Before I became a recruiter, I was an aspiring journalist. However after I fell asleep in a city council meeting stringing for a local paper, I realized I either needed to learn to like coffee or consider a profession that was a wee bit more interactive.
While I didn’t start out to be a recruiter, it is always nice when you find something that fits. And now with this column I get a chance to write as well. Truth be told, the idea for a column that answered questions from readers came from my journalism days. I followed a local sports columnist who periodically responded to letters that his readers sent him.
His column was entitled “Better mail than jail.” So here is my updated take dear reader. Welcome to Ask the Career Mechanic IV subtitled “Better email than career fail.” (Okay so rhyming is not my thing, but you get the idea!)
Q – “My company is going through an acquisition. Everything is changing. Do I need to start looking for a new job?” signed Libby the Lost
At the risk of being too direct, you already have a new job. Think about it. When the new company acquired your old company, some elements of your job probably changed. Perhaps it was scope or the focus of the role. Maybe it was your job title. Let’s face it, change is hard. And if you have been there for any length of time, then your tenure will act like a force multiplier. Any change no matter how small will seem much bigger.
You need to realize that those are all symptoms. The real issue here is the change in culture. And that change is really what is driving the stress and frustration that you are obviously feeling. Now there is not a one size fits all answer here. However there are steps you can take to gather information about the new company and the new opportunity to better assess should you stay or go.
Treat your new role in the company just like it was a new job
Think back to when you started other new jobs. You needed to settle in by listening and observing. You needed to get a feel for who the leaders are in this new environment; both the formal ones (the new ones with the titles) and the informal ones (perhaps new comers from the acquiring company that you can see others respond to).
And I am sure if you think about it, you asked a lot of questions. You needed to learn how things work. No doubt it is tough going from being the resident Yoda back to a Luke Skywalker, but remember should you decide to exit and go elsewhere you will be that proverbial new kid anyway.
You catch more with honey than vinegar
It is easy to be upset. You put plenty of sweat equity into your role. If the company you were in was a start-up, there is no doubt a sense of pride in what was accomplished as well. This new company coming in has no idea of your sacrifices.
And that is true. But the acquiring company obviously saw the evidence of the impact of your company on the marketplace. To intellectualize this makes logical sense, but it doesn’t satisfy that more visceral side.
So it is easy to lash out. It is easy to be mad and stay mad. To feel this way is perfectly normal. It is part of the change process. However the danger is in letting it linger.
You can let those feelings color your communication style and not even know it. The newcomers to the company can make assumptions that you’re just difficult to deal with, maybe even a little looney. And long-time co-workers can start to avoid you.
The danger is that you need data to drive your decision of whether to stay or go. Driving people away doesn’t help.
And you may inadvertently be sabotaging your reputation. Very often when I do reference checks of candidates, I am not calling just those people you gave me. Rather I often reach out to others that worked at the same company as you to try and get a more complete picture.
Imagine the reference I might get, if I contacted someone who had seen you act up in a meeting or have a heated hallway conversation. Now do I take it with a grain of salt? You bet I do. However what if I hear that more than once?
Find at least one positive before you make any final decisions
Again with the raw emotion of the acquisition it can be hard not to focus on the negative. But the reality is that no employer is every completely ideal. It truly is a matter of what you’re willing to accept.
So the challenge to look for the positive smacks a little of Dr. Phil, I get that. But it goes hand in glove with the previous advice about using honey. Being able to navigate change is largely about attitude.
As my favorite British comedy troupe once said, “Always look on the bright side of life!” Okay. Okay. I’ll stop it. I think I’m about to make myself hurl. But the point is still valid despite my now queasy stomach.
If you accept that workers today are their own business as we need to market ourselves to opportunities like never before, ask yourself what type of companies do you want to do business with? How many times have you interacted with that employee who seemed upset, irritated or had a bad attitude? Did you go back to that company? Did you recommend that company to your friends?
My goal Libby is not to convince you to stay. But rather make a decision that is based on what is the right move for your career. Perhaps it makes sense to stay. Or perhaps it really is time to go. Regardless emotion should not be the sole driver in your decision making process.
Okay so that is it for “Better email than career fail”. Tune in next time when I share wonderful snippets from resumes where candidates have tried to catch my attention by sharing such gems as “ambiguous software engineer is looking for a challenging opportunity.”