You no doubt clicked on this expecting one of two things. With a title like that this has to be a piece about government conspiracy or about compensation myths; right? It is at this point all conspiracy theorists will want to click “back” on their browser because today we’re going to delve into a compensation myth.
Myth: I can get a huge, up to 50%, raise in making a job change.
Some of you probably just laughed audibly but I promise this is something some people do believe. This belief is exceedingly more prevalent among younger professionals (see what I did there? I said “younger professionals” and not “millennials”) than any other group. Look, I’m not taking to millennial bashing, heck, I am one depending on which definition you subscribe to, but that is simply the demographic where this seems to garner the widest acceptance.
What happens is someone we know gets a crazy raise and we then assume we can do that too. People get wild raises……sometimes. They are wild, memorable, and stand out because they are not common. If you ask a random sample of 100 people who recently made a job move what raise they got I will guarantee the overwhelming majority got the lesser of 10% or $10,000; some got no raise at all, and a few took a pay cut; yes, that happens more than you might think.
Does this mean your friend Sarah lied to you when she said she went from $55,000 to $85,000? Not necessarily. It does happen and we all know a lot of people so statistically it is not uncommon to brush against anomalies here and there. I know people who have gone bow-hunting in Africa for rhinos; does that make it common? Do you know anyone who has met a celebrity in an airport? Does that mean if I fly I should expect to meet one myself? Know anyone who has sky-dived? What percentage of people you know have? Get the point?
The fact is, raises are common in job changes but you know way more people who have gotten a modest increase than you do those who have garnered huge raises. So, which is more likely to happen to you? The notion that you can get a wild jump easily is just fallacy. Could you be the next “one” someone knows who does? Sure. You absolutely could. Would you like to place a wager on it?
Look, I’m not saying to turn down a big raise if it comes. I’m not even saying not to hope or look for one. What I am saying is that a job search takes time, energy, effort, and an emotional toll on a person. If you’re in a situation where you’re saying “I’d only leave if I can go from making $60,000 to making $95,000” then I wouldn’t put yourself through the search process given the slim likelihood of accomplishing that objective.
One of the foundations a good and effective job search is built upon is expectations. If you launch yourself into the endeavor of a search with unrealistic expectations you’re setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment.