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Should I leave my startup to seek a better salary and title?

PhotonicsPays
Jan 2007

Q. I joined my current company (Pre-IPO) right out of school as a junior QA engineer testing our product. Over the last three years, I have moved from that position to one with key responsibilities while the company has gone from 30 people to 50. Although I have been given the responsibilities of a software project lead reporting to the CTO and supervising the work of the others, there has been no official change in my title. I have been given raises quite frequently, but am still getting paid less than those I supervise. This is mainly due to my low starting salary as I have been given approximately 15 percent raises every 9 months on average. Since it is a small setup, it does not seem appropriate to ask for more as others have not got any for the last 18 months. Except for the salary and title, my job is very satisfying. Should I just look elsewhere to get a more appropriate title and salary?

A. It's the classic issue of salary versus title. Of course, you can have both. It is quite thoughtful of you to consider the financial situation of your company and the economy. However, if your company had to replace your skill set, it would probably pay more than that of a junior QA engineer. Fortunately for you, you are in a profession that has been less adversely affected by the economy.

Ask your manager what your role is in the company, and what plans they have to raise your salary so that it is commensurate with your scope and responsibilities. Don't threaten your manager with resignation, but at least ask if they are working toward adjusting your salary so your are making something comparable to the people you supervise.

If the salary and job title are important to you, by all means polish your resume. But it seems to me that you enjoy working at your current company. During the past three years you have probably gained an enormous amount of experience in management, which is worth a lot of money. So, balance the opportunity to make more money against the meaningful experience so if and when you do leave your current employer, you will be able to command a higher salary.

Speak to your manager and see what they can do for you. If you think their offer and/or explanation is reasonable, stay on. If you think you've outlived your time and now need to start making more money sooner rather than later, then by all means start circulating your resume.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional
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GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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