Corporate Culture: Confessions of a Compulsive Job Hopper!!

Its that time of the year. Everyone is talking about it in hush tones. Its everywhere – around the coffee machine, in cafeteria, at parking lot, smoking area and even at desk when no one (read: boss) is around. They say its all becuase of the economy doing better. Worst is over. Right time it is, someone quipped! For what? Duh-uh, its the right time to switch your job! With growing sales and companies getting fresh orders, Industry is being generous and offering huge increments. Why not make the most of it?

Its true. People are leaving their current jobs for higher salary bracket jobs or positions elsewhere. Attrition is up. Human Resources teams are having tough time grappling with resignations, retention and creating back – ups. Every year, during appraisal some employee churn is expected. But, 2010 seems to be a tad higher than normal as lot of people delayed their switch as there were hardly any interview calls in 2009, all thanks to some-US housing-market-downturn-investment-bank-burst-financial-services-requiring-bailouts. Naukri.com re-launched their signature ‘Hari Sadu’ campaign albeit without the bluntness of the previous version. Hewitt Associates is going ga-ga over the kind of increment people would get. Good times, they-are-a-coming!

Employees who aspire for a steady career and trust in showing loyalty to their employers are fast receding. I mean look around in your team, how many people have been like more than 5 years with the company? More and more employees are becoming ‘job hoppers’. 6 -7 years back, people would frown if you change more than 2 jobs in lets say 4 years, now its not unthinkable that someone has changed 2 jobs in 6 months!!! Difficult and detrimental? Nah, says Mr. Compulsive Job Hopper (CJH). On the contrary, he believes that its a fast way of growing both in designation and salary. He calls it ‘Inorganic’ route to personal growth, pretty similar to how organizations grow – when they can’t do it inside the  company, they acquire other companies! In case of an employee, he acquires a new job.

I got curious. I asked him for how he does it (and where he is going, how much raise he has got etc.). Here’s an excerpt from our no-holds-barred conversation, which took place with rounds of tea in the cafeteria:

Me: Hey man! Heard you’ve put down your papers?

Mr. Compulsive Job Hopper (CJH): Yeah, (I) got a better opportunity – both work wise and in salary terms. Some offer they have made!

Me: Good for you! Congratulations! Calls for a party! So, how much they are offering? And, are you going on same designation?

Mr. CJH: Are you crazy? Why would I leave my job if I were to go on same designation. They have given me a lead position with 40% hike. I told you, they made a compelling offer which I would be a fool to say no to!

Me: Oh! But, haven’t you joined this place six months back? Is it a good move career wise? I mean it spoils your cv? isn’t it?

Mr. CJH:  All BS. Yes, I joined six months back, but my learning curve was over. I mean, I wasn’t learning anything new here, stopped growing! plus, I was underpaid! Market is paying much more to a guy like me. So, I tried, and with my skillset, got it easily!!

And CV…No one looks at that. All recruiters do is ‘keyword search’ on these portals. If your CV matches their keywords and you pass some basic criteria for the job, recruiter will be behind your back with calls/mail etc. These days, recuiters have become the new sales guy. They just need to complete their target. They chase numbers and fill position. They do not hire employees any more. Everyone’s just a resource for them.

Me: I still don’t get it. I mean six months is barely a period where you can learn about a company let alone being profitable for it…

Mr. CJH: Not any more! Gone are the days, when you had ‘honeymoon period’ of prolonged Induction-Orientation-Onboarding-Training-Etc., These days, before you come, its more likely that you are assigned to a project. From Day 1, you have your task cut out. You are earning for the company the day you join and becoming profitable in no time. So, it really does not matter that much!

Me: Hmm… But, aren’t you an exception? I mean not everyone is lucky like you…and how many companies would be ready to take some one like you who has just joined a company six months…

Mr. CJH: Dude, you are seriously out of touch from the realities of job market! Have you heard of poaching ever? Competitiors will fall over each other to get a guy from our company as they have loads of knowledge on how the other company works. Plus, for companies smaller than us, I am God!

