I’ve long believed that our interest in finding a new job is related to the pain we’re experiencing at our existing job. After all, starting a new job is a little like switching to a new high school half way through. Even though it may be a good idea, it’s still painful. You don’t know the social norms. You don’t have friends. And, you haven’t yet learned your way around.
Job searching is also quite a painful process. I often compare it to dating, but sometimes, it feels similar to what I’d imagine a beauty pageant feels like. There are many people around who are judging you on various criteria. Not only do you need to fit the qualifications, but you need to be likable and look the part. Employers want to know that you’ll fit in well with the team.
For most people, the pain at their current job has to outweigh the cost of switching. You have to be willing to put in the energy with a job search, and you have to be willing to start all over again at a new company – to make new friends, and prove your reputation at work, again.
So, the question is this. What is your pain threshold? What are your deal breakers at work?
There’s a strange old saying about boiling a frog. It’s basically that if you put a frog straight into boiling water, it will jump right out. If you put it in colder water and slowly turn up the heat, the frog will stay until it eventually dies. I really dislike this analogy, but it describes what many people experience at work.
I can’t tell you the countless stories I’ve heard about someone being yelled at during work by their boss. It doesn’t just happen once; it happens often. And, it brings the person to tears. Now, do you think if the boss had yelled like this during the interview that the employee would have signed up for this kind of abuse? No way. But, over time, it can start to feel normal. And, when it does, it will erode at the self-esteem of the employee
Don’t let yourself be the frog. If you haven’t, take some time to assess where your boundaries are. Where are your limits? If a friend told you about their day (and it sounded like yours), what would you say? If the friend was in the middle of an abusive work situation, you’d likely advise them to start looking. But when we’re the ones on the receiving end, it can feel less important. It feels tolerable.
Make a list the way you would in any situation. Determine where your boundaries are. Evaluate what you can influence, and what you cannot. If you find that there are deal breakers that you cannot accept, it’s time to look for another option. It’s time to polish up your resume.
Warren Buffett famously said, “Look for the job that you would take if you didn’t need a job.” This is an incredibly true statement that we can all learn from. When it comes to job searching, it is extremely common to run away from something rather than running toward something else. And, that can lead us to a less than ideal next job.
In all honesty, it’s simply human nature. The cost of switching jobs is high. Not the literal cost, but the emotional toll.
In theory, getting a job is easy. You search for postings online. You submit your resume. You have an interview, accept a job offer, and then start a new job. It’s just like shopping. You go to the store, and you come back with a job.
But, this is rarely how job searching really works. The more typical process is that you search online. You spend hours of your free time applying for many, many jobs using faceless websites. You hear back from almost no one. You begin to question whether or not you are qualified for your job at all. Eventually, a company contacts you. They drag out the hiring process for many weeks or months. At the end, you either receive a job offer or you’re discarded like trash.
The process is very frequently painful and demoralizing. It’s hard to explain to loved ones who don’t understand why you don’t just get a job. It can make you never want to switch jobs again. In fact, job searching is so painful that most people wait until the pain at their current job is greater than the pain of looking for a new job. In other words, they wait to look until they can’t take their existing job one more day. By this point, the job seeker’s focus is to run away from something.
A friend used to say that it is always best to leave a party when you’re still having fun. If you wait until the end of the party when things are no longer fun, it will be a negative experience. A similar philosophy could apply to job searching. It’s better to leave your current job while things are still good. It will allow you to wait for the right job offer, rather than the fastest one.
Let’s face it. When your current job is going well, you can take your time. You can find a new role that’s truly interesting, that pays more, and that reports to a good manager. When things are going bad, you’re simply looking for a parachute that will get you safely out of a burning building.
If looking for a job has crossed your mind, there’s good news. It’s a strong job market. Companies are fighting for talent. They’re being more flexible, and they’re paying more. Start looking now for the job that you’d want if you didn’t need one.
One of the hot topics in the news right now is pay. It’s about time, right? There are many people who have been making the same pay for years. Employers believe we’re lucky to have a job at all. We’re told we should be happy to receive two percent each year. The good news is, times are changing – for now.
