Changing jobs is a life-altering decision with long-term ramifications, says Bonnie Low-Kramen

It happened again. Here’s yet another story of an Assistant who was so eager to leave a bullying executive behind that she accepted a new job too fast after only one “date.” That singular interview date was on Zoom and organized by a recruiter eager for a commission. The Assistant never met their new executives in person before saying “yes to the stress.”

The new job required the Assistant to move 1,000 miles from their current location and, while the new employer paid a portion of the relocation, they did not cover all of it. It turned out that rental properties in the new city were not only more expensive but scarce. Clearly, not enough research was done. The recruiter did not build a housing allowance into the deal and the Assistant is now paying for a pricey short-term rental until they can find something more permanent. All their free time is spent looking for apartments and the new executives are not sympathetic. Not fun times.

You have probably already guessed that the new job is now headed for divorce. The Assistant is actively looking for new work, which in and of itself is stressful, in addition to being increasingly pressured by the housing situation.

There are so many things wrong with this all-too-common situation that I had to write about it.

7 Ways to Date Before You Get Married

1. Fight the desperation; don’t leap before you look

Please seek support so that you do not jump from one dysfunctional situation straight into another. The healthiest mindset is to view yourself as the solution to someone’s problem. Your goal is to find the best match for your skills, talents, experience, and interests. Create a clear and strong CV and LinkedIn profile to support this goal. Do your research on every aspect of the opportunity. No rose-tinted glasses!

2. Meet with your prospective employer in person

Meeting in person makes all the difference. In my experience, it is irresponsible to accept a job without meeting your new employer in person, in their location. The recruiter has an obligation to set everyone up for success by making this happen. Some might say this slows down the hiring process, and to that I say, that’s fine. The bottom line is that you only find out part of the story on video calls.

3. Push for a second “date”

I don’t believe candidates can find out everything they need to know in just one interview. After all, most people are on their best behavior and dressed in their best outfit on a first date. It’s on the second date that you get to see more how things really are, meet more of your co-workers, and generally gather more information about culture and vibe. Push for the second interview.

4. Work with a reputable recruiter

Get the deal in writing. Recruiters make an average of 25% of an Assistant’s annual salary as a commission. On a $100K base salary, that means $25,000, which is paid after an Assistant is on the job for 90 days. Sometimes they have to split the commission if another recruiter is involved, in the same way that realtors do. My point is that there is big money at stake in recruitment and Assistants need to work with respectful recruiters who care about making a good match. This means someone who helps you analyze the written job description as it measures up to the base salary being offered, and who evaluates the costs of relocation and housing situation in the new location. It means getting a verbal deal in writing with all the details regarding bonuses, vacation, time off, and sick leave. And it absolutely means supporting the candidate to meet the clients in person unless impossible.

5. Do a trial

This is literally “dating before you get married.” I am a big fan of doing a 30-60-90 day paid trial on a job before moving anywhere. The employer pays for housing and a fair salary in order to have a try-out. During the trial, you get to understand the scope of the job, the temperament of the executives, and the culture of the company more fully. You get to meet the team and experience the vibe of how they behave with one another. There is so much valuable information obtained simply by observing body language and feeling the pace of the office.

During her trial period, another of my students discovered that the job description she was given by the recruiter only scratched the surface of what the position really entailed. It turned out that the job was 1.5 full-time jobs, and she was able to renegotiate her deal because of that. She was able to reconfigure her job description and offload responsibilities that belonged elsewhere. With the support of her recruiter, she increased her base salary. The trial period is an excellent opportunity to meticulously evaluate the job description. Job description equals money.

6. Interview them as much as they are interviewing you

Assistants often tell me how grateful they are for their job. My response is to say how fortunate the employers are to have them on the team. Don’t get me wrong; gratitude is always appropriate, but it is equally important to never lose sight of the professional business arrangement – job responsibilities in exchange for compensation. Bullying is never okay under any circumstances and should not be part of the job description. A red flag is the bullet point that reads: Must have a thick skin.

Be sure to interview your prospective employer about culture and respect. Ask, “How are you on your worst day?”

7. Take your time; don’t be pressured into saying yes

My former employer of 25 years was famous for her inevitable comment when the limo pulled up. “Just because the car is here, does not mean we have to get in it.” It is the same with a job offer that finally comes in on a Friday afternoon. The recruiter is excited for you to accept it on the spot. Remember: just because you have an offer, does not mean you have to say yes. You have every right to say that you need the offer in writing and 48 hours to think about it. You may want to discuss the deal with your accountant, lawyer, life partner, or friend. Take the time you need to make an excellent decision.

Conclusion

This is your life and your career. You are the CEO of You, Inc. Changing jobs is a life-altering decision that has long-term ramifications – financially, emotionally, and professionally.

You are in charge. To make the best decision, my advice is to stay clear-eyed and fact-based when investigating a new opportunity. Involve people you trust to tell you the truth. Doing this will let you know if the grass is actually greener or if it’s simply good lighting on Zoom.

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Bonnie Low-Kramen is recognized as one of the world’s most respected and inspirational thought leaders on workplace issues. Her work has taken her to 14 countries and 38 states. She worked as the Personal Assistant to Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis ... (Read More)

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