If thats not it, there are bunch of startups and MNC companies setting up offices here. These guys are the best of the lot as the mutual need or synergy greatly matches – I want a bigger role with even bigger salary and these companies want to set up teams quickly with guys who have local/relevant experience. There is nothing like joining a ‘Pilot Batch’… And as per Penolope Trunk, Job Hoppers Makes the Best Employees…

Me: Sounds exciting…So this will be your …

Mr. CJH: 5th job in as many years…However, it was very important I spend couple of years in first job…You are more or less fresher with a year’s experience…Once you have solid ground, get ready to launch yourself…Look at me, I am all set to handle team, while my peers, who persisted with one company or changed one or two jobs are just individual contributors…

Me: I get it. Its a junior-middle management phenomenon…I am sure it does not happen at senior management level…

Mr. CJH: Nope. the phenomenon is all pervasive. These days all levels hop alike. In fact, senior management guys do it relatively easy as they have loads of experience, vast and reliable networks and references. Also, they can any day say its a strategic move to handle challenging roles and blah their way to plum jobs with ESOPs as icing…

Me: (rather enviously) Dude, you are a champ. Tell me how you do it… Even I am pissed off these days and seriously considering switching…

Mr CJH: Simple. Just follow these rules and stop getting underpaid and becoming undervalued

  • Prepare and keep your CV current. Opportunity can knock anytime…
  • Put your CV in job portals all the time. Just remove your name, current company name or any specific reference that can reveal your identity. No body needs particular details about you. They just need skill sets, which they find through key word search. So, design your CV in such a way that all key words pertaining to your role feature in your experience summary. And ya, don’t forget blocking your company from searching your profile!!
  • Keep adding recruiters and industry peers in your linkedin profile. Check your profile on linked on atleast once every two days. Get recommendations from clients, peers, juniors and managers on linkedin. These days, linkedin is hot, and is secure too!!
  • Keep asking your network, alumni, friends about job openings in their companies….
  • Befriend your HR if you want to switch to another role in same company, but different department. Be current on what’s happening in your company…

Me: Whoa! Those are some tips…I will try to execute it one by one…but don’t you feel any moral obligation towards your company? I mean six months is barely a time…

Mr. CJH: I knew you would ask…You can’t keep off morality and sentiments for too long, can you? Anyway,  even I am aware of this morality debate and I faced the same dilemma while I hopped for the first time. But, I have understood for a fact that if you want to be a true professional ‘Never’ get attached to one company…you and your company are fulfilling a mutual need…When that need is fulfilled, it is not beneficial for any of them holding on…Don’t these companies fire people at will when they are performing badly, facing downturn etc. So, its all objective relationship at the end of the day. Need not get emotional on that…After you change 2 – 3  jobs, it will feel OK. and as they say change is permanent…

Me: Hmm…(Shaken with all this talk..) So, will it ever stop??

Mr. CJH: Yaar, it will – but only when I would have found my dream job  and a career/company that matches what I want to do in life…I shouldn’t stay in a job that I don’t like/doesn’t help my career…Beside, there is no harm in exploring all possible options… ha ha..just kidding..this is what you say when someone ask you a question like that…It will stop, only when I earn more than Industry average and my friends… 🙂

Me: I am depressed… 😦 …let me go back to work I have to finish by today…

Mr. CJH: Whatever … (goes back to have another tea…visibly amused and happy)

This is it. Enough of blogging. I am going to prepare my CV, update my Linkedin, network with friends (esp those who are in HR department). Recuiters here I come…India is Shining, why shouldn’t I?


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Stella!! Hey Stella!! A Desire Named Love, Companionship and Marriage…

A Streetcar Named Desire (ASND) – strange name for a story, I thought, when I first read of it. I was curious to know more. So, I lay my hands on this Tennessee Williams play book. Engaging, intriguing and thought provoking it was, without a single dull moment. This post is not a review of ASND; neither it is a hosanna. It is exploration of thoughts that flooded my mind after reading the book and watching the fabulous movie adaptation with superlative performance from vulnerable-yet-vanity-preserving Vivien Leigh and raw-dashing-uncouth-‘Polack’ (meaning – of polish origin) Marlon Brando. More on the book and movie, – here and here. For those of you who have not come across this masterpiece, here is the plot summary courtesy wikipedia:

The play presents Blanche DuBois, a fading but still-attractive belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask alcoholism and delusions of grandeur. Her poise is an illusion she presents to shield others (but most of all, herself) from her reality, and an attempt to make herself still attractive to new male suitors. Blanche arrives at the apartment of her sister Stella Kowalski in New Orleans; the local transportation she takes to arrive there includes a streetcar route named “Desire”.  The steamy, urban ambiance is a shock to Blanche’s nerves. Blanche is welcomed with some trepidation by Stella, who fears the reaction of her husband Stanley. As Blanche explains that their ancestral southern plantation, Belle Reve in Laurel, Mississippi, has been “lost”, her veneer of self-possession begins to slip drastically. Blanche tells Stella that her supervisor allowed her to take time off from her job as an English teacher because of her upset nerves, when in fact, she has been fired for having an affair with a 17-year-old student. A brief marriage marred by the discovery that her spouse, Allan Grey, was having a homosexual affair and his subsequent suicide has led Blanche to withdraw into a world in which fantasies and illusions blend seamlessly with reality.

