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.