Ask Bing: When to look for a new job
Fortune's Stanley Bing helps readers decide when to stick it out - and when to head for the door.
Q: Hi Stanley. My dad's first name is the same as yours so I'd like to get some advice from you. My current job involves doing practically nothing with no real stress. The dept. is a startup in a large established company so there is no assurance of job security but it pays decent for the time being.
Having said that, I'm thinking of calling up my contacts in some of the large investment banks and seeing where that goes. (I'm also about to have my first kid with my wife.) So ....any thoughts on staying put at my useless boring job where I spend my days wasting away vs. going after the lucrative insanity of an i-bank career? I'd really appreciate some words of wisdom.
A: First of all, say hi to your dad. And now for your words of wisdom: Get moving. You couldn't be in a better position to do so. You don't have that much to do. You have time enough to get yourself out and about, hustling for the next gig. You are enjoying that best of all possible worlds - the one where you can get paid for looking for your next job. You're also able to tell your next employer that you are gainfully employed and not out on the street rolling drunks for quarters.
You even admit that your current gig doesn't offer you real job security. On top of all that, you're obviously young enough to be starting a family. That means you might just have an exciting, well-paying bulls**t job ahead of you to look forward to. Go out and find it.
Q: After 15 years in the "helping professions" (i.e., therapist/clergy) I'm a little fried. Can you recommend a career where I can use my people skills in a busineess setting without losing my soul?
A: Yes, actually. It's called Human Resources. There are a lot of sub-disciplines in that field that require a personal, feeling touch that you could provide but, at the end of the day, leave at the office.
The amazing thing is how so few sensitive, caring people actually go into the field of Human Resources. Some are there, of course. But a lot of HR people seem to be dedicated to a) paying people as little as possible, b) managing the rollback of benefits that used to, well, benefit somebody and c) making sure people are fired in such a way that nobody gets into any legal trouble. The tragic thing, particularly in large organizations, is that an HR person with a little heart and soul could do a great deal of good. Maybe you're one of those?
Q: I have worked for a non-profit for nearly two years and haven't received a raise because my boss keeps all money close to the bank. I do my job very well but I don't brag about it. When I pushed him recently for a raise he said he was going to give me one but now he was 'pi**ed off' that I asked and now he has to reconsider it. I have resumes out there but don't want to quit now because I am making less money than when I started.
I was thinking of quitting even without a replacement job because I cannot stomach looking at the boss anymore. We absolutely ignore each other now. Should I leave without another job? If I do leave before obtaining new work, what reason should I give for leaving my last job?
A: First of all, do not leave your current job before finding a new one. That is perhaps the worst strategy in all of the workplace world. Unless you're Jimmy Buffett, the feeling of not having anyplace to go and having no appointments for the day is a deplorable one.
Your job also defines who you are in your own mind. It focuses you. Right now, you're a seasoned veteran of the non-profit world looking to branch out and make more money. If you quit, you'll be a disgruntled former employee who wasn't making enough money and wasn't getting along well with your boss, so you left. Your next boss will not view that second persona as cordially as the first.
That said, your current boss is a jerk. Anybody who would tell an employee that they're being punished for asking for a raise should be pounded into anchovy paste. Don't get mad. Get even. Don't get all frosty and crusty with the guy. Be polite. Be nice. Work hard. And when you do get that next job, quietly back up your hard drive and leave with two or three hours notice.
He's been screwing you for a long time. One day soon, you can return the favor. Until then, visualize that happy day and work to make it happen.
Q: I am systems administrator for a small company. I completed one year of service here as of January 30. It is now May and I have not had a performance review. I followed suggestions that I mention a pay increase while my boss was doing this year's budget. I have confronted him on the issue and asked if there was a performance issue on my part that is preventing me from a review and pay increase and he assured me that he is just too busy.
The problem is that he is buried in technical issues and neglecting his management duties. How long should I be patient and how do I avoid 'bugging' the guy in charge of my increase?
A: I can't really say because I don't know the answer to a key question: How good are you? Here's another: Do you deserve a raise? Or another: Are other people in your department getting raises? How about: Is there anything you can do to help make your boss's life easier so that maybe he can think about his management duties? Or are you just in his face all the time asking for the farthest thing on his mind, i.e. giving you more money?
Let me tell you something about performance reviews. Some places take them very seriously and that's fine for them. I don't really believe in them very much. My people get a performance review every day. There are three alternatives: 1) They get no feedback except hi and howya doin' and that means they're doing their jobs okay, 2) They get an Attaboy, sometimes several in one day, signifying that they've done something smart, above and beyond, or, more importantly, that made my life easier in some way. Then there's 3) they messed up, were lazy, inattentive, made me work when I wanted to be daydreaming, lied, were missing in action, etc. If they did it, they know about it.
Consequently, there isn't a person who works for me who doesn't know where they stand on a day-to-day basis, for the most part, and the managers who work for me are pretty much the same way, too. So yeah, once a year or so I do sit down with some folks and tell them how they're doing in a macro sense. And I give them a raise, too - even the ones who only get 2 percent still have something to take home with them. If they're not worth a raise, they should probably be out of here anyhow.
My specific advice to you is: Be a good worker. Be non-fungible. Give the raise thing a rest until September. They just tell him you want a raise and if he doesn't want to give you one you'd like to know the reason why. Be ready for his answer. He just might tell you.
Ask Stanley Bing
Having a problem at work? Tell us your workplace dilemma and get Stanley Bing's no-BS advice in his weekly "Ask Bing" column. Submit your question below or e-mail them directly to email@example.com. Your name is optional, and although your e-mail address is required, it will remain private.