Move to a 6 figure salary at small, low-performing firm or stay at current multi-bn firm?

greatnoob

Senior member
Jan 6, 2014
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#1
A couple of weeks ago I interviewed at a small firm for an R&D role. I was notified just last week that they had gone ahead and selected me as a good candidate for the role and that they were willing to offer me a 6 figure salary (in AU$, keep that in mind) for a position one above mine at my current firm.

I'm currently working at a market leading and very well performing multi-bn $ firm for an average, non 6-figure salary. Share price diff between the two firms is $2 vs $150. The work-life balance is really good meaning I can come in an hour later in the morning while still leaving an hour earlier. I will add, though, that I've been burnt once when the firm conveniently "forgot" about my biyearly salary increase until I caused a polite fuss about it. I would also add that this firm is on the leading edge of tech and that I could probably do an internal transfer to another team half way across the world, but I have decided to not bother after considering the multiple attempts I made to middle management to start pivoting towards a more machine-learning/AI heavy direction and I was given a "meh, no thanks that's not what we do in THIS team and in this region" response - which obviously didn't sit well with me considering the work I do here is pretty easy for my skill level.

Noting that I'm still in my twenties, I'd be very willing to take this offer... though after scouring the small firm's Glassdoor reviews there are seems to be a LOT of disgruntled employees. Granted that these reviews are from the US and the sentiment is mainly only being echoed by sales position employees -- which is of course irrelevant to my position and region.

As I've mentioned, I value work-life balance and would like a good challenge (though not at the expense of long work hours). The negative reviews from salespeople at the US branch of this small firm has me second guessing whether I should join this firm and knowing that both firms were founded in the same year and the contrast in share prices, I'm wondering how secure my job would be if a recession hits within the next 2-3 years at this new firm compared to my current position.

I'd like to hear some opinions and (even better) some anecdotes if you've ever been in this situation or know someone who has and how it worked out for them.
 

dasherHampton

Golden Member
Jan 19, 2018
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#2
If you named the small company you'd probably get better advice but I guess I can understand not wanting to go into that level of detail.

Out of curiosity - is that $2 share price a 52 week low? An all time low?
 

Zeze

Diamond Member
Mar 4, 2011
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#3
If I'm in my twenties without wife and kids, I'd go with whichever you think has better career growth potential.
 
Jul 1, 2001
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#4
Yeah, I'm struggling for details here.

What are you doing at your existing job, and do you enjoy doing it?

What do you think you'll be doing at your new job, and do you think that you'll be enjoying that more?

(Of course, you don't really know what you'll be doing at a job until six months after you've been there. I've certainly been flat out lied to by recruiters and hiring managers before)
 
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Midwayman

Diamond Member
Jan 28, 2000
5,175
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#5
I'd say take the money and title. Its way easier to get promotions moving around and if your goal is come back later, you'll have a title that makes hiring you the next step up an easier sell. Plus companies always seem to value outside experience over internal experience.
 
Oct 20, 2005
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#6
Rather than list out share price, it's more relevant to list out market cap.

As an extreme example, a company with $2 share price could actually be a larger company than the one with $150 share price. Not in your situation, but just trying to emphasize that share price is not a good indicator of Company size.
 

glenn1

Elite Member
Sep 6, 2000
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#7
If you're able to move to your preferred position in your current company and the salary is comparable after the move then stay put. I presume the offer at the new company involves work you'd enjoy doing; if so then jump ship to the company giving you the opportunity to work on what you want to along with the salary that's competitive. Generic employee satisfaction scores for the company as a whole or from folks in an entirely different work domain (IT vs. sales) have zero predictive value for whether YOU will be happy with your specific role and working with your specific team and boss.
 
Nov 29, 2006
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#8
Hard to give any advice without current salary and new offered salary. 6 figured could be $100,000, or $900,000. And if its say $100,000 and you are at $90,000 now then it might not be worthwhile.
 
Dec 10, 2005
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#9
On top of the advice from others above, what was your impression of the new company? Did you get to chat with anyone there in similar roles? Did you like the person who would be your boss or people on your team?