In contrast, Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, is a force of nature: primal, rough-hewn, brutish and sensual. He dominates Stella in every way and is physically and emotionally abusive. Stella tolerates his primal behavior as this is part of what attracted her in the first place; their love and relationship are heavily based on powerful—even animalistic—sexual chemistry, something that Blanche finds impossible to understand.

The arrival of Blanche upsets her sister and brother-in-law’s system of mutual dependence. Stella’s concern for her sister’s well-being emboldens Blanche to hold court in the Kowalski apartment, infuriating Stanley and leading to conflict in his relationship with his wife. Blanche and Stanley are on a collision course, and Stanley’s friend and Blanche’s would-be suitor Mitch, will get trampled in their path. Stanley discovers Blanche’s past through a co-worker who travels to Laurel frequently, and he confronts her with the things she has been trying to put behind her, partly out of concern that her character flaws may be damaging to the lives of those in her new home, just as they were in Laurel, and partly out of a distaste for pretense in general. However, his attempts to “unmask” her are predictably cruel and violent. Their final confrontation—Williams alludes to rape, but never states it directly—results in Blanche’s nervous breakdown. Stanley has her committed to a mental institution, and in the closing moments, Blanche utters her signature line to the kindly doctor who leads her away: “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

As it is evident, Blanche was devoid of love and companionship, which made me wonder – Is it that important to have presence of love and companionship in life? I know everyone’s life isn’t like Blanche’s, but, they surely have a lot missing. What if she would have found someone and married like her sister Stella? Would she have ended up in an asylum? Does marriage really brings the balance required in the society? Is one not ‘settled’  until he/she marries? Is all this relevant in today’s world?

Companionship

Man is a social animal – time and again this statement redeems itself in each individual’s life. As we’re growing up, we feel more comfortable with our friends than our family. We find solace in the fact that we know someone who shares our view on the world around us, is as clueless about a lot of things as we are, and have a lot in common beyond age. That’s where it all begins. Dependence on friends, companions and cronies. Life and age chisels us into an individual with independent thinking and decision making capabilities, which is not at all possible if we don’t have support from companions, as we learn a great deal on real, practical life from these people. Need for companion who share our likes/dislikes, passion etc. remains through out our lives, as all of us want to be heard/listened to, recognized/appreciated/feel important or just to let others know that we exist.

Love

There is no single definition of love. Its highly relative and means different to different people. But, everyone will agree to the fact that they are constantly on a look out for love. Yes, even those people who disagree!! Beyond satisfying carnal desires, we all need to be loved because of the following basic parameters,

  • it is satisfying that you are worth something on this earth,
  • you are desirable by people and they seek your company,
  • you see yourself as normal and not as deviation, following the normal code of society,
  • you have a follower who holds you in high esteem, giving you feeling of superiority over others.

Surface parameters such as – you want to appear cool, happening and ‘not-left-out’ among your peers, admire someone for any attribute of theirs, are in love-with-love or simply convince that you are beautiful/handsome in other’s eyes… 😉

Sentimental/Emotional parameters such as you want someone who can understand, listen, identify with you, has a matching wavelength, acts as a friend, would be there-with-you in-thick and thin etc.

Marriage

Our elders, peers, relatives, friends, movies, media, advertising, industrial companies  – pretty much everyone that comprises in society, makes us believe that we are not settled unless we are married. I believe in love, companionship and marriage. However, I believe its not necessary for one to marry. Marriage is basically seeking life long love and companionship. How true is that – will form a great debate topic. 🙂

Now, back to the question facing me, is it really important to get love, companionship and marriage (LCM)? Yes, it is true. We need at least one of these to make our life worth living. And love / companionship can exist sans marriage. Live-in relationships prove that.

