The Last Job Search, Like, Ever
Just three months into my job in Hell, I was already sure I was going to leave it. I was working too many hours, and more importantly, these hours were spent in close proximity to an egomaniacal, narcissistic, unpredictable jerk — Mr. Satan.
Although I’ve been through this before — the job search thing, I mean — this time is different, because my objective has changed somewhat.
At the end of Year 4, for example, when I was leaving SoftwareCompany, my net worth was just barely positive and I’d decided to do whatever it took to make it grow as quickly as possible. This led me to take an intense but well-paying position with a company in the financial services industry,
But at this point, eight years after taking that job with FinancialCompany, I’m in a very strange place: I don’t really need the money.
My net worth is around 600K with an asset sheet looking something like this:
- 235K taxable accounts
- 265K retirement accounts
- 100K home equity.
Some time back, I’d set a FIRE number of 650K. I figured, 650K, along with a paid off house, and I could draw 3% a year off and live on 20K annually. So with the current pile of assets putting me at about 500K already, I figured I would be able to hit this target without having a terrible job. Modest market growth would do the heavy lifting at this point. In other words, although I still wanted to pull a decent salary and save money, compensation was not the driving factor on this final search.
What I really wanted was a cupcake job. Sure, I could have tried switching careers or industries, but at this late stage of the game, I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of having to do a whole bunch of training to learn something entirely new — I had grown weary of knowledge upload exercises and wanted to continue to leverage existing skills. But I wasn’t sure where to turn. It appeared that every job in my industry required a huge commitment on the part of the employee; there were no easy solutions.
It was around this point that I found glassdoor, an internet service that provides some insight into what it’s like to actually be employed for any particular company or institution. While still at Hell, I spent most of my free time working through people’s comments and ratings and found what I believed to be a pattern: working in IT in academic environments seemed to be less stressful than it was in private industry.
So I started looking around me. I live close to Boston and there are a couple of dozen universities in a 15 mile radius of my house. There were open positions here and there, and I found a dozen that looked like they’d be decent fits. So I went through what had become my standard practice for applying for a position:
- Update my resume for each specific opening to tailor it to the listed requirements. I add and cut things until it looks like I’m very close to an ideal match. Example: If they’re looking for someone with java experience, I put that at the top of my bulleted skill set.
- Create a cover letter that makes it seem like the current open position is my dream job and would they please, pretty please call me in for a goddamned interview?
- I called friends to see if they had any contacts at any of the places I was applying for.
It turns out, in academia, it’s particularly hard to get your resume looked over. Even though I applied to perhaps fifteen positions, I only got one callback for an interview. And that one callback was, for the first time in my life, entirely due to networking. A friend of my wife just so happened to know someone in the IT department at a particular school, and this same person was willing to go to bat for me. This person contacted the manager of the open position and said: Listen, can you please at least look at this guy’s resume? That’s all I’m asking.
It was enough to open the door, resulting in first a phone screen, and then an onsite interview a few weeks later. In terms of timeline, this was mid-November — my second-to-last month at Hell.
At this point, things suddenly went cold for a while. Being that there was nothing I could do about the situation, I just let it go and hoped that eventually they’d get back to me, and thankfully, they did. Some time after New Year’s, they gave me a call and produced an offer.
It was low. Much lower than what I’d become accustomed to: 84K. They also told me that it was a stretch for them to offer this much money, but they really wanted me.
I didn’t care. I recalled a question that one of the higher-level managers had asked me during the interview process.
After all of the high responsibility positions you’ve held, how will you adjust to the slower pace of academia?
He’d basically told me that the quantity of work wasn’t going to be all that bad. In response, I let him know that I’d adjust perfectly fine, thank-you-very-much.
With that in mind, I took the offer and didn’t look back. Of course, if I did bother to look back, what I’d see is the scorched earth of hell behind me, and why would I do that to myself?
Bye bye Director of Operations title, hello Individual Contributor role.
|Work Expectations||35 hours/wk|
|Vacation Days||22/yr plus a week off between Christmas and New Years.|
|Extra||Free night classes|
The University also had a 401(k)/403(b) program. Participation is not allowed during the first 12 months of employment, but after that, individuals receive 8% of annual salary, pro-rated monthly. On my 84K salary, this came out to about 7K annually. Not bad.
All things considered, it seemed like a great place to ride out the last leg of my formal-employment journey in life. Decent salary, great benefits, lots of time off, not too much responsibility, and an expectation to work less.
I found myself looking forward to it.