Friday, August 08, 2008

Professional Jealousy?

A sort of strange thing happened to me yesterday at work. A colleague pinged me and mentioned that she was working on some internal directory or something (not exactly sure what she was doing, really) and that she happened to come across my record and noticed that my job title is a level above hers’ – uh, hello? Staff job titles are no deep, dark secret, they can be looked up by anyone internally. She then said something to the effect of, “I don’t understand it, we basically do the same thing”. My response was, “we DO?” I don’t think there is anyone else in our group who does what I do specifically. Additionally, when I started here (almost three years ago) she was more or less a technical writer, I think, and was in charge of documenting requirements and maintaining team documentation. I was doing heads-down BI development for a customer. So, color me confused. She then asked if I could call her and we had a friendly, but vague little chat. It was sort of a weird encounter. I felt a little bit of bitterness from her, I guess she had thought we were in the same category. It’s so silly though, I really don’t pay much attention to job titles, as long as I’m earning a livable wage (I am) and have interesting work to do (I do), hopefully with some implied career path (it does), and am left alone to do my job (I am), then I am pretty happy. Besides, when you look at someone’s job title, there is usually an associated pay range, so it’s quite possible for her to be at the top of the pay range for her title, and for me to be at the bottom of the range for mine, and we could be making very close to the same thing, you really can’t assume that someone is making a lot more, just because they are a level above you. I did get the feeling that some of this bitterness might be money-related. Lastly, you just tend to make the biggest leap in title and pay when moving to a new company (as I did), rather than shuffling upward at the same company (as she has). I was at my old company for sixteen years and I KNOW for a fact that there were many colleagues in my group who had the exact same responsibilities as I did who made far more. That’s just the way the corporate world works. So I don’t know, it was a strange conversation and I came away feeling a little guilty somehow, like maybe I didn’t deserve where I was, or that my having my title had perhaps somehow excluded her from a step upwards. Or something. I don’t know, but I still feel a little unsettled about it a day later.

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