It’s Career Development…on the cheap

by Emily Jasper on March 9, 2009

Right now is a crazy time. People are losing their jobs, taking pay cuts, or going part-time. There are those who may still have a job, but it feels like they’re actually doing two jobs…or three. And the pay is the same or less.

That’s usually the rub.

You may work hard for the money, but there just isn’t a lot to go around right now. Especially if you are a Gen-Yer. You don’t have twenty years of experience on your side. There are two ways to look at this…you are worth way more than this or you can use this for career development.

You are Worth Way More Than This

You might be. You might be the best thing to ever happen to your team. But right now, you can’t think that way. That’s not to say confidence isn’t key, but cockiness isn’t going to work. This is the same for those who are employed and those looking for a job. It won’t work in your favor to talk to someone in HR who had to lay off four people that day, and you arrive on your high horse. There’s a time and place for salary negotiation. Come up with a plan. Your organization may be able to do outlines as part of your package or current agreement as to when future salary adjustments could be made, pending the success of the company. Cover your assets, but also be flexible in understanding how the economy is affecting salaries.

You Can Use This for Career Development

This is probably your best bet. Trust me, I know it sucks to work hard, be underpaid, and feel like “career development” is full of crap. You may already be waitressing on the weekends to pay the bills, or you may not even be salaried. You may not have helicopter parents to fall back on, and you may be the queen of coupon clipping. But just like self-affirmation, look in the mirror (or the computer monitor reflection) and tell yourself it will work out in the end. Do this until you no longer grit your teeth.

If you know that the financial package isn’t ideal, use negotiating power to gain new responsibilities or roles on special teams. If you are able (capable, boss is willing to let you, etc.) to take on new work, you’ll learn a lot. There are new people from whom you’ll learn a lot, there will be new challenges to your day, and you’ll go home exhausted with a load of work every night. It’ll be fun!

Seriously, there’s a lot to be said for taking on new work. At a time like this, groups will be happy to take an extra set of hands or new brain for projects. As long as you continue to complete your own work, the variety could also spice up your life. And your resume. Every time you volunteer (or are asked) to take on something new, write it down. By the time things turn around, you could have quite a laundry list of pretty neat things that begin to look impressive.

And then it won’t take you so long to stop gritting your teeth in the mirror.

The views expressed in my blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

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