If you want a good litmus test of how much you like your current job or your current company, ask yourself this question, “Would you recommend that a friend work at your company? If you are like many high-tech workers today, you probably found yourself saying “Uh…” This simple question can elicit a strong response if you take the time to ask it of yourself. Would you? If not, why not? If you wouldn’t recommend a friend work at your company, why are you working there? Hmm. As with all good questions, this one spurs even more questions and a deeper evaluation of the current state of your career.
A gross simplification, but…
As with all litmus tests, this one is a gross simplification of reality, but I still think it can be useful. Sure, there might be any number of reasons why you wouldn’t recommend a friend work at your company. Still, the thinking that this question provokes can be very useful to someone who is constantly evaluating and adjusting their career in the search for something better.
Why and Why not?
Do you find yourself unwilling to recommend anyone come to work for your company? I have been in this situation myself on occasion. Sometimes, we don’t want to burden our friends with what we see as fundamental problems at a company. Perhaps you see major flaws in the company that you believe will limit its growth and potential in the years to come. Maybe you already know about impending layoffs. All are good reasons to save a friend the trouble of applying and interviewing.
More importantly, though, you need to ask yourself, “If I wouldn’t recommend someone work here, why am I still working here?” Like a surprising smack in the face, this question can, and should, shake you up. Why indeed? If you have such fundamental issues with a company, doesn’t this tell you something about your job and your career?
Of course it does, if you take the time to explore the issues fully. You couldn’t be asking for clearer direction in your career than this. Sometimes, though, we bury our own problems so deeply that we can almost forget they exist. We numb ourselves in the day-to-day routine, tell ourselves to “suck it up” and stop trying to make the changes we so desperately need. Ignoring issues will never make them disappear completely, though. Time and time again they will crop up whenever we are having a particularly bad day or when the stress level rises to the breaking point.
What to do?
Ok, so now that I have brought these issues to the surface again, what do you do? First, try to decipher where your dissatisfaction arises. Are you just in the wrong job, or do you feel the entire company has problems? Is it just problems with one manager or one co-worker, or does everyone annoy you? Are you in an industry you care nothing about, or are you disappointed that you can’t do the work you really want?
Next, try to address these issues. If you feel you are in the wrong job, look around the company and see if there are any openings that might suit you better. If the problem is a manager or co-worker, see if you can move to a different project or department. Finally, if the problems are too large, start looking for another company. Whatever the case, though, you must do something. Don’t re-bury your issues for another day, week or month until something else causes you think about them again. Every day you need to be addressing these issues in an effort to resolve them. You owe this to yourself. You will never achieve the career you desire if you dislike the jobs that make up that career.
One simple question can lead to so many others. Analyzing your actions towards others can open up your thinking, by providing a bit of distance between yourself and your issues. Would you recommend a friend work at your company, in your department, as your partner? If not, then there are more difficult questions to be asked.