Posts Tagged ‘jobs’

Reference points, and pay reviews

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 | Thoughts

In 2012 I wrote about the economic advantages I had experienced by moving companies. Although it is, of course, an extremely limited data set, I had witnessed a consistent and pronounced difference between increases in my income when I stayed with the same company and moved to a different one.

Some of this could perhaps be explained by the concept of reference points, as discussed by Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

One of the issues with gaining a large salary increase with your current employer is that your current salary forms a reference point. Say you are a graduate and took a £18,000 a year job. It is now a year or two after and your skills are now worth £28,000. All of that seems reasonable in the software industry.

The problem is that to your current employer, they would have to accept a £10,000 increase in costs – a 56% increase! So they probably make you a far more modest offer of £23,000. This then also becomes a reference point. When you ask for £28,000 that is not only £10,000 more than they pay you now, but £5,000 more than they had mentally prepared themselves for. They are left feeling like they are losing £5-10,000 a year.

In comparison, a different company can come at this from a neutral perspective. They look at what someone with your experience is worth and price you accordingly. This could result in a wider range of offers. Some high, but some even lower. However, this is of no consequence as obviously you will cherry-pick the high offers and pursue those.

Job hopping

Monday, October 8th, 2012 | Success & Productivity

Last month, I wrote about how I had increased my income significantly by switching jobs.

This isn’t always the case though. Indeed, Business Insider recently published an article suggesting that people who hop from job to job to climb the corporate ladder actually earn less money.

In their figures, people who stayed in the same job for five years experienced pay increases of around 8% on average, compared to 5% for those who changed jobs regularly. This may be unrepresentative of the wider market as it was a survey of those in Silicon Valley, though this should actually make it more comparable to my figures.

Gaming the system

Friday, September 28th, 2012 | Success & Productivity

As I discussed recently, we’re all basically rats trapped in a system where we have to sell our time, and our bodies, for the resources we need to keep us alive. So it makes sense we try and play the system as best as we can.

I won’t claim to be a researcher in the psychology of employment, but here are some suggestions from my anecdotal experience (you know, anecdote, the singular of data 😉 ).

Move to a different company

As I wrote about recently, in the years where I moved jobs, I managed to obtain pay increases of at least double what I managed to obtain when I didn’t. While this is more pronounced in the IT industry, it seems to apply across the whole job market.

Work in IT

Even through the global recession, I never struggled to get a job, or achieve large pay rises year in, year out. The financial crisis simply never touched the IT industry, and as a recruiting manager at the time, I can tell you that neither love nor money could bring in enough software developers. It certainly isn’t going away anytime soon, so why not switch careers?

Work in IT, especially if you’re a woman

The sad reality of society today is that it still does not provide equal opportunities. This is especially true in IT where being a woman is an absolutely enormous advantage. Employers will discriminate against men – I’ve sat in meetings where better candidates have been passed up in favour of female candidates. Why not use this to your advantage?

Be very arrogant

I once went for a £70,000 a year job with a well known mobile phone operator based in the UK. A lot of people suggest you shouldn’t be arrogant, so I toned my arrogance down for the interview. I didn’t get the job.

Two months later, I went for an even higher paid job and this time I toned my arrogance up (as unbelievable as that might be). I got it.

The lesson is that employers want to have confidence that you can do the job and they will select a candidate who shows that, over a candidate who doesn’t, even if they get caught bullshitting once or twice. Don’t lie, it’s OK to say “I don’t know”, but don’t be afraid to really push how great you are and how much you know – even if they catch you out, you’ve still put across the right attitude, and once in the job, you’ll be able to show them you’re worth the money anyway.

Tackle an interviewer’s concerns head on

When it comes to your turn to ask questions in the interview, just ask the interviewer “do you have any reservations about employing me?” I end every interview with that question now. If they do, you can try and answer their concerns there and then. If not, you’ve put it into their mind that they literally have no reason not to offer you the job.

Hold out for more money

I’ve never been offered a job, only for it to fall through on pay negotiations. Once and employer has decided they want you, they won’t quibble over an extra thousand or two a year to get your signature on the dotted line. Try to have a couple of things lined up at the same time so you can legitimately say “I’m considering some other offers.” That will scare them into thinking they will lose you, and they’ll cough up the extra cash.

Tell your employer you’re going to leave

A good friend of mine who worked for a certain other mobile phone operator based in the UK, decided that he was fed up with his job and announced to the world that he was looking for a new challenge. His employer soon found out and decided that he was worth keeping, so offered to train him up in a whole different part of the company, and bump him up a few pay grades too! If your company likes you, they’ll do what they can to make you stay – if not, then they were probably going to get rid of you at some point anyway, so you have nothing to lose.

