Hop or Not?

There are many rewards and risks in job hopping, just as there can be lots of rewards and risks in a decision to stay with a current company. But they are not necessarily the same.  Should you job hop or not?

First, let’s understand why job-hopping has been and still is in vogue. Prior to the 1970s, large and medium sized companies were often considered to be paternalistic toward to their employees, to the latter’s delight, and employees often had a “job-for-life” approach to joining a company. Job security was a prominent reason, while job satisfaction, compensation and benefits vied for second place. By the 1970s, in part due to the Vietnam war, which brought into question the honesty and loyalty of big government and large companies, the olden days’ paternalistic scenarios began to break down, as did other factors: the demise of pension plans, large scale lay-offs in many companies in the chase for stock values, efficiency goals, cost-per-unit, and outsourcing of jobs overseas…and it continues to this day.

Fast forward to 2017. Job hoppers are viewed warily by some hiring managers, though they are embraced by others because they are considered to be adaptable, have seen a range of company sizes and approaches (perhaps even those of your competitors!), and have a larger network of contacts. And hiring managers, take note: millennials change jobs, on average, every 18-24 months, so this trend has no sign of slowing down.

What are the risks and rewards of job hopping?

  • Money:
    • Reward: The reward part seems obvious here! If your current salary/bonus/commission are below market, and your current firm is not willing to bring you up to an equitable rate, it may be time to start looking elsewhere.
    • Risk: Job-hopping for compensation alone is a losing battle. You might get the compensation you want, but not have all the positive attributes your current job provides. Be sure to also factor in your total compensation.       Beyond base salary, bonus, and commission (if applicable), how do benefits match up? Differences in health, dental, 401(k), stock options, vacation, sick time, commuting costs and the like add up, and that pay increase may actually cost you in the long run.
  • Fit with the company culture and mission/vision:
    • Reward: Finding a job with an organization with a strong culture, and with a product or service you really stand behind, or a nonprofit with a mission that you believe in with your heart and soul can be a magical thing.
    • Risk: The “magic” may make you overlook some other key things, like fit with the actual job or chemistry with your manager and colleagues. Be sure to dig deep to ensure that you are not taking the wrong job with the right organization.
  • Increased job satisfaction/more interesting work:
    • Reward: It is a great feeling to have work that satisfies you. Moving for even more satisfaction can help you to grow your skills and hone your craft. Another option: if you are the type who bores easily, you may want to consider joining the “gig economy” and look at doing consulting, where you can work on a project basis and do all kinds of different and interesting work.
    • Risk: If you are really, truly disinterested in the work you are doing, think long and hard about it. Is it really the current job, or is it the work itself? If it is the actual work, maybe you are ready for a larger-scale career change. Going someplace else may be a temporary fix, and once the novelty wears off, you may find yourself bored again. If your intuition tells you this may be the case, take a breather to figure out what type of work will fulfill you longer term.
  • Advancement opportunities:
    • Reward: Feeling like you can grow in your career is something that most people find to be essential, but sometimes you do have to go outside to make a move up.
    • Risk: If a better title is your primary motivator, make sure this career move ^^ is going to check some of the other boxes too…or accept that it may literally be a move JUST for a better title.       Also, consider talking to your current manager. Are there ways to advance within your current role by taking on new projects and honing specific skills?
  • A great manager/team:
    • Reward: Let’s suppose that the best manager you ever worked for calls you and asks that you come to his or her new company to work for them. Added bonus? Some of your favorite colleagues will also be joining the team. Or, suppose that you interview and the hiring manager is dynamic, smart, and easy to get along with, and the team members you met with seem committed, happy, and interesting. Ready to sign on the dotted line? I don’t blame you. Chemistry with your boss and colleagues can be a great thing.
    • Risk: In the case of following a manager to a new role, the risk is that you get there and the manager leaves, be it due to personal choice, layoff, his/her promotion, or restructuring. Or, in the case of joining a new manager, that person who seemed so great is…not so great. Do your research to see who your new boss and team are and what they are all about.
  • A startup that you think will take off in a major way:
    • Reward: Working at a startup can be rewarding on many levels. As it grows, your opportunity to take on more responsibility and learn multiple parts of the business will be there. If it takes off, it may result in a wealth event for both the company and you, especially if you can get equity early on.
    • Risk: Do your research on the market that the startup focuses on and the viability of their value proposition. Ask about funding sources, benefits, and if the founders are looking to grow the company, or are ultimately hoping to sell it…because you could end up working for another firm or find yourself out of a job if that happens!

All in all, job-hopping is a bet – but recent statistics show that most professionals will change jobs 9-10 times or more over their working life. Identifying the risks and mitigating them will help you be successful, whether you hop or not.

