Saturday, April 23, 2005

Career Management lessons from a fresher

I recently had the opportunity to meet a bright, young, talented, visionary fresher, who came to meet me to discuss his career strategy. I felt confident of handling him because of my experience as a consultant and a human resource professional till he started explaining his situation and started asking questions. I felt like such a loser.

His story. Having acquired a degree in Management he joined an organisation and quit within the orientation period as got an offer from a better brandname. Now he wanted help in understanding within what timeframe he should plan to move from this organisation ? Would one year be a decent time?

I had to ask him why would he want to do that was he not happy in the current organisation. His point of view was that if he stayed with an organisation for too long his employability will go down. Hence a need to constantly move.

I was reminded of my struggling days in Mumbai, when we had to move house every 11 months as the landlords wouldn't sign a longer deal. Cut to present and I suddenly realised the significance of his comment on my career, I have been in the same job for more than 8 years, by his logic I was finished. I felt cheated that my teachers never taught me career management, the way they were teaching the freshers.

I had never thought about my career so seriously till date, not atleast using project management tools by plotting timelines around my each company stint. I have fought my career dilemma with these simple principles to guide my decisions :

Am I learning new things : I have always asked this question to myself whenever faced with the question of should I quit now. When faced with situations where I was not, I started looking for a new role in the organisation and luckily found new learning opportunities within the same organisation.

Do I fit in well here : I have always believed that all organisations are after all organisations, which have issues which organisations face. Each one has a unique characteristic and kind of similar and unique problems. Will I end up facing the same problems in the new organisation that I face here which would force me to move again. If I find this organisation to fit in with my profiles and I am getting learning opportunities then why bother.

Why do I want to quit : This is the final test which has, for me, three reasons which are top of mind money, boredom with familiar work and don't agree with what others are saying or doing. On serious thought have never been able to justify to myself of the need to move because of these reasons.

Well maybe I am wrong, I am becoming a frog in the well and not taking sufficient risks and probably there are better things outside. But hey, do I care I am liking it here and finding enough challenges here. Probably also at fault is the conservative upbringing and ofcource lack of proper career management education when I was in college.

The learning for me is that there is a huge untapped business potential around benchmarking and comparing people's career around number of jobs hopped and number of years spent in the same job. This can provide useful career management guidelines to all visionary career planners.
Someday when I decide to go out on my own, thats what I am going to do, are you listening all you VCs.


Gautam Ghosh said...

ah well the dreaded stay or not to stay

amazing...your young professional makes even me feel old ;-)

I think job hopping has a special rush for people, and if they can contribute something of value and move out, then nobody should have an issue...

however the issue becomes, is it movement for the sake of movement ?

Anonymous said...

The 4 fundamental characterestics of most professionals, esp in HR (IMHO)...

1. complete lack of business knowledge - so if you dont know anything about the business, you have no stake and makes it easier to jump jobs
2. total aversion to numbers - if you do not quantify it, nobody can blame you
3. some jobs are a power trip - self explanatory
4. minimal personal integrity - sc*ew the other guy before he sc*ews you

Gautam Ghosh said...

Anonymous' post sounds like the grouse that Henry Mintzberg has against MBAs !

Why single out HR folks in particular?

The Arbit Council said...
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lostandfound said...

reached your blog through Gautum Ghosh's which I reached through google,where I typed "How long should I stay with a company"..just completed 5 years in the same company and got a nice watch...the watch glares at me everyday and says "Time to leave!!"

Padmanaban said...

Managing a career is ongoing. It's always up to you to judge where you want to go with your career

Jemma Taylor said...

This is a great piece and highly recommended. This shows the way we as marketing managers need to look at the things that make a difference to the customers and in turn a difference to us!!