Sunday, January 9, 2011

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

I recently heard from a young woman who had come to me previously for help in identifying and landing a new position.

Carol is an inside sales rep for a software company with a strong background in account management and lead generation. She had left her previous job in less than a year because of an ethical conflict she had with the values of company management.Carol is to be commended for having the courage of her convictions, but at the same time she was facing the daunting prospect of  finding a new and hopefully better job in a very difficult job market.

After several months of sending resumes into the  digital "black hole" and competing with literally dozens of others for a select few advertised positions she asked if I would help her with her search. Carol was extremely frustrated and wondering if she should have compromised her integrity and stayed in her last position even though she knew leaving was ultimately the right thing to do.

The first thing I suggested Carol do was to stop applying for advertised jobs. I then asked her to take a few days and think about her long term career goals and what would be the ideal next two or three steps in her career path. Carol followed the coaching and outlined a very clear path. She focused on a career in Sales / Sales Management and determined that her next ideal steps would be: An inside sales position for the next one to three years, providing  her experience to be considered for an outside sales role leading eventually to sales management.

Next, she identified the industry niche best suited for her experience. She listed the companies that would most likely see her skill set as a solution to their problems. She compiled a list of approximately 25 target companies.Then she began identifying the decision makers at those companies using my "Four Degrees Method."

Finally, she began meeting with three to five decision makers per week regardless of whether they had a job advertised or not. During the process she uncovered several unadvertised "hidden jobs" that she was considered for. She also kept a eye on the job boards to see if there were any advertised jobs posted by her target companies or other companies in her predefined target niche. She spent no more than 10% of her time on advertised (competitive) positions  and 90% on proactive relationship building via deliberate, focused networking.  By following the "Four Degrees Method" Carol was separating herself from her competition.

She only considered advertised opportunities if they were in her target niche.When she did find an advertised job she would do two things; 1.) Identify the decision maker's boss and contact him or her directly to arrange a project interview. 2.) Apply on line via normal channels.

She eventually was asked to interview for an advertised position by one of the decision makers she met with for a project  interview. Since it was a advertised job with significant competition, I also advised Carol to follow the "Take Charge of Your Next Interview" strategy, which she did with great success.

All good news except now, four months later, she is having doubts about whether she made the right choice. She has concerns about her new job and company. Team members are not supportive as the environment is set up to be competitive vs. cooperative. Her boss is "okay" but overworked and unavailable most of the time. The salary is good but commissions are almost always "messed up."

I listened as Carol listed the reasons she was considering leaving. Then I asked he what she liked about the job. She had several very positive comments. I then asked Carol if she had a better offer lined up. "Well, no but there was one person she had met who kept calling to see how she was doing." I asked if he had a job for her. She said he would like to hire her but the timing wasn't right.

Then I asked Carol if she was ready to be unemployed again and go through the process of finding yet another job.  "Oh my gosh no!" She just wished things could be better in some areas at her current job.

My advice to Carol, (and you, if you're in a similar situation) is stop focusing on the negatives especially after only a few months. Put your energy into doing the best job you can and stay on your career plan.

More importantly I advise that you spend  95% of your time focusing on your current position and spend 5 % proactively creating your next opportunity. Follow the Four Degrees Method." That is, identify  your next career step, build a list of target companies, identify the decision makers who can hire you then set up two to three project interviews per month.

I am happy to report that once again Carol followed the coaching and after 10 months is one of the top producers in the company and has established relationship with key decision makers with her current company as well as others within her chosen industry. She has already been told by several that they "have their eye" on her and are looking forward to helping her move into outside sales in the future.

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