The Great Resignation has caused chaos in companies as employees have started to put in their notice in large numbers. The buzz around this topic has caused a number of employees to reach out to me with questions. What should they do? How should they make the case to their current employer to pay them the rates they see in the market?
There’s no easy answer to this question. First, how you deal with negotiations of any kind at work depends on your risk profile. If you have family members who depend on you financially, such as children, you may have to be more careful about your risk taking. And, let’s face it, chances are high that you need to keep your current job until you find a new one.
You can make a case to your existing employer. A good time to have salary conversations are during your annual performance review. This is a time when you discuss the progress you have made over the last year. You’re able to showcase your work, and discuss your future career path with the company.
If you do make a case, plan your approach carefully. Rarely will demanding more pay result in anything positive. This is the case even when you’re right. Think of it this way. Your boss is like your customer. The services you provide are similar to being a consultant. When you started working for your boss, you offered your consulting services for a certain rate. To suddenly expect to offer the same services for a much higher rate may feel negative to your boss, no matter what the going rate is on the market.
The small raises that companies offer leave employees with few choices. If you see other companies paying much more than you make today, your best bet is to start looking at those companies. Companies reward new employees in order to lure them to their organizations. This is traditionally where the higher salaries are.
If you have a hunch that you’re under paid, do your homework. There are websites that share salary data – and more companies are including salaries on job postings. You can look by company and role. When you’re researching, don’t be lured into thinking that cheaper parts of the country will always pay less. Salaries vary considerably by company. You may find a job in a cheaper area that actually pays more than you make today.
Best of luck on your salary journey, and start soon. The market will not remain in the job seeker favor forever.
Recently, I heard a famous comedian talking about their career and how she got to where she is today. She said something that really caught my attention. She said that when it comes to her work, she’s always tried to bet on herself, and that other people should bet on themselves too. What a novel idea!
As you can imagine, this caught my attention because it’s such a great way to think about our careers. So often, we give other people a chance in situations where we might not give ourselves the same opportunity.
Think of it this way. We can be our harshest critics. We know every weakness that we possess. We know every worry. We know all of the reasons that things might not work out for us. We remember every time we have made a mistake, and just how much it hurt. We may feel like taking a risk just isn’t worth the effort, given the high possibility that we may fail.
But, with the person sitting next to us at work, we don’t know those things. We aren’t aware of every weakness and every worry they have. Very often, we can see their potential without clouding the picture with these details.
However, if we reflect back on ourselves, we also have many good qualities. Perhaps we have a significant amount of industry knowledge and experience. Maybe we have great resources, in the form of mentors. We may have a ton of transferrable skills that we bring to work every day. Or, maybe we’re great at leading others. We may even be more qualified than the person sitting next to us.
If we saw our strengths in another person, we’d likely give that person a real shot. We’d give them the benefit of the doubt. We’d bet our money on their ability to do the work. We would assume they would be successful.
So, rather than get caught up in self-doubt, what if we tried to turn this tide around in 2022? What if we gave ourselves the same benefit of the doubt that we’d give to someone else? What if we let go of our fears? What if we focused in on our strengths rather than our weaknesses?
I bet that if we did these things, work would become a lot easier. We would take risks that today we avoid. We might volunteer more, and step outside of our comfort zone. We might try to increase our knowledge and skillset. And honestly, all of these things might impress our boss and benefit our company overall.
What’s the worst thing that could happen? Sure, we might fail. But, we might succeed. Think about all the great things that could happen if we let go of our fears and bet on ourselves. Keep this in mind as you start 2022, and bet on yourself! You’ve earned it more than that person sitting next to you.
How many times did you think the following to yourself? If only I work a little harder, my boss will recognize my value. Next year, I really will get a decent raise, and a promotion. I’m really not happy, but I have no other choice.
