Kim and I have rolled into the Denver area, where we’ll spend the next week hanging out with family and friends. While here, I’m also working with Mr. Money Mustache to prepare for our upcoming workshop for World Domination Summit. Yesterday afternoon, as we sat in the RV outlining our presentation, Pete and I discussed the idea of “practicing” big financial moves before those moves are actually necessary.
The average person doesn’t look for a new place to live until she needs a new place to live. She doesn’t practice buying a car until she needs a new car. She doesn’t put in job applications until she needs a new job.
In other words, the average person is reactive. He makes big moves when life dictates that he make big moves. As a result, he loses a lot of leverage during negotiation. If you have to find a new job because your former employer just went out of business, you lose the luxury of taking your time, of being choosey.
But what if people took a proactive approach instead?
Test-Drive Different Jobs
“I like the idea of practicing the job search process,” Pete said. “Even if you have a great position, you can get a lot out of applying for other jobs.”
“I have a friend back in Portland who does just that,” I said. “He has a high-paying job that he loves, but that doesn’t stop him from applying for other opportunities. He watches the want ads for promising positions. When he sees one, he submits an application. If he gets an interview, he takes time off work. He’s not seriously looking to change companies. He’s simply trying to stay sharp.”
At the same time, this habit allows my friend to keep up with what’s happening in his field, build a network of contacts, and gain leverage for salary negotiations. When his “practice” applications yield job offers, he can choose to take the new position or use the info to ask for a raise from his current employer.
There are other ways to use the concept of “practice” to take control of your career.
For instance, you might conduct informational interviews to explore other opportunities. My friend Michael is a career counselor, and he calls the informational interview “the job-hunter’s secret weapon”. Few workers ask for them. Those that do tend to jump-start there careers. (Never use an informational interview to ask for a job; use it instead to learn about other companies and careers, or to pick the brains of experts in related fields.)
Aside: I’ve never conducted a formal informational interview myself, but I’ve done something similar in a casual way. Back when I ran Get Rich Slowly, I’d sometimes get interviewed by reporters from major outlets, such as The New York Times. All my life, I’d wanted to be a reporter, so after the interviews were over, I’d make sure to ask the reporters about their jobs. I’m glad I did. Without fail, they’d tell me that I did not want to be doing what they were doing. In fact, they said, most reporters wished that they were in my shoes…
Here’s another example of how certain people might test-drive different jobs: [Read more…]