Seriously, quit your job

Monday, September 17th, 2012 | Success & Productivity

To be clear, you shouldn’t quit your job. Well, maybe you should. In any case, read on…

We’re all trapped like rats in a capitalist system, right? None of us enjoys going to work. Sure, many of us are in jobs that we describe as liking, and in many ways, I do like my job, but that is a subjective term.

What we mean when we say we like our job is that we’re content with it – as jobs go, we’ve got one we want to be in, with the alternative being in a job that we don’t want to be in. But ultimately, we’re not doing jobs for fun, or voluntarily, we’re doing it because we live in a society where we are forced to work to live.

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to break out of said system so the best most of us can hope for it just to play the game as best we can. The better you play the game, the more money you earn and the better job you can get – better probably meaning less work, because it’s an inverse pyramid – those Crew Members at £4.30 an hour (and that is what they are paid if they’re under 18!) are doing a lot tougher work that us sat in our offices in salaried jobs. Meanwhile, Richard Branson starts each day with a swim around his private island – more money equals less work.

So how do we play the game better?

The best tip I can give you is to leave the company you are currently with.

It almost never pays to stay with the same company. Even if they’re giving you good promotions and good pay rises, you can almost certainly get even more by going elsewhere, to a different company.

Why? Because the current company has you and thinks you will probably stay with them because it’s a hassle to switch jobs. Another company doesn’t have you, and is hiring, so it clearly in need of extra resource and knows it will have to pay to go out there and get it.

Don’t just take this statement is automatically true, though. I’m not claiming to be an expert on the subject. But I got the inspiration for this blog post when doing analysis on my pay rises over the years. Here are the results:

Year Increase Moved/Stayed
2008 58% Moved
2009 39% Moved
2010 21% Stayed
2011 19% Stayed
2012 124% Moved

The results are striking – the years when I stayed with the same company, I achieved pay increases of 19 and 21 percent, while the years I moved to a different company, I achieved 58, 39 and 124 percent.

Those aren’t small, insignificant differences – we’re talking double the pay increase, at least, by moving company. Clearly, it pays to go elsewhere.

State of the job market

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Thoughts

The recent global recession has been a real boom time for me. I’ve switched jobs several times and now gone self employed. When I was lead developer over at Buzz we couldn’t hire people fast enough, and even when we could, the often ended up going elsewhere as other companies desperately tried to attract them with ever spiraling pay increases. Kick backs for referrals started reaching four figures.

Never the less, I heard a lot in the media, and from other people, about how hard it was to get a job and about the record levels of unemployment. The news is full of headlines about how bad things are.

I put it down to the industry I was in. We must be an island, resilient to the global economic downturn, ever-expanding while the rest of the world was reseeding. Sure it was easy to get a job if you worked in software development, but everyone else must be struggling.

Then, in April, Elina moved over to the UK. She had just graduated and had no real work experience. But together we wrote her a CV, put together a “job hunting action plan” and did some interview practice. Within two weeks she had a series of interviews lined up and was offered two of the first three she went to.

In fact, they wanted to start her so quickly that she had already done two days work for one company before receiving a better offer and leaving to go another one.

This once again made me question as to whether there really were no jobs available out there. We certainly didn’t find a lack of them when looking for Elina – just trawling through Gumtree threw up dozens of local vacancies each day.

Having spent three years working at McDonald’s, I have quite a few friends still working in McManagement. Conversations with them tell a similar story to the IT industry – they’ve been pretty much continually recruiting throughout the entire recession.

Last weekend, I also spoke to my auntie who works for a charity shop. While she took the job part-time to give her something to do in her retirement, she is currently working full time because they can’t fill the two paid vacancies they have at the moment.

So if the industry I work in has plenty of jobs, the industry my friends work in has plenty of jobs, the industry my relatives work in has plenty of jobs and Elina can get a job without any real work experience in only a matter of weeks, how then can you make the case that there are no jobs available?

The answer is, I’m not sure you can. The last resort of an answer I could pull up was perhaps due to age barriers as most of my friends are young – but as I’ve already said, my auntie has retired once!

That then opens the question up as to why there is so much unemployment.

Two answers spring to mind.

First off, people just won’t take the jobs available. It’s almost certainly no coincidence that the biggest constant in recruitment are companies like McDonald’s – nobody wants to work there. Many people consider themselves too good to work there. You can argue that it is demeaning for people with a degree to go work in fast food, but I think that is a real insult to people like myself and Norman who did go work there – and we’ll both tell you that we learnt loads!

