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Posts Tagged ‘turnover’

Fix It Or Forget It?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

It’s important to know the what and why about the company you’re interviewing with, but for your sanity, dig deeper. The more you can learn about an organization’s “personality,” the better. See what Orson* and Peggy * did.

Orson* interviewed for a sales rep position which would cover a several county area.  He was pleased with the salary he had negotiated, and learned that he would also be getting a company car to cover his territory.  This was in an area that was new to him, and moving expenses were included.  All in all, he was excited for his new challenge.

When his offer letter came, however, his excitement soon faded.  A provision had been inserted which said that he would be starting at 80% of his negotiated salary, on a 3 month probationary period!  This had never been discussed – not during any of his interviews, nor over the phone.

He called his manager for clarification, asking why this had been put in the offer letter.  Her only response was that it was “standard,” and she wouldn’t budge.

Orson had also met with his manager’s supervisor during the interview phase, so he then felt he had no recourse but to call the district manager.  It wasn’t the best way to start out a new job, he felt, but he had been offered his full salary, and told the district sales manager so.

The district manager agreed, and a new offer letter was sent to Orson, stating that he would start with the originally negotiated full starting salary!  Orson was proud that he had Fixed It! and signed the offer letter and returned it to his manager, hoping that there wouldn’t be repercussions.

Shortly after he began his new position, he asked his manager, “How do I take care of my moving expenses?  Does the company get billed, or do I get reimbursed?”

She responded, “Oh, you don’t get moving expenses.  Didn’t you read your offer letter?”

“I was so burned up!” Orson said.  “I actually called her boss again.”

This time, though, the district manager was less inclined to be supportive.  He asked, “Does this prevent you from taking the job?”

I said, “No,” Orson recalled, “But looking back, I wish I’d played hardball.”

Orson later learned that his territory had two reps before him in the past year, and his company’s sales reps for the entire state saw more than 100% turnover in one year!

“I, too, ended up leaving the position within the year,” Orson recounted.  “That organization was terribly unhealthy, and I wish I’d noticed the many, many warning bells that were going off around me!”

Peggy* had made it as a finalist for a job she felt would be a good step up in her career, and was interviewing with the woman who would be her supervisor, should she get the position.

Things had been going well, and Peggy began to ask some more direct questions about the history of the organization and specifically, the position itself, such as, “How long has this position been vacant?” and “Why did the last person leave?”

Typically, these answers are not only revealing about the position, but also about the person answering them, and whether or not they are forthcoming.  This is true especially if the previous staff person departed under difficult circumstances, such as getting fired.  Seeing how delicately (or not) a manger handles describing such a situation is very revealing.

On the other hand, if the organization promotes from within, it can be a good sign – and also a bonus to know that the staff member will be available to answer questions while learning a new job.

Peggy was relieved to learn that the answer was somewhat benign:  The former staff member left a month ago because she had a baby and decided to become a full time mother.

The director continued by saying what a loss it was to the organization when the staff member left, then added, “And it’s really so foolish of her, sabotaging her career like that!  I even offered to let her work part time, too!  What can she be thinking?”

Peggy was so startled, she didn’t know what to say.  It certainly seemed as though she was being given a directive that if she had children (or was planning to have them), she’d better not be considering staying home full time and leaving her job!

Before Peggy could think of what question to ask next, the director continued the conversation and changed the subject back to the job and organization, much to her relief.  Peggy finished the interview, all the while searching her memory, wondering if she had dropped any references to her family situation during the interview.

A couple of weeks later, Peggy got the job offer, but politely declined, saying she had accepted another offer (she hadn’t).  She decided to Forget It! and not work for someone who so obviously declared that she knew what was right for everyone else’s situation.

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

 

            

Fix It Or Forget It?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Smart job seekers know that a long term approach is best these days when scoping out that next new position.  It’s no longer a matter of skimming listings, sending out a few resumes, interviewing, then choosing which offer to accept.

Although there is no “magic number,” most people consider themselves quite fortunate if their job search produces an offer within the first six months to a year in this economy.  This can vary greatly, of course, depending on many factors.

First of all, there is an enormous discrepancy in how much time and effort each person sincerely puts into their search on a weekly basis, not to mention who stays with it consistently, week after week.  It can be difficult to maintain persistence in the face of constant rejection, but those who do will see a payoff sooner.  People who network with others in their field also reap the benefits of being put in touch with hiring managers more frequently.  It’s well established that many positions are hired through word of mouth and recommendations from others in the field, so becoming visible and connected is an endeavor worth pursuing.

Since it’s clear that your job search will most likely take several months to a year, it’s worth approaching with a more strategic stance, rather than waiting for job listings to appear and merely being reactive all the time.  Select a dozen – or two! – companies that you would most like to work for, and start keeping tabs on them.  What can you learn about the culture of these companies over time?  Not only will you be more prepared for an interview later on, but you may learn a better way to rank them by preference, in terms of a hospitable, professional or competent workplace.

Once she had a successful initial phone interview, I advised Eileen* to join the company’s Facebook page and also start following them on Twitter, so she could keep up with their latest news.  She was pleased when she got called in for a face-to-face interview soon after.

Eileen thought that everyone seemed to like her and her skills during the interview, and she was hopeful about getting an offer.  Although some aspects of the interview did seem to be a bit more informal than she was used to, she knew that every company is different, and this one was younger and smaller than the one she’d be coming from.

The HR manager told Eileen that they found her to be very qualified, but that they hired someone else for the position.  He then went on to say that they would be hiring some other positions in the near future, and asked if they could keep her resume on file, because they felt that she might be the right fit for one of those instead.

Eileen was disappointed, of course, but also flattered.  While she wasn’t going to hold her breath, this was a polite rejection.  Many other companies hadn’t even bothered to call and tell her she didn’t get the job. She had also seen other positions listed on the company’s social media channels, so she did feel that it was possible.

Over the next several months, however, Eileen noticed that there were actually many, many positions listed for hire with this company – some of them were the same position listed just a few months apart!

“It’s one thing for the company to be younger and smaller,” Eileen said, “But it’s quite another to see the kind of turnover they were obviously having!”

Several months later, the company did contact Eileen for a similar position to the one she’d previously interviewed for.  She decided to Forget It! “I told them, ‘Thanks, but I’ve already found another job,’ even though I hadn’t yet.  I didn’t want to burn any bridges, but there was no way I was going to work someplace that was so clearly unstable!”

Freida* worked in nonprofit marketing, and in addition to advising her to subscribe to the social media channels of the organizations that she most wanted to work for, I also suggested that she set up a designated email account.  This email account had the sole purpose of subscribing to various emails sent by the same organizations.  (I proposed that she use an email name completely different from hers for this account; she borrowed her deceased uncle’s name.)

Since Freida had experience in email marketing as well, she could gauge over time which organizations sent out poor, average or excellent e-newsletters, petitions, solicitations, etc.  She made three folders in her account and filed all correspondence accordingly.  Sorting each folder by sender also let her see the kind of volume and frequency each nonprofit was sending, which told her even more about the sophistication of a marketing position at each organization.

This type of background research allowed Freida to Fix It! when she was trying to pin down which specific organizations to target and pursue most aggressively.  Although it took her nearly a year to get the interview and job offer she sought, she found a good match with not only the position and salary she wanted, but also the organization, mission, size and culture.  Very little of it came as a surprise to her, due to her combined networking and immersion in their various communication channels prior to being hired.

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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