Have you every said, “Man, I am having a bear of a search”? Well, how about a dog of a search?
To know me is to know that I love dogs. I have been an animal person since before I could walk. My mom still tells the story of my pre-K teacher saying how gentle I was with the baby chicks we had in class. I guess it doesn’t hurt that I grew up on a dairy farm, too. So not being able to have a dog throughout college and then in apartments was torture. When I was finally in a place that allowed dogs, I could not wait to select my new furry friend. But first I had to do some research. Yes, I know dogs, you know dogs, we all know dogs but when you are about to embark on a long-term commitment, you want to skit down and think on your own before you entice yourself with fuzzy cuteness. If you walk into a pet store or shelter on a whim, you can easily walk out with an adorable bundle of joy just to realize a week later, “What did I do? This isn’t going to work.”
I have seen the same thing happen with my candidates.
Candidates who are excited or desperate to make a movie may jump at every opportunity they hear about. That blind enthusiasm can sometimes work out, but it is better to stop now and think about what is best for them and their life right now. What worked six months or six years ago might not work now. So I like to encourage my candidates to reevaluate their current situations and the business (dog) they are considering before taking the plunge.
The Puppy. I get it; big appeal here. I mean, they are puppies, for cuteness sake. However, they are a lot of work. Are you ready to potty train at all hours, hear whining at 3 a.m. and constantly have to be ready with treats when they do something good? Same thing goes with a startup. They are so appealing – if you put the right work in now then you can end up with great stock options, a big paycheck and the sense of pride from knowing you helped make it happen. Most startups do require you to work long hours and be accessible even when you are not there so be ready for the commitment of that. Moreover, be ready for that commitment… for the next however many years until they go public. To work hard and struggle for two years then leave one year before they make it big will not be your favorite move.
The Lab. Who doesn’t love a lab? Just all sweet and goofy, great with families, eager to please. Jobs like this are nice. These are the roles where they offer a regular 8-5 schedule, no crazy overtime and a great work/life balance. Maybe they do not have the exotic appeal of a startup, but there s something to be said for less stress and more steady opportunity. This can be especially nice if your home life is hectic; running around to get the kids to after-school activities or racing off to your graduate classes after work. If you are already exhausted from working 12 hours straight on a challenging project then that does not leave much of you for school, family and friends.
The Pitbull. I volunteer at a shelter (MSPCA Nevins Form in Methuen, MA) where we have a love of pitbulls. They get a bad rap put if you have really known one then you know they can be such loves. Sure, they enjoy destroying toys and they need an outlet for that energy but they can also be so sweet, so gentle, great at training and being your best friend. There are jobs out there just like it. Maybe the company has had a bad reputation, has strict working hours and demands a certain kind of employee. But that does not mean it is not perfect for you just because it was not perfect for someone else. So be sure you are ready for the downsides of this job and be ready to hear some judgment from your friends and family if they do not understand. Eventually they will come around and see what you saw in the job and how much you love what if offers you.
Mastiffs. These are one of my favorite dogs. They are as big as a horse and yet the ones we have had at the shelter have just wanted to slowly walk the grounds, be patted and watch the world go by. They rightly earn their “Gentle Giant” nickname. Everyone loves to say hi to these dogs but only the owner is willing to wipe away the drool. Their equivalent for companies are large and impressive but maybe not as exciting and fast-paced as others. Yes, often times banking and insurance companies get lumped into this category. For these roles, be ready to be patient and work through politics and process that might have existed for decades. Try to see why they set up the process this way to begin with, learn from the knowledge here and build relationships. Maybe this way takes longer but saves on mistakes or issues later. Besides, everyone will love saying, “Oh I’ve heard of them!” when you say what company you work for and you will get to smile and be proud to work for them.
Chihuahua. It is not his fault that he is the little guy (and maybe sometimes he still thinks he is big). Established, small companies can be great. You get to know everyone there, you probably get more variety in what you work on and you really feel that team spirit. On the other hand, you might have to establish a process or procedure that you have no idea about because you are the only one in the company who does what you do. So it can be nice if you already worked at a large, established company and then can bring those ideas to the smaller company. Also, if you are looking to work your way up the ladder, there might not be anywhere to go. So be ready to be a team player, handle whatever is thrown at you and be in the same role for several years if needed. The reward will be coworkers that feel like family and more variety than you know what to do with.
I have worked for a Mastiff, a Lab, a Chihuahua and a Pitbull. All of these opportunities have their pros and cons so it just comes down to what you need and what opportunity will match best with that. Encourage your candidates to take the time to figure it out and they will be more enjoying their new furry friend … I mean job … in no time.