Become a freelancer and charge what you are worth based on things like supply and demand and your abilities. It's less risky for the companies buying your services and you'll be able to charge exactly what you are worth in the market, which will be typically a lot more than your salaried colleagues get for essentially the same work. On top of that you get this weird dynamic where external contractors tend to have a lot of authority relative to employees. And best of all your only relation with HR is making them pay your invoices.
If you are thinking about job security, be aware that in many places things are not that secure. My understanding in especially the US is that your employer can end your job at will for pretty much any reason at any time with little or no risk. So if you are doing work for an employer that does not properly value what you are doing, maybe it is time to reconsider that relation.
I typically charge a lot more for showing up on remote sites. It's inconvenient for me and travel + hotels + restaurants just cost money. So if the customer wants me on site, that will cost them. It kind of reverses the logic of working remotely. If my customers believe that they can get a better deal from somebody else, I encourage them to take it. No hard feelings. The reality is that many companies prefer to have people on site; which forces them to hire locally, which in some areas is beyond ridiculously expensive.
Even in places that don't have at-will lots will treat it like it is. Be aware of your rights.
It only add additional reasons as to contract and to trust those who are trustworthy on the employment front. Do your due diligence.
I also like your comment to not take it personal. I try my best not to as it's business. We all try to work together for the best outcomes and sometimes the correct answer or best answer is moving on company or employee or contractor or contract or what have you.
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