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I have been working full time in this company since the financial crisis at the same level. I am at the top of my level and don't get any raises for several years. The pay levels are very rigid in and have not changed since I joined. The position is IT, but not programming. I work way above my level for many years and my performance was always very good, but requirements are constantly increasing, constant learning of new technologies, etc. The workload is huge, and people (younger ones) are leaving. Retired people are not replaced, or replaced by incompetent offshore contractors.

I asked for promotion last year and was recently told that the director denied my promotion request, because I don't have everything I need to know for the next level. However I am overloaded with work.

The position now requires a lot of programming knowledge for the new hires (but they don't provide training for existing employees). New people don't have the system knowledge (the system is extremely complex), so they are useless without people with many years of experience, like me. I am lately assigned requirements writing that is not a part of my mandate, but in addition to that, lots of people constantly ask me for all kinds of support beyond my role.

Anything can be done? Asking if anyone was able to get a promotion in similar situation after they were refused? Is contacting HR an option and how to approach that?

Finding a job in another company is not an option, the company provides pension and I don't want to lose that.

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    When you were rejected because "you don't have everything you need to know", did that director give you a shopping list of things you need to do or learn? If not, you'll never get a promotion. Pensions can move; you ned to consider if you should also.
    – PeteCon
    Aug 28, 2021 at 14:37
  • "so do you know what you need to know for the next level?" - It will never happen because their benchmarks for the position are constantly changing and increasing. They will always find a reason that I am lacking some particular skill. I led teams, mentor new hires, take charge, nothing is enough. I don't have programing education but so are everyone else in my team who are in the roles I want to be promoted to. I feel it is just an excuse not to promote me, maybe something personal. The director is new and I don't work with him directly.
    – AsmGuru62
    Aug 28, 2021 at 15:58
  • If you worked more than decade in one job, your employer is aware that you don't have other options and use it.
    – Justas
    Aug 29, 2021 at 16:50
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    Why would they promote you? You clearly stated you have no intention of ever leaving the company, so why would they give you more money and a better position if you already do all the stuff they need from your current pay level? Why would that manager ask for a bigger budget or more management positions on your behalf? Why not chuck more work on you until you stop performing so great so he has a better reason to deny your pay raise? If skilled workers are leaving the company, that probably means it's not growing anymore, so why would a manager risk his neck to give you more money?
    – BoboDarph
    Aug 30, 2021 at 7:16

5 Answers 5

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Calculate how much that pension is really worth.

It seems that you are employed by a big 5 Canadian bank or large insurer. Between having a pension, ancient systems, not replacing retired people, and hiring piles of offshore contractors, I am not aware of any other companies that fit that description so well.

The pay there is usually terrible. You can make a lot more going elsewhere.

There are exceptions for certain positions and some banks pay more than others, but while banks are reliable employers, they generally do not pay well in Canada. You can often double your salary if you work in a bank in a technical role and leave.

A pension is usually worth an extra 10% of pay in Canada, and you can usually take the commuted value of the pension and transfer it to a LIRA. I am not an expert in these things, nor in the associated contract law when it comes to your specific employer. Do not take any action right away, but just consider this and start doing some research on the specific policies of your financial institution. You may want to speak to a fee only (you pay him for his time, not by having him sell you crappy products) financial advisor to help you with the math here.

But really look to see if that pension is worth it, as it may actually be a trap to hold you there at low pay.

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    Pensions are useful if you're clueless and have no idea how to properly invest for retirement. If you have even the slightest shred of financial knowledge and diversely invest into index funds, there's no good reason you can't match the pension returns or even beat it.
    – Nelson
    Aug 30, 2021 at 8:39
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Talk to your management, come up with a career plan, understand what they feel like you need to do to get to the next level. Then, you can:

  1. Do that, and be continuously checking your progress with them and try to get the promotion
  2. Go get a new job, while still learning from the discussion what you probably need to be working on to advance

Just working hard and knowing things doesn’t always make you fit for promotion. Next levels, especially lead/manager levels, usually have more specific teamwork, mentoring, time/project management etc. requirements, and just from this short post I sense you may have room for improvement in these areas.

Having said that, in tech you will always get better pay and promotions by switching jobs every 3-4 years, internal promotions are always worse than what you could get at a non-startup company. You say you’re locked in due to pension but that’s what they are counting on to keep you overworked and underpaid and it’s working. You may have topped out there, and need to do some serious analysis of “what if I never got another raise/promotion for the rest of my career, is this pension still worth it?”

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Asking if anyone was able to get a promotion in similar situation after they were refused?

