Beware of the golden handcuffs

This is a warning. It happens to many smart people that are diligent and well qualified. They get seduced. There, I said it. 

But the seduction comes in many forms. Firstly a recruiter can entice them into a job that they were never initially interested in doing. They weren’t unhappy with their current job, so why would they change job except for the fact they got an offer? There’s uncertainty in the new position but they are lured into it by the benefits-in-kind, the high salary and the hip working environment with a cool team of colleagues. 

I’m not saying that good positions like this don’t exist, I’m sure they do. But there are also many 'poison chalices' out there. In other words, there are jobs that look amazing on the outside but are ‘poisonous’ once you’re on the inside. I know this because I’ve listened to countless calls from disgruntled employees who’ve found themselves trapped in these positions and want to get out. 

Why don’t they just change? The simple answer is they can’t, or at least they feel that way because they don’t want a short employment contract to appear on their CV and worse, they have accustomed themselves to a lifestyle at the higher salary. This is what I mean by golden handcuffs: once you increase your spending in relation to your salary, you’re tied to the company in many ways. Easy to do, hard to undo. 

Other professionals that I’ve met have found themselves chasing money and not skills during their career, only to find themselves also trapped in high paying jobs they don’t like. Then, they’ll say “I don’t want to go back to college, or take a drop in income”. This is not impossible to fix but it can be tricky. They don’t necessarily need to take a pay cut, but they definitely need to be flexible. 

Career fairs is another place this crime can happen. Well-meaning prospective employers and recruiters can use the availability bias (presenting an option to someone knowing that they’ll be more interested in it just because they know it) to entice graduates to work for their company. If the graduates did more of a search and got professional guidance, they’d be better able to know what they could and should do. For me, this is a tragedy because I believe it’s something that can be prevented. 

Finally, beware of company cars, fancy lunches or bonuses which may chain you to a company which you’re not interested in. Benefits, high salaries and cosy working conditions are great to have but difficult to relinquish. Let the employee beware!