Leaving Your Job? Do Your Research!

Employment. It’s a big watchword in today’s economic doldrums, with employment (or unemployment) figures being carefully analysed, dissected and disseminated on a regular basis. The general gist seems to be if you’re in employment then you’re lucky, and if you’re unemployed then your chances of landing another job are slim (but improving, if latest figures are to be believed).

But what if you’re in a job you’re unhappy with? Don’t let the media hype deceive you, there are still jobs out there and you should approach job hunting with the same caution you did in the first place. Receiving a job offer is a big thrill but tempting as it is, don’t just accept your first offer without careful consideration. There are several things you need to mull over before signing on the dotted line.

Location

Maybe travelling for two hours a day doesn’t bother you. But if you have other demands on your time – a young family, perhaps – then you might want a job which is closer to home.

Salary

Most people go out to work to earn a living. Of course, it’s important to be doing something you enjoy and which is fulfilling, but at the end of the day you need to know you’ll be earning what you’re worth, not to mention what you need as an income for your lifestyle. Perform a webcheck to see what others at your level expect to earn, and ask any contacts in the industry you may have, to see if the new job is presenting you with a fair deal.

The Only Way Is Up

If you’re ambitious, then it’s important to know that your new job has some prospects for promotion within the same company. Otherwise you’re likely to be job hunting again before too long.

Enjoy the Challenge

There’s little point moving from one job to another job which is exactly the same. You need to know that you are professionally capable of doing the job, and that it will give you a challenge and be fulfilling, without giving you additional stress levels which you can’t handle.

Get to Know Your Colleagues

Ultimately, you can end up spending more time with your colleagues than with your friends. Check out the company’s culture before you say yes; you need to be working with likeminded people, even if you don’t agree on everything all the time.

Do Your Research

It’s easy to do a simple webcheck to find out things about a company which may not have been apparent at interview. Getting a new job is a great achievement and one you should be proud of, just make sure that you’re not making a rash move.

8 Books You Need To Read To Launch Your Career In Your 20′s

Finding a job post graduation is one of the biggest challenges 20-somethings face. Despite obtaining a formal education and a number of new skills, many grads feel inadequately prepared to actually begin building their career. Is there a life hack to get you started on the road to professional fulfillment? Maybe there’s no single silver bullet, but there is some good advice out there. Below are my 8 favorite books to starting and building your career in your 20′s.

1. What Color Is Your Parachute? 2014: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers

If you’re going to build your career, you need to start with a job. This is my go-to recommendation for 20-something job-seekers, so naturally it had to come first on this list. What Color Is Your Parachute? is the ultimate text for everything from resume writing to networking. If you’re on the hunt for a job, this is your manual.

2. How to Win Friends & Influence People

It’s no accident this book has made the bestseller list decade after decade. I’m a huge fan of Dale Carnegie, but this work might be my ultimate favorite. This is an extraordinary guide to developing essential people skills that will take you from generic cubicle employee to rising star. If you think that’s too much praise, just read it. This book will improve your working environment as well as your relationships with family, friends, and acquaintances.

3. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less

The 80/20 rule or the “Pareto Principle” is a well-known pattern that manifests itself in business, and as the author insists, everything else. Essentially the gist of it is that 20% of your efforts should produce 80% of your results. This is an especially helpful director when you feel your skills or talents are dispersed across a number of different things.

4. 10 Make-or-Break Career Moments: Navigate, Negotiate, and Communicate for Success

I stumbled on this book by accident, but I’m thrilled that I did. There is a wealth of wisdom and guidance in this short book, covering everything to how to talk to your company’s CEO to how to quit your job with grace. This book literally went from completely unknown to a must-own for me. This is a perfect gift for new grads.

5. How Will You Measure Your Life?

I received this book as a gift last Christmas, but when I was hunting for textbooks at my university bookstore, I found it under required reading for a second-year MBA class. This is an excellent book for directing your professional pursuits with a sense of greater purpose, the primary emphasis on maintaining and nourishing close personal relationships. If you want to establish a long-term healthy work-life balance, this book is key.

6. The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

I’ve mentioned The Dip previously in another post. Though it’s a super-short read, the message is to the point and motivating. How do you tell the difference between a rut and a dead-end when it comes to career stagnation? This little book gives the required push to stick it out for long-term benefits, and some guidance on when to bail.

7. Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

This is a book if you have trouble getting motivated. We all procrastinate — heck, I procrastinated finishing this book! But once I did, the take-away lesson has stayed with me. “Eating a frog” refers to a task that is necessary but you don’t necessarily want to do. Instead of putting it off, the book teaches you to do it first — but the overall message is just shut up and do it. I particularly liked the advice about if you have multiple unpleasant tasks: if you have two frogs to eat, eat the ugliest one first. Now when I have a lengthly to-do list I’m much better at tackling it, perhaps because it is much less threatening when I think of it as a collection of frogs.

8. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)

This book has been referred to me over and over again by peers in all types of industries. I liked it, but I haven’t quite bought in with as much enthusiasm as some of my friends. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t take some of the lessons to heart. After I finished the 4-hour Work Week, one of the first things I did was hire Gillian to help with publishing content on MAG, freeing up some time for myself. I don’t think all of the methods of this book are realistic for everyone (ie. working 1 day per week from home for my last employer was a possibility), but the lessons have streamlined my productivity enough that I’m reaping the benefits of a larger income with less hours of hard work.

It’s Time To Quit Your Dream Job

Congratulations, college graduate, you made it to exactly where you wanted to get! Steady paycheques, prestige, a sense of fulfillment.. working your dream job has been fun, challenging, and an all around great experience for you.

So it’s time to quit.

lovely little book (80 pages!) that let’s you know if it’s time to ditch or push on

I’m a huge advocate of strategic quitting: abandoning ship after you’ve looted it for good. If I sound like a pirate I don’t mean to. You don’t have to sink the ship (actually, it’s probably best if you don’t), but you should hop in a life raft or swim to shore if the time is right. I don’t often quit employers, but I do change roles when the opportunity presents itself. Many friends and family and peers alike are critical of my quit-and-move-on strategy, particularly if I’m making a lateral move with the same employer, often not seeing the positive results of my actions until they’ve blossomed a few months later. I understand how my behavior can appear risky from an outsider perspective, but truthfully it’s strategic. I simply don’t like to stagnate. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind — which is why I quit even when I have a good thing going.

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SIDENOTE: Some people aren’t ship-jumping risk-takers like myself. Some people want to find a stable, secure job where they feel comfortable and useful, and this is great! There is something to be said about committing to a role for a long time, even your whole working lifetime. Some people are diligent workers, and some of us are like preschoolers that need a new box of crayons every 15mins because we’ve scribbled too enthusiastically during drawing time.

SECOND SIDENOTE: Abandoning employers on a regular basis is bad news bears. I do NOT advocate switching companies like you’re on some sort of merry go round. It’s bad for your resume, it’s bad for your bosses, and it’s bad for you. If you’re working for a company you love, stay there - just try to change your role.

I recently quit the full-time role I had for two years. It was a job I loved, and yes, when I first got it I described it was “my dream job”. I know it was my dream job because in May 2011 I wrote a list of things I wanted in a job (lists are very, very important. Write that down), and then in September 2011 I started in a position that provided me with everything on the list. It was a unique find. I got to do everything from public speaking to traveling to teaching. I had my own office and met industry leaders. It was fun, it was challenging, and all around a great experience.

So after 2 years in that job, I quit.

And if you’re in the same boat (I’m really on a ship theme here, aren’t I?), you might want to consider quitting too.

Why you need to quit your dream job:

- you’ve learned everything you can. One of the best things about a new job is developing a new skill set. If you’ve been working long enough that your tasks are routine, you’re not developing. If there’s still more you want to learn how to do, find a job that will take you to the next level.

- there’s little or no room to advance. As I said above, some people are cool hanging out where they are, some want to shoot up the corporate ladder, and most will fall somewhere in between. If there’s little or no room for advancement where you’re working, there will be little or no advancement for you. If you want to move up, it’s time to move on.

- a new opportunity has presented itself. Life works in mysterious ways and sometimes something unexpected might come along that you want to try out. Do it, particularly if the two points above are also true.

I quit my job because all three of the reasons I listed were true. I’d maxed out my skill set, there wasn’t any room for me at the top, and I seized an opportunity that came available. And I quit, because I’m a risk-taking pirate, but also because it was the right thing and the right time to do so.

What is your advice for when to quit and when to stick?

How do you fit everything into one life? (And how do you pay for it?)

It seems like no matter where we are in life, we are waiting for something else. Generally, two things are holding us back from that “something else”. Time and money. But what if we weren’t in debt? Could we pursue the dream job we so desperately desire but can’t afford to take because it’s risky? Do we get mad at our past selves for bad decisions that put our future selves in financial straits?

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I struggle a lot with forgiving my past self for getting into so much debt as I told y’all in It’s All My Fault. I know what you’re thinking. “But Erin, you’re amazing! You’re pretty and smart and witty and I accept you as my god.” I know, I know. But sometimes it’s hard to not get down about the fact that I have so much debt to pay off because it’s holding me back from doing things that make me happy. Like having a job where I get to look out the window or moving to Munich.

While it’s hard to deal with how long my debt payoff will take, the time is going to pass anyways. And a year from now, I would have wished I had started today.

