Have you ever had a friend who disappeared a few years ago? The one you never hear from, until they pop up and they need something. I’ll admit it. I’ve been this person before, and it’s a reminder of something not to do.
If you’re like me, the type of person you want to devote your time to helping is the same person you feel appreciates you. They’re someone who takes the time to check on you. They ask about your family and your life. It’s someone you feel like you know well. They know you well. They care about you, and you care about them.
When a friend pops in out of the blue and asks for a favor – they begin to feel like a sales person. You wonder where they’ve been and what their real motive is. You wonder if they’re your real friend, or if your friendship is contingent upon something else.
It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, right? And, chances are good that you aren’t as helpful to that friend as someone who genuinely takes the time to stay in touch with you.
It’s a great reminder to network when you don’t need it. Stay in touch even when you’re not looking for a job. Offer help when you don’t need anything in return.
Someone recently shared the way they’re doing this with me. Each day, they go through their cell phone and pick someone to call at random. On the first day, they pick an A name such as Amanda. On the second day, they pick a B name such as Bob. They call at least one person each day, and they say hello with no motive. If the person isn’t there, they leave a friendly voice message for the person. They rotate through the entire alphabet and start over the next month.
I haven’t tried this method yet, but it sounds like a great way to get started. I know what you’re thinking though. It can be weird to call someone with no appointment – no text message – no email. You’re right – it can be weird. It can also be really normal. The more you reach out to friends for connection, the less surprising it will be when you do.
And, when you do need something, your friends will be more likely to step up. They’ll know that you really need help, and that you’re truly invested in your friendship with them.
I would scream this from the mountain top if I could. Big cities don’t necessarily pay more. Big cities don’t pay more! BIG CITIES DON’T PAY MORE (at least not enough more)!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t move to a big city. I love big cities. Before Memphis, I was living in the Los Angeles area. It was beautiful. Given the opportunity, I would do it all over again.
But, as you already know – money doesn’t go as far there. In California, my apartment cost about the same amount of money as an apartment in Tennessee. But, can you guess what was different? It was less than half the size of what I was used to. It had no air conditioning. It had no dishwasher. It had no private parking. And, it had no washing machine or dryer for my clothes.
That sounds like it must have been a real shack, right? Wrong. I lived in the same neighborhood where celebrities lived. I ran into a few during my time there, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver (before their breakup), Hillary Swank, and Minnie Driver.
Let’s get this right. We’re not talking cheap – we’re talking different. When I lived in LA, my priorities were different. I have friends who still live in cities like LA and NYC. Some live in tiny apartments. Others have roommates well into their 30s and 40s. It’s not a big deal. It’s not bad. It’s just different.
But, what probably won’t happen when you move to a big city is this. The new company you’re interested to work for may pay you more. But, they won’t pay you that much more. They’re not going to pay you so much more that you’ll be able to have the same house in your new swanky city. You’re going to have to make choices – like whether or not you’re down for living in a smaller space.
Why is this? Why wouldn’t a company pay you an adjusted cost of living wage? If you take an internal move, they might – or they’ll get closer. But, if you’re going to work for a new company, it’s unlikely.
This is the thing. A big city like LA has lots and lots of people; 3.9 million to be exact. Many of those people are qualified to do the same job you’re qualified to do. Most likely, you will have more competition for your job than you do today in your smaller city. And, it’s a supply and demand job market. If you want to make $100K per year, but there’s someone else who already lives in the city (and is also qualified) that’s open to taking $85K, what incentive does the company have to pay you $100K?
It’s that whole “big fish, little pond” concept. And you know, sometimes it’s good to be a big fish. For example, a city like Memphis sometimes pays more for specialized talent than LA. Why is that? Because there are very few people in a city the size of Memphis who can fill a certain job. But, in LA, there are lots of people who can.
Now that I’ve said all this, let me say that it’s not impossible to make much more in a larger city. This is especially true if you’re jumping up the ladder so to speak.
But, just don’t assume that a big city will pay you much more. It’s not a given. And, for the most-part, that’s a myth. You may make more, but the question is – how much more? And, are you prepared to try living without air conditioning or without a dishwasher?
Of course, there’s no right answer. It’s all a very personal choice. Just be sure you understand the pond before you jump into it.
There’s one question that never goes away. “Should I go back to graduate school?”
This is an age old question, and it’s one that truly deserves careful thought and scrutiny. First, consider these questions.
Why do I want to go to graduate school? Am I going because I’m struggling to find a job and I believe a graduate degree will make all the difference? Am I going because I want to rebrand myself into a new career? Am I going because I want to increase my knowledge in one area, for the sake of learning?
Do I believe I should definitely make more money after I complete graduate school?
Will I need to quit my job to go to graduate school?
How long will it take to finish graduate school?
Where will I go?
What will I study?
Who will pay for graduate school, and how much will it cost?
