Enduring pain and difficult circumstances are unwanted at the time, but when we look back, the experience provided a new threshold. We could spend time how it would look and your resume, but more importantly, how could it be leveraged to advance your career. Sometimes, these experiences show up as opportunities, but the timing seems terrible at the time. What if you were leaving in six months, yet a challenging situation where if you leaned into it, provide a game-changing experience?
A recent Harvard Business Review article suggests what the new workplace will look like:
- Flexible (with working option remotely)
- Outcomes over output (and crushing the 10-12 hours five days a week)
Even though money makes a difference, the way an employer makes them feel means significantly more. Sometimes it’s an opportunity disguised as an undesirable challenge what we were hoping to confront to get the experience we need. It’s an underestimated dichotomy that’s underrated. It’s something job seekers must negotiate with themselves to bring about a satisfying outcome.
In one leadership position I had (non-management), I challenged myself to handle most of the complaint calls in the call center. The result made me a resource for the marketing managers and raised my visibility throughout the company significantly. My manager and director told me they never seen anyone handle the difficulties and not one time mistreat anyone. They also knew I wanted a management position and was planning to go elsewhere. Those were powerful moments in my career.
In some cases, happiness means more salary. A recent survey shows 65% of Americans would take less to work from home. Respondent’s reaction about taking the pay could reflect in their desperation in wanting ideal job offers. Many of them are saying they can work with 25% less. I wouldn’t trade those moments for money because the payoff did come later when I did something no one else volunteered for.
It’s not settling either. It’s prioritizing. I did it years ago with a wife and two children.
When things look dim with your current company, look for opportunities, not criticism:
The worse job situations may provide game-changing opportunities
Workplaces with high turnover rates aren’t the only problem for the rank and file employees. It’s also an opportunity for someone with solutions and aspirations. If the company’s ceiling paint is chipping and walls are falling in, you might be able to endure an introduction to management in some way. All you need is one person to report to you, even if it’s for a short time (six months to a year). You can use that experience to leverage and get your first management job.
Not all industries are the same, and never assume they are. Even people with minimum experience have a shot at management promotions if they have the right personality for the company and the people they would lead. I’ve said before: Companies can’t train great personality. They must hire them.
Furthermore, someone who can lead and temperament during crises or toxic environments is a rare find. Stepping into a desirable role during emergencies is the ultimate test of leading. There is some value in great leaders who lead in favorable conditions and cultures. Leaders who handle unfavorable conditions with grace and their people with tact and respect are the more excellent value.
2. The room temperature might be right for a raise
I wrote an article for The Balance Careers suggesting a few scenarios you can ask for a raise:
- A growth period where the company ignites a hiring spree
- A favorable performance review
- Good to great business reports
You don’t want to make it obvious you’re leveraging the current “Great Resignation” experience. I’m sure it’s in the back of the mind of leadership, directors, managers, and supervisors. But like anything else, the “ask” is an essential part of a successful raise request. Besides, you must have your reasons and convictions for moving on and job search responsibly.
Keep in mind other parts of your compensation package might be negotiated to an upgrade if you’re at a small startup or established older company. You can be creative if it makes good business sense to think out of the box while you’re valuable to show up at all.
One startup I know of that closed offered the few workers left $100-300 if they made specific goals. This happened after an employee negotiated it for herself when they did three times more business towards the end. The employer saw this as an opportunity for all who were left as an incentive to stay. As a result, everyone won because including employees.
Many professionals who desire to move up in their careers close out too early at jobs they think no longer serve them. By stepping into challenges creates a new floor for your career, as does asking for a raise in the last few months of a job. Those are stories you can use to elevate the way employers should see you. In the pandemic era, many employers want new hires and what job candidates want to visit potential employers.
The pandemic is forcing many professionals to put themselves and their livelihood first. There are many layers to our lives. It’s hard to say in blanket statements what we all want anymore. We all want to feel valued in 2021, and there are “no’s” to give out. Another talking point to what professionals wish to in 2021 is to work from home even if we have to sacrifice some cash.
Bloomberg recently reported some professionals are willing to take up to a 15% cut in pay to stay home to work. In addition, many are eager to give up time off to work from home.
Working at a big company would sacrifice a little salary to buy back travel time if I were working at a big company. For many of us who had to travel more than two hours a day (sometimes driving) is a lot of time. Those hours mean much more when you have small children growing and maturing faster than we can keep up. It gives us time to attend a child’s participation in sports or to help with homework. You can’t get that time back.
Many professionals have radically valued career development more than ever.
We can scale our careers more conveniently as we can do it from anywhere. And it doesn’t have to cost us vacation time or overtime to do more of it. What we do realize is our employer is less likely to invest in our future. They are more interested in the now. If we’re lucky to get that boost from our employer, our cup should be overflowing with gratitude.
Consider a disaster recovery plan for your work.
A recent Gallup poll showed people had to change how they worked, and it wasn’t perfect. The longer the pandemic disruption lasted, workers did adjust:
Since November, however, worker reports of difficulty have eased, although workers continue to report doing their job differently. This workflow could either be a sign that workers are getting accustomed to the changes or that refinements have been made to make those changes easier.
It is finding a workplace that values you, me and all of us.
My friend Scott Behson’s new book, The Whole Person Workplace, discusses how employers create a welcoming, inclusive culture. In my recent conversation with him, he shared with me in an email several questions job seekers can ask to help them discern, such as a workplace.
Two of them are:
- How did you help employees with feelings of burnout and overwork during the height of the pandemic? What lessons from that time are you continuing to apply going forward?
- Can you tell me about someone who, at one point in their career with you, had to alter their work because of life demands and is now in a leadership position?
These are great questions because they speak to several real issues exposed by the pandemic:
- How the company arranges work to help workers through stressful instances?
- How will I feel about the company during a crisis of any kind?
- Does altering a workload (not necessarily lightening it) create a negative view of my performance?
I’m sure there are other ways to view these questions. But I think it’s time to evaluate what is important to us outside of compensation. People may take jobs that underutilize their abilities and talents to claim peace of mind. Others want to work remotely without a negative and lasting effect on their careers. All of us want to end up at the same place: Feeling valued.