Should She Stay or Should She Go

I dislike salary negotiation. I don’t mind it when I’m first offered the job, because that seems like a natural time to negotiate, but not later on as I’ve proven my work. I’m pretty sure that I’m the lowest paid at my level in my company, although that may be offset by my stock options, but theoretically my options are a bonus for taking a risk as an early employee. Anyway, part of me feels like I don’t deserve a higher salary at my current company because while I have a good title I’m actually viewed at a lower level. The only way to actually get the respect and the salary that goes with it is to start looking elsewhere.

I wouldn’t look elsewhere for salary alone, although maybe I should. What I’d look for is a job in product management, because that’s what I want to be doing anyway. I’d probably be able to at least meet my current salary at a more junior-level position and then work my way up. I’ve been extremely loyal to my company and I still am, but there comes a time when you have to do what’s right for your career. Eventually I want to found my own company and in order to do this I need to gain experience in a position closer to the product decisions. I should care more about salary, especially as a woman who believes in equal pay, but I don’t want to play that game. If my company believes I add value, they’ll give me a significant raise that’s fair for my supposed level. If they don’t, then I’m right to be thinking about what’s next.

The real reason I wouldn’t want to leave is that I believe my role does add a lot of value to the company, and I want this company to be successful. Yes, it will help my stock options actually be worth their “bonus” versus nothing, but there’s always an opportunity to leave, but there’s no better opportunity than now to really help the company do well in the context of my role. Maybe I’m giving myself too much credit, but I don’t necessarily trust someone from the outside to be able to come in and do my job as well as I do. In any case, I imagine if they were to hire someone for my position and require them to do all that I do they’d be paid at least $50k more per year. I guess that thought depresses me a bit. It makes me feel better to think of my current situation as being gifted a better title than what I deserve, and my pay is reasonable for the next major level down. I don’t like to think about salary as it just makes me uncomfortable — at the same time I feel like I’m being paid too much and not enough. I live a pretty simple life, in my small bedroom in my shared apartment, and I save… so ultimately that’s all that matters, right?

It’s just the way things are in business, I understand why so many women leave the workforce and don’t pursue executive positions. I look at my colleague who is about my age, in a similar position, and I can see him going on to be VP easily. I don’t see myself as an executive. It probably will take a move to another company to start feeling like one. Or maybe I’m just being greedy and I actually have a fair salary based on my title and level compared to others in the company. Only HR and the executive team know. I wonder what would happen in a company if everyone knew what everyone else was making, and raises were given for actual productivity and quality of work. I’m sure it would be hard to recruit non-junior employees, but it would be amazing for a company to offer salary transparency and also provide the opportunities to earn frequent bonuses and raises for the people who really deserve it.


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3 thoughts on “Should She Stay or Should She Go”

    1. @Yakezie it’s less about loyalty, more about having 2 years left of vesting on a very large number of stock options. While odds of these options making me rich are slim, I could either stay at a company with some momentum and earn the rest of my options, or move to another startup that is very early stage, try to negotiate for a similar about of stock (which may be challenging depending on what type of role I’d get) and then hope that company performs as well or better than my current company. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense at this point.

  1. You are overthinking this, it seems to me. Go for a few interviews, try to get another job offer. If it’s higher salary but not that attractive as a job, use it to have a frank conversation with your boss and negotiate a salary increase. With your title, deserved or not (in your opinion), and with an offer on the table, you’ll have leverage to negotiate.
    What do your other colleagues at the same level do that is different from you and more “executive-like”? Is it a matter of skills, of ambition or just a feeling? It sounds very strange that you have to move to another company to start feeling like executive.

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