Category Archives: Career

Accepting You Can’t Change Others

Thanks everyone for your wonderful feedback on my “to vacation or to not vacation” dilemma. I appreciated everyone’s support to spend the money to go and got really excited about the trip. Fortunately, S, who has been extremely unhappy with his job, had his first round interview at a promising company. Unfortunately for me, they are asking him to come in next Friday and they like to give “assignments” to their potential hires, so we have decided that San Diego will have to wait until another time. I am still going to leave for CA to see my family sometime next week and will spend a week there. Although I was really looking forward to the beach weather, I am somewhat glad that this came up as I realized I still had not made housing plans for a wedding I am attending later this month. Thanks everyone for your feedback, I really appreciated your support to spend the money, especially because the San Diego trip felt somewhat frivolous.

I had my exit interview with my boss today. I went back and forth for days on whether I should be brutally honest with him on my feedback of the company and risk jeopardizing my relationship with the boss (he is known to take criticisms poorly from anyone, even if you present it as an opportunity) or if I should just gloss over it in order to maintain a good relationship with him.  I was hoping that being honest in my feedback may help my colleagues with things such as quicker responses from management, more strategy in marketing, etc. I asked several friends for advice and no one had a good answer.

Just minutes before my meeting with him today, while bouncing ideas off with a friend who will also be leaving her company and has had similar problems with her management, we both came to the realization — our feedback won’t change anything. I am not saying that I don’t think bosses ignore or take offense to areas of improvement suggested by employees, just that our specific bosses would. Knowing nothing would change, there was no reason to risk burning the bridge. So with that, I had a nice conversation with him, discussing some of the issues I have run into while working there (some of it outside of his control) and reiterating some issues I had previously raised.

I do feel somewhat guilty towards my current coworkers since I think if he were to listen to my suggestions and honest feedback, it would have assisted them the most and made the rest of their time at the company easier.

Have you been in a situation like this? If so, what did you do? If not, what would you have done in a similar situation?

Where I’ve Been, Part Deux

The reason for my hiatus again has involved the job search. Originally it started with juggling the high number of recruiters. I received contact information of over 70 recruiters from a friend and sent a mass email, which then meant that I was constantly meeting with them in person (so they can make sure I am not a scary weirdo) or fielding their calls. It got to a point that I started a log to keep their names, companies, and opportunities we discussed straight. I learned that working with recruiters really could be a hit or a miss. Some are really excellent at matching you up with positions right away, while some are flaky and will contact you about a position one day and never follow up with you again.

I was getting really stressed out since I wasn’t able to really complete my day to day tasks at my current work while juggling the recruiters. It was to a point that I was wondering if I will be able to keep my current position while job searching.

Finally last week, I started to receive some good news. I had a first round interview at a company where they gave me a verbal offer 24 hrs later. I really liked the energy of the employees and it offers an exciting opportunity to grow my career, although it also will require ridiculous number of hours and benefits leave little to be desired. I have asked for more time to decide because I had a final round interview at a large, Fortune 500 company on Friday. Today, I received the call from that company with an offer. The work is somewhat predictable, great benefits, and I loved the approach that my potential future boss has in developing talent.

So now, I am pulling out my hair trying to decide which would be better. The Fortune 500 will give my resume a name recognition that it lacks (I have worked for smaller companies so far), much more structure (means I know that I can get a promotion every year), higher salary, and excellent benefits. The smaller company will give me that start-up type experience, much more responsibilities, and a shorter commute (10 min walking distance). I find it extremely challenging to decide because I feel that I am at that point in my life where this position I take needs to be baby-friendly since if I have kids I anticipate that we will start in 3-4 years. This puts more pressure to make sure this job is a right fit for a longer haul since I don’t want to be in a position where I start a new job and then go on a maternity leave shortly after.

I will be making my decision by tomorrow. Although it is stressful to make the decision, I am extremely thankful that I have a good problem to have in choosing a company. I always based my emergency fund on having at least 6 months expenses because I assumed that a job search would take about that long. I have only been actively looking for a month and a half. I am thankful that I took the very first position out of business school that I did and received the certifications that is now a high demand.

