Mind Spirit

The power of staying (tales of a soul/job search)

sherrie_headshot

On Wednesday April 24 (shout out to my bestie on her bday), I wrote an email to my professional network to get help on my job search. The response was overwhelming – this thread is currently 66 emails long.

After 2 months, over 25 coffees/lunches/phone calls, 5 first-round interviews, 2 onsites, walking away from talks with 2 companies that weren’t a fit, getting turned down by another company, and 2 offers for Senior Product Marketing Manager roles (a promotion from my current title and 18% increased pay plus a signing bonus), I decided to stay at Indeed.

I know. What?! Read on (approx 15 min).

What I discovered:
1. What I want in a role – When I started the job search, I was scattered-brained and grasping for a path forward. I was so burnt out, I considered going back to teaching yoga, becoming a fitness instructor, going into HR or Talent Development, consulting, etc. After talking to people who have gone down each of these paths, I figured out what I wanted: to be able to prioritize my family and do meaningful work. Tactically, I realized I wanted to stay in product marketing but focus on product strategy (vs. in my current role I had been doing more tactical marketing including creating sales pitch decks and product sheets and email marketing). Because Product Marketing is a broad discipline, I wanted to shape the role in a specific way and have seen other companies do this really well.
2. What I stand for – Since I’ve been working on my book about motherhood, I’ve gotten more clear on my mission to advocate for working moms. When I received my first offer, I asked about maternity leave only to find there was no policy. NONE! I asked to meet with the hiring manager for coffee a few days later only to find out the VP of Product had immediately set off a chain of emails to the founders and head of HR about a maternity policy – bravo for her. This company has over 100 full time employees in Austin and was acquired by a much larger company. Suffice it to say, the hiring manager came to the meeting prepared to offer me 12 weeks paid (a written clause for me) and told me an official policy was in the works. I let him know if they want to hire senior talent (which they told me they did), it’s important to recognize their life stage and needs. This means ping pong tables and happy hours are not relevant perks, and parental leave and flexible work from home policies are must-haves. I also referred them to http://texasmotherfriendly.org/  and let them know I started my job search on this site.
3. My worth – Until I began applying and interviewing, I didn’t know how much I was worth and what title I deserved. I’ve only been at Indeed a year and a half, so I’ve started promotion conversations, but they weren’t always transparent and clear. When I was first asked my salary expectations at a casual-coffee-turned-initial-job-interview, I undersold myself. Not only did I tell her what I currently make, I also set my bar too low and hadn’t even done the basic research to learn the market rate for a Senior PMM role (I work for Indeed, which owns Glassdoor…I know better!). I emailed her back that evening with a specific ask for a senior title and the market rate (18% above my current pay). She thanked me for being direct and specific and said the ask was reasonable and within budget. After my onsite interview, I got a call from the recruiter 20 minutes after I walked out the door with an offer higher than my asking salary. PS. I love this blog on negotiating offers.
4. Shifting perspectives – Once I had offers on the table, I made a decision matrix (with the help of my incredible husband) in order to objectively rate them. I got clear on what was important to me (my non-negotiables). I also realized Indeed offered me way more than I gave it credit for (work life balance, benefits, advocacy), and I realized an initially exciting offer became something I could walk away from for the right reasons.
5. Advocating for what I need – I let the first offer expire, and it came down to the second offer and staying at indeed. I finally had an open conversation with my manager (whom I’d known for 3 months) to talk to her about why I was unhappy and potentially leaving. I told her I wanted a senior title and higher pay (gave her a specific number). I told her these things wouldn’t keep me but are now tablestakes since I can get them elsewhere immediately. (I never demanded these things nor gave any ultimatum.) I also wanted to ensure I work on strategic problems and not just tactical execution, and I gave her recommendations on how to re-position our team (our work and how we’re viewed within the company). To stay, I wanted to keep the option to work from home; I had been trialing work from home full time for a month in between Indeed’s transition to our brand new office at the Domain, a ridiculous commute for me), and I told her how important work life balance is to my mental health and my family. This convo helped her better understand what motivates me, and I shared this article with her as well. A close friend also made me realize that as a mom who chooses work and thus trades off time with my kid, what I do with my day has to have meaning and make an impact.
I told my manager all these things, and I then told her I was actually going to take the other offer because I thought it gave me most of what I wanted. I called the hiring manager to negotiate one day of work from home a week or flexible commute times (10-3:30) with WFH to deal with the additional wasted time of a longer commute. The hiring manager told me they weren’t a “butts in seats culture,” but in the same breath also told me I need to “prove myself” which means working 9-5 or 7-4 for the first 3-6 months while I onboard. This same convo had happened with the first company as well, but they phrased it as “we’re an in-office culture” and told me you miss out on hallway convos if you work from home. Soap box – the future of work is going to be more remote. Companies can help equip their employees to do this well, or resist. If you hire adults, treat them like adults. Trust people and measure them on outcomes. Moms are the most productive people on the planet, ask anyone. Ok this last part is opinion, but I stand by it.
The result:
In the end, the flexibility I have at Indeed is something I cannot walk away from. And the lack of flexibility at other companies is something I don’t choose for my family or my sanity. Looking at my decision matrix, I had a couple things to negotiate for me to stay:
  1. Promotion and pay – luckily my manager immediately told me she will fight to keep me, and she submitted me for promotion without my asking. It’s still pending, but I’m cautiously optimistic. I know I have an advocate, and she has my trust.
  2. Repositioning my role and team – my manager agreed there is a ton of opportunity to advocate for Product Marketing, and she already has plans in the works. But she was transparent in reminding me these things taking time in a big company, and asked me if I had the appetite and patience to fight with her. I told her I did. Better to try and fail than to sit and complain. I told her I’d give it a year before I look externally again, and I would commit to this effort.
  3. Flexibility – I already got to trial work from home full time, but I’ll be back in the office next week. I know I’ll keep at least one day WFH going forward, and while I haven’t tried the commute to the new office at the Domain (just opened Monday!), I’m going to do what works for me, establish a norm, and be transparent about it.
  4. Meaning – I’ve started paying more attention to the mom group at Indeed and am committing myself to be more vocal about what we need and deserve. I’m also positioning myself for a manager role in which I can lead by example, advocate for my team, and also make some cultural shifts within the company.
So I decided to stay put, but my circumstance looks very different today than it did two months ago. The ball is in my court, and I’m holding myself accountable to driving it to my goal. This week I took a mental health break to reset and kick the stress of working two full time jobs (3 if you count motherhood, so yeah 3 jobs) and to ensure I come back with fresh eyes and an open mind. I’ll also be walking into a brand new office, so might as well pretend it’s the first day of work and ride the high.
If you were part of this search in any way (you know who you are), thank you. Thank you for reaching out, connecting, and lending me your ear and heart. This process was empowering, enlightening, and incredibly humbling. I’m infinitely grateful.
Paying it forward – If you’re going through your own journey, I see you. It’s hard, emotional, and lonely. I’m happy to:
1. Share additional resources or specific examples of how to find meaning and purpose in your work – but you have to commit to do the work
2. Help you advocate for your needs with your manager and HR
3. Brainstorm ways to position your next move, consider multiple offers, negotiate an offer
In conclusion, it’s always a good idea to take pause and ask yourself what you need and how you can get it. Then speak up! Feel free to share.
Love,
Sherrie

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