As an aside, I see you mention you're in R&D at a megacorp - I don't think a big company would have any problem axing an entire division if they decided to go in a new direction, whether due to recession or business goal changes.
 
Mar 11, 2004
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#10
Something else to consider, lots of places will blow smoke up your butt about how it is there ("oh we have so much fun, you'll get all this time off") and then it might even start off that way, but then transition to much less appealing. That's just in response to being able to come in late and leave earlier comment. One of my sister's started a job that told her that they'd actually make her take time off (since she'd had a habit of not taking leave at other jobs when it was optional, even if it she didn't get reimbursed for it), but she hasn't been able to take hardly any time off other than for emergencies (and even then she ends up working because they seemingly can't go half a day without needing her to put out some fire for them). And at a company I worked at, when I started we got half days on Friday (with occasional full days off), which after about 6 months they announced Fridays were going to be mandatory full days (which was fine for me as I was hourly and so it pushed me to overtime and I already had to commute there so it made it more worthwhile for me; while the salaried people didn't get extra compensation - although most of them said if they were given the option of being compensated or getting the half day they'd have taken the half day).
 
May 24, 2003
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www.uovalor.com
#11
I would be a bit skeptical about a small firm offering 6 figure salaries, they might be offering too much and this will eventually lead to cut backs as they grow. Maybe not, but it's my train of thought. That kind of money is nice though, if you're confident you could find another job if that job goes tits up, I'd go for it, and just save up most of the cash.
 
Sep 13, 2001
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#12
From my personal experience, the smaller companies are able to pay you much better and have better benefits. I personally do not like huge corporations and most likely would never work for one unless it was some super high tech company like Apple or Google. Those are like the only 2 I can think of.

I know for a fact that some of the huge companies in my space don't pay as well, and that their benefits aren't as good. I also know that they don't have nearly as much flexibility as well as far as what you get to work on and how you can move around. Culturally I know I wouldn't like those huge companies with all the politics and stuff going on too. It's also harder to "move up" since there is just more competition due to number of employees. I also enjoy not just being a number on a spreadsheet to most of the higher ups who you will never even meet or hang out with in a huge company.

A few years ago I was talking with a huge company, Leidos, about a position out in San Diego and they made me an offer. It was lower than what I was currently making and I went back with a very calculated salary that factored in the cost of living increase, the lack of benefits I would have compared to my current ones, and my current salary at the time. They replied back telling me that if they gave me that salary, I would be the highest paid engineer in their entire company.

Prior to that discussion I didn't want to work with large companies in general. I was only pursuing it because it meant I could live in San Diego. But after that, it pretty much solidified my thought on those huge companies. I clearly turned it down and now my salary is higher than what I even asked for back then, and it will continue to increase year over year.
 

TXHokie

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 1999
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#13
The only thing I'm glad I did in my early career (late 20s into 30s) was to make a lot of jumps and learned a lot of different things from small to medium to large companies. Then I can be confident enough to say I have 10 yrs of real diverse experience vs 1 yr of experience 10 times.
 

turtile

Senior member
Aug 19, 2014
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#14
The most important factor is what you can learn and achieve at the smaller firm. If it's terrible, you can always take what you can from the experience and move to a better company at a higher position. It's much easier to do this when you can because you might not be able to do take as many risks later in your career. At the same time, you have to ready for potential failure.
 
Jun 15, 2001
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#15
If I'm in my twenties without wife and kids, I'd go with whichever you think has better career growth potential.
Balance that with whichever job can get you closest to the beach or wherever you want to live. A great job in a terrible city isn't that great.
 
Nov 8, 2012
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#16
It all depends on what you value. Both money and time are value - but IMO it's about maximizing the best value of those 2 subjects. Let me put it to you this way... I met my wife about 9 years ago.

Since meeting, I've jumped ship to different jobs 3 times (1st was forced from layoff). When we originally met she was well above me ($20k) in pay. Today, my total takehome is ~$60k more than hers. Moving around does shit. Staying still or hoping that stuff changes in your current job doesn't. That's just a fact, and it's the way life is. Companies will shit on you all day and night as long as you sit there and take it.