I will be back in a few days with my decision. Thanks everyone for following my blog, despite it being extremely boring at times!



Buying A House Is Like A Full Time Job

This is my third day being “beached,” which means I have been working from home. I am always slightly worried about these time off because if it is extended I begin to wonder about the economy, the viability of the firm, etc. but I think it is a necessary mental break for the consultants to take a breath, regroup, and work on some non-client related matters. I had so many tasks and goals — finish my certifications, write a presentation and white paper on a business topic, etc.

Unfortunately, thanks to my mortgage broker, I am more frazzled than ever before and completely unable to focus on anything aside from the home purchase. Now I am really glad that I am beached because I can’t imagine dealing with this mess while being on a client engagement since stepping away for 2-3 hours a day during business hours would be a huge no-n0.

I found my mortgage broker through one of the top four evil banks in the US. I called to receive a pre-approval letter and spoke to him for over 30 minutes or so. He seemed attentive and funny so when the home purchase happened so much faster than I ever anticipated, I decided to give him a call for the mortgage. I should have realized that he might not be on top of his stuff when he would seem lost about what documents I had submitted to him during our conversations.

As we went through the attorney reviews, inspections, etc. I started to notice he just plain sucked at communication. I would send him an email with two questions and he would only answer one of my questions. Some questions I would bring up daily and it would take him three or four days to respond. Mind you, he would email me about something else during this time so I know he is reading my emails and in the office. He also would request certain documents “ASAP” and have me chase the document although they should have known they would be required earlier on. I notified my real estate agent that I was not confident about his competence and that we need to stay on top of him to ensure we can meet our deadlines.

Today was the deadline for the mortgage to be approved. Yesterday I received a list of 11 items, stating that if they cannot receive those items by the end of the day they will not be able to approve the mortgage prior to our closing, which is 1.5 weeks away. Of these documents, 3 were not applicable to me (they were internal processes), 3 I had already submitted, and 5 which had never been requested before. Some of these were really standard items he should have provided me earlier to complete, like social security number verification. Seriously? Because every document like the tax returns, W2, credit report, etc aren’t plastered with my SSN? And some were ridiculous requests, like wanting a copy of my diploma or transcript from my MBA program. Uh, I graduated over 3 years ago and I have no gaps in my employment for the last 4 years! This list came after weeks of me asking him if he has all the documents he needs.

I finally called his boss (his email signature always said if there are problems to report them to his boss and had the boss’s contact info) to express my anger, frustrations, and concerns. Movers are coming on the 29th and I need to vacate my unit by the 31st. If we are unable to close by the 27th (Friday), I am screwed. And I refuse to have to live in a hotel or friend’s couch and having to deal with my items temporarily being in storage because of my mortgage officer’s incompetence. Now I have been promised a daily update from the boss and I can tell the agent is more careful in reviewing what documents I have already produced to him before he makes new requests.

Lesson learned here: shop around and interview your mortgage brokers for some time. See how they communicate with you over a few weeks and how they answer your questions, etc. In hindsight the moment I started to think about purchasing a place I should have interviewed mortgage brokers for comparison, before even meeting with the agents. But, had I done that, I would not have been able to purchase my condo since I assume someone else would have made an offer (it was listed only for 10 days when I made the offer). I guess now I know what to do for our next home purchase.




Negotiating: Tougher Than Your Average Girl

I’ve created an eloquent post on this previously, which then got lost. Please bear with me as I try to remember the gist of the previously written post.

My guy friends constantly tell me that one of the most interesting traits about me is what I am not. They say visually, I seem like a stereotype of a tiny (being a size 0 doesn’t help) woman — light hearted (I read this as “air-heady” although they deny it), reliant on others, and probably submissive. Whenever I tell them some story on how I would stand up for myself, they laugh saying they doubt anyone would look at me and think I’d be an alpha, fighting and pushing back to represent my interest.

I wasn’t always this strong or forward but as I have gotten older, I have enough experiences that have taught me only I am interested in the best scenario for me.  I push back and negotiate hard, whenever I deem stakes are high, and have come out ahead each time.

