A number of readers have asked about my recent career change and how I made it happen. Since many of them are about to make their own career changes, I thought I might share what I had learned from my successful and less than successful experiences. Since this will take more than one post, I will do several and will try to keep each brief.
I have been employed almost continuously since 1956 in some technical capacity or other, so I have had at least twenty-five different employers. Here is what I found to be necessary in any job. You may have other requirements.
1. Once I am established, the job must pay me enough to live and meet my obligations.
2. The work must produce an ethical product or service.
3. Superior performance must be recognized and acknowledged.
4. There should be a rational and understandable command structure.
5. There should be clear objectives for me to meet.
6. There must be a way to gather information in order to do the job well. Any problems with this and I end the interview quickly.
7. There must be a minimum of toxic individuals in the immediate workplace.
Let’s start with #1.
First of all, I do not expect to retire, ever, so I must always find something I can do for someone else that is valuable enough for them to pay me money. This is called exchange and it will only be as fair as I arrange it to be.
Have no doubt, if I am underpaid, there is only one person who is responsible, and that is me. My whole objective in any job interview is to find out what I can do for this person or company and how much is it worth to them.
This simplifies the interview considerably, because in most cases, I ask the hard questions. My background, degrees, age, and experience are all window dressing if I can’t provide what they need at a price they will pay willingly. If I can’t get good answers to the seven points above, here is no point in prolonging the interview, no matter what the salary offer is. I have even brushed aside rote questions by insisting that we discuss the job requirements first. I try to make this point, “If we don’t have a fit there, the rest of the interview is wasted time.”
If I ask, “What problem are you trying to solve?”, and get a real answer, I’m in a position to say what I can do to help solve it for them. If we can establish an open dialog about what I can do for them and what it is worth to them, I normally get the job.
I have no illusions that any job is permanent. Changes in management personnel, business climates, and technology will make our original agreement unworkable.
Once I get the job, I continue to create it daily until circumstances beyond my control void our original agreement. Then I look for my next job. More about that in a later post.
Feel free to email me if you have questions.