Article Source: IMechE

Are you stuck in a career rut or planning your next move? Maybe you’re a student struggling to decide on an industry? We’re putting your burning questions to our panel of seasoned engineers.

In Issue 1, 2019, an anonymous member asked: “How can I progress in an organisation that has no transparency around progression routes and salary structures?”

“First option – leave for a more enlightened organisation. Second option – get to know the people who have progressed and, if you like the way they work, adjust your working to align well with that. General tip: the best way to progress is to work in such a way that your boss looks really good. When they progress, they will want to take you with them so that you can keep doing that!”

Michael Reid


“After asking the question of the leadership team, if one is not satisfied with the answers, start looking elsewhere. While small firms may give the impression that you won’t make progress (at least on a title ladder) until someone retires, it is these companies that are flexible and more accommodating to aspiring young engineers in order to keep them.”



“Ask yourself at least two questions. Firstly, if ‘progression’ means move up the management structure then find out what being in a more senior position involves and then ask yourself if this is what you really want. Secondly, does moving up the salary structure demand more of you in return, and, if so, are you prepared to give it? If you don’t like the answer to either question then look for another job. If you are unwilling and/or unable to do this, try to find something positive in your current position and at suitable opportunities ask for changes. Nothing lasts forever.”

Richard Bossom


“You have to do your job well and also, unfortunately, you have to fit in with the company. Making good impressions with the influential/senior people is key to moving up through the ranks.”

Andrew Gatenby


“Focus on doing the best job you can in all situations. Only apply for roles within the organisation that you believe you will enjoy and can make a strong contribution in. If you see a role that you feel would enable you to do this, tell the boss responsible that you’d like to work in their team, even if they are not currently recruiting.”

Keith Thomas


“Engineers may work for an employer because they love what they are doing, in which case these issues are of secondary importance. Or they will keep looking for a career, in which case they will only move on when they find an employer with clear progression routes and salary structures. Me? I love what I do!”

Andy Brown


“The principle of ‘build it, and they will come’ applies. Put your head down, work hard, grab opportunities, communicate your successes, and reap the rewards. If the opportunities don’t come from within your organisation, you will have acquired fantastic CV-building experiences that mean you will reap the rewards when you move on.”

Mike Cameron-Davies


“Use your contacts and organisation knowledge to identify jobs that appeal to you and apply for them. You are more likely to be told the real going rate for the job, and the going rate to encourage you to stay and progress, when you actually apply for it.”

Chris Greatrix


“Discuss this in your annual appraisal and record what you agree with your boss. If your boss can’t be bothered to sit down with you for a couple of hours, you are not valued and should look elsewhere.”

David Hanson


“Big organisations are going to cease to exist within the next 5-10 years. The future is not going to be about ‘progression routes’. Engineers will be of great help to local communities and will probably be paid with a ration of local food.”

Jacki Carpenter


“Try to build a close, trusting relationship with line management and exploit every opportunity to present material and ideas to higher levels, thereby raising your profile. If this doesn’t work, look for an organisation that respects and recognises talent.”

Roger John


“Very difficult to answer, in my experience, especially in small companies where progression depended on ability, opportunity and good supervision. In a large organisation, time served in a particular post should not determine promotion.”

N P Deane

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