The million dollar question

It literally is about a million dollars. When I started with my career, the personal questions that interviewers would ask were not many. They were all the usual ones with typical answers. Positive points, negative points, strengths and weaknesses. Typical HR speak. Now that I have worked for several years and after an era of inertia, I have *finally* managed to push myself in the ‘assessment of my market value’ whirpool, the questions are again typical. But somehow I have still not been able to conclude what the best answer should be. One should always be prepared not to be caught unawares. I thought, with practice, I’ll be able to conclude the answer to that million dollar question – why do you want to leave your current job? But time and again, the reactions of the interviewers perplex me.

You should not appear as a flyer – changing jobs as quick as maybe clothes.. well ok, maybe not, maybe as quick as toothbrushes. So at least no flimsy reasons. The first approach I decided was to be honest. ‘More money’, I would state blatantly along with the usual, by now rattled-off-my-tongue kinda practiced sentences. After all, we all know that, that *is* the main reason. I soon realised. One of the companies had an HR interview with me. They asked me the reason why I wanted to shift and I stated the above, though of course coupled with a lot of other stuff about challenges at the workplace, growth, work culture and the usual yada yada. They never got back to me. In discussion with one of the consultants, who happened to know the philosophy behind the elimination process of this particular company, I was made aware of the fact that ‘money should not be the main reason’. In fact you should not sound ‘greedy’. ‘But that’s a major reason why we all seek change, isnt it?’, I asked. Still. That’s what he told me. Well, dunno why I shouldn’t demand what I think I am worth. If its too high, may be we can negotiate, but at least I should be made aware.

I started concentrating on other issues. Like growth for example. Role enhancement for another. If I say I am not getting these at the current workplace, the next question automatically is whether I ever raised this issue with my supervisors and what was done about it. If I say that I did and nothing was done about it, that perhaps give a wrong idea again. May be about my performance. May be about my relationships with my seniors. May be about my competency or my persistence. Whatever. To say that I never talked to my supervisors regarding my problems would be foolishness. I give different answers based on how I perceive the interviewer to react.

Another point is work culture. If I say that there were some things that I didnt like, the interviewer tries to probe into what kind of things. Ultimately it boils down to the same things happening in all companies. Does that imply that I’ll never be able to adjust to the work culture of any job? If I give a slightly positive picture of the work culture then we come back to square one. Why on earth would I state work culture as a reason for my shifting if it’s quite commendable!

There’s a fixed trend according to which ppl’s priorities change. When one’s a fresher, one is very enthusiastic and is ever willing to take on all the menial tasks and even do it for free if asked! But as you grow, things start getting to you. People realise that the company shouldn’t get to have its cake and eat it too, all the time. Priorities change.

But the million dollar question still remains unanswered. If I ask for a hefty (ok, not so hefty) pay package, is it ‘bad’? Negotiation or feasibility are other things. But mentioning that I am in this thing for money, is it really the wrong move? I don’t think so. Not all ppl survive on the usual idealistic criteria for a dream job. Good work, good work culture are all passe. What matters today is the big bucks and the time that you get for yourself. Good work and hence work culture are also very important, but I have seen ppl reach a compromise with them, as long as the other two criteria are getting satisfied. Is that approach wrong?


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