Managing Career Expectations in the Internet Economy
You're overworked and underpaid. Your boss is a source of constant aggravation. The headhunters are at the door. Get a new job. Everybody is doing it. Things are much better elsewhere. Just before you jump, consider a few things:
How long have you been at this job? Less than a year?
Was your previous job a similarly short stint?
Why are you are leaving?
What are you are looking for?
In the Internet economy's unprecedented wealth and job creation, the next great opportunity is always around the corner. More money; more options; a better title. So why is getting hired in this sector easier by the day while keeping a job is increasingly challenging?
One reason is the greater business awareness of young knowledge workers, resulting in heightened, sometimes unrealistic, expectations. It's a candidate's market and everyone knows what they're worth (or at least what they can get). New companies are popping up like weeds as every freshly minted MBA seems to come with a dot-com b-plan in tow. Opportunities abound.
So what's the problem? It's a matter of what is important. Careers are not just about more money, more options, or moving into management. Success measured by those metrics is missing the point. More job failures are associated with bad cultural/personality fits than with low pay, long hours, and limited advancement combined. So here are some tips on how to find the right fit:
~1) Ask yourself the important questions -- What did you accomplish? Where did you bring value? What experience did you gain? Why did the company succeed or fail? What did you like and not like? -- then pick the situation best suited to your interests and capabilities.
2) Check your ego at the door. Companies succeed when the President makes the coffee and the secretary thinks like an owner.
3) Focus on a 3-year commitment. It might turn out to be less, but if 3 years sounds scary, it's probably not the right thing.
4) Temper your ambition with reality. Two years of work experience does not often make for a savvy veteran capable of building and running a department, even in the Internet sector.
5) Don't develop a situational ethic. Just because there's a better job every few months doesn't mean you should take it. Loyalty will pay-off when the market tightens-up.
And finally, the most accurate statement I have ever heard in this business: do your job well, and either your company will reward you or your industry will.