Throughout my experience I have jumped between HUGE accounting/consulting firms and others. At the end of the day, I really don't care about the company or how big it is. I care about my pay - which is often correlated with how well they treat their employees. Money talks, bullshit walks.

At the same time, I totally understand what you're saying with work/life balance. Those accounting firms I worked for? They love to preach that shit, but they never practice it. It's like an inside joke to any employee with half a brain. But to be honest - those years I sacrificed with those accounting firms? Those are the reason why I have recruiters at my fingertips looking to recruit me at all times. It looks good on the resume, no question. I don't know if that's the same for the small firm you mentioned.

Regardless, as painful as it was - it was well worth my time in life personally. It's why my current career is so relaxed.
 
Nov 8, 2012
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#17
From my personal experience, the smaller companies are able to pay you much better and have better benefits. I personally do not like huge corporations and most likely would never work for one unless it was some super high tech company like Apple or Google. Those are like the only 2 I can think of.

I know for a fact that some of the huge companies in my space don't pay as well, and that their benefits aren't as good. I also know that they don't have nearly as much flexibility as well as far as what you get to work on and how you can move around. Culturally I know I wouldn't like those huge companies with all the politics and stuff going on too. It's also harder to "move up" since there is just more competition due to number of employees. I also enjoy not just being a number on a spreadsheet to most of the higher ups who you will never even meet or hang out with in a huge company.

A few years ago I was talking with a huge company, Leidos, about a position out in San Diego and they made me an offer. It was lower than what I was currently making and I went back with a very calculated salary that factored in the cost of living increase, the lack of benefits I would have compared to my current ones, and my current salary at the time. They replied back telling me that if they gave me that salary, I would be the highest paid engineer in their entire company.

Prior to that discussion I didn't want to work with large companies in general. I was only pursuing it because it meant I could live in San Diego. But after that, it pretty much solidified my thought on those huge companies. I clearly turned it down and now my salary is higher than what I even asked for back then, and it will continue to increase year over year.
Depends. I wouldn't shit on big companies too much.

As far as Pay/Benefits - The Big 4 accounting firms I was employed under... I've NEVER seen such amazing benefits.

16 weeks of 100% paid paternity leave
Cheap Healthcare plans - actually had 5 choices that were all VERY good for healthcare plans
Paid Fertility benefits under those healthcare plans
somewhere between 8-12% raises yearly + bonuses depending on how the company did. Yes, I said 8-12% raises, not your stereotypical 1-3%.
Tons of other notable benefits (5 weeks of paid vacation + 15 holidays, gym reimbursement, list goes on...)


The problem I simply had at the end of the day was work life balance. If you're single and can stand to be single while employed there - you will have no problems with those types of employment. Period.
 

pete6032

Diamond Member
Dec 3, 2010
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#18
How many employees at the small firm?
 
Sep 13, 2001
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#19
Moving around does shit. Staying still or hoping that stuff changes in your current job doesn't. That's just a fact, and it's the way life is. Companies will shit on you all day and night as long as you sit there and take it.
Just wanted to point out, that this is just shitty companies where this happens. Not all companies are created equally.

This is far from a "fact of life".

I'll give anecdotal "proof" as well. I'm not saying that all jobs are this way though as I'm not as simple minded as he is.

When I started at my current position 6 years ago I was making a somewhat decent amount over the 6 figure line. Since then my salary has increased $50k and will increase again at the end of this year.
 
Sep 13, 2001
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#20
Depends. I wouldn't shit on big companies too much.

As far as Pay/Benefits - The Big 4 accounting firms I was employed under... I've NEVER seen such amazing benefits.

16 weeks of 100% paid paternity leave
Cheap Healthcare plans - actually had 5 choices that were all VERY good for healthcare plans
Paid Fertility benefits under those healthcare plans
somewhere between 8-12% raises yearly + bonuses depending on how the company did. Yes, I said 8-12% raises, not your stereotypical 1-3%.
Tons of other notable benefits (5 weeks of paid vacation + 15 holidays, gym reimbursement, list goes on...)


