February 22, 2010

Do you know a good thing when you have it?

I got a call the other day from a client who has been seeking a part-time job in a field she used to work in full-bore.

I mean 80-hour weeks, jet-set conventions, the whole nine yards. Then she left to start her family and, nine years later, here she is: a former high-roller who just wants to balance her life without losing sight of her profession altogether. So we created a job search plan based primarily on networking. Not only because networking is the hot ticket for any job search, but because it's nearly the only ticket when you're searching for a high-level, part-time job. As luck would have it, she's a good networker. Fantastic, really. She had kept up with her colleagues and they were more than ready to help when they heard she was coming back. Bottom line? A few months after she announced her intentions, she had a job offer, on paper, for 20 hours a week with full benefits and vacation, at $60,000 a year. She told them she'd get back in a couple of days. And then she called me with her primary question: Is this a good offer? Since she used to make so much more money, nearly a decade ago, she honestly didn't know if the equivalent of $60 an hour with full benefits was good. I know. I can see you yelling at your computer screen right now: I'll take that! Let me be underpaid like that! But every counselor knows you can't counsel from your own values. What you or I would judge an excellent opportunity might look a little skimpy to someone else. In this case, the real sticking point was her past, pre-family, work life. She cleared more money per hour and had fat bonuses besides. It was hard to give up that image of herself as a major earner. But as we talked things fell into perspective. What she wanted then, money and prestige, were not what she wanted now. Now her priorities were balance and security and this offer provided both. She was reminded by this experience to apply current values to a situation rather than those from the past. What about you? When you receive an offer, or when you struggle at work, do you apply your current values to the situation? If you're not careful, you could end up chasing something you don't even want anymore.

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