We need it because of the most powerful reason  – if you are without Love and Marriage, and have companionship, I am pretty sure your companion will have/would look for one of these two in his/her life. Eventually, your companion would stop devoting time towards you, may not fulfill your companionship needs and you will be left alone. And everyone fears exactly that – being alone! Life would seem hollow at that moment. Without a purpose…

Companionship can be a short term measure, but for long  term, you gotta have love or marriage to keep you going. For those of you,  if its all about living  in short term, companionship would seem to be the best possible thing. If it works for you, great!! But all of the people I know, can’t stay alone, without LCM…That’s what happened with Blanche in ASND…

LCM is not an Indian concept, that is, its not only in India society gives more weightage to LCM. Wherever you may go, in any civilized society, rules of the game are alike. For example, look at all developed countries’ heads of state – everyone is married or has companion. The perception of man/woman being incomplete without a partner is deeply embedded in people’s mind.

Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives – Bertrand Russell

Whose Life is it Anyway? ‘Virtual’ly Social or Socially Virtual…

Q: Why are you on Social Networking sites?

A: Social networking is cool. it’s hip. It’s ‘with the times’.

Q: Those are its characteristics; good. But, why are you on these sites?

A: It let’s me stay in touch with people. I can tell my friends about my life. Plus, everyone on it, dude!!!

If you ever have/had this conversation with your conscience/or someone, read on…If you are not moved, definitely read on!

That’s what everybody around me says when I ask them – why did you join this? Because, everyone is on it! Worse, I asked myself, and got the same answer!

I have had it. I have made peace with ‘Active’ Social Networking. I define ‘Active’ social networking as something in which I post intimate details of my life on a periodic/intermittent, but frequent basis (ex. Facebook, twitter etc.). I will continue with ‘passive forms’ of networking like linkedin, blogging etc., where neither I expose my life to ‘virtual unknowns’ nor get exposed to things like “IPL weekend photos”, “Honeymoon pics”, “Crazy Status Messages and tweets” and long comment chains!!

Why I did so?

#1 Disillusioned with looking at pictures people post/status message/chain of comments or update and open their life to a stranger like me. Same goes for them.

#2 Amount of time I spend on these sites in office, and in home.

#3 Intrusion of privacy (I do) by checking individual profiles often visibly/invisibly (I felt ashamed!).

#4 Too much Unnecessary Information…overload actually!

#5 Out of 300 odd friends I have/had (?), I follow not more than 5 of  them…

#6 Looking at amazing pictures people post, I am tempted to spend my money on expensive SLRs and exotic travel..moerover, all these m.xxx.com sites and ‘forever’, ’24X7 online’ and ‘on-the-go’ social networking means buying an expensive phone and service…(for me 2G is good enough)

#7 Birthday wishes from random people. People who used to phone, now do it on my wall/via tweet/scrap me. I hate ‘just-for-the-sake’ wishes and double hate people who need to be reminded of my birthday via calendar programs in Facebook.

#8 ‘so-called’ cool apps (like forecast, astrology, tag etc.)/ stupid communities, groups and causes I joined/became a fan off…After which my profiles were spammed with all junk info!!!

# 9 I became lazy (all the time on laptop).. on second thoughts, I still am lazy…:)

#10 Most important – Too little time with ‘real’ people in my life…

I was an addict and I didn’t go to ‘AA‘ to get rid of my addiction. I just gave it a thought.  And I was clear! Enough is enough. If I want a ‘social’ tag, I will keep in contact with core set of people that I would like to talk to, in any manner possible. I have a good plan on my mobile, which is cheap. I am also powered by the Email and Indian Post.

I am happy, peaceful, talking to and spending time with people, reading books and thinking these days. There is no sudden urge or need to connect, belong, communicate, exhibit, entertain, intrude, watch, spy, sell, promote, follow or simply waste time. I think of writing more often. I feel good in office and in home.

I am not a social activist fighting for ‘save the snail mail’ or ‘down-with-technology’ campaigns. Nor I suggest you to do the same. I would just request you to give a good, deep thought to being ‘virtual’ly social or socially virtual’…

P.S> Those of you thinking about thoughts like ‘do-in-moderation’ and ‘do-a-balancing-act’ etc., contact me at once! I would like to be your disciple and learn the dying art. Who knows,  I may walk the alleys of Facebook again…

Corporate Culture – When You Get a New Boss…

People don’t leave company, people leave their bosses/managers..

