When I look back on my last position, I know full well that I should have never accepted a job at the company. It was not at all a cultural fit as everyone was serious and not big on collaboration, or at least not the type of collaboration I’m used to. While the role was extremely awesome — in terms of responsibility and growth — I was set up for failure from the start, neither having the right experience to success, nor the passion to relentlessly promote the specific subject matter, nor the mental state to persevere through the challenge.
In the end, I got too caught up in my income to focus on what was more important – the job itself. I felt that the actual position I was hired to do was being underpaid, yet my performance was being overpaid. So I was both bitter and guilty at the same time, spending way too much of my days worrying about one thing or another, and not enough trying to keep my head above water. The end was in sight before I even got to the start. My own fault largely, I’ll admit it, but the past is past and I just don’t want to do that again. Ever again.
This happened once before in my career… I was in a job that was going ok but felt like there was no growth opportunities unless I left. Without a lot of potentials I jumped at the first impressive thing that came along, despite being terrified of the actual job. That lasted three months. I was able to recover and switch directions to a whole different career. I was making $55,000 a year out of college which in the Bay Area even then was not that much. This time around it’s a completely different story however as I’m much further along in my career and switching directions would take me from a potential $125k++ figure salary back to $60k-$70k. It’s definitely not as easy of a move.
That said, there are some really good potentials in my field that would, I expect, come with a package over the $150k mark. In total there are two potentials right now — both which I still need to work hard to impress folks in interviews to get offers for — but two real exciting opportunities which, if I choose to stay in my field, could be amazing. But the biggest challenge for my field is that my social anxiety holds me back. I always like to pretend I can just ignore the anxiety but it grates at me day in and day out. I’d prefer a career where I can work form home and only occasionally have to be in an environment with others. I most certainly do not perform well in office environments. Yet even with some special permissions to work off site I begin to worry what everyone else is thinking and fall victim of my own neuroticism, over and over again.
The smart thing to do right now is focus on getting a job. Here is what I should do — get a job for a start date of October 1 at the soonest. Once the job is secured split September between spending time on the east coast with my family AND studying up on all of the tools and techniques available to do this job well. By Oct 1 I should be ready AND refreshed enough from my time off to thrive. If I don’t have a job by Oct 1 I think I’ll start to lose it.
Even though it still isn’t easy to get a job (a lot of hiring folks see that my experience is lacking for what they need) there are still a few who like what I have to offer and will give me a chance. It will get much, much harder once I have to admit in interviews to having lost a job. At least for now I get to play the card of that I’m still gainfully employed in a relatively new position and it’s just not a fit but I’m not going to jump unless something really exciting comes along. It’s a good position to be in as I have the time to really prepare for interviews, impress my suitors, and still get to negotiate based on the concept that I’m employed. Come October it’s going to be a lot harder to tell that story. At some point I’ll just have to look for jobs as an unemployed person. That is a heck of a lot more challenging.
So I know that I need to push for one of these two opps to come through. Both are exciting to me and in fact I can’t really decide which one I’m not enthusiastic about. One may be VP level, but the commute to work would be about an hour-and-a-half (though I could move closer once my lease is up in March.) That one might be jumping back into the fire as the head of a department that I’m really not ready to run, though the subject matter of the company is much more up my alley and something I could see enjoying talking about on a regular basis. The other opportunity is just awesome, but I’m not sure if I have the skills or experience to actually secure the role. They do want to meet me in person so that’s a start, but the job is with a company that I’m sure tons of people would love to work for — I can’t imagine they’d pick me above the others. In any case, I’m going to give it my best shot. I think that gig — a 30 min train ride from my house at a level that isn’t quite as senior as the other position – and with an experiencing boss in my field to report to — could be a better move. They’re just two very different positions and I’m not sure which one I really want more. The more senior level one is actually something that I’d be more likely to get given connections into the company, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure again. I’m really not sure what to do.
Beyond those two opps there is a recruiter who has put me in touch with a CEO who really wants to talk to me. There are so many jobs out there which my experience theoretically would have me fit, yet a lot of them are at companies where I know I’d be bored to death talking about their technology. I realize in my last job I did well because there were so many different angles to talk about the specific product and there were also a lot of different types of buyers so the stories were varied. I also really enjoyed my coworkers who were smart, funny, creative and collaborative. We had a great culture there and I miss it. The culture was supportive and while I worked my ass off I was able to get a lot of great work done. I didn’t realize how much company culture matters but working at a company with a lot of people in their 20s and 30s who want to spend time together and be more like a family vs one where everyone is, well, old, and doesn’t really want to socialize is a huge difference. Maybe one day I’ll want the second kind but for now I need the social experience (didn’t I just say I don’t want a social company? Well, I like it if I get along with the people I work with. If they’re quirky and/or passionate about their work.)
So. I guess what I’m coming to is that I feel like I need to get one of these two jobs. I’m spending this weekend putting together a presentation to impress one of them hopefully at our meeting filled with a plan for what I would do in the role. I’m going to make sure that the plan is actually reasonable and something I can succeed doing. For the other opportunity I might have a face-to-face meeting sooner than later with a senior exec, so I’ll see how that goes. If neither work out well then neither work out, but I just am already getting tired of the time off and want to get back to work. I’ll want time off when I have a kid one day in the near future, or when I want to go on a honeymoon, but not now. Now I’m definitely willing and able to work. Someone for the love of god hire me.