If you’ve had any of these thoughts, it sounds like 2022 is your year. Let’s face the facts. Your boss may recognize your value, or may continue to take advantage of your hard work. And, you may get a decent raise next year, or you may get just two percent (or less). Staying at the same organization often yields the same poor results.
If you’re ready to turn over a new leaf, the first thing to realize is that you do have choices. Continuing to go to work each day to earn a stable income is a great first choice. Beginning to look for a new job before you’re ready to run from your current job is another great choice. If possible, continue to go to your existing job while you find a replacement job. This will ensure you have the time to look and make the best decision for you. After all, you don’t want to trade one bad job for another. That’s not what this year is about!
The great thing about landing a new job is that your new boss will get a chance to hire you. They’ll pick you. What I’m trying to say is, if you’ve been with a company for a few years, you end up with a new boss than the person who originally hired you. That new boss may or may not really love your work. They might not choose to hire you again if they had the choice. If you feel like you’re experiencing Groundhog Day around raises and recognition, this could be why.
Plus, let’s be honest. Companies are more motivated to offer larger sums of money to new hires than they are to existing employees. Bosses rarely want to pay more to do the same work you’ve already been doing for less.
I get it. The entire thing is a bummer. Interviewing is stressful and full of rejection. Changing companies is full of a lot of chance. It could be better or worse than where you are now. But, if where you are now really isn’t working, it’s probably worth it. Once you decide what’s best for you, create a plan of attack for 2022. Write down your goals to make them real. And, begin to work on them each day.
Change isn’t immediate. It’s a slow process. But, with time and effort, it will happen. You’ll find yourself happier, working for someone who appreciates you, and possibly even making more money in 2022.
Do you remember when holidays meant getting together with coworkers at a fancy restaurant? Or, they were a time for a fun little holiday work lunch where your boss would let the entire team go home early. The holiday week usually involved dressing up at least once. There were fuzzy sweaters, sparkly dresses and fancy shoes. Holidays tasted like hot chocolate and champagne. If you were lucky, the holidays involved gifts. And, they definitely involved holiday cards from sweet coworkers.
What are holidays anymore, now that we are tiny boxes on a screen? How are you celebrating holidays with your colleagues at work? For many people, the holiday will pass right by without any real acknowledgement. We’re all in hoodies and sweatpants, trying to be holiday neutral. At some companies, it’s as if the holidays aren’t happening at all.
It seems this lack of holidays is partially thought out, and partially situational. After all, we all expected we would be back to working in person in offices by now. Who knew that we’d need to develop a completely new way to celebrate holidays?
In addition, we’ve become quite careful when it comes to talking about topics like holidays. On one hand, this is a great thing. We’re learning to be more sensitive to our differences. This is wonderful, and very much needed. But, on the other hand, when we don’t talk about these things together, we also don’t learn about one another. The differences have the potential to be magnified.
Also, due to the pandemic or other personal circumstances, there are always employees who may be too far from family to travel. This lack of office holiday cheer can be tough on these employees.
I’m not sure what the right answer is. Frankly, I’m not the biggest fan of get-togethers over Zoom. I avoid video chat whenever I can. What sort of party is fun over Zoom? We may pretend to enjoy online games, but inside, we’re wishing we could shut the computer off and take a break.
However, if we’re going to keeping working from home (and I hope we do), we have to find new ways to get to know one another. Work can’t be all about productivity every moment of every day. That’s not what binds us. It’s not what makes people want to stay at a company long term.
At work, the special parts are often celebrating personal milestones. It’s about those random interests you happen to share with the person sitting next to you. Or, the casual conversations you have when you walk to get coffee. Or, sharing photos of your kids. The best parts of work are these strung together little moments that can’t be scheduled.
No matter our personal background or beliefs, holidays are for connection, and for giving thanks to those around us. I hope your holiday is a peaceful one filled with health, blessings, and special memories.
The New Year is almost here! And, like last year, the world has changed. Our personal lives and our work lives will continue to look much different than they did in 2019. We’ve found a new normal. So, what does this mean for hiring in 2022? There are a few trends you should be on the lookout for.