If your answers to these questions leaned toward wanting to find a better job that pays more money, graduate school is a big decision for you. It’s not just about what you’ll learn. It’s an investment in your future.
And, as an investment, it should be treated as such. With any other investment, you measure return on investment. And, graduate school is no different!
Fortunately, there are many graduate school ROI calculators online to help. Here’s one from Learn Vest. The things you’ll need to take into consideration are current salary, expected age at retirement, cost of graduate school, and post graduate school salary.
So, how can you predict how much you’ll make after graduate school? A *great* predictor for how much you’ll make after graduate school is how much other graduates from your school made after graduate school. The best place to find this information is called a “post-graduation report.”
If you’ve never seen your school’s post-graduation report, you can usually find it on Google. Just type in something like “Harvard MBA post-graduation report.” Typically, the top search result will be a report that shares the average starting salaries of graduates from their program.
If you’re looking to make more money after graduation, it may be surprising to know – the school you study at will influence your next starting salary. In a quick search while writing this article, I found one MBA program with a starting salary of approximately $73,000 per year. I found another program with a starting salary of approximately $138,000 per year. That’s a huge difference! In fact, it’s almost double. It shows that not every degree is equal.
It doesn’t mean that you should go to the most expensive school, but it does mean that school is an investment. In the above case, the higher starting salary most likely also meant a higher tuition and higher student loans. It’s all about tradeoffs.
Before you decide whether or not to take the plunge, be sure you’ve answered all the questions above – and calculated the ROI for your graduate school’s program.
Today’s holiday makes me think of the Donna Summer song “She Works Hard for the Money.” I know you work hard, and hopefully today is a day of rest and celebration.
As you reflect back on the first eight months of the year, this is a great time to re-evaluate your career game plan.
Do you feel fulfilled at work?
Does your boss treat you with respect?
Are you paid fairly?
If you answered no to any of these questions, it may be time to think of alternative career paths.
It doesn’t mean it’s time to quit your job right away. Just beginning to question your existing situation can be enough to get the ball rolling.
If you aren’t feeling happy about your work, what do you enjoy? Do you have hobbies or expertise in other fields?
If your supervisor is less than ideal, is there another part of the company you can transfer to? Or, are there competitors who are hiring?
And, if you’re not being paid fairly, what can you do to change it? Internally, you can ask for a raise when you receive a promotion or during your annual performance evaluation. Externally, the ballgame is wide open.
If money is your number one concern, it’s important to come to terms with one very important fact. On average, employees make more money when they switch companies. This is compared to how much they would make if they received an internal promotion.
And, it makes sense. Companies are competing for new talent. Once you’re there, they’ve got you. Those who don’t switch companies make significantly less over the lifetime of their careers.
With the risk of sounding like a broken record, there’s little incentive for companies to put more energy and money into existing employees. For this reason, you should never completely stop looking for a job…
Anyway, let’s get back to the original point. I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day! I hope you get to enjoy a little sunshine with those you love. And, if you don’t love your job, tomorrow is a new day, and a new chance to find your perfect career.
Getting an interview can be exciting and exhilarating, especially if it goes well. If you’ve wanted to leave your company for some time, the hope that a new job presents can leave you feeling on top of the world. And, the more interviews with one company, the surer you are you’ll get the job, right?
Some of the reasons I’ve heard for sharing this secret include, “I know this person is my friend, so it’s OK.” “My boss and I are close friends; they won’t mind.” “My company needs to know I’m looking, so they’ll be prepared if I do leave. I feel obligated.” “I want to see if my company will give me a higher salary to stay.”
First, none of these reasons provide you any personal benefit. They simply give away your power and put your current job at risk.
When it comes to interviewing, nothing is a sure bet. Even if a company has talked to you 10 times and is in love with you, the position may be put on hold for budget reasons. The hiring manager may leave, and the process may halt. The company could reorganize and the job may no longer be needed.
Until your offer is officially in writing and in your hands, there’s no offer. It could take you as long as a year or more to find a job. In the meantime, you still have bills to pay and a family to feed. Why would you put that in jeopardy?
So often, a boss you perceived to be your friend feels an obligation to let their boss know you have disclosed this information to them. Even if they like you, your job search may be perceived as being disloyal to the company. In the worst-case scenario, you may be fired and asked to leave immediately.
Keep this in mind when it comes to asking for more money. If you don’t have a written job offer, what incentive does your company have to give you a raise? They don’t. There’s no good reason they should offer you any more money just because you’ve been interviewing.
If you begin to tell colleagues about your search, don’t be surprised if the news gets around. People love to find something, or someone, to talk about. If you share information about your search, you’re setting yourself up to become next. The last thing you want is for word to get back to your boss before you’ve actually found a job.
As exciting as it is to share information about your job search, it’s 100 percent unwise to do so. You set yourself up for failure and disappointment on multiple levels that can be difficult to repair. When it comes to job searching, there’s no better alternative than to keep yours secret.
This post previously appeared on the Memphis Daily News website.