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Careers Reconciling that you aimed too low?

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
481
Points
12
I've been entry level for a long time, and my career moves have all been lateral because I (naively) thought that starting from the bottom is just what it takes when you move to a completely different state or part of the country. Recently I learned that other people who are younger than me with fewer or similar years of experience as me came in (that too from out of state no less, just like me) at higher levels than me (Planner III vs. Planner II). I realize that so much of what you come in as depends on budgets, workplace org charts, luck, and timing, but it's still a tough pill to swallow especially now that hiring is completely frozen for a while.

Has anyone been in this position before or witnessed it? How do you internally reconcile the fact that you aimed too low? I'm grateful to have my job and I want to stay with my agency for a while, but the lack of internal advancement opportunities in government kind of sucks :/. You have to wait forever for someone to leave their role and only then can you advance or switch roles to a different team. So in that sense, it's almost guaranteed that you'll never catch up to your peers if you didn't come in at the "right" level. I would have loved to come in at a Planner III like my colleagues did who joined around the same time I did, but unfortunately I was only hired for the Planner II role and now I'm stuck. I can't get my position reclassified for another 1.5 years according to the HR rules.

td;lr: I think overall I'm just a bit bummed that you can get all of the good performance reviews in the world and it still doesn't matter due to the way government operates on seniority - it's difficult to get your position reclassified from a Planner I to a Planner II, a Planner II to a Planner III unless someone leaves, which doesn't happen often. So basically if you didn't come in strong, you're basically stuck for a while
😕
.
 
Last edited:

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
481
Points
12
I've been entry level for a long time, and my career moves have all been lateral because I (naively) thought that starting from the bottom is just what it takes when you move to a completely different state or part of the country. Recently I learned that other people who are younger than me with fewer or similar years of experience as me came in (that too from out of state no less, just like me) at higher levels than me (Planner III vs. Planner II). I realize that so much of what you come in as depends on budgets, workplace org charts, luck, and timing, but it's still a tough pill to swallow especially now that hiring will be completely frozen for a while.

Has anyone been in this position before or witnessed it? How do you internally reconcile the fact that you aimed too low? I'm grateful to have my job and I want to stay with my agency for a while, but the lack of internal advancement opportunities in government kind of sucks :/. You have to wait forever for someone to leave their role and only then can you advance or switch roles to a different team. So in that sense, it's almost guaranteed that you'll never catch up to your peers if you didn't come in at the "right" level. I would have loved to come in at a Planner III like my colleagues did who joined around the same time I did, but unfortunately I was only hired for the Planner II role and now I'm stuck. I can't get my position reclassified for another 1.5 years according to the HR rules.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
674
Points
29
I've been entry level for a long time, and my career moves have all been lateral because I (naively) thought that starting from the bottom is just what it takes when you move to a completely different state or part of the country. Recently I learned that other people who are younger than me with fewer or similar years of experience as me came in (that too from out of state no less, just like me) at higher levels than me (Planner III vs. Planner II). I realize that so much of what you come in as depends on budgets, workplace org charts, luck, and timing, but it's still a tough pill to swallow especially now that hiring is completely frozen for a while.

Has anyone been in this position before or witnessed it? How do you internally reconcile the fact that you aimed too low? I'm grateful to have my job and I want to stay with my agency for a while, but the lack of internal advancement opportunities in government kind of sucks :/. You have to wait forever for someone to leave their role and only then can you advance or switch roles to a different team. So in that sense, it's almost guaranteed that you'll never catch up to your peers if you didn't come in at the "right" level. I would have loved to come in at a Planner III like my colleagues did who joined around the same time I did, but unfortunately I was only hired for the Planner II role and now I'm stuck. I can't get my position reclassified for another 1.5 years according to the HR rules.

td;lr: I think overall I'm just a bit bummed that you can get all of the good performance reviews in the world and it still doesn't matter due to the way government operates on seniority - it's difficult to get your position reclassified from a Planner I to a Planner II, a Planner II to a Planner III unless someone leaves, which doesn't happen often. So basically if you didn't come in strong, you're basically stuck for a while
😕
.
I think this is true in government- you probably have to switch employers from time to time if you want to accelerate that glacial pace. I worked 10 years at my previous level and was very close to maxing out on the steps in my pay grade before the chance to move up happened and I got it. I certainly changed what that work was over those 10 years and became much, much more capable, but it was still a haul and I'm not sure what I would do if I hadn't moved up. I'd say that 1.5 years is the blink of an eye and if that time frame lets you move up, then great. But I'd be looking for a next step, maybe one that's a bit of a stretch, with another employer at the same time.
 

