adamblevins In reply to Early Career Crossroad - ...

I have been working in a cycle where for a few years I work at what I consider my peak, then look for something less stressful so that I can regroup and build my credentials.

If you feel under challenged I suggest mastering and then organizing your current position. Look for ways to improve the environment by proactive means. Become a rock solid part of the team.

In your downtime go to school, build meaningful certifications, join a professional organization and compile a portfolio of accomplishments.

Post your resume and job search, but wait for something you feel is a significant move into a direction you ultimately want to go in. Don't take something just because it pays more. Money isn't everything.

Keep in mind many people come to work each day and hate their jobs, loathe co-workers and pray for a quick death to take them away.

You are comfortable in a good, secure job. Make the most of it.


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