About two months ago, a friend had given me a lead on a company that would soon be hiring for a job that was right up my alley, so I sent them my resume, though I had not yet fully decided to start looking.
In the several weeks it took to arrange an interview (they weren't ready to start the process just yet), I decided to start looking more seriously. I put my resume in the usual online places and on my own site, talked to a couple of recruiters, and started scanning all the job listings - print and online - that I could find.
It was only a couple of weeks into this that we finally arranged an interview at the first place, and by then I had not gotten any bites from my efforts. However, the research and discussions with recruiters proved invaluable anyway.
That first interview led to an offer on the spot, and I knew that this was a place where I wanted to work. It was just a matter of settling on a price. Because I had started this process of looking, I was prepared. I had thought out what kind of salary I would need to get me to switch, and I had also determined what my market value probably was (both a very realistic amount and a "remotely possible but not likely" higher amount. So to me the issue was simple: say no to anything below that range, haggle within it, and don't hold out for anything above it.
Aside from a few details, a follow-up phone call settled the issue quickly and with no bullshit, and we ended up right at the high end of my realistic range. Had I not been prepared and knew that range, I might have either settled for the lower amount or flailed around blindly for some unrealistic higher amount. Either one would likely leave me unsatisfied or possibly cost me the opportunity entirely.
I feel good about the result, and I'm free of major doubts about whether it was the right choice, whether there might be something better around the corner. Not only will it pad my wallet nicely, but it should make this new relationship more solid and stable than it could have been otherwise. It was luck that this opportunity came up when it did, it was preparation that let me take full advantage of it.
And I've got a week of unemployment to be my own boss.