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Fix It Or Forget It?

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Cindy* had been Assistant Marketing Copywriter at her company for a couple years, originally hired as a temp. She suspected that her image as a temp never really left, and that it was hurting her chances to be taken seriously as a writer.  While her employee reviews were consistently above average, whenever she requested more challenging assignments, her supervisor always had some excuse ready about why she was stuck doing the busy work.

Cindy was really good at writing the copy for the bread-and-butter clients for the firm, but after nearly three years doing it, frankly, it bored her to tears.  The last straw was when her manager hired someone outside of the firm to handle the bigger clients . . . and told her to train him!

When Cindy approached me on the details of beginning a job search – the time and effort involved – especially in this very tight labor market, she changed her mind.  Cindy decided to Fix It! by putting all of her spare time and energy to work, but writing for herself instead!  (She felt that she could better sell herself on the page, rather than in countless offices, answering, “Tell me about yourself” questions.)

Cindy continued working on her assignments as usual, but she brought in a large purse (with her personal laptop).  When her projects were done, she would write notes on paper notepads, in the event her work computer was being monitored.

During her lunch break, she would work in a private space and transfer her written notes to her laptop.  At the end of the day, Cindy would take home more notes and her laptop and transfer them as well, and continue writing.

Within a year and a half, Cindy had written a book and approached a publisher, who was interested in publishing it!  She felt that this was a much better use of her time, rather than going on countless interviews.

With a published book added to her resume, people in her office no longer think of Cindy as merely “the temp girl,” and she is now considering beginning a job search, since her stock is much higher.

Duane* got a position with a company that has a lot of happy hours.  In fact, quite a few of them seemed to start before 5:00 somehow – and Duane doesn’t drink.

At first, he’d go out with everyone to the bars and order a soda or coffee, and it seemed that others in his department were ok with it.  Duane wanted to meet his co-workers and network after hours, and thought nothing of it initially.  They would even gleefully exclaim that they were glad to have a “designated driver” at lunch, which Duane thought odd.  (How drunk did they plan to get at lunch, he wondered?)

Later, though, he began to feel that eyes were cast upon him as though they considered him a snob for not joining in.  He also then heard a tale of company history.  Apparently, employees used to drink on company property nearly every Friday afternoon as their “happy hour”, but something went awry (he didn’t learn exactly what).  He got the impression that someone complained, though, which put an end to alcohol on the premises after that.

It became clear that Duane was becoming equated with the previous complainer, and people were suspicious that he might be the next person to further curb their festivities.  Fewer people asked him to join them for lunch or Happy Hours as time went on, and many personal conversations either stopped or became hushed as Duane entered rooms.

While Duane did find the environment to be a bit immature, he wasn’t interested in policing anyone, and yet somehow found himself assumed to be some sort of hall monitor, not to mention social pariah.

Duane decided to Forget It! and we began his job search immediately.  When it was clear that he was a final candidate for a position, we added an initial layer of checking the social media channels of the employees at the company, to see just how important partying was to their lives.  In a couple of cases, that was the prevailing theme for nearly everyone, and Duane politely declined further interviews.

Do you have a Fix It or Forget It? story to share?  Send it to me, and it might help others.  Identifying features will be altered prior to publishing.

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Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

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Fix It Or Forget It?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

“I’m not recognized for my full potential” is a common problem that clients bring to me when trying to ascertain whether they should begin a job search or not.  How DO you get the boss to appreciate your talents?

Audrey* was hired as a temp, working for a nonprofit organization in a marketing assistant position. Even after a year of showing her talents, the organization maintained her employee status as “long-term temp” rather than hiring her as a permanent employee, which would have provided her with more benefits as well as a pay increase.

There was no denying that Audrey had skills and intelligence, however, and at the end of her second year, she was finally made a permanent employee at the organization.

Although Audrey was pleased with this “promotion,” by this time, she had begun doing the work of an Assistant Manager in Marketing, rather than a Marketing Assistant, and started asking for a promotion, to no avail.

In her third year, she brought an idea to management for what turned out to be a very successful mobile marketing app, and it took a lot of Audrey’s pushing to get it adopted.  Once it was, however, there was no denying that Audrey knew what she was doing!

Audrey felt that there would be no better time than to ride this wave of success and – once again – asked her director about a promotion.  This time when she was turned down, she decided to Forget It! and approached me about starting a job search elsewhere.

Audrey always felt especially close to the nonprofit world, but I pointed out that her marketing skills were also transferable to the corporate world as well, and asked her if she was open to interviewing there, too.  It hadn’t occurred to her, but knowing how tight the job market is, she didn’t want to rule out any possibilities.

After nearly a year of interviewing, Audrey got an offer with a corporation, which turned out to be double her nonprofit salary, including other perks and benefits that she didn’t have at her current position.

When she told her director that she was leaving for another position, he was stunned and responded with remorse, going on and on about how he couldn’t bear to lose her.  He asked her what the new position paid, because he would try to match it and give her a promotion!  “I couldn’t believe it when he said that!” Audrey was incredulous.  “That’s what I wanted in the first place!  Why couldn’t he have said that a year ago?”

In the end, when her director discovered that she had been offered double her salary, he confessed that he couldn’t go high enough to match that, but did try to counter with something much higher than her current salary.  In the end, he offered to contract with her as a consultant to develop more apps in the future, even though she was leaving.

“I don’t understand why he couldn’t have just demonstrated my worth to me while I was there,” Audrey says.  “It would have saved me almost a year’s worth of interviews, and them having to replace a person!  Still, I am pleased to be making more money, of course, but I never would have started looking if he’d just shown some effort to keep me!”

Brian* worked for a satellite office of a national nonprofit, and his director wasn’t interested in his career goals at all.  Brian had been with the organization for a couple of years, and although he demonstrated success with his assignments, he didn’t seem to be able to move beyond them into anything else.  The people at his regional office – including his director – had all been there for some time, and weren’t amenable to trying new things.  They were more likely to say, “This is the way we’ve always done it.”

Brian attended every training that national offered to the regional offices, and lobbied as hard as he could to be included in some additional optional events.  During the various events, he made a point to meet and network with as many national staff members as possible.  After, he would follow up with them, not only by connecting on LinkedIn, but joining in online discussion groups, sharing relevant articles via email, and so forth, throughout the year.

By monitoring the job listings at the national office, Brian was eventually was able to Fix It! when he applied for a similar position at headquarters.  Not only was he qualified, but he was connected enough with the people that he knew specifically who to send his resume and cover letter to, in addition to HR, when applying for the position(s) he wanted.

Brian discovered that in addition to being more forward thinking and appreciative of his creativity and initiative, the national office valued his perspective that he brought from the regional office.  This allowed them to better address the needs of the satellite staff members.

Relocating to national headquarters was not only beneficial to Brian in terms of a raise and promotion, but also helped with maintaining longevity with the same employer on his resume, which he preferred to do.  Most importantly, though, Brian wanted to work with people who would listen to his ideas and have some of their own, and he found this in his new location.

Do you have a Fix It or Forget It? story to share?  Send it to me, and it might help others.  Identifying features will be altered prior to publishing.

___________________________________________________________________________________
Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

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April* and Benjamin* have managers at opposite ends of the attention spectrum

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