#237 In which our hero thinks big thoughts.
I’ve been thinking about my career quick a bit lately. Not surprising, being that next month is my two year anniversary at this agency. Assuming I manage to avoid being fired for the next 30 days, this will be the longest I’ve worked at any agency since moving to Cleveland.
I try not to be negative about it, but in my career, I have cause. In the six years I’ve been in Cleveland, I’ve worked at five agencies. That’s probably higher than the norm, but not terribly unusual in my field. Economy goes down, advertisers cut budgets, agencies go down, agencies cut people… it’s a vicious circle and I’ve been on the bent-over end of it several times.
Here’s the first time.
Here’s the second time (The Scientist was eight months pregnant for this one).
Here’s the third time (Macey was two months old for this one).
And being that the economy appears to be heading to another recession, this looms large in my mind. Except, I don’t really expect to get fired any time soon. I’ve probably just jinxed myself by typing that, but I feel like I’m in a really good place at this agency. In my two years here I’ve proven myself, stepped up to any challenge thrown my way. I’ve been rewarded with high profile assignments, and made the main writer on several big name clients. I even started a recycling program that has been so successful that the entire building participates in it, not just our agency.
I can’t stop thinking about some insight I got from a co-worker years ago. The only way to get a substantial raise, he told me, is to go to another agency.
And in my decade of experience, I’ve found that to be absolutely true. If you get a regular raise (which in my experience has NOT happened more than it has happened) it’s always cost of living, never any more. Regardless of stellar job performance evaluations, it’s always the absolute minimal that an employer can get away with.
And I get this. It’s management’s job to keep costs low, and salary is the #1 cost to an ad agency. I don’t begrudge them, really. But I do want to be rewarded for doing good work. And most of my career, the reward for good work was not being fired. It’s really hard to shake that lingering fear that I could once again be called into Human Resources and told to close the door.
But, being respected (to my face, at least) and liked at this agency has given me the confidence to ask around, poke at some people and see what are my chances of actually making some more money.
And answer is slim to none.
I gently asked my boss today where she saw me going in the future; what promotions might exist. She said that while she didn’t know if a promotion to associate creative director (the next rung on the ladder in my department) would happen this year or over the next couple years (translated, that means it will NOT happen) she definitely saw me in the position of being the “lead” on more major clients and maybe even a “creative manager.” There are two roles which entail more responsibility and more work… but no more money.
This bums me out.
So the big question is: should I start looking around again? I have my resume up on Monster.com and all the appropriate job sites, of course, but I haven’t actively sent out resumes in two years. Not since I got this job.
The big problem is that I love this job, and this agency. The client list is good, my co-workers are nice and talented, management is hands-off for the most part. It’s a fun place to work.
But if I want a big bump in pay, I think I’m going to have to jump ship. But I kinda don’t want to. Even if I ended up at a place as enjoyable as this, there’s no guarantee that I wouldn’t be laid off the next month when the economy shits the bed. So I’m wrestling with the concept of how much money is enough money to roll the dice again.
The entire concept frightens me, and I’ve generally shied away from things that frighten me. But, I also think that the only way to gain great rewards is to take great chances.