Will Post For Food
March 25, 2005 8:24 PM   Subscribe

My friend Lisa is a brilliant young woman in a terrible professional situation. She has been working at her job for the last three years---everyone there acknowledges her for the talented person she is. She has been promoted four times---she is now manager of research and ad sales marketing---and she still makes the same money she made when she started AS AN ASSISTANT. I want desperately for her to find a job that pays her what she deserves, but it's hard for her to find opportunities that speak to her skill level and current position. She's tried monster.com and many other job sites. What else can she do to find good meaningful work that will pay her what she deserves? THANKS!
posted by adrober to Work & Money (18 answers total)
Has she tried bringing the subject up at her current workplace? Clearly, she is making little enough money that even a step down in terms of responsibility elsewhere would be an increase in pay, and her talents/experience would get her promoted to a proper level very quickly.

It's more than fair to approach an employer and ask for a salary increase with an increase in responsibility. If they've refused to give her an increase in pay, tell her to go ahead and look for something a step or two down from what she's capable of if she needs to. Get away from that company as fast as possible if that's the case. Matching the pay should be easy enough and the position will come with proof of hard work.

For best prospects in finding a new job, I'd suggest she take time to make personal connections. With good experience and a well-stocked CV, knowing people inside a number of companies will almost certainly lead to someone having a worthy position that'll be quite easy to obtain at that point. Just know enough people, and there'll be someone who knows of a need for her skills.
posted by Saydur at 9:16 PM on March 25, 2005

That's the trouble with working for businesses - they don't just hand money out. In fact, it's kind of their role to grasp and hoard it.

You have got to push. I know this first hand. I always push-push-push like a bastard during the negotiation phase, and then I perform-perform-perform like a motherfucker and prove I'm worth it. You cannot win at this game if you are not willing - really willing - to walk away. Know that you're a bad ass. Know that you can find work in the blink of an eye. Know that you are bigger than the piddly little issue of how much Company XYZ wants to pay you, walk into the negotiation and own it. If your friend is really the winner you say she is, she should be in a prime position to do just this.

On the other hand, if she's willing to work her ass off without demanding the pay she merits, and without seeking other work, then, frankly, she's a tool, she'll be exploited, and I can't say I have a lot of pity for her.

If she's in a capitalist economy, it's up to her to push back. Sorry, but that's the way it is.
posted by scarabic at 9:34 PM on March 25, 2005

"Yeah, hi boss, this is Lisa. Yeah, I need Friday and Monday off. Well, I have to fly to [other coast] for a job interview."
posted by orthogonality at 11:37 PM on March 25, 2005

Response by poster: So I appreciate everyone's responses so far. The thing is Lisa has done many of these things---the issue is more about finding a new job than pressuring these people for more money, because they told her point blank she'd never get a raise. My main question is: what resources are there for her to find work beyond monster.com? I realize networking's big, but anything else she might look into? Thanks!
posted by adrober at 11:44 PM on March 25, 2005

This is all fairly basic stuff but here goes:

1) identify companies you would want to work for, and go check their websites for jobs;

2) identify appropriate professional organizations to join for networking;

3) identify appropriate mentors who can help with the job hunt strategy, networking, encouragement, etc;

4) identify industry leaders to emulate or contact for suggestions or ideas;

5) I'm sure others have more/better suggestions?
posted by gen at 1:02 AM on March 26, 2005

Check their websites for jobs? I agree more with scarabic, you have to PUSH, and that means actively going out and finding a job, not just looking for posted ones on the internet. I've never had a job that was advertised; go in person and talk to the people who give them. Follow any leads you may have. Be friendly, act worthy, and realizing that you are really trying to sell your services as an employee. I know you are looking for something other than networking, but seriously, that is the key.
posted by adzm at 3:14 AM on March 26, 2005

Networking is big because it works. People are most likely to get jobs through second-tier friends (aka acquaintances), so she needs to engage her entire social network and then some. She has to go to professional association meetings, volunteer there, show her potential employers how great she is. She needs to get really good at delivering a 30-second speech outlining what she's done, what she wants to do, and why she's the best. She needs to tell friends and tell friends of friends, and even send out e-mails.

If she's so great and they've said flat out they won't give her more $$ she needs to negotiate for more time off to do this networking and go back to school or whatever is holding her back. They know she's looking.
posted by pomegranate at 4:18 AM on March 26, 2005

Skiop monster and go straight to http://indeed.com/ where all jobsites jobs are searchable (and she can get her jobs in a handy RSS file!).
Consider cold-calling places that she'd like to work. Which company(ies) does she think would be a dream to work at? Not all jobs are announced, sometimes you gotta be there before they think of getting more people.
posted by dabitch at 6:55 AM on March 26, 2005

How you find a better job varies tremendously by the type of industry that you're in. It's hard for me to imagine someone getting four promotions with no raise in pay unless she's either working for a nonprofit with no way to increase its budget or she's amazingly easy to walk over.