The problem I simply had at the end of the day was work life balance. If you're single and can stand to be single while employed there - you will have no problems with those types of employment. Period.
Well I have free healthcare for my family and I, 27 days of PTO, 8% put into my 401k without even having to contribute any myself, gym reimbursement, and I can work whenever I want to as long as I do my 40 hours. And I've never once worked over 40 hours a week.

And as I said earlier, my pay has gone over $50k in 6 years, already starting out with a 6 figure salary, so the whole 1-3 percent raise is totally foreign to me.
 
Nov 8, 2012
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#21
Just wanted to point out, that this is just shitty companies where this happens. Not all companies are created equally.

This is far from a "fact of life".

I'll give anecdotal "proof" as well. I'm not saying that all jobs are this way though as I'm not as simple minded as he is.

When I started at my current position 6 years ago I was making a somewhat decent amount over the 6 figure line. Since then my salary has increased $50k and will increase again at the end of this year.
Your anecdotal evidence is increase in pay?I already explained this to you - my Big 4 accounting firms would give 8-12% raises YEARLY. At 6 years, that would easily pass your margin of $50k over 6 years. I already said - pay isn't everything, if anything you're proving the narrative.

My point was simply that At the end of the day - moving is what makes the most progress. Period.

My latest move got me:
20% increase in base pay
Large increase in commission/bonuses (yearly + monthly basis for sales)
Work from home daily vs. being in the office or at clients 100%
WAAAY less travel than previously.
Retaining many of my previous benefits (e.g. paternity leave)

These are things you typically get from moving around - not sitting still and shitting in your hand - I mean hoping that it magically changes.

Well I have free healthcare for my family and I, 27 days of PTO, 8% put into my 401k without even having to contribute any myself, gym reimbursement, and I can work whenever I want to as long as I do my 40 hours. And I've never once worked over 40 hours a week.

And as I said earlier, my pay has gone over $50k in 6 years, already starting out with a 6 figure salary, so the whole 1-3 percent raise is totally foreign to me.
If the stuff I mentioned is foreign to you - then honestly all I can say is you sound rather privileged.

The majority of the middle and upper middle class live within the realms I described.

I would know - I was there at one point.

If you don't mind me asking - what metro area do you live/work in?
 

greatnoob

Senior member
Jan 6, 2014
960
94
136
#22
I'd say take the money and title. Its way easier to get promotions moving around and if your goal is come back later, you'll have a title that makes hiring you the next step up an easier sell. Plus companies always seem to value outside experience over internal experience.
That sounds like a rational plan to me!

Rather than list out share price, it's more relevant to list out market cap.

As an extreme example, a company with $2 share price could actually be a larger company than the one with $150 share price. Not in your situation, but just trying to emphasize that share price is not a good indicator of Company size.
Market cap for both firms are 450mn AUD and 33bn EUR.

If you're able to move to your preferred position in your current company and the salary is comparable after the move then stay put. I presume the offer at the new company involves work you'd enjoy doing; if so then jump ship to the company giving you the opportunity to work on what you want to along with the salary that's competitive. Generic employee satisfaction scores for the company as a whole or from folks in an entirely different work domain (IT vs. sales) have zero predictive value for whether YOU will be happy with your specific role and working with your specific team and boss.
I can definitely get this salary at my current firm, though it'd probably take another 3-5 years at the current snail's pace. HR at my firm is despicable (upper and middle management OTOH are relatively good) and their arbitrary year-worked requirements for moving up a position don't seem to make sense to me despite it being common for most firms.

Hard to give any advice without current salary and new offered salary. 6 figured could be $100,000, or $900,000. And if its say $100,000 and you are at $90,000 now then it might not be worthwhile.
It's just around a 40% increase in base salary so I would be pretty happy with what they're offering so long as the new team and firm don't have any micromanagers, toxic or strict colleagues I have to deal with.