HomerJ

Cyburbian
Messages
1,102
Points
17
A flip side to this is that the range of available moves to you is wider when you start from further back, whereas if you have a higher "rank" it has a higher likelihood to keep you focused on the same or similar work. This is why people who move up the ranks quickly for the wrong reasons often tend to be miserable. I remember applying for one position that I wasn't so sure about, and didn't get an offer for, and then feeling resentful afterwords. About a year later I applied for a different position that I felt like a really strong fit for and landed it; things probably wouldn't have worked out as well if I landed the first one I applied for. Like LP stated, it's more important to like the work you are doing and in your case you may still have some flexibility there.

When I switched from my previous employer to my current one, I remember feeling very frustrated that the title and rank were lower. More than anything else, I didn't like the thought that I had to prove myself to people all over again, AND on top of that I was jealous that people with fewer years of total experience than me were landing promotions because they had been at the agency longer than me. The important part, however, was that I stayed focused on the work I was doing and that did eventually give me an opportunity to move up while learning a little bit more about what kind of work I am good at.
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
13,280
Points
54
My first couple moves were lateral just because of time & place (& money). I then worked through a couple more places and became a director in a small city & stayed there many years. I then left for the private sector as a division lead. When the economy tanked, I moved back into public side, but at a 'principle planner' title. I was asked on more than one occasion why I went to a lower level (it was because there were no jobs).

For reasons not pertaining to a 'lower level' job, I needed to leave that toxic place. My wife and I had a very serious conversation about leaving the area to pursue my career & advancement - in others words in turned out to be career or place. We decided to stay put for many reasons. That lead to a severe reduction in opportunities that were within an hour's drive. I finally found this place where I'm a director again.

I have heard comments about me not pushing my career further and settling. What I tell them is we decided we liked the area & don't tell them I made a conscience decision to put family over furthering my career. I make a good salary in a good area where I have friends & some family. In my situation, I did not reconcile that I aimed low, although I know what other opportunities I had presented to me (for example, I had offers but had to move to Cincinnati or Atlanta, so no dice).

A little faith is a big thing too. Sometimes where you want to go is not where you need to go.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
15,021
Points
52
I'm seeing the other problem in my city. I came in as a planner II from out of state. My experience says I could be a 3 or 4, but there are no openings right now. All the junior planners with maybe a year or two experience are all getting promoted to II. It's like Oprah's in the office. You're a 2 everyone gets to be a 2. I just look at the fact that I have more experience and I'm paid more. What's killing my in my advancement with this place, it's a big city and I only worked for smaller cities. The thought is that I have no experience in handling the big city public outcries and political pressures. You want political pressure, work for a small town. I can show examples of changes in state law because of some planner's decision or cases where state and federal representatives are weighing in even though they should have no say.

In either case, sometimes you just need to jump over to a different place to get the respect you deserve.
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
12,527
Points
42
My mentor succinctly put it to me like this: to move up you need to move out; if you just want a raise, threaten to leave.
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
481
Points
12
I'm seeing the other problem in my city. I came in as a planner II from out of state. My experience says I could be a 3 or 4, but there are no openings right now. All the junior planners with maybe a year or two experience are all getting promoted to II. It's like Oprah's in the office. You're a 2 everyone gets to be a 2. I just look at the fact that I have more experience and I'm paid more. What's killing my in my advancement with this place, it's a big city and I only worked for smaller cities.

Ah I know what you mean, :(. I'm starting to learn that it's easy to get to Planner II but then it's hard to make the jump to senior planner from there.

My mentor succinctly put it to me like this: to move up you need to move out; if you just want a raise, threaten to leave.

Luckily I don't want a raise necessarily, just don't like being stuck at entry level even though I've been here for 5 years (albeit, in different cities).

