Saturday, March 05, 2005

New Position-Dont Look Inside Until....

In Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal Marketplace section under the heading MANAGING YOUR CAREER was an article by Joann S. Lublin titled, “Winning New Position with Same Employer Requires Trying Harder” in which Ms Lublin takes the position that you “need to spend more time preparing for an in-house move…” Polish the brass, do more research, find out what the hiring managers like or dislike and on and on.

The article states that fewer than a third of the internal applicants for positions get them. Businesses are notorious for hiring from outside. As businesses downsized and leaned themselves over the last few years, the position you have is the one the company wants you in. You are good at it and they want that to continue. In other words, you are pigeon-holed.

“Try harder!” Prepare more! The example given in the article has a 15 year employee feeling guilty for being over confident when she did not land any of THREE positions that she was working toward as her’s was being eliminated.

An old farming adage tells us, if you are in the cornfield (your position is at risk) you should expect the harvester to come. Your position would not be eliminated, or you would have been offered another postion if it were not about you. That does not mean anything about your skills and qualities per se, but in the eyes of the business, there is not enough value there.

Today’s companies are made up of functional specialties and specialists are what they want. So when something else comes up that is needed, you are not qualified for that from their perspective. They know you too well and you know them too well. The business wants the experience from the outside to help with new ideas, new processes and functionality. Never mind that they have never asked your opinion or had you participate in cross functional teams outside your specialty.

With the internet employment clearing houses you can find people with EXACTLY the skills you think you need as an employer. No one you have now will be that in their eyes. There is no time to train you, to develop you, to grow you even if you have given them 15 good years, they want what they want and they want it now. That means they will go outside to get it.

So what do you do when you hear the harvester in the distance? Do all the preparations, do all the polishing, do all the resume development and take it to the marketplace. There is where you will find someone looking for exactly what YOU are. There is your place to grow and be what you want to be.

Don’t want to really leave that comfortable company you have been at? Then once you have an offer from someone else, bring it back to the home business. Tell them you have an outside offer but would like to stay at home. When they see that another business or competitor has seen value in you that they did not, they might just have a new look and give you that position you have been thinking of. Your validation by an outside company is much more valuable than your supposition that inside the business they really do recognize your full suite of abilities. If not, take the walk and get over it.

Several times in my career I have staffed myself out of my job by developing and promoting people from the team. On some occasions the company had nothing else for me to do and we parted on good terms. The rest of the time the company gave me something else to do but each time it turned into the cornfield.

And you can never forget that once the corn ripens, it will be harvested. No one leaves mature corn on the stalk.

Please don’t misunderstand, there are some firms that are exceptions to the rule and promote from within as a priority (one of them a much misunderstood big box retailer). And my wish for you is that you are not in a cornfield, and don’t end up in one someday but if you do, don’t follow the best solution as noted in the WSJ article.

“Spend more time preparing for an in-house move than for an outside vacancy. Internal hiring managers expect you to grasp every nuance of the business because you enjoy tremendous access to co-workers and corporate data.”

WRONG! Spend more time getting an outside job and bring back that acceptance in the marketplace to your current employer and your chances of staying (if that is what you really want to do) are better. You will never meet the standards of internal managers. Again, they can know too much about you and you about them and that is a deal breaker right from the start.

Bring credibility and credentials validated by your marketplace. That is the prize winning ear of corn. Otherwise, take on the new farm and see how you can do with tomatoes!



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