It is almost 2007 and yet we still have some archaic views of the employer/employee relationship — on both sides. We have seen the concepts of corporate loyalty overturned and the paternalistic concepts of group health care and pensions are quickly disappearing. With all these changes, though, there is one change even more important to the average worker. It is an even more difficult change because it has to be developed from the inside, from the individual, rather than imposed by the corporate structure. You must finally take to heart the concept that your company — your employer needs you, your skills and your intelligence, as much as you need the company. As more companies seek to treat you as an independent contractor, you must embrace that role and make it your own. Otherwise, you are fooling yourself into living in a world where no one is ever outsourced and you spend your entire career working for one company — a fantasy today if it ever really existed.
Let me be clear, though. When I talk about circumventing the process I am not talking about having your resume delivered via FedEx, or worse still, in a pizza box. It isn’t about sending email to every person at the company. Not only will these tactics not work, they are likely to prevent you from ever getting a job at that particular company and perhaps others.
Instead of simply submitting your resume into the great maw that is most HR departments, you need to start, today, building an on-going job search that doesn’t depend on want ads and resumes. You need to start making connections and relationships that allow you to walk into the company of your choice with a head start.
Of course, your response might be, “Douglas, my boss thinks they can fire me and hire another 20 just like me. We’re interchangeable cogs in the marketplace. I have to follow their rules if I want to keep my job.” The fact is, this is what many workers have always believed. They serve at the pleasure of their employers and this is exactly where you go wrong. Even if your company can replace you, they cannot replace your specialized knowledge and skills and they will suffer for that loss. The key for you is to find the companies that understand this fact and let the other companies proceed on their slow, but assured demise. Just as you need to take your importance to heart, so do the companies that employ you. If they fail to acknowledge this new relationship, it will still occur. So, stop worrying about being fired and start looking for companies that respect you, your skills and your knowledge.
The process of change begins at the very beginning of any job — the interview process. So many of us are used to entering an interview from a position of weakness and fear. We saw the company as being able to “give” us a job, when in reality, it is we who have the power to “accept” or refuse the job they might offer. They need your skills, or they wouldn’t be trying to fill the position. You have the skills they need and you should be proud of your accomplishments. An interview is not about bowing to the power of the company, but rather showing how you can help the company accomplish its goals. It isn’t about pop quizzes or mental tests or high-stress group interviews, it is about what you know and how you can apply it.
To be successful in your job search, which means finding not only a well-paying job, but a job that is right for you, you have to have confidence in your own abilities and the effect you can have on any company smart enough to recognize them. Carry this thought with you at all times and it will be evident to anyone you meet. This doesn’t mean acting like an arrogant (and usually also ignorant) kid who thinks they are entitled to a job. It means trusting that your skills and knowledge are as an important commodity as the steel or computers that the company may use as raw materials.
Remember, you are not simply looking for a place to work — a weekly paycheck. You are looking for a job that can use your talents to the fullest and challenge you to grow even further. It is never about filling an empty cubicle in an organization. It is about finding a place where both you and the company benefit — where both become something bigger and better by their association.
Stop thinking of companies as hulking entities that “give” you a job. The best companies understand that they need you, and your skills, as much as you need them. This secret to a successful career is really no secret at all. Trust in yourself first and you will find a company that trusts in you. You have more power to select your work and direct your career than ever before. You only have to wield it.