On top of the advice from others above, what was your impression of the new company? Did you get to chat with anyone there in similar roles? Did you like the person who would be your boss or people on your team?

As an aside, I see you mention you're in R&D at a megacorp - I don't think a big company would have any problem axing an entire division if they decided to go in a new direction, whether due to recession or business goal changes.
My first impressions from the interview were pretty good. The HR director and senior folk who interviewed me were very relaxed, cracking some lighthearted jokes and forgiving of the couple of headscratching answers I gave. You may be correct about that as I've heard a colleague of mine mention that our firm made an entire upper-level support department redundant. The level below us is almost a desert, although it's currently being used to make room for new R&D teams.

Something else to consider, lots of places will blow smoke up your butt about how it is there ("oh we have so much fun, you'll get all this time off") and then it might even start off that way, but then transition to much less appealing. That's just in response to being able to come in late and leave earlier comment. One of my sister's started a job that told her that they'd actually make her take time off (since she'd had a habit of not taking leave at other jobs when it was optional, even if it she didn't get reimbursed for it), but she hasn't been able to take hardly any time off other than for emergencies (and even then she ends up working because they seemingly can't go half a day without needing her to put out some fire for them).
That seems somewhat accurate to my current position actually. I hope it won't be the case if I decide to move to the new firm but yeah... exaggerating how great it is to work at a firm is what recruiters and HR are paid to do I guess.

I would be a bit skeptical about a small firm offering 6 figure salaries, they might be offering too much and this will eventually lead to cut backs as they grow. Maybe not, but it's my train of thought. That kind of money is nice though, if you're confident you could find another job if that job goes tits up, I'd go for it, and just save up most of the cash.
I shared the same skepticism in my original post. I'll need to have a backup plan in case it does happen, but I'm optimistic that won't be the case.

From my personal experience, the smaller companies are able to pay you much better and have better benefits. I personally do not like huge corporations and most likely would never work for one unless it was some super high tech company like Apple or Google. Those are like the only 2 I can think of.

I know for a fact that some of the huge companies in my space don't pay as well, and that their benefits aren't as good. I also know that they don't have nearly as much flexibility as well as far as what you get to work on and how you can move around. Culturally I know I wouldn't like those huge companies with all the politics and stuff going on too. It's also harder to "move up" since there is just more competition due to number of employees. I also enjoy not just being a number on a spreadsheet to most of the higher ups who you will never even meet or hang out with in a huge company.

A few years ago I was talking with a huge company, Leidos, about a position out in San Diego and they made me an offer. It was lower than what I was currently making and I went back with a very calculated salary that factored in the cost of living increase, the lack of benefits I would have compared to my current ones, and my current salary at the time. They replied back telling me that if they gave me that salary, I would be the highest paid engineer in their entire company.

Prior to that discussion I didn't want to work with large companies in general. I was only pursuing it because it meant I could live in San Diego. But after that, it pretty much solidified my thought on those huge companies. I clearly turned it down and now my salary is higher than what I even asked for back then, and it will continue to increase year over year.
This mostly describes my situation especially the "sorry we can't increase your salary" part where my manager made it obvious the only way I'd be able to move up positions is not by applied skill but by the number of years I worked at my firm. That sounded ridiculous to me and is why I started job searching in the first place. I will admit though that I enjoy the work flexibility I have at the moment - I can work from home, come in late (within a reasonable time frame) and leave early and the number of after-work hour meetings I have to sit through has been decreasing.

The only thing I'm glad I did in my early career (late 20s into 30s) was to make a lot of jumps and learned a lot of different things from small to medium to large companies. Then I can be confident enough to say I have 10 yrs of real diverse experience vs 1 yr of experience 10 times.
Job hopping was the advice I was given by an old manager. He mentioned that it was the fastest way to move up in position and salary and your and my experience seems to prove that. Quick question: did you stay in roughly the same area and position title (i.e., responsibilities) when you were job hopping or were they vastly different from your prior roles?

