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BlueWolf's Howl

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July 16, 2002

Ask for a Raise?

The IT study site boards can get pretty interesting. They're mainly for newbies that donít have their own personal contacts in the field. Many of them are not even working in the IT field yet. Theyíre studying and taking tests Ė hoping that the certification will get them a foot in the door Ė or a leg up from their current entry level position.

One of the main topics of any IT board is pay and jobs. There are a lot of myths concerning work in the computer field. Itís not all Matrix-like. And not every person jumping into the field is making Bill Gatesí level of pay. Even the veterans are a little unsure of what the current market will bear these days. The employment market has taken some very strange twists and turns lately.

One of the most common questions that Iíve seen concerns what to do after you get your certification. We all know it means somethingÖ but exactly what does it mean?

To an employer it means that the person has attained a certain level of proficiency. Depending on the level of certification (and Iím talking about all certifications, not just the MCSE), this can cover a wide range. This does not make them an expert in any area. The only exception to this would be the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE). But how does that translate to dollars? Does it? Should it?

There are a few options:
1) Ask for a raise.
2) Ask for more responsibility Ė and then a raise.
3) Get a job offer and then seek a counter-offer or a raise.
4) Get a new job.

Iíve never asked for a raise. There have been a few times where I got promoted to a new position (with an increase in pay), and I only received one unsolicited raise. There were two MCSEs on the rollout team. The rollout was over. They were trying to keep us. We both got a raise. I still left anyway (out of boredom waiting for the next project).

Iíve always been one to believe in certifying and leaving. No matter where you are, you will always find that a new company will offer you much more money than your present company will give you for a raise. And I donít blame them either. I try to leave on best terms and offer my assistance if needed in the future. But I donít think itís fair to either side to stay once youíve attained a new level of proficiency.

Say you have an entry-level help desk position. Youíre making entry-level pay. You certify as an MCSE. You should be doing either more advanced help desk duties or working on the server level. But your position only calls for an entry-level person. You have educated yourself beyond your current position. Itís not fair to ask your employer to pay you what your credentials are worth. Itís not fair for your employer to expect you to stay at your former salary level (with increased abilities).

Iím not suggesting that everyone should job jump each time they get a new credential. But you have to be aware of your situation and abilities. Have you outgrown your present job? Have you just now grown into your present job? Would you get any benefit from staying a little longer?

And when you finally find the answers to those questions for your situation, you will know. But you have to ask yourself those questions and answer them honestly. Ignoring your own growth will surely be to your disadvantage. You may become dissatisfied and your attitude may severely affect your performance. This field is too small to burn bridges. You may have to route over them some day.

Posted by BlueWolf on July 16, 2002 11:43 PM