In general terms yes.. if you're denied a promotion for a lack of a specific skill or skillset then correcting that lack and then trying again can work.

Is contacting HR an option and how to approach that?

It's an option, it's a terrible option and it won't work but it's an option nevertheless.

Finding a job in another company is not an option, the company provides pension and I don't want to lose that.

Pensions are great, and it's always good to keep at least half an eye on the future when you want to retire. But don't forget that you're living now, is it really worth being miserable today, tomorrow, and potentially every day for the next X years? I'm not saying you should definitely leave over this, nor am I saying you definitely shouldn't. But don't articifically limit your options.

It will never happen because their benchmarks for the position are constantly changing and increasing. They will always find a reason that I am lacking some particular skill. I led teams, mentor new hires, take charge, nothing is enough. I don't have programing education but so are everyone else in my team who are in the roles I want to be promoted to. I feel it is just an excuse not to promote me, maybe something personal. The director is new and I don't work with him directly.

You seem to be suggesting that this latest knockback is forming part of a pattern - if that's the case and you're sure that it's not going to change with this new director then you're probably facing a decision between moving on or accepting things the way they are. On the other hand this director is new and sometimes that does bring change. I'm never going to advocate that you should endlessly chase a carrot that stays perpetually out of reach, that's a soul-crushing way to live. You've been there ten years and if you can get some advancement you'd probably be happy to stay. So organise a meeting with this new director and see if you can work out a plan with him with actionable, measurable goals for you to advance. Ask for training, ask for support to self-study etc. Even if you still don't get the promotion you want then it's not a total loss, you've just got yourself another skill that's going to make you attractive to other employers. Just like all the things you list that you've done so far make for some pretty darn good experience that you can leverage to get the job you want somewhere even if it's not here.

I actually applied multiple times to similar companies, but so far was ignored or got rejection emails.

Yeah, welcome to job hunting these days - it's a numbers game.

My resume is professionally done, so this is not a reason.

Don't be so sure - there's rubbish "professionals" in every line of work. And any Tom, Dick or Jane can set themselves up as a "professional resume writer". Frankly I've never seen a "professionally done" resume that was worth the money. At best they're average with what a person could have done themselves and at worst they're pure garbage.

It seems that these "woke" companies prefer visible minorities these days, which I am not (an immigrant and ethnic minority, but Caucasian).

Even if that were true and your caucasian ethnicity and Canadian native status were somehow massively hindering your employability in the financial sector (spoiler alert: it's not) there's nothing you can do about it. So you can either a) cry into your beer about it and grumble to your friends and family about how them dastardly minority folk are stealing all the jobs or you can b) buckle down and fight for the job you want, make yourself so gosh darn employable that companies snap you up.

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    Are those last bits from deleted comments or something? That reinforces my early impression that the OP may, indeed, not be ready for a step up.
    – mxyzplk
    Aug 28, 2021 at 19:59
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    To mxyzplk - nothing was deleted - seems that you, sir, are biased against me. I asked for help and ideas. This is not helpful to be mean. My mental health is already affected by many years of use and abuse and being stuck in this situation.
    – AsmGuru62
    Aug 29, 2021 at 14:07
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    @mxyzplk: The latter quoted bits are from comments currently attached to a different answer by SimonB. Aug 30, 2021 at 1:54
  • @asmguru62 playing the victim, denigrating others’ contributions, and so on are not things that make a person promotable. Sounds like you need to really learn and understand how to mature in your career if you want further promotion.
    – mxyzplk
    Aug 30, 2021 at 2:11
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You should find a job Most would be for more compensation than what you get now, including benefits

After that its your choice ever demand a promotion to matched salary or to leave

As one of the desperate attempts to get a promotion when you actually told no, is to compose a list of your responsibilities and projects you had over the years and vast knowledge you have accumulated, with comparison to desired position requirements and cost of training a new hire to replace you

Maybe you can get a raise, not expecting it to be over COL

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You have decided that you aren't going to leave your current employer. Given that, they have no incentive to give you a promotion or a pay rise. They can keep you on the same pay grade, paying you the same amount of money until you retire.

Are they really the only employer you could go to that offers a pension?

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  • Thank you for your reply. They don't know that I am not going to leave. Most companies here don't offer Defined Benefit pensions, and to qualify to retire early I have to work there for 10 years. I already did in this company and don't have that many years to do it in another. I actually applied multiple times to similar companies, but so far was ignored or got rejection emails. My resume is professionally done, so this is not a reason. It seems that these "woke" companies prefer visible minorities these days, which I am not (an immigrant and ethnic minority, but Caucasian).
    – AsmGuru62
    Aug 28, 2021 at 17:18

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