Disclaimer: Opinions expressed below belong solely to the author
I often hear and read complaints about requirements that potential employers have of their candidates — that they’re unrealistic, that they expect too much, or offer too little. Or that they demand lots of experience, when it may be hard, particularly for young candidates, to have obtained it.
Or, elsewhere, like in a comment by Abel Ang, an adjunct associate professor at Nanyang Business School and a CEO of a medtech company published on Mothership a couple of days ago, that local businesses focus too much on degrees and too little on practical skills and experience.
Recruiting the employer
I’ve always been of an opinion that any recruitment process is a two-way street. That while you’re being recruited by companies, you should do your own recruitment in reverse — having your own shortlist and crossing potential employers who failed to meet your expectations off it.
To that end, whatever they publish in their job offers is tantamount of a CV, and their ridiculous demands make them unsuitable for employment of a qualified person, just like a poor candidate’s resume makes him an unsuitable hire.
They’re doing you a favour by revealing who they are and how they operate, so you can steer clear of their toxic incompetence.
Would you be happy working for people who expect you to do more for less? Hang around an abusive boss who thinks he knows it all and doesn’t empower his employees? Running around putting out fires because the teams are poorly managed and everybody just hopes to survive to another pay check?
I actually think that educating companies on how to promote themselves to candidates is potentially harmful to all of the applicants, because it teaches businesses to mask their weaknesses and before you realise it, you fell into a trap that is going to cost you precious time and nerves.
No, let’s allow all the people running these companies to be silly openly. Let them put it all on display so we know them for what they are, and leave them with only the most desperate jobseekers.
In fact, it works for B2B entrepreneurs as well (speaking from firsthand experience here). After working with sufficiently many companies, you begin to turn some of them down, knowing in advance that working with them would be a chore, not worth the money. Sure, they pay, but is it worth it?
It’s the same for employers.
Dodging the gilded cage
Of course, it may seem easier than done at times. You will gather experience at it with the more interviews you attend yourself (or finding your first, early career jobs).
However, I think what is of paramount importance is neither the size of the company nor the salary package, but the opportunity to learn and acquire new skills.
It is far more important to gather demonstrable, practical experience than score relatively well-paid positions with limited growth opportunities (of course, having the chance to get both is the ideal scenario).
The proverbial “gilded cage” is very comfortable, but affords you little freedom — and the longer you stay in it, the more difficult it is to escape it, because your experience is not worth nearly as much anywhere else.
That’s when others begin to overtake you.
This is true of work in many public institutions, but also in highly bureaucratic corporations — though the biggest of MNCs are typically large enough to have a fairly adventurous and prosperous career over a sufficiently long term.
If you can’t get your dream job and have to compromise on something — particularly if you’re just starting out in the labour market — compromise on money and time, but not experience.
Look for decent, straightforward people who will let you get your hands dirty or even leave you to learn the ropes on your own, even if you are expected to do overtime and even if the salary could be better.
If you learn the right things, money will stop being a problem at some point and you will be doing what you want to — and can do very well. Your job is primarily an long-term investment: in yourself.
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