Find Your Style: One of the great things that has come out of the pandemic is remote work. But, remote work isn’t for everyone. The good news is, not every company is remote. This means that you, the job seeker, have an opportunity to decide which working style works the best for you. I firmly believe this split of in office, remote, and hybrid work environments will stick around long after the pandemic is over. This is the time to pick your perfect work environment.
Extend Your Search Area: In the past, if there were no jobs in your local area, you had two choices. You could stay with your current employer, or you could move. But, remote work breaks down the barrier of distance. If you’re in a small market, you can now fish for jobs anywhere in the country. This opens up the possibilities. In some cases, it can also mean an increase in salary. If you’re looking for remote opportunities, look beyond your local market. And, just because a job posting has a city attached to it does not mean there’s no chance of remote work.
Try New Roles: The job market is tight right now. Companies are having a tough time finding talent. This means that when a company tries to find a perfect candidate, they very likely will come up empty handed. For the job seeker, this is great. If you’ve thought of trying a new career field, this is the time to try. Hiring managers are much more likely to give an underdog applicant a shot when it’s hard to find the perfect candidate.
Remote Learning: For years, companies have expected their employees to take charge of their education. When employees stay at an organization for fewer years, the company has less incentive to invest in training. They expect you to show up, ready to work. The problem is, in a remote world, it can be hard to increase your skills and knowledge. It’s like you’re on an island, focused only on your existing work. But, there are many free online courses available. Use them to keep yourself up to date while you’re growing your career.
Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short in 2022. I know that the last two years have been scary. We’ve faced a lot of unknown together, and in quite an isolated fashion. But, companies are still hiring. And, you are still valuable. Accept that what is normal has changed. Make a new set of goals for the New Year, and let’s move forward together.
The last few years, I’ve noticed a surprising phenomenon. Have you tried asking someone if they are an introvert or an extrovert? It’s a reasonably straightforward question that typically comes with a simple answer – until now.
An extrovert will still answer the question with, “I’m an extrovert.” An introvert with answer this same question with one of the following phrases. Some with say, “I’m an extraverted introvert.” Others will say, “I’m an introvert, but I’m not weird.” And, some will say, “I don’t know” in an effort to avoid the question completely.
Both introverts and extraverts have qualities that all companies need. They both bring good things to the table. The biggest noticeable difference is typically the way these groups express themselves. Being one or the other doesn’t mean you’ll be better at your job. And, if public speaking is involved, an introvert can sometimes present so well that you’d assume they’re an extrovert.
I’m just not sure how we got here. How did half the population become uncomfortable with themselves in this way?
And frankly, how did companies decide this line of thinking makes sense? A few years ago, I interviewed for a job at a well-known financial services company. During the job interview, the hiring manger told me about the team I was to manage. He explained that one person on the team is an introvert, so I may want to get rid of them. He said that introverts don’t do well at that company. I turned down that offer. I didn’t want to work for someone who believed this.
This wasn’t a one-time observation though. Many companies prefer extraverts. There are times when management may gauge the quality of your work by how much you talk. Rather than just look at the results you deliver, air time in meetings becomes critical to success.
As part of the working world, we need to do something to change this stigma. Being an introvert does not mean you’re shy, or that you have anxiety. Being an introvert means that you recharge alone, while extroverts recharge around people. It’s where you get your energy from.
When an introvert is quiet in a meeting, it does not mean they’re not participating, or that they aren’t listening. Sometimes, it means they’re thinking. They may be more productive, or may be coming up with even better ideas than their extroverted peers. And, just because they might not speak up in front of a big group doesn’t mean they aren’t working behind the scenes. Many introverts prefer to lay the groundwork by talking to people individually, rather than in front of a big audience.
If you’re a manager, take the time to appreciate your introverts, and normalize this personality trait. It’s not a drawback. It can be a strength. If you’re an introvert, it’s time to stop buying into this message. Being an introvert is not a personality flaw.
