Job search tips that work

You may have noticed that, since last September, many of my posts here at Get Rich Slowly have focused on the job search. Some of you may have wondered why I would write about such a topic at all, since my job tenure was over seven years.

Well, it’s because I have been job-hunting. And I succeeded! As I write this, I just wrapped up my first week at a new job.

So I thought it would be helpful to revisit some of the posts I wrote during that time to see what job search tips actually worked for me as I went through the process. Here’s an overview of how I approached my job search and what made it successful.

Curating my online presence

One of the first aspects of the job hunt I talked about was how to curate your social media presence when job-hunting. This was step one for me. I have always had the privacy settings on my Facebook account pretty high and avoided talking about work there (positive or negative). So I wasn’t terribly concerned about my online presence. However, I did beef up my LinkedIn account, and I signed up for their premium service for a (free) test month too.

Searching outside my current industry

I have a PhD, and almost all of my jobs have been in the field of higher education. However, as most of you probably know, most jobs in higher education (with the exception of upper administration) don’t pay as well as comparable jobs outside of academia. I have been trying unsuccessfully to advance in my current industry for years, so this time I decided to broaden my search and consider regular jobs, for lack of a better term — and it worked.

Interviewing my prospective employer

I already had a job when I was asked for an interview, so I felt comfortable enough to interview my prospective employer in the process. I asked a lot of questions about what the job would entail because I had never worked in this industry before — and I’m glad I did.

What I learned by asking questions was that, while the industry was different, I had experience that aligned with the actual job duties. It helped me realize which of my transferable skills — primarily that I enjoy collaboration and consider myself a fast learner — I should highlight in the interview.

There was more to consider than salary

I was offered the job after an in-person interview and some phone conversations. (The business operates out of multiple locations, and some of the people I needed to talk to were in remote offices.) I was drawn to the fact that the company had a laid-back atmosphere and offered things not easily available at my current employer, such as, the ability to set my own schedule and work remotely. However, the vacation/sick time wasn’t as generous and the insurance wasn’t as good.

I still considered salary

The sticking point, however, did end up being salary. The salary I was eventually offered was lower than that mentioned earlier in the process. Additionally, while it was higher than my current salary, it wasn’t high enough to make leaving an extremely stable job that I knew I excelled at an attractive option. Finally, once I took into consideration the fact that they didn’t offer a 401(k) match, it was actually a (tiny) pay cut. I even tried to negotiate the salary with them — but they were firm, so I turned down the job.

I moved on, but I didn’t give up

I was sorry that things didn’t work out, but I didn’t dwell on it. In fact, I didn’t have time to dwell on it because, shortly after I turned down the job offer, I was diagnosed with a herniated disc. I ended up undergoing numerous procedures and seeing a physical therapist. During this time, I used my annual performance evaluation process at my current employer to try and negotiate a promotion since my duties had also increased significantly. That didn’t work out either.

Staying open to opportunity

Several months after I declined their job offer, the company I interviewed with renewed contact with me. They said that they had revisited the budget and could now pay a significantly higher salary for the position for which I had originally applied. Additionally, they anticipated promotional opportunities for me within six months of hire. I did have to go through the interview process again; but since I had proven I was capable of the job the first time, the second time was more their attempt to woo me into accepting. They ended up offering me the position for even more than I had tried to negotiate for previously. Wahoo!

Negotiating for a smooth transition

Because I wanted to resign my job gracefully, I negotiated for a month’s notice at my current employer. My new employer said, “I hope you give us this much consideration if you ever leave,” and granted my request. This gave me time to complete some major projects and catch my supervisor up on time-sensitive actions that would need to be completed after I left. I don’t think two weeks would have been long enough; however, in retrospect, I think a month was too long. I didn’t anticipate how quickly I would emotionally detach from my investment in my job, and I was a little offended that they didn’t even try to retain me given my stellar performance over the last seven years. However, that did cement my belief that, ultimately, I had made the right call in deciding to leave.

Starting my new job!

I’ve been at my new job a week and am really enjoying it so far. My gross salary is over 25 percent more than I was making before, and they upgraded their insurance since I first interviewed too. As far as the work, it seems manageable in terms of what I have to do, and I am excited to work on a team where several of us do the same thing. This means I have more resources if I have questions, and I think it will also make scheduling vacations easier. (In my previous job, I was the only person in my department who did what I did, so there were certain times of year when taking a vacation or even a sick day was out of the question.)

Final thoughts

The biggest takeaway for me was that it was literally six months between when I applied for my new job and my first day at work (an argument in favor of keeping a high-yield savings account that serves as an emergency fund)! If I had been unemployed, I probably wouldn’t have walked away after my original attempt at negotiation failed, which means I would have found a job in three months instead of six, but I would be making much less money in the long run.

How long does a successful job search take you (from application to first day)? Which job-search strategies worked best for you? Share your job-search stories in the comments below!

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