The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use our anonymous form, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

My son has been a design engineer with a large corporation for the past four years. He has done well, and when the department lost another employee recently, instead of hiring someone new, the manager gave my son that person's managerial responsibilities to handle in addition to his regular engineering work (no offer of a pay raise). After giving this a chance for four months, my son finds he hates it, and feels overwhelmed, staying late hours and taking work home. He's discussed the problem with the manager several times to no avail. The man seems set on continuing the arrangement. Can my son talk in confidence to Human Resources about other opportunities within the company--or is it likely to get back to his boss?

What might be other options--short of resigning?

Mrs. Lee

Dear Mrs. Lee:

It is not unusual these days to get a promotion (becoming a manager -- or managing more people/ accounts -- is a promotion) without getting an increase in pay. Companies see a promotion and a pay raise as two separate benefits and like to spread them out. Employees rarely agree: they want the increased pay that used to go with the increased position.

Furthermore, many people like your son, who love their technical work, do not like managing people. As they rise up the career ladder, they become more and more unhappy at work because the more managerial responsibilities they have, the less time they can spend doing the work they really enjoy. That's why some companies have two career tracks: a technical one that promotes people according to their technical expertise and a managerial one that rewards those who manage people and projects well.

If your son talks about his problem with Human Resources, his manager will almost surely hear about it. After all, if Human Resources was going to do something about his problem -- get him fewer responsibilities or a raise -- they would have to talk to his boss, wouldn't they? That's why most people in your son's position try to informally network within the company to discover if there are other bosses/departments where he can do the kind of work he enjoys and then transfer there.

Another good possibility is to look for a position in another company. His resume showing his promotion is proof that he is a valued employee, but he can make it clear that he is leaving because he wants a position that allows him to work as a design engineer, not a manager.

The Career Doctor


The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.


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