The job market is designed to keep people working for the job they want rather than the job they have.
Employers want as much output from their workers as possible, while paying them as little as possible. They accomplish this by exploiting people’s natural and inherent tendencies to compete and gain approval.
When an employer hires you, they don’t want you to work only as hard as the job requires. They want you to work harder. They want you to chase more money in the form of raises and promotions. They also want you to chase higher status within the company.
This is why employers seek and prefer “ambitious” or “hungry” people during the interview stage. Companies usually don’t want someone who will only do what they get paid to do. They know someone ambitious will want more money and higher status. And so, that person will work much harder than their job requires.
The employer then gets the benefit of keeping all their workers UNDERPAID since these workers are always working for the job they want rather than the job they have. As a result, every employee’s paycheck reflects their official job title, while their output reflects the job or pay they hope to get in the future. And thus, workers are perpetually UNDERPAID as the process repeats itself with every promotion and raise.
Eventually, one of two things will usually happen to every worker:
#1: The Worker Succeeds At Climbing the Ladder.
If the worker succeeds at climbing the ladder, there will be a new one to climb the minute they reach the top. If the worker decides they “reached their goal” and starts becoming more “comfortable”, the employer will respond by piling on additional work and responsibilities upon the worker in order to ensure they remain UNDERPAID. The employer may also give them smaller annual raises as a way to “motivate them” to be more ambitious so that, once again, they can remain UNDERPAID.
How well a worker is treated at their job is directly proportionate to how easy they are to replace. This is why those with skills in high demand and low supply will have more leverage with employers. These people usually enjoy a much slower cycle for staying UNDERPAID. A worker who can jump ship with ease, while being very difficult to replace, may be immune to the cycle for as long as things remain this way. But they rarely remain this way for very long since most employers are not comfortable with this power dynamic.
One reason why employers love automation is because machines don’t need pay or annual raises. Even better, machines don’t have any leverage and can always be repaired or replaced. Is automation coming for your job? Probably.
#2: The Worker Fails At Climbing the Ladder.
When a worker fails to climb the ladder, the employer will usually respond by giving them smaller annual raises and poor performance reviews to “motivate them” OR the employer will try to find someone younger and cheaper to do the job. The employer might hire this new person and have the current worker train them. Once trained, the original worker will be replaced.
Employers are determined to keep you UNDERPAID. This is why the standard career cycle is often called “the rat race”. Some even call it “the hamster wheel”.
It is designed to keep workers in perpetual fear of either losing their job or failing to rise to the next level. This is the lifestyle most people live, many of which are in denial about it. The risks associated with leaving the rat race are what keep most people trapped in it. And this is by design.
However, with increasing automation and technological advances… it might be safe to say that staying in the rat race is the bigger risk.
Employers also don’t want workers leaving before they are no longer needed. This is why layoffs and firings often come as a shock or without much warning. Employers don’t want you to see the bullet coming because you might dodge it. And that might leave them without a worker and with no one to train a replacement.
The only way to get paid what you’re worth is to own yourself. The most expensive thing you will ever buy is your freedom. This comes in the form of financial freedom and independence. As long as you rely on employers to “pay you” for your time and labor… you will remain UNDERPAID and forced to live up to other people’s standards and expectations while being in perpetual fear of being replaced, phased out or automated into obsolescence.