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last week i had my second annual review at work. it was favorable. and it came with a raise. just as my first review at the new job did. some folks may consider a raise mandatory but my last job taught me that this is just not so. while at the bank, one of the largest in the country, i went several years without a wage increase. this trend came after the bank i worked for was purchased. the new corporate head felt the people in my region were overpaid and froze all increases until the rest of the country could be brought to par. given the delta between them and us and how miniscule their annual incentives were, my next increase may have come around year 2012.

being a fan of the path of least resistance, i sat tight. folks all around me were jumping ship, sometimes leaping haphazardly and landing funny in the water. during the upheaval, my job was relocated to portland. i love portland, possibly even more than i love colorado. and now i was looking at a paid relocation to a great city and had a job, albeit a sucky one, waiting for me. problem was bella was just born two months prior and my parents moved from pittsburgh to saint louis just two weeks before the relocation was announced. if i didn't take the job, i'd be severed. between my years of service and position held, i learned, if severed, i would walk with a full year's pay. i planned to take the parachute and spend a year trying to establish my own design & development shop.

in the weeks prior to my departure, an HR rep contacted me and said he would be responsible for my transition. after making my pass on the portland gig official he said we would have to review any local, in-house offerings to see if an equivalent position could be found for me. i learned this was a tricky path because if they found something they deemed 'equal' and i refused to take it, i would forfeit my severance package (b/c they would view my action as a resignation). this guy sent me to a few interviews for jobs related to my skill-set by only the loosest possible interpretation. i tanked them beautifully (when asked if i was familiar with the microsoft office products i would say i had heard of them and recall being told they were quite popular). i must say i enjoyed watching the brow of my interviewer(s) deepen as i botched each question and expectation with great acumen driving the conversation(s) into the ground with impressive velocity.

i was days from walking with a year's pay when the HR guy called about a position which wasn't yet on the books but was soon to be announced. it was for a senior designer/developer and there was no denying i was a good fit. i struggled mightily with the prospect of loosing all that free money but a turbulent tech market and a jittery confidence (now being a parent) sent me to the interview. in the end what sold me was the manager i met with seemed like a really genuine and together fellow. i liked him a lot and decided to take the job, but on one condition.

when the hr rep called to tell me the manager liked me for the job, i shared my condition with him. i would take the job but only if i got a 10K bump in the move. the HR schmuck chuckled into the phone before telling me that wasn't going to happen. chuckling back i informed him in that case, i would not take the position. he told me if they offered it to me, i would have to take it or else i would be quitting and forfeit my severance. i told him i still had a technical interview to get through and i might just again forget what microsoft office was (he had already chastised me on that tactic from an earlier interview). i explained to him how ridiculously stupid it would be for him to botch this transfer in that i was perfect for the position and that because i had worked at this company for fourteen years could be productive within an hour of sitting down at the desk. and that if they had to advertise, interview, decide, train and brainwash a new human the company would incur far more than a simple, and justified, 10k hit. not to mention the year's pay they wouldn't be shelling out. if that ain't some simple math, simple math does not exist.

in the end i got a bump (thanks to the cool manager and not the douchy hr sap). it wasn't the ten thousand i requested but it wasn't too far off the mark. but more valuable than the cash was the memory of what working for a suck employer is like and how i can and do now appreciate having an employer who believes in sensibly compensating their employees without deception or guile and recognizing they are an appreciating asset to their institution.

so like bella sitting high in a tree on the first day of spring, i share her blissful outlook on life in my fortune to work for someone who doesn't suck. and if you're in a similar bind, don't ever think it is not a fight worth fighting.

[for a larger version of the above photo, go here.]

APR2008

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