Not happy? Look for a new job

QUESTION: I have worked with my present employer for 9 years. I have not had a raise in 4 years. My hiring letter said that I would get a performance review every year but that has never happened. I strongly suspect that my co-workers are getting regular raises. Whenever I raise this with my boss I get “not this year”. Whenever I ask for a performance review like my hiring letter said I would get, I get put off. Isn’t my employer breaching my contract? Don’t they have to give me a performance review like they promised and an appropriate raise?
ANSWER:  Technically, your employer is breaching your contract of employment but unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it except find a new job.
Hiring letters often talk about probationary periods and yearly performance reviews. Employers often fail to get around to doing those reviews. But  remember, even if your employer did a review and it was spectacular, it would be under no legal obligation to give you a raise.
Think of it this way. The services you provide to your employer are a commodity that you are selling. Although you may feel like you are selling to a monopoly who can control the purchase price, it is in fact a free market. You are free to sell your services to whomever you please. If you don’t like what you’re getting paid, you should market your services to a new purchaser.
Your employer is taking you for granted. You have put up with this for so long, it thinks you will put up with it forever. Start applying for jobs. You may want to consider strategically leaving your resume and a cover letter you have sent out prominently placed on your desk for all to see. Don’t use the employer’s equipment or time to look for work. Looking for new employment does not give the employer just cause to terminate you. If you are not in a union, they certainly can terminate you but they would have to provide you with a severance package which at least would give you an opportunity to work full time job searching.
Try to think of subtle ways to communicate the fact that you are playing the field without appearing to be giving your employer an ultimatum. Nobody likes ultimatums.
As published in The Hamilton Spectator, October 28, 2006.
Ed Canning
Ed Canning
P: 905.572.5809