When headhunters come to call too often

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A. Dear me, these nasty headhunters won't stop tempting you and have even set up interviews for you.... The way you put it, anyone would think you have had no say in the process. Yet, presumably you did give the go ahead for a meeting with this hedge fund.

You need to take responsibility for your actions. If you really don't want to speak to headhunters, tell them politely but firmly to stop calling you. On the other hand, if, like most people, you are rather pleased to be wooed, and want to continue speaking to them... don't feel guilty about it. Understand, of course, that recruitment agents will always tell you that you are underpaid. Whatever the truth about your pay, there is nothing wrong with testing the job market or going for interviews. Prepare well and see what this hedge fund has to say for itself.

Where you are right to be cautious is about swapping a job that you enjoy for the sake of money alone. Better to be financially comfortable and happy, as you are now, than loaded but miserable. It's a mistake to think that you owe it to yourself to earn as much money as you can. Big bucks come at a price: the work style in a US-owned hedge fund is likely to be a lot more aggressive and involve longer hours than a large (and probably rather conservative) retail fund manager.

As you have suggested yourself, if you are well suited to the latter, you may not be cut out for the former. So, by all means go to interviews without a sense of guilt. But make any decisions with your eyes open and don't make money the deciding factor.

A reader advises...

Your current employer knows that you enjoy your job, and that you are probably not the sort of person to put yourself 'out there' in the job market, and is taking advantage by paying below market. This is not fair and you will end up resenting it sooner or later; you need to act now. Attend the interview, see whether the people and the role appeal. Even if you are not offered or do not accept a job, you can use it as leverage to obtain a pay rise where you are.

Next week's question: I was hired as an associate (and thus eligible for a bonus) in March 2004, but for some reason the managing director of my department believed I was a graduate, and thus not eligible for a bonus. When bonus day came I was notified my bonus would be zero, as I am a graduate. I spoke to HR and confirmed I am not a graduate, but an associate, so should receive a bonus. My MD says the pool of money for bonus has already been allocated, so he can't give me any. On the other hand, all graduates will receive some special payment by July. So, it looks like I won't be receiving a bonus nor will I get the graduate payment as I am not a graduate. I am just asking for what was promised to me, but I don't want my MD to get upset with this (and he gets upset very easily). What do you advise?

What would you advise? Send your answer to: expertadmin@efinancialcareers.com.

Look out for the experts' answer to this dilemma and readers' comments on Ask the Expert next week.

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