Two years ago, I was hired to be a content writer for a small agency. The company has grown tremendously since then. But, the only people executing the contracts are myself and a couple college interns. We've reached the point where there are more billable hours than hours available to execute. When that happens, it falls to me to sacrifice nights and weekends to get the job done. I've repeatedly asked for a full-time writer with more experience, but keep getting told it isn't in the budget.
Although my job duties have changed considerably, I haven't received any change in compensation, not even a cost-of-living increase. I've felt an obligation to see this through because I built it, and the company would have a difficult time fulfilling contracts without me. But, between the never-ending workload and no raise in sight, I'm getting fed up.
Are my frustrations just the price of moving up in the world of business? Or is it time to move on to a company that will appreciate me for the skills I bring to the table, and give me the resources I need to execute my job? — Stephanie
Interestingly, you’re behaving like a partner in this business. You’re sacrificing evenings and weekends, feeling an obligation to finish what you’ve built, sacrificing short-term compensation and creating long-term value — except you’re not a partner, and they’re taking complete advantage of you — and you’re letting them.
There could be many reasons for this:
You enjoy the power that comes with knowing so much of the workflow rests with you. Somewhere deep down, you don’t feel worthy of a bigger title or higher compensation. You’re afraid of the potential confrontation that might result from asking for what you need or deserve. You’re waiting for your bosses' approval — hoping they’ll recognize and reward your contribution without your having to ask for it. Or, you have a genuine problem saying “no.”
Only you know why you have tolerated this situation for as long as you have. And, it’s important that you ask yourself some tough questions and do some soul-searching now so the same patterns don’t repeat themselves throughout your career. When a work situation beats you down, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing that because you’re undervalued in your current situation, your skills will be undervalued everywhere. It can be a very dangerous and self-limited mindset that gets bleaker and darker as time goes on.
Before you do anything else, put together a list of all of your accomplishments, strengths and skills (and, based on your letter, there are many of them) and get out and start networking and talking about yourself, your experiences, and all that you can bring to a variety of new situations. You’ll find it to be a great confidence builder. And, with your newfound confidence, you may discover a great new opportunity elsewhere or find the courage to ask for — and get — what you deserve in your current situation.
You’re working in a very dynamic and evolving industry where there are many opportunities available for people who have an entrepreneurial spirit, think creatively, and build things in innovative ways. And, there are plenty of companies that recognize the value of those skills and are willing to pay well to acquire them.
Articulate your value, believe in your worth, don’t settle, and good luck!