Monday, October 23, 2006

Careers and Growth


We change over time. Our jobs change over time. If we are lucky, the two change together and in the same direction: our jobs continue to be satisfying, the pay keeps getting better and we look forward to going to work every day. But too often, our jobs don’t change at the same rate that we do and we find ourselves less and less excited about Monday mornings. I have found this especially true of cubicle workers in large companies, including me. At first, as we’re learning it’s all exciting. We’re challenged to prove ourselves and apply all the skills we acquired in previous work or in college. That paycheck keeps us smiling as we plan ways to spend or save it. That first raise causes us to beam with pride and work even harder to show we deserved it. Eventually the newness wears off and we settle in, and often the job becomes easier and somewhat routine. If we are lucky, we might have a manager that is also a mentor, one who is secure in his/her position and puts effort into helping us grow in our careers. We are given more responsibility and more autonomy and eventually earn a promotion. If the work environment is good and the company is performing well, we may stay in our position for a long time.

Unfortunately, things don’t always work out that well. Reduced profits force large corporations to trim expenses and employees are a big liability, so staff gets cut. Those remaining are left to pick up the additional work and hours become longer and meetings multiply. Employees start to feel the strain.

I have witnessed this happening to my company over the years. Ten years ago, most people you spoke to here were proud of their jobs and work and never considered leaving. Today, the environment is different: everyone is seeing their collegues get layed off and all conversations are around promising jobs at other companies or early retirement.

I have done a lot of soul-searching over the past several months, after dealing with two really bad managers in two years and unending indigestion and loss of sleep. Fortunately the web is a great resource when you’re looking into alternatives to your current job. Not only are there numerous sites for posting your resume, like monster.com, dice.com and careerbuilder.com, there are resources for researching most larger companies, from their own corporate web sites and finance.yahoo.com to employee surveys on vault.com. You can even set up a Google news alert on the companies you’re interested in to stay up to date on their latest news—a handy bit of info as you head into that interview.

I am new to the online job searching game and can’t recommend one site over the other yet, but as I dig deeper into the process I’ll post my favorites here. I’d love to hear your experiences as well. Please post your comments below.