Money Monday: Are You Paid Enough?

It’s that time of the year when I receive my compensation plan and my bonus gets paid out. I’m happy to report that I’m pleased with the numbers. Not only do I enjoy what I do, but I feel I’m paid a fair wage.

Exactly one year ago, I was no where close to pleased. Frankly, I was pissed. After I received my comp plan, I returned to my cubicle and acted like I’d just been pink-slipped. I grabbed the calendar and threw it in the trash. I tore down personal pictures and put them in my purse. I emptied my filing cabinet and put the folders in the recycling bin. I left the office dejected, as if I truly had been laid off.

Because I’m an intense and productive hard-worker, I expect to be compensated for the effort I put in. I thrive on compliments, appreciation, and cold hard cash. After a sleepless night, I knew that tears would do me no good nor could I very well implode in a fit of anger. I had to get even. I had to prove not only to my employer, but to myself that I was worth more. I had to prove that my reaction of shock and utter disappointment was justified.

Enter Job Hunting Catherine-Style

Search jobs internally using key word ‘MBA.’

Search jobs externally (LinkedIn, Simply Hired) using key word ‘MBA.’

Search jobs in alumni databases filtering by role (strategy, product management, investor relations) and location.

Send brief emails (no more than a handful of sentences) describing qualifications and attach resume.

Do not send cover letters. That is a serious waste of time. If you are qualified, your resume will prove your qualifications, not what you write in a personalized cover letter.

Given that I only applied to jobs I was qualified for, I got a good response rate from hiring managers. Two weeks after I had started my job search, I secured my first offer and was on my way to getting a second. Along the way, several recruiters and hiring managers asked that I contact them if ever I found myself looking to make a switch in the future.

Keep in mind, I didn’t want to leave my job, I only felt I wasn’t paid fairly. Once I secured that first offer, I asked that my employer match it.


It’s around this same time that I hear complaints from people about work and pay. Believe me, I’ve been there. If you don’t feel you’re paid enough, then test your marketability by gathering offer letters, and come to some conclusions about whether or not you’re worth what you think you’re worth. It’s important to be realistic, but more importantly you have to be confident and have faith in yourself.

Job Hunting

One month ago I started aggressively job-hunting—as aggressive as you can be while having a full-time job. My job hunt consists of searching key words in my current employer’s website, LinkedIn, Simply Hired, and the job postings on the Chicago Booth alumni website. I find that the easiest search is the key word ‘MBA’ to hone in on management-level positions.

In these 30 days, I’ve landed interviews for a total of 6 positions.

3 have been with my current employer. I guess it’s always easiest to hire one of your own. Speaking of preferential treatment, I recently posted an ad on Craigslist to rent my garage space. Everyone who turned up was eager and professional, but I had to give it to someone who works at my same company. Doesn’t get easier than that in terms of references and payment.

2 were through website applications on job sites, tied to search firms. One of the recruiters has a loose connection to me, but a connection nonetheless. The other one, there was no connection—and it’s for a large, public technology company. It’s noteworthy to point this out because I think there’s this belief that you can’t ever get a job unless you know someone at the company. I don’t believe that to be true.

And lastly, one very promising job lead is through a Burning Man connection. Yey! When I was thoroughly depressed and complaining about my job, a fellow ARTery volunteer told me to send him my resume and he would pass it on to a friend of his who happens to be on the Board of Directors of a bank! The bank followed up immediately.

I am very excited about what the future holds. Based on my experience job hunting, I do feel the market is picking up.