Predicting job migration

Dean Dad makes an interesting point.  He expects tight budgets at all institutions which will mean few salary increases for faculty and staff.  To get a raise, you'll have to get a new job.  To some extent that's always been true--someone who has worked at the same place for his or her career will probably be paid less than someone with the same position who has moved around.

A Fearless Prediction
That means that for many people, the only way to effect a meaningful increase in salary will be to change jobs. And those who do will be well-advised to negotiate hard at the point of hire, since they won’t be able to count on meaningful raises over time. If you’re fairly confident that any increases over the next half-decade or more will be below the rate of inflation, then you’d best get every penny you can upfront. It’s all downhill from there.

Incumbent employees will cry ‘foul’ over salary compression or inversion, and they’ll have a point. But when the rules favor one course of action over another, you have to assume that some people will act accordingly. Rule out raises for staying in place, and you will get movement. It’s as simple as that.

Some level of movement can be a good thing. When a campus or program becomes too inbred and static, it starts settling for things it shouldn’t. The occasional fresh pair of eyes can keep people honest and bring new perspectives to bear on existing problems. (I’ve seen departments that have gone literally decades between hires; at a certain point, “stasis” becomes “stagnation.”) But there can be too much of a good thing.

At this point, I suspect, we’re in the lag period between a fundamental change on the ground and people fully comprehending the change. We still have plenty of people playing by the old rules, just waiting for the “make it up to you” part of the cycle. But lags don’t last forever. Sooner or later, and I’m guessing sooner, people are going to start adapting to the new reality. When you pay for movement but you don’t pay for stability, sooner or later, you’ll get what you pay for.


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