In a time of crisis, there’s often an opportunity for reflection. Many of us are in a position now to reflect on work — whether it’s reinventing your business model, reconfiguring your office setting or reevaluating priorities during a temporary pause.
It’s been more than 20 years since I ran a regional sales team for a major computer technology corporation, and what an amazing journey I’ve had along the way. I was lucky enough to learn from many great people, and that experience was integral to my success, putting me on a path that led me to my current role as CEO of Infrascale.
Choosing the right company for your success doesn’t mean setting your sights on the most lucrative position or prestigious title. It’s more about picking a company where you’ll thrive, work with great people and have fun — all while sustaining a work ethic that will not only get you ahead but also help your company succeed. True success comes from putting yourself in the right position at the right company and in the right industry, where you will be happiest and most productive so you can realize your full potential.
Finding your career path.
When most companies create a job description and start the interview process, they are not necessarily focused on finding the right person for the position. The hiring manager (or search firm) is trying to fill the opening with a candidate who simply meets a list of requirements. Don’t let your career be determined by checked boxes.
Before deciding on a position, be sure to take your time. When you are more thoughtful about your next move, everyone benefits. In my own career, I found a direct correlation between how long I took to find the right position and the happiness and success that followed.
Here are my top five tips for evaluating the next step in your career:
1. Know yourself. Understand where your energy comes from and what depletes it by taking a step back to identify the projects, people and environments that drive you — as well as those that drain you. When thinking about what’s next, start with the end in mind. Where would you like to be at the end of your career? What quality of life do you want along the way? Once you have an idea of where you want to go and what sacrifices you are willing to make, you can determine how to get there.
2. Identify your target. What industry, company size and roles do you enjoy most? Do you want to be part of a team, or would you prefer to be an individual contributor? It’s not about where you’ve been or what you’ve done, but which industries, companies and roles energize you the most.
3. Be ready to say no. Once you set out to find your next job and have a good idea of your long-term goals, be ready to say no — even to great opportunities that don’t fit. It’s difficult to decline a good offer, but stay the course. Finding the next opportunity takes time, and you should take as long as you can to find what’s right for you.
4. Do your homework. I’m not talking about just preparing for your interview. Research the company’s culture, employees and customers. Find contacts who can provide insider perspectives. Read reviews, keeping in mind that the company’s responses are almost as important as the reviews themselves. Watch videos of product demos, presentations and customer testimonials to gain other perspectives.
5. Seek to understand. Make sure you enter the interview process to gain more knowledge, not just to impress. This is your time to ask questions, learn more and evaluate for yourself how things really work. Ask the interviewers to articulate what they’re looking for in a candidate, what success means in that specific role and what the company values. Don’t be afraid to inquire about the company’s mission and what inspires employees to work there.
Enjoy the journey, but don’t burn bridges on your way.
On your journey, be sure to take care of the people and companies that take care of you. When it’s time to move on, finish strong, and express appreciation for what you’ve gained on the path. Even if the experience was negative, learn from the mistakes or mismanagement.
The business world is a small one, especially the fast-moving technology community. Make sure to keep in touch with your network. It makes me happy to see the great things my former co-workers achieve, and it’s always fun to talk about the good old days when we connect.
Taking the time to make sure you are in the right market, company and position is one of the most important things you can do to grow, stay healthy and discover true success.