How do we find balance in a place that encourages putting work above all else for forty years, then if you make it out alive, you can enjoy your life once your body and mind are in the midst of decline? (Whoa, that was depressing.) Even if we rebel against it, is it realistic for all of us to avoid the rat race? No, it isn’t.

Sometimes it feels like our options are

  • (a) being miserable but with fat savings accounts and the acceptance of society or
  • (b) enjoying your life but barely scraping by and ostracized by society for being lazy.

How do you find that balance that allows you to look back on your life with no regrets?

I think it is crucial that we figure out what we love and we do it. Whether that means it is your day job or something you do on the weekends. Work is not the most important thing. It’s not even in the top five (unless it’s your passion). It’s probably number six for the rest of us because food and shelter is still really important. As is Internet.

I guess that all we can do to create the life we so desperately want is to really look at our lives and prioritize what is important – from both financial and emotional standpoints. If you are mindlessly spending in an attempt to fix something that makes you miserable, you need to focus on cutting out that thing. Whether it be a job or person. Because spending on material things is not the solution, it’s a quick fix that doesn’t last. The truth is, most of us aren’t in need. Survival is not something the majority of us have to worry about. We have the ability to create the lives we want so one day we can look back with no regrets.

As for me, I’m going to continue to plug away at my debt while still not depriving myself of life-enriching experiencesI also pledge today to actively work towards my professional goals and dreams and not accept the status quo. I truly believe I can create a life worth living and come out ahead financially. I guess we will see…

How do you find balance between work and play? Do you ever get down on yourself for going into debt? What’s one positive change you could implement today to start living the life you dream of?

My Employer Is Making Cuts

The Premier of Alberta recently pissed everyone off by proposing cuts to education. This includes funding cuts to public universities, which means my employer which is now facing a $150 million dollar shortfall. 

Bummer.

How this will affect things, including my job, remains to be seen. At this point, students and staff are protesting on the Alberta Legislature grounds on a regular basis, so it’s possible with enough outcry the budget will be adjusted, but personally I’m not super optimistic.

I will save my rant about the value of education and the purpose of universities to educate the populace for another time.

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Rest assured I hold both common and controversial views on the purpose and effectiveness of the Canadian and provincial university system (and culture) that I am always eager to discuss at length, but I recognize that maybe not all my readers care to hear me wane philosophical about education.

Naturally, what I’m most concerned with is how these budget cuts will affect ME.

It’s possible, though unlikely, that I could be laid off. Whether or not I’m taking this possibility seriously enough remains to be seen, but I have considered foregoing additional debt repayments in order to bolster my emergency fund. With so little left to go, slowing down now totally sucks — but is being unemployed with debt worse? I’ve gone ahead and updated my resume, but I’m not looking for jobs. I don’t think losing my job is a likely scenario, so I’m being careful to err on the side of “prepared” rather than “panicked”.

What has already been cut is travel. Every six months, I travel to Vancouver for a few days of work. I usually take this opportunity to tack on a few vacation days to enjoy one of my favorite cities in Canada. A weekend in May in Vancouver is always on the schedule, but when I hadn’t heard anything about it by the end of April I knew the worst was true: it’s not happening this year. I’m on the verge of tears just thinking about how I’m not at Acme Cafe as we speak. I’ve been on one work trip to Calgary this year, but how many more times I’ll head south is unknown, and whether or not I get Toronto and/or Vancouver in the Fall is also uncertain.

Travel was one of my most favorite parts of my job! I was racking up WestJet dollars, hotel points, and premium car rental memberships like nobody’s business. I’ve logged so many hours at the airport, it just feels like a big bus terminal to me. TRAVEL IS WHY I LIVE.

So while I’m really sad one of the best part of my jobs is being axed, I understand I was really privileged to have it in the first place. I had a really awesome time on all my work trips — it often didn’t feel like work! Ok, that’s a lie, there were some snowy days in Calgary that I wished to be anywhere else… but for the most part, traveling for work was nothing but fun. That said, I also understand that traveling for work encouraged me to spend more money than I would otherwise. By adding vacation days to my work trips, I had to pay for those expenses: hotels, dinners out, differences in cost for changing my flights, etc. Hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars more just because I had the opportunity to spend.

Maybe I should adopt the perspective that, as my employer tries to save money, I will be forced to save money?

In any case, you can see that I’m dealing with some uncertainty and challenging circumstances right now — which yes, has been the secret source of stress over the past 8 weeks that I’ve tweeted ambiguously about (5927529742 apologies to everyone I ignored emails from, deadlines I missed, and whatever else. I sucked at a lot of things lately, and this is why). I’m not super keen on job hunting and bolstering my emergency fund, while trying to save up money to buy furniture AND still hoping extra dollars fall out of the sky to pay off the remainder of my student loans.

Life! It gets so tricky sometimes.