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It's time for annual evaluations and setting goals for the new year. The boss wants to talk about the career path I'd like to take. The problem is, I don't think I have a future here, as my title and salary don't reflect the work I'm doing; indeed, while I got a raise this year it's less than wage inflation for my specialty, so I'm farther from a market salary than before. There's no career path for my position here, either, my role is basically unique. So an honest answer to his question would be "working somewhere else, where I have a future."

I don't want to tip my hand, but I won't lie to my boss, he's a good guy. What can I say that won't ruin my current environment or imperil my immortal soul (figuratively speaking)?

I appreciate the virtue of caution, and I may give my boss the simple truth, but there are some reasons to think that what I want simply won't happen here. Please assume that I have indeed written off my current employer. What can I say that's not dishonest nor gives away my plan?

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Honesty about your long term career goals have no place in your current job with your current manager. In no way does being honest about you being unhappy with what you observe in your long term career prospects there work out for you in any beneficial way. –  maple_shaft Feb 20 '13 at 19:09
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What about asking that your work corresponds to your title? –  Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Feb 21 '13 at 9:19
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@Anonymoose To merge your accounts, go to the help page. There is a Merge Accounts link there. Additionally, if you have multiple accounts, any interaction between them is seen as a Bad Thing and can lead to account suspension. –  Jim Feb 21 '13 at 15:54
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@ThorbjørnRavnAndersen: Yes, that would be nice. Asking for a title consistent with my actual responsibilities may be a good direction to take this upcoming conversation; it's honest, it's controversial enough to fill the time, and it doesn't scream "I'm outta here like Milli Vanilli". I think you're on to something! –  Anonymoose Feb 23 '13 at 22:03

5 Answers 5

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If the real problem for you is that your work does not correspond to your title, then you can try to have that changed.

Either ask your boss to have your work load changed to reflect your title, or your title changed to reflect your work load.

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No. I would share with him what your goals are, just because you think there is no room for movement it doesn't mean there isn't, your boss will probably know the situation better than you.

Go into the meeting, and share with him what career path you want to take (or the one you would take if you left). Discuss with him if you think this path is possible within the company, if it isn't then you know you will have to leave to pursue it.

If it is possible then hey you've just discovered that you can do the career you want without having to skip through jobs.

You don't empirically know that you have no future in this job, but saying you want to leave means there is a much much smaller chance that you do.

As far as i am aware the point of these review meetings is to review your performance for the last year AND your projected goals for this year, if you can honestly tell him what your goals are (move up the ladder etc) then chances are he can help plan a path with you.

This means you get to be honest with him (as requested) and you get to discover whether you really do have a future at this company or not.

Perhaps they never presented the situation to you because they were unaware you were looking to move up the chain, showing self motivation and determination might be just what they are looking for for a position thats just about to open up.

It certainly can't hurt to try right?

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I agree. I told my previous boss I wanted a promotion. He had no idea I was looking for it, they were offering the different promotions that came down to those that expressed interest first. About 3 months after telling my boss I wanted a promotion, I received a promotion :) –  Randy E Feb 22 '13 at 15:29
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It certainly can hurt. Unless I water down my concerns to next-to-nothing, it'll be clear that I'm planning to leave. The changes I'd need to stay are just not in the cards. If I do share, the consequences range from stagnation (why should they be interested in anything else I ask for if I'm a lost cause?) to "I'm sorry to hear that. Security, please send someone up with a cardboard box." That's an extreme case, but in some businesses it's quite normal. –  Anonymoose Feb 23 '13 at 17:41

My wife gave the honest answer. She told them that she planned to leave because the working hours were too long (6 days/week) and her boss was too mean.

Ever since, the boss was much nicer to her, tried to take up to senior management to cut working hours down to the standard 5 days/week. She even got an offer for very costly training and a promotion with a very significant wage increase.

The key to getting what you want is to tell them what you want.

But do it nicely; don't just tell them "I plan to quit". Instead, tell them that you don't enjoy working your current position and would rather work in Position X and have a salary of $Y by the age of N.

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Have you considered that the annual evaluation might be there for just this purpose? So that you can work with your manager to find a career path for you.

Consider giving it a chance and present the issues you mention to your boss. At least give the company an opportunity to respond to your misgivings before you just up and quit. Don't always assume that the employer should or will take the first step in these situations. They might want you to take the first step, to affirm that you have a genuine ambition to grow within the company.

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The reason they ask these questions is because (in general), they'd like to know how to help you get to where you are going. Your best move is to speak in the vaguest of possible terms; ambiguity is your friend in this situation. For example, say your goal is to land a job in management with a $60k raise. The person giving you the review very likely knows that a position like that won't open up in the company until he or she is fired, retires or resigns, thus signaling to your reviewer that you are unlikely to stay in your current position much longer. How can you phrase that so that you get the benefits (e.g. training, conferences with networking opportunities) without jeopardizing your current situation? How about "grow into a recognized leader within our industry and company in the X function of the Y domain."? My point is that the less specific you are about the exact nature of your goals, the more likely you are to be able to leverage the benefits of enhanced focus on your career internally, but at the same time keep your options open without actually telling a falsehood.

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+1 for "vaguest of possible terms; ambiguity is your friend in this situation". Answering the "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" questions with "Working in a job with more responsibility, more opportunities for growth etc" doesn't state whether that is in your current company or not. –  BunjiquoBianco Feb 22 '13 at 11:17
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+1 for keeping your options open. That's what I'd like to do, but being honest about my dissatisfaction pretty much starts an up or out timer. And I really don't see any "up" paths here. –  Anonymoose Feb 23 '13 at 17:20

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