Being released from a position is one of the most personally trying experiences you can endure in a lifetime. Most Americans, myself included, can generally not withstand a prolonged period without a job due to financial reasons. Moreover, being released from a position often raises red flags for future job prospects within your field. However, it does give you the motivation to find another role – and it’s important to know your value before you accept a new job with another firm.
My Friend’s Experience with a Layoff
Recently, one of my friends was released from his position as a civil engineer. That brings up some awkward questions…
“Why did you leave your last position?”
Tough question to answer.
To cut to the chase, there was a brightside to losing his job: he was being underpaid, overworked and mistreated in his previous role. For a worker with his experience, it was impossible to say objectively he was being treated fairly. Looking at the situation (and knowing him for as long as I have), I thought… “Let’s try to get a deserving worker a better position.”
We talked over what position he was looking for, what position he had previously and what amount of runway was in front of him (amount of money he had versus what he spent).
I concluded: he probably needed a role within two months (not good). So we started working on the job preparation right away.
I am not a design guy. I don’t have an eye for exactly what looks good or not, either on a resumé or (arguably) in other facets of life.
When we looked at his resumé together, I think we both realized that we could benefit from the use of a third-party advisor so I ponied up a few bucks (~$200?) and decided to get a professional resumé reviewer so that we could focus more on the strategy of where we applied.
We considered a lot of issues.
Being in civil engineering and having a passion in the area, obviously we were looking for one of the best positions possible in the field but with the need for capital impending we had to open it up: Uber, Call Centers, TaskRabbit, hustling (as a last ditch effort)… along with firing out the resumé to the people in the field who might be interested.
As we were waiting for responses to come back, we just kept firing out resumés day after day after day. As those who have been on the job hunt for a while can relate, it can take a long time for these people to get back. So we waited.
As we continued the search, we kept firing out interviews and finally we got a bite. A firm replied back and mentioned they wanted to bring him in an for an interview.
Like a crush in high school, you’ve got to wait on a response; instead of responding immediately, we fired out five more applications and waited until the next day before responding. Slowly, the interview offers started coming in.
After a lengthy back and forth with interviewers (some positive and some negative) we had an offer on the table for a 30% pay increase.
Losing your job involuntarily and getting a 30% pay increase? That’s a fair sign that you were underpaid.
Instead of chomping at the bit, grabbing the money and calling it a day, we kept applying and let it sit. As we let it sit, a better offer came in at a role that was interesting yet not exactly what he wanted to be doing with his life. Here was my opinion:
“Let’s try to get more money out of the company you want. If they say no, you can choose whichever you want. If they say ‘yes’, it’s all gravy.”
We fired out an e-mail that (paraphrased) read:
“I have an offer at XYZ company for $Y/year. I am more interested in your company and am looking to accept a position to start in the first week of December. If I am still being considered for this position, I would like to accept the role by 12/1/2015 so if you are able to match the offer I would be thrilled to accept the offer. If not, I am encouraged by your confidence in my abilities and would love to be considered for future positions.”
No-fail situation, right? If they don’t respond or reject the offer, you take the higher paying job at a role you don’t like. If they accept, great.
They came back instantly with an offer +~2.5% for a final increase in salary by about 40%. Accepted immediately. Total time out of a role: about three weeks.
Know Your Value: The Aftermath
It felt like such a coup. We had won and got a role that was at a better company with a better position (hopefully, yet to be seen). The thing that amazed me most about the situation was how quickly he had turned from needing a job to being willing to reject an offer with “only” a 30% raise.
(I agreed with that opinion and I must apologize to his girlfriend who must have hated me influencing some of his decisions from across the country without having a real stake in the outcome. It all worked out in the end.)
What’s the final verdict?
Know your value.
Recognize that if you have an ability or talent that you are competing for positions in the same way that companies are competing for talented individuals.
If reading this has made you interested in hiring my services, leave a message in the comments or my inbox… or something. Do you think you know your value?