Erin and I were not just popular frontbenchers in college but also roommates in the student hostel. We both took the same courses, scored straight A’s, and graduated the same year. Confident of a promising career ahead, we bid adieu to each other.
Last I heard, Erin too landed a job at a top Japanese company, just like me.
12 years later when I bumped into her at a global conclave, we were thrilled to see each other. After the initial happy exchanges about common friends and the good old days, we got talking about life in general and career.
Well, 5 minutes into the topic, and everything changed!
Turned out, she was the Global Head of Finance and Budgeting in her organization and was the keynote speaker at that conclave. And I, going by the job title, stood two levels down!
A wave of jealousy swept over me. My sudden changed expressions made her equally uncomfortable. As much as I could, I avoided speaking with her for the rest of our time at the conclave.
How many of us have faced this sinless power-downing by a batchmate who climbed up the ladder faster than we did?
Even worse if the two of us worked in the same organization! It bruises our ego no end when our batchmate who once was a coworker gets promoted and God forbid, we become their direct report. Our impulse would be to quit and find another job, right?
While these envious emotions are understandable, the whole idea of batch parity does deserve some objective viewing.
Going by the concept, every individual from one particular batch must grow at exact same pace and rhythm, all through. How reasonable is that?
This logic of parity in a batch is clearly off the wall. Come to think of it- does everyone walk the same career trajectory? No.
Reasons could be numerous-
Some turn lucky and come across better opportunities early on. Some take breaks to upskill themselves at certain points while others prefer gaining experience over formal training. Many others choose to change track en route, exposing their career to go either way!
Factors like these and more, impact the pace with which we grow in our professional life.
We also know for a fact that any emotion that takes over mind and judgment, can never be a good decision marker for something as crucial as a career. Our impulse-triggered actions can lead to us passing up on opportunities and this, might not be conducive to our growth.
Is it worth giving in to resentment and making hasty, rash decisions? If not, then how do we keep up and move with all the bitterness in our heads? How do we quell these feelings of being run down?
Here’s a look at some of the ways:
- First things first- come to terms with the situation
Like it or lump it, the thingness of your situation is not going anywhere.
So, deal with your jealousy! Allow your emotions -good, bad, ugly- to flow through and then out of your head.
Once you clear your faculties of all the bitterness, bring yourself to accept the situation and make peace with it.
You are NOW ready to plan your next course of action!
- Ask yourself – have you been enjoying your current role
Your answer could range from a ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ to even a ‘maybe’!
Give your answer a good long look. Dig deep into your reasons.
List out what matters to you the most at this juncture – the title, the salary (by the way, title and salary may not always go hand in hand), responsibilities, power and hierarchy, learnings, or growth opportunities in the long run.
Once you have clarity over what you have that makes you happy, and what you aspire to have, chalk out a time-boxed plan.
- Get curious and not combative
Now that you have done a good job getting over your career envy, think about the equation that you have so far shared with your batchmate in question.
Understand that her success is not your failure.
A camaraderie falling apart due to a mere shift in career interplay is not what you would want, would you?
The best way to push away that uneasiness is to engage with your batchmate at the technique level and learn the tricks of the trade. Make sure you do that from the place of wanting to learn.
Find out what she did differently to make it this far. Your batchmate for all the reasons will be more than happy to help.
- Use her as a reference for your next career move
Selfish as it may sound, it is in your interest that you request your batchmate to refer you for your next move. If you have worked together at some point, good, if not, she can always put it across as a personal reference.
A personal reference gives insights into your work ethic, character, reliability, and overall positive influence. Having someone successful vouch for these traits increases your chances of career advancement.
- Last but not least- take those jazzy titles with a pinch of salt
With all the pomp around those fancy-sounding job titles and the lives of people attitudinizing them, remember, it might not be what it appears to be.
Chances are that these inflated job titles are coined to compensate for under-remuneration and absence of career advancement. Please do some fact-checking before sulking over it.
Remember, where you stand with regards to your batchmates isn’t always about competence and skills. So, stop comparing.
And, next time you chance-meet a frilly-titled batchmate, walk over and congratulate her instead of brooding and boohooing over it. Who knows, you might not even have to compare!