The most important factor is what you can learn and achieve at the smaller firm. If it's terrible, you can always take what you can from the experience and move to a better company at a higher position. It's much easier to do this when you can because you might not be able to do take as many risks later in your career. At the same time, you have to ready for potential failure.
Agreed. I wasn't happy with my current role because I felt like I wasn't learning anything new and management weren't interested in new projects anybody proposed unless they were specifically client-focused, time and money cheap. I felt like I was stagnating.

Balance that with whichever job can get you closest to the beach or wherever you want to live. A great job in a terrible city isn't that great.
Current firm is in the middle of the city. New firm commute goes through the Sydney Harbour bridge! That'll get old pretty quickly though, plus it's an extra 15mins of commute by train.

It all depends on what you value. Both money and time are value - but IMO it's about maximizing the best value of those 2 subjects. Let me put it to you this way... I met my wife about 9 years ago.

Since meeting, I've jumped ship to different jobs 3 times (1st was forced from layoff). When we originally met she was well above me ($20k) in pay. Today, my total takehome is ~$60k more than hers. Moving around does shit. Staying still or hoping that stuff changes in your current job doesn't. That's just a fact, and it's the way life is. Companies will shit on you all day and night as long as you sit there and take it.

Throughout my experience I have jumped between HUGE accounting/consulting firms and others. At the end of the day, I really don't care about the company or how big it is. I care about my pay - which is often correlated with how well they treat their employees. Money talks, bullshit walks.

At the same time, I totally understand what you're saying with work/life balance. Those accounting firms I worked for? They love to preach that shit, but they never practice it. It's like an inside joke to any employee with half a brain. But to be honest - those years I sacrificed with those accounting firms? Those are the reason why I have recruiters at my fingertips looking to recruit me at all times. It looks good on the resume, no question. I don't know if that's the same for the small firm you mentioned.

Regardless, as painful as it was - it was well worth my time in life personally. It's why my current career is so relaxed.
Thanks for sharing your experience. We have a very similar view on corporations -- I don't buy what HR sells, they seem hellbent on screwing you over in a number of ways. I can definitely see first hand what you're saying - jumping ship seems like the best way to get ahead and is better than slaving away at a firm for a decade and being rewarded crumbs for it much like some of the employees here. If the firm itself doesn't care about their employees (not counting upper and mid management) then I don't see a reason why any sane person should ever be loyal to the corporation that tries its best to extract as much value from them as possible.

How many employees at the small firm?
Based on the quick office tour the receptionist gave me I would guess ~100 in my region. They only have 1 level in the shared business complex.
 
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dr150

Diamond Member
Sep 18, 2003
6,553
3
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#23
Companies are stepping stones (there never is any loyalty on either side). You should be moving every 2-3 years to get up the ladder--view them as a disposable razor. Every job move should net you a 30%+ gain. Don't believe in any promises they make for promotions--up or out motto always. Stay focused on moving vertically.

So take the money and do it and then move on. Any RSUs lost will be made whole in your next job offer after that.

People I know who have this methodology reach VP level way sooner than naive ones who stay put wasting away.
 
Nov 8, 2012
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#24
This mostly describes my situation especially the "sorry we can't increase your salary" part where my manager made it obvious the only way I'd be able to move up positions is not by applied skill but by the number of years I worked at my firm. That sounded ridiculous to me and is why I started job searching in the first place. I will admit though that I enjoy the work flexibility I have at the moment - I can work from home, come in late (within a reasonable time frame) and leave early and the number of after-work hour meetings I have to sit through has been decreasing..
This right here is why I would quit that employer. My wife's government contractor is exactly like that as well - Moving to the next rank isn't about your intelligence, how hard you work, how efficient you are with time, you know... important stuff - it's just based on a year counter.

Consulting firms in general aren't like that. If you're in the right place - work your ass off - rub shoulders with powerful folks - you can EASILY climb the ranks. Just depends if you have the time and commitment to handle it. They don't have late 20's and early 30's Senior management and Partners based on a year counter.
 

PowerEngineer

Platinum Member
Oct 22, 2001
2,958
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#25
Early twenties, 40% increase in base pay, and bump in title. Seems like a good move to me.
 

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