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My Job Search Process, Part Three: Don’t Settle

As we started talking about in the post titled “How to Find Unadvertised Jobs In The Hidden Job Market“, I wasn’t allowed to work during the immigration period when I moved to the US. That was almost a year, and when I finally was allowed to work, I needed a job. This is part of the story of how to find work you enjoy.

Most people seem to think of their job hunt as an attempt to minimize the gap in their income stream. This is wrong. Even if the work you’re looking for is at a lower level, if you ever want to improve you have to make your choices more carefully. If you’re working on your career, this applies even more strongly. To clarify: money now is not as important as your work happiness now and in the long run. This is one of three components in a successful and effective job search process.

Let’s take an example. My last job search in Vancouver was pretty quick: in a few weeks I had two offers:

Production Manager at a large steel fabrication plant, where they cut custom profiles for new construction. These are things that help hold the building up. Previously I’d managed the cutting of plate up to 1” thick at a smaller facility; here, it would be up to a foot thick. Very, very high salary.

Business Development Manager for a full-service boutique IT firm. Managed services, custom database projects, network security hardware. These are the nuts and bolts of computer operations. I had no experience in the IT field. Salary: half of the other offer, plus 10% of sales.

It would be easy—and many of you would have, I’m sure—to leap for the big, certain dollars and pick the first role. Let’s consider my choice a little more deeply:

First role—stay in production/operations management, a field I’m trained in but do not love, deepen my experience with plate cutting, scheduling, inventory management and people management. Tough boss with a chip on his shoulder. Work in an industry that hasn’t done anything new in a long time.

Second role—expand my range of knowledge and fields to work in, learn new technical information in a growing industry that changes all the time. Nice boss, good ‘culture’ fit. Work in sales & marketing, a field I do love, and improve my skills in that area.

My decision was easy because I did not settle for more money today at a job I wouldn’t be happy at. Nor would the first role have taken my career in a direction I wanted to go. It would not have made me more appealing to future employers in the business development field.

Let’s look at a more recent case. I did not have any existing offers, and got a call from a recruiter in a city a couple of hours away. They were interested in me for a client’s software sales role that paid on target $60 – $90K. Moving for the right position would not be a problem. After the phone interview, the recruiter was going to set up another call, this time with the hiring manager at the business. Overnight, I thought it over, and in the morning I cancelled.

Why did I do that? During my questioning of the recruiter, I discovered that the role was in a culture of what in the DISC profile is High I’s, meaning the talkative, spinny, creative types, and would be 8 hours a day of cold calling. I don’t mind prospecting, but I do not believe it is possible to effectively and capably call all day long. After three days of it I would be miserable. The role didn’t have enough range of duties to match my interests, nor would it have helped my career. Also, I’m a C, a completely different behavioral type. It wasn’t a fit. So rather than waste my time, the employer’s time and the recruiter’s time, I chose not to settle.

I hope these examples give you the idea of how to start going about thinking when it comes to job offers. Don’t take a thing just because it’s offered to you: human nature makes us want to, whether it’s a handshake or a hand grenade. Be careful about what you select to get involved with, because it shapes your experience, and the perception of employers down the road. Make sure you’ll be happy with the work you do. Don’t settle.

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Jason

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