Thanksgiving of 2020 was a special kind of torture. We’d all be isolated for months. It didn’t feel safe to be around loved ones yet. It was getting dark early, and it was cold outside. While 2021 still has significant challenges, we’re making progress. For the first time in two years, many people will see family in person on Thanksgiving Day.
In addition to this, the job market is especially good right now. In a way, it’s quite shocking considering everything that we’ve collectively been through. With this in mind, I encourage you to allow this Thanksgiving to inspire your job search. Find your next opportunity, and help those around you who are struggling to find theirs.
Be Grateful: Focus on the positive things about your current job. Perhaps you like your boss, your team, or that you’re able to work remotely. Even in negative situation, there are usually a few things to be thankful for. Move your attention to the good stuff.
Reconnect: Thanksgiving is the kickoff to the holiday season. Take the opportunity to reconnect with friends, coworkers, and loved ones you haven’t seen in a while – by phone, email, video, or in person. Not only is it good for your soul, it’s good for your network. When you’re looking for a job, it’s critical that you keep your network up to date.
Reflect: Holidays are a great time to think back about the past year, and to make plans for the future. What went well? What would you do differently? Write these things down, along with goals for next year. When would you like to find a new job? What are the attributes you’d prefer in your next job?
Help Others: Networking is a big part of finding a job. When we’re in the middle of our own search, we forget about those around us. Take the time to help those in your life who are also looking. In return, they will help you.
Relax: Looking for a job can be a long, and at times, stressful, process. Don’t forget to take a little time for yourself. It will help you to keep moving forward in your search when you return to work.
Give Thanks: Take the time to thank those in your life who help you every day. Whether it’s a friend, coworker, or supervisor, take the time to wish them a happy Thanksgiving — and thank them for the impact they make on your life. You might even consider giving thanks in the form of a written recommendation on LinkedIn.
Stay Positive: The holiday season can be a tough one if you’re looking for a job. It feels like a time of increased financial responsibilities and decreased opportunities. But, staying positive will draw good people to you. It will help to lay the foundation for your job search, so they will think of you when they’re hiring. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Just a few years ago, we would have never guessed that there would be anything called the Great Resignation. But, here we are. It feels like everyone is looking for a new job, in every industry, all at the same time.
We’ve waited for the tables to turn back in favor of the employee, and we’re finally here. More than 4.4 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs in September, according to the Department of Labor. This was the highest voluntary quit on record.
But, how did we get here? This is not the shocking overnight phenomenon that appears to be happening. We’ve been building to this point over many years. And, the pandemic has taken it to the next level.
Employees are staying at jobs for less time than in the past. In fact, staying too long is viewed as a negative by many employers. The bar to be a job hopper is much lower, and frankly, the experience that comes with multiple jobs is valued by many hiring managers.
Most workers grew up seeing their parents or grandparents being taken advantage of at work. Mom or dad committed to a company for their entire career, only to be laid off when that same company needed to save a little money. It is no longer reasonable for any company to expect loyalty when they cannot provide the same in return to workers.
Today’s workers view themselves as the CEO of their own careers. This is even true with regards to education. Often, companies expect new hires to hit the ground running. They take less time for training and development. That responsibility has transitioned to the worker.
And, today’s workers expect respect – for themselves, and their peers. Never in history have employees felt more strongly that employers should take a stand on issues related to social justice or equality.
I hope to see the age of the empowered worker continue into the future. But, one thing that always empowers workers is personal choice. It’s the opportunity to choose what’s next in your own career. And, when the job market was in favor of the company, you needed a strong network and recommendations to do that.
Don’t forget that the current market will not be here forever. This exciting time reminds me of 2008, when the housing market grew very quickly. Home prices rose at a rate that was not sustainable, and eventually, they fell dramatically. The bubble burst. Those who counted on it to continue to grow were burned.
Take advantage of this opportunity. Look for your next role. Get a pay raise. Take calculated risks, but, don’t burn bridges. Your network is part of your career. It will help you to take the next step, and you will still need it when the Great Resignation ends. Stay on good terms with your boss, and your colleagues. It’s an investment in your future career path.