 

Cindy Joyce is the CEO of Pillar Search and HR Consulting.  With personalized service and proven results, Pillar Search and HR Consulting provides retained executive search and recruiting services as well as human resources consulting to for exceptional nonprofits and socially responsible for-profit organizations.  To learn more, please visit www.pillarsearch.com.

 

 

 

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Yep, I went there. Teamwork makes the dream work. A bit of a tired cliché, but frankly, teams are the very essence of most organizational cultures. We know the benefits of working in teams: enhanced employee engagement, improved relationships with colleagues, more creative solutions, gaining an understanding of different perspectives, and the list goes on. Whether it’s a new team that comes together during a merger or restructuring, to tackle a specific project, or a collaboration between different departments, these steps can help turn that new team into a dream team.

 

Establish a team leader. In some teams, this will be the person managing the individuals. If this is a cross-functional team, it still helps to have the team assign a leader or two who keep everyone on track.

 

Leverage Diversity: Diversity can mean a host of different things. When it comes to a team, yes, having people of different backgrounds and genders is critical, but diversity can also mean including people with different skill sets and business expertise and levels of experience. Look at the boards of some of the most successful companies and you may notice that there is diversity of expertise. Take a cue from them when assembling teams.

 

Establish ground rules. While it may sound simple, establishing expectations, deliverable dates, and responsibilities up front will help the team in the long run, as this way each individual understands the importance of their contributions to the larger group.

 

Course correct: It would be lovely if teams came together, did what needed to be done, and all got along swimmingly. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but it rarely happens! Personal agendas, office politics, challenging personalities, and egos so often get in the way. When that happens, have open conversations to remind people that this is a group effort and that everyone’s input and efforts are important to the outcome.

 

“R before T” (relationship before task): I credit this tip to my favorite professor from graduate school, who started each class with a time for us to share personal updates and catch up. It did bring us closer, and helped us to understand each other beyond our studies and view each other as human beings!

 

Celebrate team success: It can be something as small as a round of applause, a personal thank you note to each team member, a team lunch or happy hour. Marking milestones is crucial, as it lets the team know that they are on the right path or have accomplished what they set out to do.

 

 

Hire the best! With personalized service and proven results, Pillar Search & HR Consulting provides recruiting/search services and human resources consulting for exceptional non-profits and socially responsible for-profit firms. A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA, and works on the national level. To learn more about how Pillar can assist with your hiring and human resources needs, please contact

What Nobody Ever Tells You about Working from Home

When I started Pillar Search & HR Consulting, I went from working in the office 5 days a week to 4 days a week. I have an in-office day on Wednesdays with a consulting client, or as I like to call it, dress like a grown-up day! I have loved every minute of working from home. It has been a total game changer. There have been some surprises though. If you are considering a role that allows you to work from home almost exclusively, here were a few of my “aha” moments:

  • Be prepared to redecorate. Believe me, this was my biggest surprise. Spending hours on end in your abode will make you realize that cannot stand the paint color in your immediate work area. It started to feel too dark, so I painted it. And then the bedroom looked too dark. And then the guestroom. If the dog stands still long enough she may get a coat of paint.
  • I miss coworkers. Sometimes. Granted, I no longer have to listen to Bob from Accounting complain about the quality of coffee or Suzie from Client Service go on and on about her cats, but I miss the comradery and the ability to bounce ideas off of people. I try to do client or candidate lunches once or twice a week. Some days I will sneak out to the gym just to see another person during the day. Human interaction is essential.
  • My dry cleaner misses me. We used to be on a first-name basis. Now I am just some person who brings in her “fancy” clothes every few weeks since the days of suits and dresses are few and far between (thank heavens).
  • My boyfriend misses me wearing the suits and dresses. 9 times out of 10 I am in my yoga pants when he comes home, and you know it is bad when I justify it by telling myself that I am wearing my “dressy” Lululemon.
  • I now regret the money spent on shoes (okay, not really…) It’s just a wee bit challenging to justify what I spent on my friends Louboutin, Blahnik and Choo when I now spend most days in Old Navy gym socks.
  • Those appointments that I used to schedule way in advance are a breeze. Those annoying four hour windows from the cable company? No problem! I’ll be here!
  • Toilet paper. Not to be indelicate, but you never think about that when in an office. Ditto for water, post-its, and coffee/tea. In an office, those things somehow magically appear. You will be amazed at how quickly you run through them. Be sure to stock up.
  • Time Management. Without the normal office cues to indicate time, it is so easy to get sucked down the rabbit hole of a project, look up, and realize the day is gone. You do not see people coming and going, or have the same number of meetings to break up the day – it is great because it keeps me focused, but sometimes I need to set a timer so that I remind myself to take a breather.
  • Family and friends think I am free to play. Set boundaries if you start to work from home. People assume that it means that you can chat on the phone at any time or meet them for downtime when they have a day off. That is not the case. I am working from home, with a big emphasis on the w-o-r-k.
  • I have become Schneider from One Day at a Time. Telling my building manager I work from home may have been a mistake, as he asks me to cover for him and check on work being done in our brownstone.  If you are too young to know the Schneider reference, I am sorry that you missed on one of the best sitcoms ever. Fear not, it’s available on Netflix and I highly recommend it.
  • MOVE! Living in the city (Boston), I often walked a mile to and from the office, and clocked thousands of steps while there going to meetings. Now I need to remind myself to move. One thing that helped my waistline is the lack of the office candy bowl and endless birthday cake/leftover catered lunches. Best part? If you end a conference call and start doing pushups in the office, you would be looked at funny. At home, the dog assumes it is an invitation to play!

