Time for a Change: When you Feel Underemployed, Underappreciated, and Undercompensated

May 19, 2022 | Executive Coaching

Changing jobs is right up there with surviving a house fire or moving internationally.  It’s just hard work.  We had a client who was offered a package from her company after a long, 20+ year career.  She was exhausted and was tired of doing work that she wasn’t passionate about.  She accepted their offer.

After 10 months of trying to find herself and depleting her cash reserves, the once high-flying executive with a stellar reputation, now couldn’t even get herself out of bed. Forget securing or doing well at a job interview.  She didn’t know how to answer friends and family when they asked how she was doing.  She was afraid to ask for help.  Her confidence was at an all-time low.  One of her former colleagues suggested that she reach out to inclineHR.

Her resume was a mess and required a full overhaul.  Her LinkedIn profile didn’t showcase what she was known for.  We needed to help her transform from victim to marketable executive who is taking the time to be selective.  As we worked through our process of creating world class marketing collateral – a strategic search profile that mimicked a rocket launch at NASA as well as significant mock interview preparations – she started to see some success.  Our new client interviewed with seven corporations for large positions and received six offers!

One of these six offers was from her employer-of-choice; however, this company did not offer any equity.  Our client was willing to accept the offer as-is, but I recommended that we go back and negotiate.  We ended up presenting this as a question to the company, “I think there may have been a mistake- and somehow the equity piece of the offer was left off.”

As this was a very senior position, the market value of this equity was over $250k per year.  Long story short, this negotiation combined with a fortuitous run on Wall Street, paved the way for our client to have the option to retire early.  But instead, we helped get her promoted again.   That’s how we incline!

In 2021, we found that our average coaching client changing jobs (internally or externally) received a 42% lift in overall compensation.  Compared to the relatively small investment in our services, our clients continue to see an outlandish, recurring return on their investment.  We see many executive job seekers come to us after they’ve become overwhelmed by conducting their own search. For those at director level and above, they find significant value working with us.

It’s daunting to boil the ocean! But, if you’re determined to try it yourself, below is an outline for how to find the best opportunity to provide for your family in a role that fulfills your aspirations.


Search Profile

Begin with an honest appraisal of the gap between where you currently are and where you desire to be. Compile a baseline of your current compensation, title, size of your team, qualifications, and core competencies. Chart your goals for title, salary, industries, companies, and functions. Consider your family needs, i.e.: relocation, childcare, custody, health considerations, etc.  And clearly lay out your professional objective for this career move along with a personal branding or positioning statement.

Take time to lay this foundation so that you can present yourself in the most persuasive light to prospective employers. What kind of story can you tell that will differentiate you from other candidates?



Craft your resumé to stand out. Pour over it with a fine-tooth comb. This is one document that must be impeccable in word, structure, grammar, and spelling. Details matter.  How many hiring managers or HR Leaders quickly put sloppy resumes into the waste basket without any further consideration?  I would say the majority.

Pro tip: Do not post your resumé verbatim to your LinkedIn profile.

People are inundated with content on the web. Your profile needs to have an eye-catching flare that gives a sample of what it would be like working with you. Appropriate key words are good for getting you past the search filters used by crawlers and AI bots. Think of the “about you” copy on your LI profile as the bon petit plat that whets the reader’s appetite for the entrée in your curriculum vitae.


Grooming for Interviews

Role play and videotape practice interviews. It helps to know the typical structured behavioral questions the top companies are using. Review your responses to those questions and note non-verbal communication, personal appearance, posture, and verbal “crutches” you habitually use. The content of your answers, along with the nuances in your delivery, will determine how you rank among the finalists for the position.


Offer Negotiation

Because pay for women in the U.S. is still not on parity with men, and underrepresented minorities have been historically affected as well, this is a huge area of concern for many of our clients.  It’s one of our favorite areas in which to serve our clients, because it is easy to quantify. Nothing is more rewarding than helping our clients achieve financial security and pay equity.

A common thought about negotiations is “he who makes the first offer loses.” Some states are now prohibiting employers from asking for an applicant’s salary history. If a candidate who has been historically undercompensated is required to divulge her current salary, she is, in effect, being compelled to undervalue herself in talks with her new employer. Maybe her true market value is $275K, but her last employer only paid her $165K. Her next company could offer her $195K – a $30 thousand raise that is still $80 thousand too low.

Once an offer of employment is tendered, it is important to remember that you likely won’t get what you’re worth, only what you have the courage to negotiate.  This is hard to do by yourself; you must remove all emotions and ensure you are making the decision for the right reasons, not just money.


Successful Assimilation

In addition to the four legs of a job search listed above, inclineHR works to successfully integrate newly hired executives into their new environments. With inclineHR’s New Leader Assimilation, we help you accelerate your integration so that you can start achieving better communication and performance during your first months on the job.  Your team will have the opportunity to give unfiltered feedback and you will be able to set mutual expectations early.  At the end of this session, you will be left with actionable insights and next steps to ensure that you are utilizing your team’s strengths and aligning with organizational goals.  Additionally, we assist our new leaders in creating a People Capability Heat Map that assesses the attitudes and aptitudes of their direct reports. It prepares them to “get the right people on the bus in the right seats” as Jim Collins would say.


Wait, Wait. Don’t Go.

Depending upon what is uncovered in the candidate’s search profile (see above), the optimum move may be to stay loyal to the company and look for opportunities to advance internally.

A recent New York Times article reports many companies have learned a lesson from layoffs during COVID. It is incredibly expensive to acquire outside talent under the current market conditions, and businesses are more apt to upskill employees so that they can promote from within.

If you find yourself comfortably embedded in your company, enjoying job security, and you can meet your financial goals with a moderate pay raise, a higher title within your current workplace is probably the best play for you.

Should you find yourself disenchanted in your current position and don’t know where to turn, contact inclineHR for discreet, effective outplacement services.


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