Monday, March 24, 2014


Last week (I think it was last week? Time blurs, and various holidays and snow days and sick days don't exactly help keep it all straight, so it may well have been the week before) I got my final notification of post-annual review salary modification and also had to finalize my personal goal-setting for the next annual review (which will commence around November 2014 and last approximately four months, as usual).

The salary adjustment news was a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I got the maximum raise I was entitled to, given corporate parameters. The bad news is those parameters included the salary cap for my current position and title. So monetarily, it's always nice to get a little bump in the old takehome pay, however much it may be. And on the level of immediate validation, it's nice to know my boss values my contributions enough to give me as much of a raise as he's permitted to, with the implication that he would give me more if he could. But taking in the big picture, it's fairly symbolic of what a dead-end my current gig has become: I've been doing the same thing for so long with no real career progression that they have basically announced to me that they can't pay me any more to keep doing it than what they're currently paying me. There may or may not be ways around this (it's possible that from time to time they'll make COLA modifications to the caps for all the positions, which means I'd be entitled to nudge my salary up to the cap again; or maybe my position within the company will change, though let me come back to that below) but technicalities and exceptions aside, as I say, it is representative of the less-than-optimal status quo.

The goal-setting was, not gonna lie, kind of a joke. I put off doing it and put off doing it as long as I could, reasoning that if I actually got a new job then I might be transitioning out before the current year's goals were due, and certainly long gone before that next annual review cycle kicked in. Of course, no new job offer has materialized and he goal-setting deadline came and went. Funny enough, though, my procrastination ended up serving me well. My boss e-mailed everyone to say that some of us had completed the goal-setting and some of us had not (I was utterly unsurprised that I was not alone in blowing that deadline) but it didn't really matter because even the people who had already done it needed to redo it, based on some guidance that had been passed down from way up on high in the corporate executive echelons indicating everyone needed to incorporate certain vision-statement objectives as part of their own personal goals blah blah blah blah blah. Point being, the timing of my boss's e-mail telling everyone to hurry up and do (or redo) their goal-setting was such that I had progressed from feeling optimistic about my February interview for a new job to a relative certainty that having heard nothing in a month-plus probably meant that it wasn't going to come through. As of today I still haven't gotten a peep of a response or follow-up in any way, shape or form, and every day just kind of drives the nail in further. Ah well, I gave it a shot.

I dutifully recorded my goals for the coming year but, much like my self-evaluation for the annual review late last year, I didn't exactly labor over it with attentive care. And of course, five minutes after I submitted the online form, my boss approved them and they are now officially in place. Thus once again I am reminded that all of our corporate procedures and policies are just an elaborate kabuki dance, formalized theater (of the absurd) to create some illusory substance for the roles of HR and middle managers and whatnot. I know at the end of the day the only thing my boss and I need to worry about is keeping the government client happy so that our overlords get paid and we in turn get paid. Everything else is set-dressing.

But, to be fair, the essence of my "job search" since last fall is kind of absurd, too, in that I put all my eggs in one basket which in retrospect may have been a longshot, since I was simultaneously trying to redirect onto a different personal career path and jump ship to a completely new environment. I have yet to really seriously look at what else might be out there aside from this one opportunity that my buddy hipped me to. Clearly I need to start doing that if I want to avoid going through the whole review-and-goal-setting rigamarole again. (And I do.)

And yet ... and yet ... to finally get back to that whole changing-positions-within-the-company notion, I should acknowledge that when my boss delivered the news about my relatively modest raise, he also indicated that he more or less knew that my position on the current contract doesn't always provide me with enough real work to keep my fully engaged, and he went beyond that to assure me that he does keep an eye on the internal job postings for our company keeping in mind my skillset, and my recent upgrade to Top Secret clearance, and so forth. He admitted that he'd selfishly like to keep me on his contract at least through the end of this year, as we'll be recompeting to get a brand new commitment from the government as the last of the option years on the current agreement expires. Ethical dodginess of making it seem that I am part of the team fulfilling the new contract during negotiations and then cutting me loose before the ink is dry notwithstanding, I'd at least be willing to entertain the thought of going somewhere else within my organization, since there would be a lot of appeal in a best-of-both-worlds scenario: I'd have the continuity of service, no interruption in getting paid or lag time from getting into the payroll systems at a new gig, all my banked vacation time carrying forward, &c. &c.

It's practically April now, and the contract is up at the end of September, so that's really not terribly long to take a wait-and-see attitude. On the other hand, there's no reason I can't socialize my resume out there a bit more and see if some amazing no-brainer of an opportunity falls into my lap. We shall see what exactly I can motivate myself to do over the next few months. I don't know what that will be yet, I just know it better be something.

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