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I was hired as a support engineer and junior sys-admin at my company about 2.5 years ago. One of my colleagues was hired 6 months after myself (2 years experience total) and another yet has a mere 8 months of experience in total.

Despite having more actual knowledge of our product than both of them, since they were hired for different positions (one is a developer, the other was hired as "senior" developer) they are seen as more high value than myself and progressing faster in terms of salary and responsibilities.

Obviously, since I've been there longer, I feel somewhat disappointed. Is this completely standard (since they have different roles) or is this a clear indication that I'm not being valued and it's time for me to progress career-wise and search for a new job?

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    Have you talked to your manager about becoming an intermediate or senior sys-admin? That would seem to be the logical question as if you don't speak up, how are they to know there is an issue? – JB King Aug 15 '15 at 19:47
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One of the most important pieces of advice I have received from my managers over the years is this one:

Worry about what you are doing, not what other people are doing.

If you're not being promoted, then that's probably because you're not doing something that you need to be doing. If you've got formal performance reviews, then you should already know what you need to be doing. If you don't have formal reviews, then you need to be having a conversation with your manager along the lines of "what do I need to improve on to be promoted?". You are responsible for your career, not anybody else - don't expect promotions to be handed to you on a plate.

As almost an aside:

since I've been there longer, I feel somewhat disappointed

I regard this as the sign of a good company. People shouldn't be promoted because they've been there longer - people should be promoted because they've got the right skills to step up to the next level.

  • Would "since I've been there longer, I feel somewhat disappointed" apply to government jobs? Civilian or Military? – Frank FYC Aug 15 '15 at 20:16
  • Yes I think you're probably right. Partly, I might be under-performing at work due to the fact that I'm starting to like it less, and since I am concerned about what others are doing, it might be affecting my performance as well. I will keep this in mind. Thanks for the enlightening advice! – DaniG2k Aug 15 '15 at 20:27
  • @Riorank That's probably better as a separate question, but I see no reason it shouldn't apply to civilian government jobs; the only difference is whether you're paid by the state or by a private company. I'm not qualified to make any comment on military jobs. – Philip Kendall Aug 15 '15 at 20:48
  • @PhilipKendall Noted. – Frank FYC Aug 15 '15 at 20:51
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    +1 for "sign of a good company". Could agree more. I've been at many companies where experienced members of the team are receiving more merit, despite actually performing less. – Triplell89 Aug 17 '15 at 14:46
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I will point out that they are in a different professional specialties than yours. So there is no comparison between their rate of promotion and yours.

To be promoted several things have to happen, first you have to have a position to be promoted to. They may have senior dev positions in their budget but there are no senior sys admin positions in your organization's budget. No position, no possibility of promotion.

The next thing is performance as measured by your boss not you. What is important about this is that it is up to you to make sure your boss is well aware of your contributions. Sys Admin is tough to shine in because no news is good news. When things just work correctly and there are no big fires to put out, then it isn't very noticeable. You need to make sure they see you are keeping disasters from happening.

Finally, you generally need to ask for promotions (or apply for vacant higher positions). You don't ever get what you don't ask for.

And be aware that the workplace is not and never will be fair. People who don't deserve promotions get promoted all the time. (And most of the time there will be someone in the organization who thinks the promotion was undeserved no matter who got promoted as very few people are universally respected.) The best employees don't always get the best salaries as best is subjective and some jobs command higher salaries all around. You can't let that affect your own motivation and performance. When you do that, you deserve to be the person who didn't get promoted or didn't get the bonus.

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Sometimes you only get what you want when you ask for it. You can't sit around hoping someone notices you. You can't assume anyone knows what you want. Sit down with your boss and say exactly what you want. Lay out your plan. A good boss will help you make that happen. If you want to do something else, find someone who can help you do that. Take charge of your career.

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I think to answer your question, yes, this kind of situation is extremely standard and no, it is not necessarily a sign that you need to move on to a new job.

In life and in work, there are a lot of other factors besides technical and product knowledge that might come into play. It is therefore very tricky to say if your co-workers actually deserve promotions or not, but I would encourage you to think about what they might be doing well and whether there is anything you too could improve.

As pointed out already, time spent with an employer should be a non-factor in promotion in 2015 - although the loyalty and business / product experience are often related to employment length...

To address the title of your question, I think if there is some systemic issue with the company you work for, such as an incompetent or biased manager and crappy workers are being promoted while you are not, then I would encourage you to leave or try and better the situation.

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