If you lost your job in the last 30-60 days, this may not be the post for you. About 30 years ago, my outplacement counselor gave me this rule of thumb and even as the economy has gone up and down, it still holds true. If you’re looking for a job, you should plan for your job search to take about 30 days for every $10,000 you want to earn in annual salary. If you want a $40,000 job, plan to look for 4 months – $60k = 6 months. That isn’t a law, it’s just an average and I’ve seen it repeat over and over. If you have an active network, it can go faster. If you’re starting from scratch or if you are in a particularly competitive field, maybe it will take longer. As I’ve said before, I’ve done this 7 times and it’s taken between 2 weeks and 13 months.
This post is directed to those in who are approaching or have passed that average. If you’ve been looking for months and months and are not having much luck, maybe you need to reconsider a few things. The popular press suggests that kids coming out of college today will change jobs every few years and will change careers 4-5 times before they retire. Those of us old enough to have children who are out of college find that hard to comprehend. I’ve been an HR guy for 30 years and I really can’t imagine doing anything else, but if I’m out of work for more than 6 months again, you can bet I will be thinking of what else I could be doing.
In the midst of an extended search is a great opportunity to be introspective. Who are you, and whom do you want to be when you grow up? Is there a passion in your life that is not being met? Is there an area where you can serve that will bring out something different in you? Would a little schooling help you to find a new spark and a new direction?
I’m not suggesting you abandon all hope and take a leap of faith into a new field, but I am suggesting that you open your mind to it. Network in a new direction. Volunteer where you can learn or use a different skill. Take a part time job that lets you explore a new industry.
You may find that you know who you are and you need to keep your career search on your original track. You may also discover a new energy, passion, and direction. Be open-minded. Let the search take you where it takes you. You just never know what you might find – or what might find you.
For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.
It doesn’t happen to every job seeker – but it happens more often that you think. You’re out there networking and interviewing and suddenly you have two opportunities coming up at the same time. What are you going to do?!?
Maybe you get an offer from a job that is okay, but you really are hoping for a job that would be great. Or maybe you just get that “okay” offer but you’re not sure you really want that job.
There are several conflicting decision points at play here.
1) A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
2) Be true to yourself.
3) How does the pay, benefits, duties and potential compare you your wants and needs?
4) If they liked you enough to offer you a job, so will someone else.
5) If I take the first one and the second one calls – can I quit the first one?
I can’t answer these questions for you – especially without knowing the situation. Here is what I do know. Don’t take a job you don’t want. Even if you’ve been unemployed for a while taking a job you know you’ll hate will not make you happy, nor will it advance your career. Plus it will take time away from your job search. But, I also understand the need to feed your family so when you reach that stage find a job that provides an income and gives you the opportunity to keep looking.
There is a great story about a man who was stranded on his roof during a flood and three times boats came by to pick him up. Each time he send them away saying that God would provide him relief from the flood. When he drowned and met God in heaven he asked God why he didn’t save him. God’s response was “who do you think sent the boats?” The moral here is that if you keep waiting for that perfect job it may not come along.
Do not feel you have to take the first offer you get. If that job is not going to provide the right mix of rewards then keep looking. If you accept a job, then you’ll have to use your own moral compass to decide how long you need to stay with that job before you quit. While your new employer might be disappointed or even angry if you resign after just a few weeks or months, they’ll be okay.
I don’t like games or attempts at manipulation. I don’t like it when a candidate – or an employee – says I need to pay them more because someone else has given them a better offer. I want people to be honest and direct. But … I don’t always get what I want either.
There are no easy answers here. Look inside yourself. Make sure you know both what you want and what you need. If you don’t think a job offer meets most of those things then walk away – there will be more. If you think this looks like good job take it – and throw yourself into the job. If it turns out you were wrong, start looking. I will tell you this – it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.
These are tough decisions to make, but if you have to make them then you are doing the right things and your search is progressing. Keep it up!