As an independent consultant, I'm unemployed at least once or twice a year. Every time my contract ends I have to find another opportunity. This means that during my search I have no benefits, no pay, no recurring payments from clients and yes I still have to pay for my insurance.Being unemployed is not fun. To help me strengthen my search I developed a set of job search principles that I live by. I hope these principles can help you.

I was in a packed conference room with about 25 people. All the top leaders and consultants were in this room to report their status to the CMO of this company.It was my third week on the job at the time and I thought I had everything under control. All I needed to do was relay the status of the project. Since I was the project manager, I had a good understanding of the details of the project.There were multiple projects, and we were first up. I really wanted to get a feel for this meeting first considering I had never exchanged words with the CMO and I wasn’t even sure what he looked like, but those were the cards dealt to me and I had to present first. It was a big meeting, but I felt comfortable with my preparation and I’m a great public speaker, so I knew this would go out without a hitch.

There I was, sitting outside my boss's office, waiting for his door to open. I was nervous. I'd been planning this day for at least 2 months.I was underpaid, and today was the day I was going to fix it.I brought some firepower with me in a brand new manila folder:
  • Salary reports from similar jobs showing that I was clearly underpaid
  • Calculations of how my work had saved the company money
  • Calculations of how my work had made the company money
  • Previous ratings which were all excellent or near excellent
The door opened. We exchanged a firm handshake. I sat down and he closed the door behind me. He walked around his desk, sat in his leather chair, looked at me and said "What's up?"

"You were such a pushover when you were negotiating your compensation. You could have got more money, but you never asked for it."I couldn't believe what I was hearing.A year prior I received a job offer to join a company that I was referred in by a senior member of the organization. I had several interviews with the company and they offered me a nice salary bump from my previous job. I was happy with the offer. Here is what I told the VP after getting my offer:

Well, I really enjoy this company and since I came here through a referral I really want to respect the offer. I'll take it. When do I start?".

It took years to develop, but I was finally able to figure out how to handle difficult situations and how to work with difficult people.I've worked with:
  • The decisive, smart and friendly executive type
  • The 9-to-5 do everything I'm asked with a smile and actually enjoy my work type
  • The let me know if I can help you with anything type
  • The we all know I'm the smartest one in the room type
  • The you cross me, and I promise you it will be the worst mistake of your entire career type
  • The please give me another day to make this decision type
  • The let's be real, I don't really give a damn, just tell me what you need me to do and I'll do it type
  • The please don't ask me to do anything for you because it's not in my job description type
  • The OMG she's walking near my cube, I better act like I'm doing something before I get fired type
  • The you used this word incorrectly in a PowerPoint, therefore I will call an all hands meeting to get this settled type
  • The I trust you Robbie to make any decision you see fit type
  • The if I don't get a summary email at 8 p.m. every day I'm going to assume you didn't do anything all day type
  • The I'm going to cry instead of making an important decision so please back off type
  • The I don't really care what you think about me or my decisions, just do what I tell you type
  • The who the hell left an unclean spoon in the sink, your mother isn't here to look after you so I'm going to leave a passive aggressive sign above the sink and another on the refrigerator in addition to an email blast to the entire office type
  • The give me your date of birth so we can celebrate your half birthday type
  • The I'm going to pretend like I didn't hear you the first time so I can make this conversation as awkward as possible type
  • The I'm going to agree to everything said in the meeting then complain privately once the meeting is over type
  • The I literally, figuratively and hypothetically do not care what anybody thinks about me, so just keep paying me every 2 weeks and we'll all be happy type
  • The if I hear one single piece of constructive criticism about my work I'm never going to open up my mouth again type
  • And finally my favorite: The holy crap lady I can hear your nails click clacking on your keyboard from across the office type