A flip side to this is that the range of available moves to you is wider when you start from further back, whereas if you have a higher "rank" it has a higher likelihood to keep you focused on the same or similar work. This is why people who move up the ranks quickly for the wrong reasons often tend to be miserable. I remember applying for one position that I wasn't so sure about, and didn't get an offer for, and then feeling resentful afterwords. About a year later I applied for a different position that I felt like a really strong fit for and landed it; things probably wouldn't have worked out as well if I landed the first one I applied for. Like LP stated, it's more important to like the work you are doing and in your case you may still have some flexibility there.

When I switched from my previous employer to my current one, I remember feeling very frustrated that the title and rank were lower. More than anything else, I didn't like the thought that I had to prove myself to people all over again, AND on top of that I was jealous that people with fewer years of total experience than me were landing promotions because they had been at the agency longer than me. The important part, however, was that I stayed focused on the work I was doing and that did eventually give me an opportunity to move up while learning a little bit more about what kind of work I am good at.

Ah that's a good point, as you move up you get more and more pigeonholed. Thank you for the words of advice and new outlook on things!

My first couple moves were lateral just because of time & place (& money).

I have heard comments about me not pushing my career further and settling. What I tell them is we decided we liked the area & don't tell them I made a conscience decision to put family over furthering my career. I make a good salary in a good area where I have friends & some family. In my situation, I did not reconcile that I aimed low, although I know what other opportunities I had presented to me (for example, I had offers but had to move to Cincinnati or Atlanta, so no dice).

So true about time and place! I took some lateral moves literally because I wanted to move to that specific city/state/place. I should have rolled my dice and aimed higher, but I did and now I can't change that. It's interesting (and sometimes sad) to me that these types of conversations usually only get told to women, that's ok to look at other things like friends and family and place but men don't necessarily get that consolation.

and another thing...(3 dots) if you have friends who make you feel bad because they are higher in the Planning Roman numeral game, then they aren't your friends...

They're not my friends luckily and even more luckily, no one is making me feel bad :). My coworkers are super professional and nice and no one treats me any differently, I just get insecure all on my own after discovering their titles and background on emails, Skype and LinkedIn lol.

I think this is true in government- you probably have to switch employers from time to time if you want to accelerate that glacial pace. I worked 10 years at my previous level and was very close to maxing out on the steps in my pay grade before the chance to move up happened and I got it. I certainly changed what that work was over those 10 years and became much, much more capable, but it was still a haul and I'm not sure what I would do if I hadn't moved up. I'd say that 1.5 years is the blink of an eye and if that time frame lets you move up, then great. But I'd be looking for a next step, maybe one that's a bit of a stretch, with another employer at the same time.

10 YEARS?! Welp.
 

SlaveToTheGrind

Cyburbian
Messages
1,458
Points
27
From the start of the recession until 2017, I was with the same municipality. Staff across the board received one pay raise from 2007 to 2017. A raise in taxes in 2011 or so was approved by the council to provide raises to staff but was voted down as a referendum. Made it hard to stay but did because of who I worked with and really enjoyed the community. I was not going anywhere and the individual who position I would likely go to was not going anywhere. The city manager came up with a plan to give each department a chunk of money to give as raises each year. After leaving, I found out via public record that my supervisor was getting raises but nobody else in the department. Still fuming over that bush league move.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
674
Points
29
10 YEARS?! Welp.
There was a lot of life lived in those 10 years- bought a house, had a kid- and I've always been the one in the marriage who had a job that came with health insurance, so that was a factor. I went for other jobs I didn't get (second place both times) in years 4 and 7, and was offered a director slot for quite a bit more than I make as a director now at about year 8- but it would have required a big move and lifestyle shakeup. In the end I didn't take that offer because on top of those factors the CM seemed a little volatile and I wasn't going to uproot everybody into a situation that appeared at all unstable.

At year 9 of my 10-year turn, my boss started making noises about retiring. I started making noises to my CM about moving up, and luckily I got it. Until that point, I really had no idea- my boss could have been one of those people who retires at 62 or could have hung on into their 70s- I just didn't know.
 
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