First time I discovered this was when I was accepted by my MBA program. I received a hefty scholarship package already, which is somewhat unheard of in top business schools. I was telling my friend from undergrad that attending that school over my dream schools would be much easier with more monetary incentives. She asked “why don’t you negotiate?” Huh, I had never thought of that! So I wrote a letter to the dean of admissions, restating my qualification and noting that while I would love to attend more scholarship money would make it easier for me to accept the admission. I had asked for additional $10k a year, anticipating that we will settle on additional $5k a year. I received a letter back stating all scholarship monies had been allocated to accepted students but I will be put on the list to receive any scholarships as they become available. In the meanwhile I was given additional $10k/yr of 0% loans. I accepted.  A few months later I received a letter stating more scholarship monies had become available and I was given additional $5k/yr. For writing one letter, I ended up receiving additional $10k of scholarship monies and additional $20k loan at 0%. That is what I call a great ROI!

When I accepted my summer internship for a full time position, I again negotiated hard.  When I couldn’t push the salary any higher, I started to push for sign on bonus, relocation costs, etc. I ended up with a package worth $20k higher than the original offer.

With the recent condo purchase, it was more of the same. Already my realtor had negotiated the terms hard for me but I negotiated further after the inspection report was available. Because the condo was old and no updates had been made in over a decade, I used these as areas of contention. I reached out to my inspector to ask for estimates to change the problem areas and received high level estimates. When I researched those specific issues, the estimates came in much lower. Even when the seller made it seem as if they were willing to walk away due to this cost, I held firm and made it known I would be willing to walk away due to the disagreement as well. In the end I was able to receive costs of my closing waived at a greater amount than the fix estimates.

I think often times we assume that certain items (like scholarship packages) cannot be negotiated. I regret that I didn’t think of negotiating sooner (like my undergrad scholarship package) and with all major steps in life I try to negotiate. One area that has really helped in negotiations is to know my range of acceptance (min/max) and being ready to walk away if that range cannot be met. I never would have walked away from my condo just because of those disagreements because it was within my range but pushing hard made me come out ahead.

Do you have any negotiation stories you would like to share? Any tips?



Weighing Exhaustion vs. Emergency Fund

I am exhausted. Work is going fine, I know that the back and forth of Chicago weather doesn’t help, and I know that this condo purchase process is stressing me out. I am talking stressed-out-so-much-I-am-breaking-out-and-canceling-seeing-friends type of exhaustion. It is taking all of my energy to put in the hours at work and calling mortgage officer, lawyer, realtor, and whoever else is required at that time.

A few days ago I was supposed to do an online orientation for the part time job I am to start. It happened to coincide with my inspection. I emailed the HR folks and told them that I’d like to reschedule, possibly pushing this off until next month, thinking ahead about my energy levels and my task list.

But what do you know? The orientation was canceled and I was told to reschedule. I thought about just waiting until the next month. Then I thought about my emergency fund.

Basically the problem is, I will have almost no emergency fund aside from my Roth IRA and 401k after the purchase of this property. Despite Dave Ramsey‘s $1k EF, I feel safest at 6 months living expenses. I believe that since I would be looking for a middle/senior management level at big corporations, the jobs available might be slim and the time it takes for it to finalize would also be long. 6 months allows me to feel comfortable that before my EF would run out, and that I’d find another job without settling.

That no emergency fund thing… It is starting to scare me. I plan on implementing my bare bones budget until I have that much achieved (which I will know better once the mortgage is approved and I know what monthly payments to expect), which might be as long as the rest of 2012. And even then I am afraid that something might happen prior to me reaching that magical EF number.

I am tired. I need to pack. I need to cook at home so I avoid costly take-out meals. But I need the Emergency Fund more, for my sanity and my financial well-being. I decided to trade my stress of not having a sufficient EF fund for stressing out over having another task.

So, while I am juggling everything else, I will be undergoing the training. It pays pennies during training, but it is the only way for me to get that regular, double-digit paying gig a few months later.

I may be stressed out but I will at least feel financially safer.