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Building a strong career Building a strong career
by Joseph Gatt
2020-07-14 09:20:31
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A few notes on building a strong career, in no particular order.

-To build a strong career, you need to understand that there are essentially three hiring methods: scouting, networking and applying.

-Scouting: you could get scouted for a job. Scouting means people come to you and offer you a job, either by email, phone, or at an event. Some offers can be too good to be true, and often are. When being scouted for a job, you need to check whether the company offering you the job is legit. Do your research, as there are many scams in the scouting world. Keep in mind that you could get scouted for sex work or drug trafficking, which is where most hiring is done through scouting. But big brands also scout.

-Networking: a lot of people end up getting jobs and working for people they know and are friends with. You could be from a family of businessmen, you could have a lot of friends in business, or you could be the member of some business community. People who hire you will know you and will be comfortable working with you.

care01_400-Notes on scouting and networking: in “militarized” societies (like Japan and South Korea) getting a job via scouting and networking is sometimes frowned upon, because many companies use rigid hiring and promotion procedures. That is, in Japan and South Korea, large companies have rigid hierarchies and the people in the hierarchy won't appreciate that someone got a job over a cup of coffee when they had to toil for 20 years to get to the same position.

-But, in most liberal countries, people see no problem with hiring via scouting or networking. Note however that scouting and networking is often used either for entry-level positions, or for consulting positions. That is, it can be very, very difficult for a mid-level career worker to get scouted for a job, as most companies would rather promote insiders to higher-ranking positions.

-If scouted for a job, keep in mind that you will have been scouted for your individual talents or network, but that you will have to work well with a team. So make sure you “blend in” with the team you will work with.

-Most large companies have scouts. Scouts use different methods when looking for talent. Some use the internet and snoop around LinkedIn profiles and social media to find the “gems” among younger (and older) workers and try to convince those to join the team. Others only scout when they have to, and only scout those “unconventional” workers they couldn't find when people sent applications for the job. Others scout by going around college campuses and trying to figure out which students are being all the talk.

-Note that in some cases (in many cases in some countries) scouted employees will be asked to “send an application” for the job. That is the scouts will tell the potential employee to apply for the job, then wait for a couple of weeks (or a couple of months) before the scouted employee shows up for (an often difficult) job interviews, before the scouted employee waits for another couple of months before they get the job offer. This tactic is used to prevent scouted employees from bragging too much about being scouted for their “unique talents” and giving the employee the illusion that they are “disposable.” Some might also use threats and some humiliation with the scouted employee to make sure they don't develop an oversized ego.

-The same rules sometimes apply for networking as for scouting. That is in the case of networking, the people hiring you will already know you and you know them. So there's the level of familiarity that scouting does not have.

-However, if you get a job through networking, a lot of times your “friend” could have a scary side to them. Some “friends” ask their “friend” to send a resume, others give their friends “job interviews” while other “friends” can even do away with the friendship and act coldly in the presence of their friend on the job, and keep that cold relationship until they are sure their hired friend is getting work done and behaving properly at the company.

-Now to job applications. There are four types of job applications. First, there's applying through an employment agency or headhunter. Then there's answering ads. Then there's applying to massive recruitment programs (most large companies have those). Then there's “cold calls” or dropping a resume.

-If you apply for a job via a headhunter, keep in mind that your headhunter could be one of those guys who wants to make a quick buck and will place you at any company on a first come, first served basis. That is your headhunter will not put too much thought into your resume, and will usually pair you up with a company desperately looking for employees. Plus, most headhunters work either with struggling businesses no one would apply to (because they are located in ghost towns for example) or for very rare skills or talents (many headhunters specialize in Information Technology, where there are all kinds of specializations that only a headhunter could sort through).

-If you answer ads, you want to research your company. Don't sell your house and your belongings to move to that new job. Companies who advertise are either looking for a pool of potential employees, or just can't get anyone serious to work with them. So do your research, and if things look weird during the job interview, or you have a bad feeling about the job, you could do without the job and refuse the offer.

-Massive recruitment programs. Large companies like Coca Cola or GM or Proctor and Gamble or Alphabet-Google and so on tend to have recruitment programs where they get a ton of applicants, make them sit through tests, and several layers of job interviews. The process can be very lengthy, and you could spend 6 months or more taking tests, job interviews and handing in paperwork. The advantage of working for such companies tends to be that they pay very well, have all kinds of perks; the atmosphere tends to be clean. The drawback: these big companies tend to be obsessed with making money, and you will get a scolding if you lose them ten cents. Only go there if you like a good paycheck, and like to help those big guys make more money. Other drawback: the psychological (depressive) effect of making your company a ten million dollar deal, when all you get to keep is your 100,000 a year paycheck.

-Cold calls. Here's a personal anecdote. Around 2004, I was 20, and lived in Paris, France. I listened to the radio a couple of hours a day, browsed through some of the programs. The quality of some of the radio programs was so bad, that at several points I considered cold calling the radio offering to work for them. If you cold call, you need two certainties: that you can get the job done, and that they need you. If you notice a company might need you, your skills, or your advice, you can cold call. Or if a friend suggests you cold call, you can go ahead and cold call.

-Your career cycle. There are basically three types of career cycles. There are the guys who work in the same trade their entire life. There are the trend followers that is those who keep job-hoping into whatever is trending. And there are the trend setters that is those who work in a trade, have a better idea in mind, and set their own trend. Examples below.

-There are those who work in the same trade their entire life. They either do the same “task-based” job their entire life (they do accounting their entire life) or there are those who go up the ranks in the same company or in a similar field (in politics, in business, in the non-for-profit sector etc.) That is they will get started as clerks, and, after toiling for 20 years and going up the ranks over those 20 years, they'll get elected state representative, state senator, representative, then senator, then perhaps in some kind of ministerial portfolio or governor or something.

-There are those who follow trends. 2005 the trend is getting a finance job, let's head the Wall Street. 2008 the trend is teaching, just got fired from my finance job, I'm broke, let's teach. 2014 and the Common Core nonsense, teaching is a boring trade, new trend is entertainment, so I'll get a job for a hit YouTube channel or Netflix series in the production team. 2018 YouTube becomes boring; the new trend is the travel industry, so I'll get a job as a tour guide.

-Then there are the trend setters. They work in a trade, let's say video games. They invent their own type of video game and try to sell that. Then they invent a new online payment service and do some business in that. Then this “green technology” thing becomes big and they invent some kind of mechanism to reduce car pollution. You get the idea.

-Final note: when you get a job, here's what I suggest that you look at:

-Pay, perks, benefits, working conditions, rules and all that

-Surroundings (I wouldn't take a job with no restaurant or sandwich shop just around the corner). Make sure there are a few essential and non-essential businesses in the workplace neighborhood (restaurants, pubs, cafés, grocery stores, but also stationary shop, supermarket, florist, and a few other shops like bakeries that your company will need at some point).

-Corporate culture: I'd take a truth test. Before taking the job, I'd ask the company if I can sit down and have a cup of coffee (or a drink) with several employees. If that gets turned down, I wouldn't take the job. If they give you a phone number of just one contact, I wouldn't take the job. If they tell you “you can't have a beer or cup of coffee but you can email your questions” I wouldn't take the job. When you're about to work for a company, keep in mind that “If they have nothing to be ashamed of, they shouldn't turn down my offer to grab a meal or drink and chat things out.”


    
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