There are a million perks to working from home. Quality of life, laundry does not pile up, fewer distractions, and let’s face it, the commute cannot be beat. If you work from home, what have been your surprises?

Upcoming Speaking Engagement! Boost Your Personal Brand with Lean In Boston Chapter

I am honored and excited to have been selected as one of the speakers at Lean In Boston’s next Chapter meeting, where I will be leading a discussion how to promote yourself on social media. Joining me will be Elaine Varelas, Managing Director, Keystone Partners, who will be leading a discussion on career boosters and busters. Follow Lean In Boston on Facebook for more details on what is sure to be an exciting event.

Save the Date!  March 30, 2016 5:30 p.m. at WeWork South Station, Boston, MA

About Lean In:

The book Lean In is focused on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions, and changing the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do. LeanIn.Org is the next chapter. Lean In is committed to offering women the ongoing inspiration and support to help them achieve their goals. Lean In believes that if we talk openly about the challenges women face and work together, we can change the trajectory of women and create a better world for everyone. Empowering women and closing the gender leadership gap are imperative for companies that want to perform at the highest level. That’s where Lean In comes in. Lean In’s programming helps women connect with peers and organizations counteract gender bias.

About Cindy Joyce and Pillar Search:

With personalized service and proven results, Pillar is your partner in executive search and human resources consulting. With over 20 years of experience, Pillar provides national retained search services for exceptional non-profits and foundations and early-stage or rapid growth for-profit firms. All share the characteristic of desiring top talent who want an occupassion, not just an occupation.     In addition, Pillar offers human resources consulting services, which was born of clients requesting help on projects beyond executive search, and includes human resources audits, creating a handbook, assessing organizational design, training, team building, and employee communications.    A woman-owned business, Pillar is based in Boston, MA, and works on both a local and national level. To contact Pillar Search, click here.

Surf’s Up: What Surfing Can Teach You about Your Job Search

I am a surfer, or at least aspiring to be one.  Recently, I was out on my board on a day with few good waves and plenty of downtime to ponder this addicting sport and life in general, and began to realize that there are many parallels between the job search and surfing.

 

Like the job search, surfing depends as much on one’s skill and experience as it does a host of conditions that we have zero control over.  Weather.  Crowded surfing areas and beaches.  Wave size and frequency.  Swell direction.  The list is endless, just as it is when you are seeking a new job in a competitive market or industry.

 

Once you have decided to get in the water (or start looking for your next career opportunity), you paddle out and try not to bump into others.  In the job search, this can be those baby steps that are really critical to overall success, such as writing your resume, crafting solid cover letters, beefing up your LinkedIn profile, and letting people in your network know that you are open to a new opportunity.

 

Experienced surfers will have multiple boards to choose from to suit their mood or the conditions. Savvy candidates will do the same. Perhaps your “board” will be resumes that highlight different skills and career objectives depending on the jobs you are interested in, or cover letters that will be the differentiator. Knowing yourself and the tools that are available to you is key to success.

 

Like choosing the right job to apply to, choosing the right wave is key.  It would be physically and emotionally exhausting to paddle out, attempt to get in the right spot at the right time, pop up, and stay balanced if surfers went after every wave that came along.  Be selective so that you are fresh and energized when the right one comes along.

 

Hang ten.  Surfs up.  Cut the curl.  These are not sayings that you will hear on a golf course, tennis court, or basketball court. They are specific to the sport of surfing. An industry will have its own language and catch phrases.  Do your research so that you can communicate better with the people you are interviewing with and gain their trust and confidence.

