October 08, 2009
What’s the “New Normal” -- Especially When It Comes to Salaries and My Job Search?
These days, I regularly take 30-minute road trips to job search networking groups, seminars and other job-hunting activities. While employed full time, I used every single moment of my 15-minute commute to be on the phone (hands-free of course) with my sales folks or customers. I hadn’t listened to the radio in 9-plus years, much to the amusement of my stay-at-home girlfriends when comparing notes about favorite songs on the radio a few years ago. But now I routinely listen to business radio, and one term used over and over again is “new normal.” What exactly is that and how does it impact my job search?
If I distill down the term, it basically means the economy’s new center point as related to the stock market and the median salaries. In short, the stock market isn’t what it was before the economic meltdown, and most professions and jobs will not enjoy the same salary scales as previously earned.
The new normal in terms of job salaries is a big discussion topic in my job clubs. In some cases, I have heard of people taking positions at 40% to 60% of their previous pay, primarily given the need for family healthcare coverage. In other cases, I have heard of candidates securing positions equal or greater than their former salaries. Given all the information I’ve heard, it seems the new normal in pay scales can be anywhere between 40% to 120% of previously earned incomes. But everyone needs to remember that behind these figures are the rounds of negotiations and tactics employed within, both by the potential employer and the job seeker.
So what’s my new normal? Certainly, I’d value a bump up in pay, but that may not be realistic with my desire for a manageable commute. I’d also like to negotiate in some additional compensation, like company stock, as well as what used to be considered classic benefits, like a 401K plan with employer matching. So my acceptable new normal, given the competition in my field, would be an overall compensation package that might ring in at 80% to 90% of my previous pay. But don’t forget, another part of the new normal is that more responsibilities are assumed at lower-level job functions with no additional reward.
From what I hear from fellow job seekers, their new normals include longer commutes, fewer perks (if any) and less valuable benefits. I know a few folks who are going back to school for an additional degree instead of dealing with the new normal now. One is going back to school to complete her master’s in education to teach technology, and another has just taken the LSATs to pursue a law degree. Another 2 of my job club buddies are taking certification courses in fund raising to gain entry into nonprofit fund-raising roles. And yet another friend is pursuing his nursing degree. All of them hope to move their compensation needle upwards by changing careers into other fields while still leveraging some of their experiential underpinnings from the careers to date.
While I had explored retraining or additional coursework earlier in my job search, I decided not to go down those paths given the lack of income for at least a year’s time. Now, given 5 months of job seeking and the new normal, I may see what it would take to earn my pharmacy degree. This strikes me as a rather flexible and always in-demand profession given a recent trip to the local corner pharmacy for some simple prescriptions for my sons.
How have you reconciled the new normal and your job search goals?
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I stopped looking sadly because I could not find anything, and I am one of those folks who enrolled in school to finish my BA I never applied myself to do.
I am still scared but hoping this all works out for the best!
Posted by: Jen | Oct 9, 2009 8:19:42 AM
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