Every year, there’s inevitably a headhunter or a competitor who gives me a ring to ask whether I’m interested in leaving my current firm for a hefty salary increase. And every year I turn them down because I respect the people I work with, like the camaraderie, and believe in my firm’s management and future. My 10th year anniversary is coming up, and just like how I freaked out for a couple days before turning 30, I’m starting to wonder whether I’ve become too content and also too comfortable with what I have.
Dodging bullets is a myth, but I can safely proclaim that I dodged at least one bullet by not taking an offer from a firm that inevitably went bankrupt. Phew, I sometimes remind myself. But, what about the other firms I wonder. If I joined them, would I be making more money and doing more in my career than ever before? Maybe, I don’t know. What I do know is that many who have job hopped have indeed made an incredible amount more and rocketed their careers than if they had stayed.
LOYALTY CAN BE OVERRATED
It’s sad that loyalty is often rewarded with below market pay. We call this the “loyalty discount”. The late, great John Wooden of UCLA basketball fame never made more than $36,000 a year despite winning an unprecedented 10 NCAA championships in a 12-year period because he never entertained other offers. Nick Saban on the other hand, played LSU like a fiddle. He bolted to the Miami Dolphins after winning a championship at LSU, and then bolted again to Alabama for a mega 8-year, $32 million contract! With Nick proceeding to win another championship at Alabama, it’s safe to safe Nick maximized his income and his career.
Gone are the days where people work for 30 or even 20 years at a single firm simply because people have more options, and the competitive environment is that much greater. Firms have proven in this volatile environment that they will fire at will to cut costs and appease shareholders. Being a 15 year veteran used to mean something, now it just means maybe you’re too expensive.
With the track that I’m on, if I don’t change soon, I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up being one of those 20 year-to-lifer type employees. I do think loyalty is admirable, but at what cost? If people are banging down your door, at the very least open it and let them in.
WONDERING “WHAT IF”
One of my worst fears is wondering “what if.” 10 years from now, I don’t want to obsess about wondering how my life would be different if I took this job or made this decision. It’s too bad we can’t live parallel lives. All we can do is weigh the pros and cons, ask our loved ones for their opinions, and make a decision.
We have a responsibility to be loyal to the firm that provides for us. But, we have a bigger responsibility to be loyal to ourselves and our family. If a firm is underpaying you or mistreating you, you need to speak up because they are literally taking away opportunities. Maybe you want to send your daughter to private school, but because your firm isn’t paying you a market rate for the past 10 years, you’re literally $100,000 poorer in your bank account.
The point is that loyalty goes both ways. Your firm has to be loyal to you as much as you are loyal to them. If you are too content in your career, your managers are going to sense your complacency and potentially take advantage of you. Make sure they don’t by having a heart-to-heart talk at least once a year or two, and preferably during your year end reviews. It really is great to be happy with what you have, just don’t let them take you for granted.
Readers, do you ever find yourself wondering whether you are too content with your career?
What are your experiences with head hunters and competitors who tantalize you with fantastic opportunities?
Isn’t being content the end game? If so, why do we continue to wonder?
Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”