 

Enjoy the ride, even if it is not the perfect wave.  There are days that I get out on the board and I am just not feeling it, but I still enjoy being out there.  The same can happen in an interview when the job and company look great on paper, but in the light of day you just do not feel that spark.  Relax.  Every interview is good practice and experience as well as a chance to expand your network.   Surfers talk about catching the perfect wave, but in reality we try and try and keep getting back on the board, even after falling or not doing our best.

 

Having a good instructor helps.  Even the most experienced surfers sometimes need a fine tuning on their technique, someone who can help them to look at their style and approach and make suggestions.  In the job search, working with an Executive Recruiter can be invaluable, as we will take a fresh look at your resume and help you to identify the skills and experiences that you should highlight in the interview.

 

Ultimately, you may need to try a few waves before you find the ideal one, but in the end, there is no feeling as satisfying and euphoric as catching that perfect wave.  The same holds true for the job search.  Keep at it, and you will catch the right job and have the ride of your life.

Interview Impact: The Art of the Thank You Letter

Congratulations! You nailed the interview. The company is checking references, and in your head you are composing that resignation letter and mentally calculating when your start date with the new firm will be.

 

Then, the call that it came down to two candidates and they went with the other one. But…you nailed it! How can this be?

 

The Secret

Pillar Search does searches for non-profits, foundations, and small, rapid growth for-profit firms. In our years of experience, we have worked with lots of very savvy and knowledgeable hiring managers. I will share one secret that I have heard time and again from them: all things being equal, “the candidate that takes the time to send a thoughtful, reflective, and well-written thank you note will always have a bit of an edge.” Yes…the thank you letter packs a whole lot of wow, punch, and impact.

 

How to Stand Out From Other Candidates

Remember what your parents taught you: manners will get you everywhere, and saying thank you goes a long way. When is the last time you received a thank you letter?  Now, imagine if you were the hiring manager and were receiving tons of them by email. How much more thoughtful and unique would a hand written note of thanks feel?

 

Look at your own mail today. In the pile of pre-addressed bulk mail, what will stand out? A new bill, the latest flier from your local market? Personally, when I see a hand written envelope, it is what I will always open first.

 

You see, too often, people do not send them, or they send one that is so perfunctory that it almost screams “I am not interested in the job, but know that I am supposed to send something”.   The thank you is a perfect time to wow them with your enthusiasm, fit for the job, interest, manners, and stellar writing skills.

 

Pillar’s Thank You Letter Checklist

  • Keep it short. Two to three paragraphs should suffice.
  • Make sure that it flows well and highlights why you are the ideal candidate. Include the following:
    • A statement of gratitude, such as “thank you for taking the time to meet with me today to discuss the open sales position on your team. I so appreciated your time.”
    • Add something showing that you were paying attention in the meeting, and remind the interviewer of what makes you the ideal candidate, such as “I was excited to hear that your company is expanding globally over the next year. My experience working with X, a global bank, gives me a unique skill set that would lend well to this exciting new chapter for you and the firm”.
    • Interviews can be tricky, as you can easily run out of time when sticking to the interview agenda. When you replay it in your head, there is likely something that you wish you had highlighted about your skills and experience. This is a perfect time to get that point across.
    • A call to action. Before signing off, reiterate your interest, and give them something of a call to action.   The message that I find to be most effective is the short and sweet “Thank you again, and I look forward to hearing from you”. True, it is not elaborate, but it leaves the ball in their court and shows that you are confident that you will be hearing from them.
  • Be a snob when it comes to your stationery. High quality card stock reflects well on you. It shows discerning taste and a certain je ne sais quoi Cutesy notecards will negate the goodwill earned by even sending it. If your stationery depicts your love of the beach, cats, puppies or your favorite sports team, step away immediately! When in doubt, buy cream colored notecards from Crane & Co.
  • Write out a draft first, proofread that version, and then transcribe it onto the good stuff. Trust me, I have wasted a ton of expensive paper because I dove right in. To quote my father, “measure twice and cut once”.
  • Stick to the 24 hour rule. Much like a thank you for personal reasons, it is best to send it within 24 hours. If you are in interview mode, keep a supply of stationery and stamps at the ready.
  • Before licking the stamp and strolling to the nearest mailbox, consider this: who else should you send a thank you note to? It may seem like a lot of writing, but if you can, send one to every interviewer, and put a personal spin on each note that reflects your interaction with that person. Do not forget to include Human Resources if they were included in the interview agenda, and if there was someone particularly helpful, such as an Executive Assistant who arranged travel or someone in Marketing who sent you helpful information prior to the meeting, send one to them as well. It shows that you are appreciative, a team player, and inclusive.

 

If (and when!) you get the job, send a hand-written note to your new manager thanking them for the opportunity and letting them know how excited you are about the opportunity. This is a personal touch that will go quite a long way.

 

Good luck!

 

Cindy Joyce