– Corporate Adage

The ‘Boss’ (not Rajnikant I am talking about here 🙂 ), much to our liking is the most important character in our day-to-day work life. Our interface to the senior management, the go-to person for any issue or grievance (work/salary/leave etc.) and most importantly, assigns and reviews the work we do. Apart from our co-workers/friends, it is the boss we interact the most in our offices. Trust me (lot of people would believe me!),  it takes a lot of hard work and meticulous planning to get in the good books of bosses. Off course, old school of thought makes us believe that its the ‘work’ we are paid and our excellent work would only win us accolades. Thats passe (or so 20th centuryish!!!)… Take a good look at year on year appraisal of that co-worker (who is your boss’ apple of the eye)…I am sure you now get what I mean.

In today’s fast-paced-attrition-heavy-opportunities-aplenty environment, organizations change rapidly. So do your bosses. Shit! There goes all your favorable equations / work place  comfort down the drain. Back to Square One (and its not home run!).  You have a new boss!! Suddenly, you feel uneasy about going to work, have apprehensions about the new guy, think about you role being reduced/limited, and sometimes – start considering about moving out too.. Well, boss is a reality! Anywhere you go, whatever work you do, you would in all certainty have a boss to contend with (unless its your company!)….

I read an article Ravi Subramanian did for The Economic Times – Making the Right Connect with New Boss , it took my thoughts to all the times I had had a new boss / joined a new company. It all made perfect sense. Here’s an excerpt from the article –

Dealing with a new boss when your relationship with your old boss was good, perhaps even better than with the new boss, can be demanding , even stressful. On the other, dealing with a new boss when your relationship with your old boss was bad can be rejuvenatingly wonderful.

I believe if you strike good professional relationship with your boss, it goes a long way in achieving better expectation setting, recognition of work and effort,  work-life balance and eventually a longer stay in an organization. I don’t think  any good relationship is a by-product of chance or luck, you gotta work towards nurturing it. Unlike other relationships, you can bring a method in how you approach the professional relationship between you and your boss and make it work. Read on for things-to-do when you have a new boss,

#1 Take Initiative – You need to take initiative in the first communication or first casual chat. Usually, you either get to know via email that you have a new boss or he is introduced to you while taking the facility rounds. Be sure to get your first impression right by taking this step. Try and engage (or book time for meeting as Ravi mentions in the article)  your boss even before he does it. That shows you are ready to welcome him and all set to start the new relationship and not apprehensive about the new situation. Trust me, even if he would be thinking how to get this started. Make it all easy for him and get moving…

#2 The Common Factor – To cut the ice, nothing works like digging past. Find out about your boss’ background (from introductory mail, HR, Facebook/Twitter/Orkut or Linkedin) and find out if you have worked for the same organization, studied in same school or some of the people you know might have worked in the same organization as his/her’s. This helps you make connection in no time!….For those of you, who can’t find anything in common, try stocks and investments (every manager has money invested in stock market!!)…Just show him/her your prowess by throwing some stock tips, and you definitely reach in the select category. If you are not the bulls and bears type, find out a common hobby or interest – cricket, music, reading, outdoor sports …anything.. read a few articles from Internet and get going….We all tend to find common ground, people with common interest and taste…Don’t we all love our comfort zones? Would you believe it – My VP in one organization asked me to help place an IPO order and my sales head ask for my collection of songs for his iPod!!!

#3 Be a Buddy – The more time you spend with your boss, more likely to know about his likes/dislikes and adjust with him…and the best way to do this it be a buddy for your boss by showing him around your office, having lunch with him, helping him with bank account opening, finance forms etc… There are lot of areas where people need help and HR might not be available all the time.. try chipping in and be informal about things… This also works as your boss is new in organization, would look for company and definitely like to know undercurrents of the company…Offload all your intelligence about work culture, internal politics, projects and anything about the company which no one else would tell…;)…Nothing sells like grapevine!!

#4 Impress With Work – Well, nothing unusual about this. But, being little more active up ‘n’ early with a new boss will not hurt you. In fact, it will go a long way in building up the trust and faith on your capabilities. Work everyone does, but doing it smartly, thats what you gotta do. How do you do that? Simple, underpromise and overdeliver!!

Bottomline – Better learn to adjust and stop being fussy/cribby about a new person. Quitting should be the last thing on your mind – its a bad, bad world out there and sharks are everywhere looking for a prey like you…:)