Opportunity!

This is advice for candidates.  Recruiters are always trying to sell you on a great Opportunity!  Yeah, the pay is maybe better than what you’ve got now, usually not.  The benefits are about the same, or worse.  The commute is about the same, or worse, maybe a little better.  Work-life balance is something most companies never heard of, so it’ll be the same.  But it’s such a great Opportunity!  So, you gotta take it, right?

Wrong.

Now, you may or may not take any particular job, that’s up to you to judge.  However, when making that judgement, know that Opportunity! is what a recruiter sells when there’s nothing else to sell.  It’s kind of like when those credit card protection hucksters sell you Peace of Mind.  Peace of Mind is an intangible load of BS, what it means is they’re selling you something you’re probably never going to need.  Incidentally, the only reason they sell those credit card protection programs is because the fee usually works out to the equivalent of adding 10 points on your interest.  The ‘protection’ they offer is usually something you already get via some law or regulation, of in the contract you already signed.

When a recruiter tries to sell you on the Opportunity! of a job, ask questions.  One, ask why it’s such a great opportunity.  If all you get is some happy horseshit about it being a great company, etc., then they’re full of shit.  If they get more specific and talk about the company’s technology, market position, tenure of existing employees, advancement, then that’s worth considering.  But keep in mind, most of that is bullshit too.  Two, ask yourself if, even if the recruiter is telling the truth, is that the opportunity you want and need?

You need to judge where you’re at in your career, and what the Opportunity! is worth, assuming it’s real.  Recruiters, bless their hearts, will call 55 year old electrical engineers and try and sell them the Opportunity! for advancement in their career.  A 55 year old engineer likely doesn’t have much career left, nor is s/he usually looking for one.  A 55 year old engineer has already had their Opportunity! and proven themselves, and now just deserves to get paid what they’re worth off the bat.  Which feeds into the last point…

Opportunity! is usually just an excuse to pay you less.  It’s another way of saying, “Yeah, technically the mean salary for position X in area Y is 75K per year and we’re only offering 50K, but the Opportunity! is tremendous, so please take the job at a discount!”

Remember, the average company is average.  They have average salaries, average management, average jobs, average commutes, average benefits, and average opportunity.  If the salary and all else is below average, usually the Opportunity! is too.  Recruiters want you to think you’re one job move away from the Opportunity! to become the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.  You’re not.  The chances of you becoming that filthy rich are less than winning the lottery.  However, if you work your ass off and never see your family and give yourself an early heart attack, you may have the opportunity to get into a slightly higher pay bracket.  Assuming it all doesn’t disappear into taxes, what reality boils down to is if you truly work your ass off you’ll be able to afford an Acura as opposed to a Honda.  You will have a two and one half bath house instead of a one and one half.  And, the chances of even that happening are still pretty much lottery levels.

So, instead of using the Dollar and a Dream approach to career planning, my advice as a recruiter is to always demand to paid what you’re worth now.  Don’t settle for the Opportunity! to get what you’re worth now in five to ten years if you work your ass off and if your boss decides to acknowledge it.

Fuck Opportunity!, get paid what you’re worth now.

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