Nothing Special, Really

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Last week, during my first interview in three months, I felt that I really hit it off with the HR Director of the company. Of course, this wasn't the first time I felt that way. I've been through several interviews already where I felt very good about the chance, and in some cases, that I had the job locked up. Being through all that, I've become progressively better at making sure I don't get too excited about opportunities until I know for sure. Anyways, during the interview, the HR Director was doing a great job of talking about what my experience would be "if" I got the job, but there was one instance where instead of "if", she used "when". As in "well, you'll see when you get there." Was it an interesting choice of words, or just another example of me reading too much into things? I played it off as the latter and disregarded it. At this point, I knew better.


I met with her again this past Monday, in addition to meeting with the rest of the team. I talked to the HR Manager for about 45 minutes, took a tour of the building, then met with the HR Director for another "chat". She let me do the talking, but at this point, I was fumbling for things to say. I wasn't sure how else I could sell myself to her, but did I need to? We talked about random stuff like communication preferences, our pets, the commute, etc. Then she asked me if I had any other questions. My response was some form of "I just really want this job." She laughed and said "I would hope so."

Then we started talking more details. Possible start dates. Time off. Compensation. I gave the company line about just wanting "fair market value based on the job and the skills I have to offer." She laughed again and said "we're gonna have to work on your negotiation skills."

I didn't want to get too excited, but I couldn't help but notice we were talking pretty casually about something that hadn't happened yet.


I left my job last May. Well, technically, the job left me. I mentioned before that I had an opportunity to stay, making a considerable amount more than I was when I left. I turned it down, thinking that I could find a job that I would enjoy much more for the same money. I never expected that search to last over 9 months.

I've been as close as having my references checked on multiple occasions, only to finish the runner up. So the fact that I was having my references checked this time didn't mean much to me. Been there, done that. I was cautiously optimistic about this chance, but heavy on the "cautiously" part. One of my references called me yesterday, letting me know that he thought it went really well. I got an email from the HR Director letting me know that she was still waiting to hear back from another references. She also mentioned that she wanted to get two reference checks in before getting back to me, not wanting to break the rules especially being in HR. The writing was on the wall, but still, I didn't allow myself to get too excited.


I got a phone call today. I've gotten several of these phone calls before. They've never ended well, but at this point, I was preparing myself for something different.

Over the past 24 hours, I've wondered about how to prepare myself for my first real salary negotiation in the event that I was offered the job. I know that there's usually a chance to counteroffer, but I couldn't help but think that I was missing a lot of leverage:

- I don't have a job right now. Already, I'm in a bad position to be asking for more money
- They have a very robust benefits package. With other companies, I could more easily negotiate a higher salary, but this company was bringing the goods.
- I don't have any other offers to use as leverage, and threatening to stay on unemployment wouldn't be very effective for either party.
- I've never been in this position before; it's essentially a promotional opportunity.
- I knew that, based on the position, any offer was going to be substantially more than what I made in my last job.

Nevertheless, given all that, I didn't want to leave money on the table if possible.

Anyways, it didn't take long for her to confirm what I was cautiously suspecting all along; she offered me the job. And, as irony would have it, it ended up being for the same amount that I turned down 9 months ago.

I'm not much for superstition, but I couldn't help to take it as a sign. I couldn't have accepted the offer fast enough. Negotiation be damned; this is not only the first offer I've had in over 9 months, but it easily blows away any other offer I would have received. Not only that, she's also working with me to help make sure I don't get negatively affected by missing a paycheck from starting so late, and she's also allowing me a bit of time off early on to take a brief vacation. This is everything I've been wanting for the past 9 months; giving her a counteroffer to maybe squeeze a thousand or two out of her seemed inconsequential at that point.


I have a job again. I should be dancing around the apartment, punching the air in excitement, but I'm surprisingly calm. Hell, I just got off the phone with her 40 minutes ago, and I've spent the whole time since then writing this post. I'll let loose tomorrow when I get drinks with my friends, but right now, I just feel relief.

During the interview, I mentioned how there were times I was unsure if I made the right decision turning down the offer with my last company. It was a lot of money, and as times got more desperate over the past couple of months, I fixated on that sole factor. But I told the HR Director that I still thought it was the right decision if it meant that I was available for opportunities like my new job. I made that choice back then because I felt it was the right one. I felt there was a better opportunity for me; I was only wrong on how long it would take to get it.

Of course, hindsight is always 20\20. My former company is doing layoffs again, even more massive than before. If I stayed on, I would have been let go this upcoming May anyways. I have a lot of friends that will be affected by this; I have to imagine that we all know someone at this point who's been laid off. It's a hard journey to go down. I've cried many times the past couple of months; I haven't cried that much since I got my DUI three years ago. But I tried my best, and with the help of many others, I stuck with it. I worked on my resume, I worked on my interviewing, I built up my network, but most importantly, I tried to stay positive. Just once, I only needed to all come together just once.

Finally, after nine months, it did. And I've never been more excited to go back to work in my life.

Thank you everyone who's supported me during this time. I'd hate to think how worse of I would have been without you.



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