Actions Speak Louder than Words

September 30, 2011

Your Company isn’t that Special

You may be above average, you may be a good place to work, financially healthy, growing, and everybody gets along. That still doesn’t mean you’re stellar or world-class or even a/the top <anything>. By piling on the superlatives, all you’re doing is encouraging me to roll my eyes at your posting. Even if your company really is that special, you won’t convince me by shoving a bunch of meaningless hype at the beginning of your posting. Rather than tell me that your company is world-class, tell me why you believe that’s true. Tell me something about your compensation plan, the recent growth of your stock, how your company offers RRSP matching and tops up maternity leave. Or tell me about the cool technologies that you use, or how your company is using technology to make the world a better place. Tell me something real.

Your Job isn’t that Special

It might be above average. It might be an interesting job, a senior position or or a very interesting product. It’s still probably not a once-in-a-life-time opportunity or the world’s best <anything>, it’s probably not going to be world-changing, ‘the next big thing’. And even if it is, you’re going to have to convince me that your job is better than all the other jobs that claim to be extra-special. So tell me something real. Tell me about how I’d be working on a great team of senior people who get along really well, have compatible opinions about software, really enjoy what they’re working on and they’re working to realistic timelines. Tell me that you have an opening for a really senior position where someone can really blossom and advance their career. Tell me enough about your project that I truly believe you’re going to succeed.

Your Candidates aren’t that Special

They might be above average. In fact, considering how many sub-par candidates float around the job pool, they might be the top five percent of the people actively looking for employment right now. But they’re not rockstars, ninjas or superstars. They’re probably not hardcore. They probably don’t need mastery of anything, they just need to be able to get the job done. They’re probably not the best of the best, world-class talent. If you really are looking for world-class talent, then convince me of that. Tell me the qualifications you expect to have, and that you know that in order to attract that kind of talent you’re willing to pay really well, relocate people or allow them to work remotely, explain how your project is so amazing that you need and can attract that kind of talent who might otherwise be working at Google, at Apple or on their own killer startup.

Drop the hype, and tell me something real.


On Job Hopping

November 4, 2008

After reading this posting this afternoon, I couldn’t help responding a little to this:

Must have career stability ie: they do not want job hoppers ……they want a long term commitment someone that will grow and shape team 

As far as I’m concerned, very few people “hop” jobs because they think job hopping is a good strategy.  Switching jobs is pretty stressful for most people, and they tend to do it for one (and often both) of two strong reasons:

  1. He/She isn’t happy where he/she is.
  2. He/She has a “better offer”.

Unhappy
Most people have had a job they weren’t happy with.  Many of you are probably holding a position you’re not enthusiastic about right now.  When you see problems occurring in your work environment, you have a few choices that can be grouped roughly like this:

  • Accept that your company has problems, and you can live with that.
  • Accept that the company has problems, and try and fix them.
  • Accept that the company has problems, that you can’t fix them, and that it’s time to find another option.

Most people can’t stay in the middle category for much time without progress.  If you’re seeing problems and you aren’t making progress against those problems, you have to decide if you can live with those problems or if you have to leave.  The threshold at which you choose to leave depends on the problems and on the employee; I’ve met employees that treat their job as just a job and expect it to be flawed, and I’ve met others who strive constantly to find that ‘perfect job.’

Fortunately, there’s also a counteracting factor at work: new employees have high hopes and haven’t yet started to bruse those hopes against consistent recurring problems.  This means that many people will go anywhere from a few months to a year before the issues start to rankle.  As with the threshold for leaving, the threshold after which the bloom comes off the rose varies significantly from employee to employee and company to company.

Some people get into a pattern of several hops for a while.  In rare cases, this goes deeper, and it’s an unwillingness to commit, a feeling (accurate or not) of inadequacy, or someone truly incapable of registering that the grass only seems greener on the other side.  Mostly, however, it’s the fact that finding the right fit between you and a company is a hard thing to do.

The Better Offer
The ‘better offer’ is rarely the only factor, because happy employees don’t tend to run around examining and considering other offers at all.  That said, even unhappy employees are rarely willing to sacrifice a decent, stable but frustrating job without having another one lined up.

In Summary
If you’re worried about employees moving on at the job posting level, long before you’ve even started to assess a particular candidate, you probably need to turn your focus inward.  You’re probably not as great an employer as you think: focus on treating your employees well and making them happy, and employee stability will follow.