Either way, she should have access to some sort of professional association where she can ask other people in the same industry what's worked for them. In my industry, using monster and headhunters works just fine, but in many areas those strategies are not especially helpful. Talking to other people in the same field would give her the best advice, and it gets her going on the whole networking thing.
posted by anapestic at 6:59 AM on March 26, 2005

In the meantime, she should take her current paycheck stub in to her boss's office, and tell him that there seems to be something wrong with it. When the boss asks what, she should whip out a paystub from her first few weeks working there (as an assistant) and say that it appears to be identical to that one.

Might also work with W-2's.
posted by MrZero at 7:41 AM on March 26, 2005

MrZero - If she'd committed to finding a new job, why on earth would she want to rock the boat where she is currently? It's much easier to search for work from a position of power (currently employed), so suck up the way the current employer has been treating her and wait until she quits to "stick it to the man" or whatever.

So, research and ad sales -- I assume that means she's at a small magazine or a weekly or something? My impression (and I could be wrong, and it probably depends on the location) is that industry is a very incestuous group. She needs to be able to penetrate the inner circle if she hasn't already.

Somebody mentioned professional organizations, and that's probably exactly right. She needs to get on some committees and needs to go to some functions and develop some industry friendships.

Your profile says you live in New York, can we assume that she does as well? I'm not sure if she's more interested in advertising or the research/journalism side of things. If it's adverting sales, I know there's an ad club that she can join. I suspect there's an equivalent for journalists or researchers or whatever.

Once she has friends, she can start asking for some informational interviews at companies where she would like to work or companies that are like the companies where she would like to work. Informational interviews are a bit easier to get because generally, people want to help people, but people don't want to give you a job interview because they don't want to say no and hurt your feelings.

Be sure in any one of those interviews to ask if the person knows of anyplace or anybody who would be interested in somebody with her skill set. This will help you expand your network while giving you an excellent introduction to to the type of people you need to be meeting.

Now, as to finding jobs that match her skills, the leap from assistant to manager of two departments in 3 years seems pretty fast. I know for myself when I went from assistant to manager very quickly at one place, it was a move primarily in name only. I didn't really have the experience yet to excel as a manager yet. That could just have been me. One thing I did find though is that when I backed off on that title on my resume and took a step down, I found a lot more people were interested in hiring me. I don't think that people who were seeing my actual resume quite believed it and assumed it was just resume puffery. I don't know what her resume looks like, but that's one thing to think about. How believable does this seem to a potential employer.
posted by willnot at 9:16 AM on March 26, 2005

Networking is big because it works.

Indeed. I've never got a job just cold-applying for it. Every single job has either come about via a pre-existing contact (e.g. my first job, as a tech support rep at a mail-order Apple II retailer, came about because the manager of that department knew me from GEnie). Or else it has come looking for me (for my current job, my now-employer was googling for people who had worked at my previous employer, which had just laid off basically everyone and wasn't answering the phone, and could only find my name -- so they called me, and to make a long story short, they ended up opening up a west-coast office and hiring essentially the entire engineering team from my previous job). So, um, the moral of the story is, keep in contact with people in your field, and make sure you're easily Googleable.
posted by kindall at 10:02 AM on March 26, 2005

the issue is more about finding a new job than pressuring these people for more money, because they told her point blank she'd never get a raise.

Nope. That won't work. They won't change their tune after she reveals her disloyalty to them. It sounds like the real real issue is finding a new job.
posted by scarabic at 3:56 PM on March 26, 2005

since networking has pretty much been covered, I figured I'd share what worked for me. When I moved to San Diego, I looked for a job in Monster and hated it. Too much clutter, too many people. I found, instead, that craigslist worked the best. People who post for jobs at craigslist are individuals not HR companies and tend to be better resources. That's how I found my job. I wish your friend a lot of luck, it sucks to be stuck in her position, but then again, if she really loves her job, money isn't everything. she might find another job that pays her more but if she hates her boss or the work, money alone won't be worth it.

good luck :)
posted by karen at 7:50 PM on March 26, 2005

While I agree that networking can be critical, I think the world has changed a bit with the arrival of the Web - it's much easier to post jobs. One site I like a lot is directemployers.com, which allows a search of 250,000 jobs that are posted directly on employer web sites (and which link to those job postings). No cost, no registration requirement, no pop-up ads.
posted by WestCoaster at 9:10 PM on March 26, 2005

again, craigslist.org, or equivalent, if CL doesn't have a sub-site for her city.
posted by MikeKD at 1:05 AM on March 27, 2005

Indeed. I've never got a job just cold-applying for it.

I might be in the minority here, but I've never gotten a job through networking. I've taken three new jobs in the past five years, and all three I got by simply sending in my resume along with a kick-ass cover letter to a job that's advertised on-line.
posted by anastasiav at 5:38 AM on March 28, 2005

Gosh, I too would like to find good meaningful work that will pay me what I deserve.

Isn't that the situation most people are in?
posted by raster at 11:03 AM on March 28, 2005

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