14

I joined my company four years ago within a customer care role (email and phone support). The company develops a niche product and I have quite a bit of domain knowledge.

Within that time, my personal skill-set has developed a lot and I find that, in addition to my official position, I am now undertaking project management (Agile PO), campaign management and technical writing. I also work for another team within the company doing content management (including programming).

While I am grateful to have a break from the otherwise monotonous and un-challenging customer care role, this work is unrecognized in an official sense (job-title/compensation). There has also been no career development or education. I have expressed concerns regarding this to my supervisor multiple times but with no results.

I would like to move into development (I'm also doing a CS degree) and feel I am a valuable asset to the company, but am frustrated with my current 'official' role. I like the company, culture, people and product but need to grow professionally.

I am concerned that I've spent 4 years in a dead-end job, with nothing to really show for it. Should I skip my supervisor and speak to higher-levels of management?

7

Sadly, some bosses are fully OK with keeping their people under-employed as long they're doing a "good" job. From the point of view of this boss, having you move on to another department would be seen as loss and something to be avoided regardless of the fact that it would hurt you career-wise to stay much longer.

Going to HR, if you can actually trust them, might help if they're eager to fill specific positions. But if you really want to stay with the org after you get your degree it would be fine to approach other other departments (especially the ones you've been working for on the side). It seems you've cultivated good working relationships so any team-lead/boss who would be interested in you should be understanding of the sensitive nature of transitioning from one team to another.

You definitely should not feel that 4 years have been wasted. People out-grow their positions all the time.

10

Should I skip my supervisor and speak to higher-levels of management?

No, you shouldn't. Going over their head can end you up without a job and no good reference (aka career limiting move).

What you should be doing is talk to your HR department - you need to explain to them that you are not doing just customer care work anymore and that you feel that your added responsibilities should be recognized both in title and pay. You should also explain that you have brought this up with your supervisor a number of times but that you have seen no results.

At this point, the ball is in their court. Make sure you ask for a time estimate for getting a response back from them - chase them up if they don't get back to you by that time.

If the above fails, you need to consider your future in this company.

  • @enderland - From the question: I have expressed concerns regarding this to my supervisor multiple times but with no results. – Oded Aug 28 '12 at 14:30
6

A few things to consider.

Frame your question differently. Ask your supervisor how you can position yourself for promotion, rather than expressing concern about not advancing.

Be specific about the work you want to do in the organization. Prepare a resume-style list of accomplishments that qualify you for consideration. (Include more than your efforts: be clear about your results.)

By changing the conversation from "What you can/should do for me" to "What should/can I do to make myself more valuable to the organization?" you create an opening to receive more feedback and information about how you're viewed internally.

At best, your boss may hear you differently, and help you as you look for opportunities. Your list of results makes it easier for him/her to discuss possibilities with his or her manager.

At worst, you may learn that you have different visions of your potential in the organization. This could be painful, but it's good information to have.

Tap your network. Ask the same question of a trusted peer -- like a member of other team you're working with who knows what you bring to the table. As above, you may get some good feedback. It also doesn't hurt to have a trusted peer in on the fact that you're looking to make a move. (Especially if you and your boss have different views.)

Look for role models. Are there other well-regarded people in your company who have made similar moves? Talk to them -- most people love to give career advice. Ask them how they demonstrated to management that they were ready to make a transition.

In each case, prepare for the discussion:

  • Set it up like it's a meeting
  • Put your accomplishments/results in writing
  • Script the questions you'd like to ask, and points you'd like to make
  • You may even want to practice with a friend or family member
  • Hold to a time limit
  • Thank the other person, both at the close of discussion and by email after the meeting (even if -- and maybe especially if -- you received information it was difficult to hear)
  • Follow through on any action items you take away from the conversation, and keep the other person informed about your progress

Good luck.

6

I was in a position like this, twice.

With the first one, I ruthlessly detailed every single thing I did. I wrote my resume around that, point out that I wasn't just someone who answered phones: I maintained their accounting databases and stored queries, designed output for their clients, automated tasks that had been done by hand for twenty years, and tracked down technical problems in the field with nothing more than a dial-up connection and my wits.

The company didn't think what I did was a big deal, but the company I left them for did. They respected the fact that I took a job where I could have just sat around all day reading and made the company a better place.

The second time this happened, I walked into my boss's office. I had been transitioned to a new job, but barely got a salary bump. At the time, I accepted it since we were in the middle of a freeze. Our conversation was very short.

"I'm paid X below market standards for what I do." "How's a raise of X sound?" "Cool. I also think I need to add X to my official skill-set." "Done."

In that case, they knew they were getting me cheap and were just waiting for me to realize it. A bit shady, but that's how business can be sometimes.

2

Sometimes Human Resources is the worst place to go, if the company is small enough, your HR person may be someone who reports everything to the manager, and boss.

Be wary what you say to HR, for it can bite you in the butt, even if you don't meant it to. Sometimes it may be better to start looking elsewhere. In reality your boss knows what you do, sometimes it may be better to start fresh elsewhere than try to climb a corporate ladder that isn't there.

  • +1, yep, job transitions whether internal or external are usually best done without the involvement of HR (at least in the early stages). – Angelo Aug 29 '12 at 15:50
1

Maybe you can talk to (HR or another department) about what you will do after you get your CS degree. Point out how you would much rather continue working at your current company which you really like and where you can put your extensive domain knowledge to use, but obviously your career is going to be in development in the long run.

Then talk about having a transition plan from your current position. Then ask if there is any reason the transitioning can't get started now. You can point out that in many ways it has already begun (pointing out everything you pointed out in your question here), but you would like begin the process of making it into an official plan and ideally some kind of official title.

0

To your supervisor you are a part-time employee. You're going to go beyond expressing your concerns, so you need to make a request that requires some action: a pay raise, title change, etc. You may have to move to a different department, but it may take some time before anyone else can use you full-time.

Sounds like at your company a jack-of-all-trades is treated as a master of none.

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