Tired of Patience

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I was denied a raise because I was told the company is in severe
financial straits. However, they just hired a high-priced consultant for
a non-essential part of the business. I feel that they’re underpaying
me because they know I won’t leave due to the recession. Please
Tired of Patience

Dear Tired:
I’ll tell you what to do, but you’re not going to like it. You’re going to
find ways to learn to be more patient than you feel, because there’s
millions of folks standing in unemployment lines who’d probably
commit misdemeanors to get an interview for your job. I know it’s
harsh and not what you want to hear, but being employed, even in a
company with severe fiscal problems, is better than being
unemployed, even if that seems like a small possibility.


For the record,
“severe financial straits” doesn’t sound like the odds are very small.
Have you considered the fact that management may merely be telling
employees the consultants are for a non-essential part of the business,
when in fact they’re really doing a fiscal check-up, or even laying
groundwork or actual plans for imminent layoffs or closure? That’s not
a small possibility either. Some firms are transparent and disclosing to
line staff when they’re in trouble. But the majority of executives
insulate employees from what’s really going on. They do so exactly to
prevent mass hysteria or a stampede for the exits. While I’d definitely
counsel protecting yourself from the worst, at least you would get
unemployment if they closed the doors.

What you can do is brush off your resume and update it. You can
search the job postings and get a feel for who is hiring for what kind of
work you’d be qualified for. You can even send out confidential search
letters to see if you get any bites. If you do, and if you get offered a
job, that’s a clue that you have choices. If you don’t, it’ll help with the
patience training. The good news: things are getting better, albeit
slowly. Press for the raise if you can risk the downside, or if you can
afford up to a year of unemployment while you look for a new job.