As you might know, I’m writing a book, its working title is “The Seniority Trap”. From time to time, I’ll post some parts of it, before it gets released. If you are interested in the updates, please subscribe to my personal blog and let’s connect on Twitter!
Fast, good and cheap?
When we hire a handyman we have to choose two among three characteristics: quality, speed and price.
We might find someone who is fast and cheap, but his work will have to be redone soon. Or if we don’t want to go further away from our industry, think about the proof of concepts that must be delivered fast and cheap, but it includes a nice batch of technical debt.
The second choice is to opt for a good and cheap solution. You might find someone willing to deliver it, but you’ll have to accept that either the work will take a long time, or more probably it will have such a low priority that you might have to wait until doom’s day to have it finished.
If you want something of immaculate quality and want to have it fast, you’ll have to pay. A. Lot.
High salary, little work, financial safety?
In terms of a job, what could you wish for?
- A hefty salary, of course!
- A not daunting workload, who wants to work their ass off? Generous vacation plan, sick and parental leaves, training plans.
- And by all means, the company should be financially safe! Salaries should be paid on time, just like bonuses and you shouldn’t worry about being laid off, in particular for financial reasons.
Bad news, you can choose only two.
In fact, in some cases barely one is difficult.
Financial safety and high salaries?
You want the - relative - feeling of safety and big money? I’ve got some bad news for you, you’ll have to work your ass off! After some years you might end up in the league of big players if that’s your, but that’s another story and it will require all of you. That’s right not from you, but of you.
Financial safety with low workload?
You still want security and you prefer a not so great workload? That’s totally possible in a corporation, you can float around, without anybody complaining seriously about your deliveries, but you’ll not make extraordinary salaries.
Lots of money, lots of rest?
And if you want the big money and small workload?
Well, that’s probably not possible and my analogy is just as good. Truth be told, there are positions you might find later on offering this combination, but that’s not something you get in the beginning and you have to earn a reputation to have such delicacies available to you.
A realistic combination
What is clearly possible is a relatively stable position with a decent but not great salary and a bearable workload.
But there are some glass ceilings that are hard to break even if you work hard. Not impossible, but difficult.
Getting a raise or a promotion is often easier by changing jobs than by just asking for them. Hitting the expert levels - if they exist - is extremely difficult. Many times what you’d need is more political than a professional A-game.
You need a good network in the company and you have to stay for a long time, longer than is usual nowadays.
I saw people promoted to these expert positions mostly because they were there for a very long time. Not that they were not good, they were. Just maybe not that good, or not good for that particular role. But there was an opening and their management wanted to reward them for being quite good and loyal for more than a decade.
This has two messages. Time and timing matters, plus you need an opening. In other words, you need a business opportunity. You can be good, but there is no place for you to be promoted, you won’t be. Not because your management is evil, simply because they cannot just promote you without having the money and the place.
Don’t be discouraged! We already discussed that most of us still have decades of work in front of us!