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  • Should I let headhunters lure me away?

Jan 2007

Q. I have been at the same company for three years. I work in a relatively small, but expensive state and everyone knows each other in the field. I regularly get calls from headhunters or former coworkers about potential positions. Because it is a small field, we also have a good idea what everyone is making. I enjoy what I do and where I am in the company, but I feel I have been left behind.

Many people in my department have left and have done quite well financially. We have the same experience, same age, yet others have gotten salary increases of as much as 20 percent by jumping ship. I just learned of someone at my level doing the same work and receiving double my salary increases for two years. Unfortunately I do not like the markets that the other firms cater to. So I do not want to leave, but I also need to do what is financially right. How should I approach my boss in my annual review?

A. You have put yourself in an interesting position. You understand that people who have left your company have gotten big increases, yet you would prefer to remain at your company.

It's possible that the people who have left your company are working more hours, traveling more, and assuming greater responsibilities. You on the other hand are still working in a small company where your responsibilities may not be as broad as those of your former coworkers. These differences could account for some of the discrepancy in pay.

I'd recommend that you approach your boss for a raise. But before doing so, you need some information. First, ask your supervisor what your company has budgeted for its merit increases for the upcoming year. Once you have determined that your company has a merit budget, ask whether it also has a market adjustment program.

If a company hasn't budgeted for any additional increases, it doesn't make much sense to ask for a raise. You're better off polishing your resume. But if your company does offer market adjustments, your next step is to get a Personal Salary Report to determine what your actual salary should be based on your experience and your performance in your current position.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional

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