Fix It Or Forget It?June 1st, 2011
Sadie* felt lucky to have stable employment in this economy, but she hadn’t really been able to get additional assignments over the years and didn’t feel her boss took her seriously for anything beyond her current job. Just how long was she supposed to spin her wheels?
Sadie stayed in her position longer than she might have, due to the unstable work environment, because she told herself, “I’m luckier than a lot of other people: I have a job.” What Sadie wants, though, is a career that she can build upon over time.
Whenever she approached her director – who repeatedly assured her that he would be “showing her the ropes,” he always had some reason why there wasn’t time “right now” for her to spend time on “that,” and he needed her to continue doing what she had always been doing.
Later, she called him on this, because, although she realized she had performed adequately during the year for business as usual, she had fallen short on some of her “additional” goals. Her director responded by turning the tables on her saying, “You need to consider what you really want here,” and implied that her previously negotiated telecommuting was preventing her from being considered a serious professional.
“I was so stunned,” Sadie said. “I felt as though he was telling me that I had to choose between my family and ever being promoted! Not only that, but he acted as though this is what was ‘holding me back’ all along! If that was the case, why didn’t he say so a couple of years ago, instead of ‘Not now . . .’ all that time?! I was hurt, shocked and infuriated!”
Sadie decided to Forget It! and “lucky to be employed” or not, we began her job search. She wanted to pursue her career, and knew that, although the job market was difficult, it wouldn’t be that way forever. She wants to plan for the future and work in an environment that is more supportive to her building her career and doesn’t make excuse after excuse, or penalize her for having a life or a family.
Sadie’s search did take many months, and when she found a position, it didn’t pay as much as she made before, but she was pleased with the other benefits it offered, including a great deal more autonomy, training, room for advancement, flex time, etc. She feels that several years with her new employer will have a much greater payoff than the past several years has.
I had been coaching Tanya* on a variety of ways to help improve her chances of becoming a finalist candidate for second or third interviews, and the resume I designed for her had helped her acquire quite a few first interviews over the past several months. She realized that the chances of her being able to match her previous salary were slim to none.
Eventually, Tanya reached the point of not only being a finalist candidate, but entered into negotiations with an employer who was ready to make her a job offer – at a salary that was significantly lower than her previous pay.
While Tanya did want to take the job, she also knew that an employee has more bargaining power during this point of negotiation than at any other time . . . and that women often leave too much money on the table. On the other hand, she didn’t want to push too hard and talk herself out of a job.
She examined all of the facets of the offer, as I instructed her to do during this phase of negotiations. Many candidates are also concerned with other aspects of a position, besides pay – such as Sadie, who cared about telecommuting and/or flex time, to be with her children. For other candidates, they might bargain for items such as a better title, more vacation time, a larger office, or other perks or benefits. A great deal depends on the person, industry, and so forth.
Tanya noticed that the health benefits offered by this employer were quite good, but she already had health coverage through her husband’s employer that was sufficient. She proposed to the employer that instead of providing their health coverage, they give her an additional $5,000 annual salary, and she would waive the health benefits. The employer happily accepted these terms, and Tanya was hired.
Tanya still didn’t start at the same salary as before, but this was a workable compromise to all parties, so that she was able to Fix It! and move forward with her career, rather than spend an additional unknown period of time interviewing and eventually finding something else that still may have paid less anyway.
The employment landscape has changed, and so have many of its rules. The more adaptable you are – and able to negotiate – the more marketable you are.
Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
— Rita Mae Brown
Tags: benefits, career, career goals, career skills, career strategy, employment, family, fix it or forget it, flex time, health benefits, health coverage, health insurance, insurance, job, job search, jobs, negotiation, perks, personal branding, salary, telecommute, telecommuting, unemployment, vacation