Thinking about starting a job search? Now’s the time to ask for what you want from your current company.

By Deb Feldman
March 7, 2014

 

YES, I KNOW THIS IS SURPRISING ADVICE TO HEAR FROM A RECRUITER, BUT HEAR ME OUT.  BEFORE YOU MAKE UP YOUR MIND TO REACH OUT TO SOMEONE LIKE ME AND MAKE A JOB CHANGE, YOU SHOULD TAKE A LONG LOOK AT YOUR MOTIVATIONS AND ASK YOURSELF:  IF I COULD FIX WHAT’S BROKEN, WOULD I STAY?

WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?  BECAUSE I ALSO WANT TO HELP MY CLIENTS RETAIN THEIR TOP TALENT.  BECAUSE I’VE BEEN THE HR LADY ON THE RECEIVING END OF THE CALL FROM A SHOCKED AND SURPRISED PEOPLE MANAGER LAMENTING THAT SHE WISHED SHE HAD KNOWN WHAT WAS GOING ON WITH HER EMPLOYEE WHO JUST GAVE NOTICE.  BECAUSE IT’S ALMOST ALWAYS TOO LATE TO TRY TO KEEP SOMEONE AFTER THEY’VE EMOTIONALLY LEFT THE BUILDING. (DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE PERILS OF COUNTER-OFFERS…ON BOTH SIDES OF THE EQUATION.)  AND BECAUSE MOST OF THE TIME, GOOD COMPANIES WITH EXPERIENCED MANAGERS WILL DO WHAT IT TAKES TO RETAIN THEIR KEY PEOPLE VERSUS LETTING THEM LEAVE – ESPECIALLY IF IT’S WITHIN REASON, AND ESPECIALLY IF THEY DON’T HAVE A RESIGNATION-GUN TO THEIR HEADS. 

SO THIS IS WHERE IT COMES DOWN TO YOU: THEY WON’T KNOW WHAT IT WOULD TAKE TO RETAIN AND MOTIVATE YOU UNLESS YOU TELL THEM.

I DO THINK THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME TO ASK FOR THAT RAISE, SOME FLEXIBILITY, OR AN INTERNAL TRANSFER.  (PEOPLE LEADERS – FEAR NOT – YOU WANT YOUR EMPLOYEES TO ASK YOU FOR WHAT THEY WANT.  IT’S BETTER TO KNOW WHAT’S ON THEIR MINDS – SO YOU CAN EITHER HELP RETAIN THEM, OR GIVE THEM THE HONEST ANSWER THAT THEY CAN’T FIND WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR WITH YOU.)

TO FIGURE THIS OUT FOR YOURSELF, ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS:

IS WHAT I WANT REALISTIC?
MAKE YOUR WISH LIST OF THINGS THAT WOULD MAKE YOU STAY AT YOUR CURRENT COMPANY, PRIORITIZE THEM, AND THEN THINK ABOUT WHETHER EACH IS POSSIBLE WHERE YOU ARE.  FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOUR JOB REQUIRES REGULAR ONSITE MEETINGS, OR IF YOUR COMPANY’S CULTURE VALUES IN-PERSON COLLABORATION OVER REMOTE WORKING, YOU CAN’T REALISTICALLY EXPECT TO WORK FROM HOME ON A REGULAR BASIS.  BUT, IF YOUR COMPANY IS MORE OUTPUT-BASED, MAYBE YOU CAN WORK SOMETHING OUT THAT WOULD BE A MEAN BETWEEN THE EXTREMES.  

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT HAPPENS IF I DO ASK FOR WHAT I WANT?
IF YOU’RE VALUED, AND IF YOU’RE DOING A GOOD JOB (IMPORTANT IFS!), IT’S UNLIKELY THAT ASKING FOR SOMETHING REASONABLE FROM A GOOD MANAGER WILL HAVE A TRULY BAD CONSEQUENCE – ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT LEAVING ANYWAY.  DEFINITELY DON’T MAKE ANY THREATS – VEILED OR OTHERWISE – ABOUT QUITTING IF YOU DON’T GET WHAT YOU WANT, BUT DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A RATIONAL AND BUSINESS-ORIENTED CASE FOR WHAT IT IS YOU DO WANT. 

IF MONEY WEREN’T A CONSIDERATION, WOULD I STAY?
SURE, MONEY’S ALWAYS A CONSIDERATION, AS WE’VE ALL GOT BILLS TO PAY, AND WE’D ALL LIKE TO HAVE, WELL, MORE MONEY.  BUT IT’S PROBABLY THE LAST THING YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT CHANGING JOBS.  IF YOU TRULY CAN’T GET IT OUT OF YOUR MIND, AND IF YOU HAVE DONE ALL OF YOUR (RATIONAL AND BUSINESS-ORIENTED) RESEARCH, CONSIDER ASKING FOR MORE MONEY.  YOUR BOSS CAN’T READ YOUR MIND, SO AT LEAST GIVE YOUR COMPANY THE OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE YOU AN HONEST ANSWER AS TO WHETHER OR NOT MORE MONEY IS A POSSIBILITY.   JUST BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR: NOBODY’S GOING TO GIVE YOU MORE WITHOUT EXPECTING MORE IN RETURN.  

ARE THERE JOBS AVAILABLE INTERNALLY THAT I WOULDN’T BE QUALIFIED FOR IN THE EXTERNAL MARKET?
CHANGING COMPANIES IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST WAY TO CARE FOR YOUR CAREER PROGRESSION AND PERSONAL GROWTH.  THINK ABOUT WHETHER YOU MIGHT WANT TO MAKE AN INTERNAL TRANSFER, OR EVEN CHANGE THE COURSE OF YOUR CAREER PATH BY SWITCHING FIELDS.  COMPANIES ARE MORE WILLING TO TAKE RISKS ON KNOWN QUANTITIES.  SAY YOU DO GREAT WORK IN SALES FOR EXAMPLE, BUT HAVE BEEN DYING TO TRY YOUR HAND AT PRODUCT OR MARKETING - WHAT HARM WOULD COME FROM EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITY OF AN INTERNAL TRANSFER?  YOU’RE NOT LIKELY TO BE ABLE TO CHANGE LANES THAT RADICALLY IN THE EXTERNAL MARKET.

SO – TELL THEM WHAT YOU WANT.  AND IF THEY SAY NO?  MAYBE THERE’S A MESSAGE THERE THAT IT IS TIME TO GO.  YOU CAN START YOUR SEARCH WITH YOUR LIST OF PRIORITIES ALREADY IN ORDER.