So, you've done it. You've considered all the costs of a new job, networked your heart out, and considered all aspects of your job offer. Now you are facing one of two outcomes:
Pull the trigger! Take the new job.
Not good enough! For whatever reason, you've decided to decline the offer.
Let's say that you and your prospective employer come to a satisfactory arrangement and you accept a new position. Surely you can loosen the purse strings a bit and relax now, right? Well, maybe. Sometimes promises and expectations don't align with reality. While this can sometimes occur because a company is deceptive, other times this happens because everyone -- both employer and potential employee -- are just overly optimistic during the interview and hiring process.
In many ways, getting a new job is like dating. Just like we put our best foot forward during the early stages of a new romance, employers and job seekers want to put their best foot forward during the interview process too. The big difference is that many people wait months or even years before they move in together and get married. But when it comes to accepting employment, you are expected to make an informed decision about whether or not to commit to a new job after only one or two interviews -- and sometimes neither are even face-to-face meetings!
This is just another reason why it is so important to have a fully stocked savings account, even if the stars seem to be aligning early on. You don't want to overextend yourself financially to take a new job only to find that you hate it. After all, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Continue reading...
Once you have been offered a new job, you might assume the process is at an end. But is it really? Not all jobs are created equal, and the goal in getting a new job is (typically) to improve your situation. So job offers must be evaluated carefully to ensure that your goals, personal finance and otherwise, are being served.
The standard advice when interviewing for a new job is to avoid being the first person to put forward an exact number. Why? Because you risk low-balling yourself and losing any chance of getting the upper hand as you negotiate.
Of course, this depends on the industry in which you work. The majority of my own experience, for example, is at public universities, where salary ranges are posted as part of the job ads. Salary can be just as much of a clue as job title and description in determining whether you are a good fit for a position, and you can focus your efforts on negotiating for the top of the posted range (though I know from personal experience that doesn't always work).<
Looking for a new job is a multi-faceted process. I've discussed many aspects of career-building that apply even if you are just trying to keep a job you already have. But laying the groundwork for a successful job search is about more than just your reputation. A job search can take months -- in some cases, up to a year or more -- so it is very important to be prepared financially before you start to look.
How to prepare financially for a job search
1: Beef up your emergency savings
To cover the gap between your last paycheck at your old job and your first paycheck at your new job, it is a good idea to beef up your savings. There are many reasons this could be the case: You may need to relocate for your new job, you may find it difficult to time your start and end dates, or you may be laid off or terminated before you can line something else up. These challenges can have a ripple effect on your finances.
For example, if your new job will require that you relocate, your significant other may also need to leave their current job. If you are the primary breadwinner in your family (or you are single) then having a gap in your income can have a major impact on your life. This is especially the case if you are living paycheck to paycheck.<
Recently, I've been posting on job-related topics like networking strategies and job tenure. Because my current position entails working with college students, I've been asked on numerous occasions to talk to various undergraduate groups about getting into graduate school. In fact, I'm giving one such presentation next week.
Many of the things I cover in such presentations are also broadly applicable to any situation where you are competing against a number of other applicants for a position. This includes job-hunting. I've also taught entire units on job-hunting in upper division business writing courses at the university level. Much of the advice that I give is pretty standard:
Research the position and the company<
Recently, I wrote about networking strategies that can help advance your career, and that got me to wondering what a "typical" career looks like these days. How have careers been affected by the Great Recession? Are people able to stay in a job and retire if they love it, or is the job market more chaotic than that? And what does it say about you either way? For instance, are there certain features of someone's resume that might identify them as a baby boomer, Gen X, or millennial? Could that even pose an advantage or disadvantage for them?
Lifetime Careers and Pensions Have Gone the Way of the Dodo
People often fall prey to the "rosy retrospection" bias or fallacy, where they have a tendency to remember the past as being better than it actually was. So while your parents' or grandparents' generation would likely have said differently at the time, if you ask folks today about those past decades, they would tell you that it was a stable time when it wasn't too hard to stay with one employer for all or the majority of their careers and retire with a fat pension.
Whether or not that was actually people's lived experience, it is generally acknowledged that the retirement outlook for 20-somethings today is quite different. It is expected now that individuals will hold numerous jobs throughout their lifetimes. In fact, people may have not only different jobs, but different careers over the course of their working years.
When I was in college, one of my co-workers at my part-time, on-campus job gave me a funny little gift that I use to this day. What was it? It's called a "wallet fairy." According to the note that came with my little talisman, you put it in your wallet and "you'll never be out of money when you need it."
I can't honestly say that the "magic" has been foolproof. I believe I've mentioned on a couple of occasions the time I didn't wash my hair for a month because I couldn't afford shampoo. And I distinctly remember crying after going to the grocery store on a couple of occasions because I didn't know how I was going to pay my bills after buying food. But I guess if the magic were foolproof, this fool wouldn't have learned her lesson and started digging her way out of debt, right?
I've written about the power of personal networks before. Unfortunately, lots of people find networking intimidating for a variety of reasons. Certainly, I used to! For me, breaking networking down into a system that I can follow helps me overcome nervousness and network effectively. Here are the two main networking strategies that I use.
Networking via "keeping it warm"
What it is: Keeping it warm is a pretty straightforward strategy. It means that you don't wait until you need something before getting in touch with your professional connections.<
Just because two people hear the same word or phrase, doesn't mean that they are conceptualizing the same thing. For example, I live in the desert, so when I say that it's "cold," it's a pretty safe bet that I'm talking about something different than the person who lives in Vermont. Similarly, if I say it's "humid," I am probably not thinking about the same thing as the person who lives in Florida.
It comes down to the difference between denotation and connotation. "Denotation" refers to something's definition or literal meaning. "Connotation," on the other hand, refers to what we associate with the use of a particular term. Connotations can be cultural in nature, though they may be based on personal experience. They can also evoke strong emotions (positive or negative), in both the speaker and the listener.
I have noticed this tendency come into play right here in the comments of GRS. "Get Rich Slowly" is the name of the site, but what do those words mean? What, exactly, is "rich"? What do I think "slowly" means? Is that the same time frame you have in mind? Why does it matter, anyway?
I've spent the last 15 years of my life working at three universities, wearing many different hats during that time. As you can imagine, this means that I've developed an opinion or two when it comes to higher education! Based on what I've experienced (and what I've seen other people go through), one of the most difficult things for people is matching a degree program to their budget and overall career path. You want to find the right fit.
What is "fit" anyway?
I don't think finding a program that fits means finding your "true calling," as they say. I'm not convinced, having seen firsthand how it can unravel, that the people who can only imagine one specific career for themselves are necessarily the lucky ones. What if your chosen profession doesn't pay well? What if you have to relocate to a place where the job market for that career is better but you don't know anyone? What if the job requires more of your time than you'd like to give?