May 4, 2015

Be so good they can't ignore you

In the ten years I have been employed, a lot has changed. The last time I had to spruce up my resume and interview was four years ago, and prior to that, just about every year.
I switched jobs so often that I never really had to worry about what my resume looked like because it was always in good shape.
The last time I landed a job, I literally walked my resume over to the office, because I thought it added a bit of a personal touch (and let's be honest, if it was a dude, I could try and count on at least landing an interview, right? It wasn't a dude that took my resume, by the way, but it still worked out)

But dudes, A LOT has changed in those four years. There are so many more people entering the job markets. Young, hungry, driven professionals that are willing to make a lower dollar amount just to get. the damn. job.
And I used to be that person. I was relatively junior in my career so there were easier opportunities. I would simply apply and get the job within a week. It didn't really matter if I had background experience with anything because I just didn't, and whatever was going to be taught to me would be taught on site.

These days? Well.....I am very much more senior in my role, my salary, and my career in general. It has been a rather humbling experience to apply for a job on Linkedin and realize there are already 70 applicants. And that is just on THAT site....what about email or other job boards? SO MANY PEOPLE! Now granted, 50% of them are typically unqualified in some fashion, but what about the other half? How do you beat out those bitches?

I am thrilled to say I landed a very exciting role Friday afternoon, and after a bit of haggling, I am pleased to say that I basically checked off everything on my "needs" list. You know, the one I kept struggling with?

I was out of work for two weeks and am so very thankful that this all happened before I was supposed to start claiming unemployment. Not that there is anything wrong with doing so, it'll just be less of a headache come tax season. I have two more weeks prior to starting and I plan to knock out a few more home items and relax a bit.

So let me tell you what I did and provide some tips to help you land your dream job.
The position was posted on Linkedin (I have found this site to have more roles that aren't necessarily entry-level, vs. sites like and Career Builder) I did a bunch of sleuthing and found out who was in the position prior to me, the history of the company, the owners, anything and everything I could use to give me more leverage and confidence to go in and rock the job.

I actually found this position myself, outside of the head hunters. Head hunters can be great, and my experience with them was so-so. I worked with two larger firms and one smaller, boutique company as a referral from a friend. Unless you are just starting out in your career, I don't recommend a larger firm. They just want to find you ANYTHING that they can make commission from. They don't have a lot of details about salary, benefits, etc, and most likely you will not get the company name as they are under confidentiality clauses.
The lady I worked with from my friend's referral was amazing. She would secretly send me information: the company name, internal personalities, company size, salary range, benefits, dress code...the whole shebang.
I loved this because honestly, I could just apply blindly to a job site and not know these details, but I am "hiring" these head hunters to get the inside scoop, make sense?
The day I accepted the job offer for my company, I actually had a very positive phone screen with a company in the city, set up by my favorite head hunter. We were going to move forward with an interview and everything.
I am sure I could have landed that job, but you know what? My job beats it.

I landed a Senior Office Manager role with a Chicago-comparable salary, but guess what? It's in the 'burbs....a 35 minute drive to be exact. It's a creative company that is profitable with solid, stable growth, has a casual dress environment, and good benefits.

The best part is how I sold them.
See, the job was actually for someone less experienced than me. They wanted an Office Manager with roughly 2-3 years experience (I have 8) and the job description was standard. I took a chance and applied, knowing that if it was going to work, I had to convince them I could bring so much more to the table by going above and beyond what they were asking, all the while saving them money in the long term by not having to hire other senior staff. I'm kind of a catch-all for the company, if you will.
I also needed to convince them that I was requiring a salary much higher than whatever their budget was for this job.

I spent four hours interviewing. FOUR. HOURS. It was amazing. I drove my point home about seniority, laid out my 90 day and six month plan to get up and running, met with all the principals, got an office tour, discussed benefits, and even chatted about their salary range vs. mine and WHY I would rock it in that position and WHY they should reconsider not only the role, but pay too. He did himm and haww around after I told him my preferred range, but the key is to give your desired range, and then calmly sit there, making direct eye contact (not crazy eyes) and wait for them to squirm. It works like a charm. We got back to fun chat shortly after and I left to get white-girl wasted with a friend, after successfully knocking it out of the park.

Two days later, just as anticipated (although I was biting my nails until it did), the offer came in.
Ladies, don't EVER sell yourself short. The company met my higher salary range, but I still haggled. Do your research. Find out what your "worth" is, and be able to back up your claims. I was actually out of the "range" for the area, but I knew what I would be getting paid in the city, and that was my goal.
Did I actually take a pay cut? Yes, I did. Nothing drastic, but I knew I would. Like I said before, my salary was high for the job at the last place, and if I were to switch and stay at that same rate, I can guarantee there would be a shit-ton of overtime to go along with it.

So I asked for a bump in salary, and more vacation days.
And I got it.

Don't ever feel guilty for asking, especially during an offer. The worst they can do is say no.
The likelihood of you getting another major raise outside of a promotion is rare. The offer is where you have the highest success rate and most companies don't ever give their "best and final" upfront.
And you can GUARANTEE that if a man were in the similar position, they wouldn't even hesitate to ask for more. The company chose you, and if they are a good company, they will work with your proposals. They won't dump you just because you asked for more money.

You guys....this job means so much to me!
I literally get to pave my own way, at a job that I DECIDED they should let me do, in a way I want to do it. And it's local to my house, with less of a commute. I will get back TWO HOURS of each day to spend with my family. Having a baby seems so much more doable than in the city. I have the flexibility to just go if I ever have to, on my own schedule, vs. that of the train.
Yes there is shitty traffic, and yes, I need to figure out a way to reign in my road rage, but the constant reminder that my commute will go from 1.5 hours to 40 minutes is HUGE. We will still be able to move forward with our home plans because my salary is comparable, and I will actually be able to enjoy my home more.
We are so lucky this gap in employment was short and sweet. I still have time to catch up on housework and get the place summer-ready, and we gifted ourselves a pool heater! Midwestern summers can be fickle, but this will easily extend our summer pool months from 3 to 5!

Thank you for reading! I'm off to do chores.


  1. YAY! Congrats to you! That is such a huge accomplishment! I have to admit, working in the school system is so totally different than what I hear other people talk about. I literally brought in a portfolio, did a behavioral based interview with a panel... and that's it. There is no negotiation of anything since we are contract employees and covered by a "union" agreement. I love that you were ballsy enough to negotiate and let them know exactly what you needed.

  2. Wow, great job Tia - so happy for you!! Yep, the train schedule gets old after a while, and I actually enjoy my 35 drive to work - some days there are back ups but I just crank the music louder :D

  3. WOOOOHOOO!!! I'm so happy to hear it's in the suburbs! Where, if I may ask?? How exciting. And when do you start? Did I miss that?

  4. Congrats, that's such a motivating post for people who are in the thick of trying to find a job. I find myself being very timid when it comes to negotiating salary/benefits. I could have used this pep talk about two and a half years ago ;) Congrats and enjoy your next two weeks! xoxo, ganeeban