Searching for a job is hard work. Few of us find it enjoyable. When a search ends in a job you love, the sense of achievement is thrilling. But searches often yield less-than-thrilling results. Sometimes we accept an offer because we, um, need the cash. That's understandable. It happens. But there are steps we can take to make somewhat easier the decision to decline an offer while feeling confident that we'll find something better.
Last time I explored at the effects of dislike of the job search process, despair, and wishful thinking. In this post, I describe a strategy for limiting the effects of financial pressure. Briefly, the strategy is to align with reality your sense of confidence in your financial resources so as to widen the range of job offers that you feel comfortable enough to decline.
A strategy of "Informed Choosiness"
The strategy is simply stated:
It's OK to feel financial pressure to accept a job offer, provided you actually are pressured financially.
I call it "Informed Choosiness" because the goal is to be choosier in the face of financial pressure, but only on the basis of information about your financial status. Here's a rough outline showing how to execute the strategy for your unique situation. There are four steps to financial confidence:
- Make a Needs list. Compile a list of Needs that require financial resources (money) over the duration of your job search.
- Make a preliminary Needs Budget, which is a schedule of those expenditures.
- Get real about your Needs. Develop a Wants Budget and a revised Needs Budget by reviewing your preliminary Needs Budget.
- Make a Resource Plan that shows where and how you'll secure the financial resources to fund your Needs Budget, and possibly all or parts of your Wants Budget.
Two different job search scenarios
Two different scenarios require slightly different approaches. The first scenario is a job search by a job seeker who is employed and not in imminent danger of termination. The job seeker's current job is not ideal. It's tolerable at least in the intermediate term. Perhaps there's some concern about the long-term viability of the company. Or there's concern about advancement opportunities. Or the supervisor bullies subordinates. Call this scenario "Employed."
The second scenario is a job search by a job seeker who isn't employed, and who's living on savings or help from family or government. Call this scenario "Not-Yet-Employed." I prefer the name "Not-Yet-Employed" to "Unemployed" because "Not-Yet-Employed" is both more accurate and more optimistic.
Four steps to financial confidence
Below are more detailed descriptions of the four steps to financial confidence in your job search.
- Make a Needs list
- Needs are things you cannot do without. They're the commitments you cannot close out, or items that support your life: food, shelter, and the basics. And now that you're in job search mode, Needs also include items that support your job search. Examples include home office equipment and software, wardrobe updates, fitness membership, professional society memberships, networking, certifications, certification exam prep courses, personal Web site, career coaching, LinkedIn page makeover, and so on.
- Make a preliminary Needs Budget
- Your preliminary Needs Budget is a month-by-month schedule of the expenditures required to acquire the items in your Needs List. It isn't constant. There will be months when your budgeted Needs might be greater than others. Do what you can to determine what your Needs will be each month for the next few months. Update your preliminary Needs Budget every month.
- For the It's OK to feel financial pressure
to accept a job offer, provided you
actually are pressured financiallyNot-Yet-Employed, consider scheduling as early as possible any Needs that have inherent lead times or that require your personal time and effort. Examples are weight loss, certifications, certification exam prep courses, personal Web site, career coaching, and LinkedIn page makeover.
- For the Employed, consider the consequences of your current employer learning of your intention to change jobs. If you expect the consequences to be problematic enough, consider deferring any of your Needs that might cause your current employer to take actions you wouldn't welcome. For example, if you believe that creating a personal Web site could potentially cause problems with your current employer, consider creating your Web site, but making it inaccessible to the public or to Web crawlers, for the time being. When the time is right, you can open the site to public view.
- Get real about your Needs
- Review your preliminary Needs Budget. If it's much more than you expected, review it to see whether you can eliminate or defer any items.
- Needs and Wants are different things. Take a look at the Needs you've listed, month by month, and ask, "Need or Want?" The first time you do this, there's a good chance that you'll find some Wants mixed in with the Needs. Collect your Wants, month by month. Repeat this a few times, until things stabilize. Then you'll have two lists, Needs and Wants, for each month. And the Needs will be real Needs.
- The final result of this step is a Needs Budget that's free of Wants, and a Wants Budget that's free of Needs.
- Make a resource plan
- Your "Resource Plan" is a schedule showing how you'll provide the financial resources to fund your Needs Budget and some of your Wants Budget over the duration of the job search.
- Examine your Needs Schedule and Wants Schedule. If you're Not-Yet-Employed, determine how much "dis-saving" to do and when. If you're Employed, use the two schedules to determine how much saving to do and when. That schedule of saving or dis-saving is your Resource Plan.
That's it. Whether you're Employed or Not-Yet-Employed, the Resource Plan tells you how long you can be choosy about any job offers that you might receive. The Resource Plan gives you some protection against a worry-induced acceptance of a job offer that isn't actually a fit.
Update your Resource Plan as new data becomes available. Use it as a guide to determine whether your feelings of financial pressure (or feelings of financial security) are based on reality. You might be surprised. First in this series Top Next Issue
Love the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenZLkFdSHmlHvCaSsuner@ChacbnsTPttsdDaRAswloCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Enjoy Your Commute
- You probably commute to work. On a good day, you spend anywhere from ten minutes to an hour or two —
each way — commuting. What kind of experience are you having? Taking control of this part of your
life can make a real difference.
- Heavy Burdens: Should, Always, Must, and Never
- As a leader you carry a heavy burden. You're accountable for everything from employee development to
meeting organizational objectives, and many of these responsibilities conflict. Life is tough enough,
but most of us pile on a load of over-generalized rules of work life — a load too heavy for anyone
- Ten Reasons Why You Don't Always Get What You Measure: I
- One of the "truisms" floating around is that "You get what you measure." Belief
in this assertion has led many to a metrics-based style of management, but the results have been uneven
at best. Why?
- Illusory Incentives
- Although the theory of incentives at work is changing rapidly, its goal generally remains helping employers
obtain more output at lower cost. Here are some neglected effects that tend to limit the chances of
achieving that goal.
- Congruent Decision Making: II
- Decision makers who rely on incomplete or biased information are more likely to make decisions that
don't fit the reality of their organizations. Here's Part II of a framework for making decisions that fit.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming November 30: Avoiding Speed Bumps: II
- Many of the difficulties we encounter when working together don't create long-term harm, but they do cause delays, confusion, and frustration. Here's Part II of a little catalog of tactics for avoiding speed bumps. Available here and by RSS on November 30.
- And on December 7: Reaching Agreements in Technological Contexts
- Reaching consensus in technological contexts presents special challenges. Problems can arise from interactions between the technological elements of the issue at hand, and the social dynamics of the group addressing that issue. Here are three examples. Available here and by RSS on December 7.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenZLkFdSHmlHvCaSsuner@ChacbnsTPttsdDaRAswloCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500-1000 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info