Resource: For Women Only in the Workplace

Disclaimer: While the title states women, this advice is just as important for men.

I have some bad news. More than likely, your job existed before you and, just as likely, it will exist after you.

As author, Shaunti Feldhahn explains in her book, For Women Only in the Workplace: What You Need to Know About How Men Think at Work, a job holder is the temporary holder and custodian of a position.

The job, position, title and everything that goes along with it, “exists independent of the person and will be there after they leave,” she writes.

That’s a pretty heavy statement. You know you are more than just a cog or a square peg and that you bring certain talents, perspectives and qualities to a position that are exclusively unique to you, but none of that matters to the company as an entity.

Think of it this way, separate the people you work with from the company. The company is cold and only cares about the bottom line. The company sees things in black and white. You are helping the company or hurting the company. The company expects you to do what is best for the company and not for yourself. Your job is to make money for the company.

“If you’ve got a role [position, title], you’ve got to play the role, like a doctor has to remove a tumor or a dentist has to pull a tooth,” explains one of Feldhahn’s interview subjects. “The dentist undoubtedly cares about the person whose tooth is failing. The doctor cares about the person whose tumor needs to be removed. But they do not let their concern for the person overshadow their responsibility.”

Feldhahn uses this example in the book (on page 35), it typically took 25 hours to investigate and file a report.  At company A where she was a salary employee, that didn’t matter. At company B where she was an hourly employee, her new boss told her she needed to cut down on her hours. To which she replied, “If I am going to do it right, it will take at least 25 hours.”

Finally her new boss at Company B explained, I’ve bid 17 hours for this project. That is all the client will pay me, no matter how much time you take. I’m going to lose money employing you. You might think what you’re doing can’t be done in under 25 hours, but I’m asking you to do a different kind of report, the 17 hour version.

The take away? If your consistently cost your company money (remember time also is money) your job will go to someone else.

My Single Piece of Advice to 2010 Graduates (PR or not)

Photo from: Ricomoss
I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve made this mistake more than once. A few times, it has worked out well for me. Others have been total disasters.

Don’t accept the first job offer that comes your way, just because it is the first.

Think about that for a minute. Job hunting is scary. It is intimidating and isn’t easy. But trying to fit yourself into a company that doesn’t work for you or a boss with a personality that doesn’t mesh with yours is worse. Unless the position is a perfect fit and will offer you everything you want in a company, culture and in personal relationships with co-workers, it is ok to turn it down.

Yes, your parents might be disappointed and your friends might not understand, but they are not the ones who will have to work there for nine hours (or more!) a day, five (or more!) days per week.

It is perfectly fine to turn down a job you wouldn’t find the work interesting. Of if after the interview you have a gut feeling that it wouldn’t be a good fit. Don’t ignore that. Don’t just say, well it might not be so bad. You have instincts for a reason.

I was on one interview where my possible future boss, stepped on every sentence I had. She was a bit abrasive even in the interview setting. If I had listened to my gut, I would have realized that if she acts this way now, she’ll be even worse if I actually worked for her. And she was.

If I hadn’t just accepted that job off the bat and had waited just a week more, I could have accepted a job in a better environment, with a more collegial staff. I didn’t accept because I had just started a new job. I still kick myself for that.

There are many resources available to you to help decide if an offer is right for you. Just start with Google or your Help a PR Pro Out comrades. In the end, it is your choice. If it doesn’t feel like a choice, consider that a sign that it might be worth waiting for the next opportunity.