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Finances & Money

In a pay raise slump? Sometimes you just need a new job

In my first job out of college, I worked for a MAJOR oil company as an “IT Analyst”. Coming from “Pennsyltuckey” (Central PA) to the Washington D.C. area was a big jump in pay, and cost of living.

The “Company” had a policy of a standard 6 month and 12 month raises. In my first year, I got a 13% raise. My second year, 8%. My third year, 4%. My fourth year, well, I didn’t wait to see. I saw that things were going downhill as far as raises, even though I was doing my best work and I was a very valuable asset to the team.

See, the Company figured they had me hooked.

I hear from many of my foreign colleagues and friends that once you’re somewhere for 5 years, it becomes exponentially more difficult to leave. They’re talking about where you live, but this also applies to where you work.

Larger employers know that you, the employee, are less willing to leave with each additional year, because you have that much more invested emotionally, and sometimes financially, in the Company.

If you’re a risk-taker and marketable, think about finding a new employer. After being at the Company for 4 years, I had made a lot of friends, and really got into the groove in my career. However, it was getting very stale and employee morale was going downhill faster than a speeding Semi without brakes.

I spent about 4 months searching and interviewing for a new job. You’ll probably find out more about my job history in later posts, but I’ll focus on the financials first.

My first employer switch netted me a 14% raise. After that company got bought out, I decided the risk of staying was too much, so I changed employers again. The second switch netted me another 14% raise. After staying there for 7 months and not gaining any marketable skills (I actually lost some, given the advancement of technology and my competition), I decided I needed one more switch. The third employer switch netted me only a 6% raise.

In one year from leaving my first employer, I gained a total 31% raise, and also 8 more days of vacation. (The numbers above don’t add up properly because I rounded off). Also, I’m now gaining a landslide worth of experience that I never would have gotten at the Company.

So, if you’re stuck with 3% or less raises each year (or less often) and can handle the risk of a job change, think about switching to a new employer. However, do your research on benefits, because you might be getting more income, but end up paying more in benefits each year that negates your profit.

Good luck!

About the author

Clever Dude


  • It’s a tough thing to jump ship but sometimes it seems the only option for a reasonable pay increase. While things like the promise of a pension used to keep people at jobs, none of this really exists anymore. Now we have to fend for ourselves with 401k’s.

    You also make a very good point with regards to income vs. benefits. What appears to be higher income can quickly be negated by poor benefits. It pays to do one’s homework.

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