My Deliberate, Driven Job Search Strategy

Samantha is a Bossed Up Bootcamp alum serving as a researcher at a national organization that analyzes how government programs affect people in poverty. She recently landed this new role after navigating a career transition that put her resilience to the test.

I sat down with Samantha to hear the full story.

Emilie: Congrats on the new job, boss! How did you find yourself in this new position?

Samantha: Thank you! The key piece for me was to take the time I needed to clarify what truly drives me: equipping advocates and changemakers with the information they need to fight for social change.

I’m thrilled to find myself in this new role, and the job search to get here was equally difficult and rewarding. My path started out in nonprofit social services, but I didn’t want to become a social worker.

I had a networking meeting with a contact who looked at my resume and said, “It looks like you’re headed toward running a nonprofit. Is that what you want?” I gave the question serious thought, and decided it wasn’t. So I quit my job and went back to graduate school to pursue public policy.

Emilie: Wow, that’s a big decision, but it sounds like re-tooling set you up to pivot towards a different career focus.

Samantha: Precisely. I wanted to get focused, and going back to school to study public policy helped me do just that. In previous job searches I felt very passive: not sure exactly what I was trying to accomplish with my career, afraid to come off as too confident, and wanting to showcase my talents – but not too much.

But this time, knowing my end goal (landing a killer policy research position!) coupled with the knowledge that I was a qualified and competitive candidate, gave me a new sense of confidence and intentionality. This influenced everything from how I wrote my cover letters, to how I answered interview questions, and how I negotiated when I received offers. In the end I had several great options, and was able to choose the one that was the right fit. And I’m proud to say I negotiated in all of them!

Emilie: That’s fantastic to hear, Samantha! I have to ask, did you find Bossed Up Bootcamp impactful in landing the right offer for you?

Samantha: Bossed Up was incredibly helpful – especially when facing the dreaded salary question. During a first interview for a role, the interviewer asked me what my salary range was. I used the script you provided at Bootcamp and in this video post: I said I didn’t know enough about the role yet to be able to give a range, but that I was sure we could agree on salary if we agreed I was the right fit. The interviewer paused, and then shared their range for the position, which was way below what I knew I was worth! Having the script there was key to navigating that situation.

Emilie: I’m so glad to hear that! What advice do you have for other women navigating a career change like you have?

Samantha: The key piece for me was to take the time and really ask myself the hard questions about what made me happy in a job – and then be confident enough to take what might feel like a sharp left turn to get there. Maybe it took me longer than others, but it was worth it because I’m so much more deliberate and driven about my career now. I want to do this work for the rest of my life.

I also definitely recommend reading up on all the salary negotiation advice Bossed Up has to offer! It was key to navigating compensation for me and making sure I received offers at the level I knew I deserved. As you say in the Bossed Up Manifesto, everything — including compensation, vacation, benefits, a standing desk, flexible hours — is negotiable! You probably won’t get everything you want but asking makes all the difference. And people will respect you for it.


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