Not to mention the fact that a bachelor’s degree is far from anything special anymore. But more to the point, it’s totally reasonable for employers to want to hire well rounded people, who have some knowledge of the real world outside of academic the academic environment.

Secondly, I think there is a failure of our education system to prepare people to job hunt. When I finished school, I will put my hand up and admit that I didn’t know how to job hunt. We had gone over writing a CV at school but that is about where it ends.

Job hunting is a lot of work! Loads! I actually much prefer being in a job (although being self-employed is even better) than looking for one because it’s LESS work. When you’re job hunting you need to be putting in a full 40 hour week, you need to be up first thing in a morning, looking presentable to go round speaking to people. When I’m working I can role out of bed any time up until 10am (I like to be in the office by 7:30, but the point is I could go in at 10), and turn up in “whatever you wake up in” – that’s a quote from one of my manager’s.

But I didn’t realise how much effort was required. Nobody at school ever said to me, “it should be a 40 hour week and you need to make sure you have an action plan and a spreadsheet of who you have contacted and when you’re chasing them up.” School should be teaching that because otherwise, it is no wonder that people are unable to find themselves one of the many jobs that are out there.

My two cents on graduate jobs

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008 | Thoughts

Here’s an interesting fact you may not know (or to be fair, even find interesting). The American expression “my two cents” is actually just an Americanised version of the original British idiom “my two pennies worth.” Yep much like whisky and invading less powerful countries, the phrase is just another concept that actually came from the British Isles and was merely imitated by the United States.

So, given many of us are soon to be or indeed have started graduate jobs, I thought I would throw in experiences and thoughts given I have been working for over a month now on the off chance it is helpful but mainly because I am guessing I can score a few cheap jokes somewhere in this post.

It really is a lot of the things you imagine to be honest. You know when we were doing things like normalised databases and understanding business processes before designing a system and we’re all sat there thinking this clearly is a better way of doing this but nobody is going to be doing this in the real world and because I know this it’s then going to be my job to have to go in and sort it all out which is just going to be painful.

Well, that is exactly how it is :D. Having arrived for my first week by boss Nick announced he was going to be away for the next week so I used the time to almost entirely rewrite a big system we had written for a client so it is all normalised and doesn’t duplicate silly amounts of code (it now only duplicates a large amount of code ;)). But it’s far less painful to actually sort out – it’s more of a fun challenge once you actually get into it.

You’re going to like the people you work with. Possibly because they geniunely nice people. I think I’ve got lucky in that the people I work with really are geniunely nice people. Even if they weren’t though, you are still going to like them because it’s like that in halls – you make friends and then looking back a year or two later you realise that they were actually a right bunch of losers.

The first week or so you haven’t really got into the swing of things so they can be a bit boring while you really build up the knowledge to just be able to walk in on a morning and get on with things. So if there is some serious clock watching in that first week, don’t worry, it’s going to get better once you’re up to speed.

Chances are, you aren’t going to be a newbie for too long. Most of the companies we are going for will have a relatively high turnover compared with companies outside of IT and not recruiting graduates who are going places so with all probability there will be someone else who started just before you and will soon be someone newer than you too. My company recruited a few months before I started and have some else starting in about two weeks.

Things happen slowly. This is where your experience running societies comes in. Remember all that nagging of people to get things done that a president has to do constantly throughout their term? It is a skill that will come in handy a lot. If you missed out on the experience of running a society then don’t worry too much, you’re just going to feel far less flustrated when nothing gets done.

Finally, whenever you get stressed, just remember that you only have 40 years of work left. And a good few years of people telling you that joke. Over and over. Like Thursday crashing a car. So yeah, good luck!

The inquisition has begun

Thursday, May 1st, 2008 | Life

Yesterday saw my first job interview in a long time.

Despite my title, it was actually the most relaxed interview we’ve ever done. It felt more like a conversation than an interview. And while I really don’t know how to gauge how well it went, I’m told the fact that it lasted an hour and 15 minutes is a good sign. But I guess we will have to wait and see. The job looks really good at least.

I have another one tomorrow which should be interesting. If I can find it lol.

Life is hard

Friday, April 25th, 2008 | Thoughts

Having finished my FYP I was hoping I could relax a little. But instead I find my timetable full because I’m having to trail everywhere and re-arrange my timetable so I can do all these job interviews.

And the constant phone calls from recruitment companies. I mean, every week, usually multiple times a week.

Meanwhile there is a lot of stress in trying to throw together film nights so I can relax in front of my huge wall size screen with my 600w sound system.

Not to mention the number of neck turns I have to make when looking at all three of my different monitors. And keeping my 12 computers and servers patched up is just a mission.

And deciding what car to buy, in cash. What a headache.

Yep, life is hard.