Maybe it is the start of the NBA free agency period, or the fact that SmartFile has been acquiring “free agents” of our own, but I’ve recently reflected on the best job seeking advice ever afforded to me.
“Find the right team, the right leaders and the right company. Trust me…the money will come; the leaders will help you grow; and the promotions will present themselves. If you work hard, the right company will provide you all of the opportunity you want.”
(Thank you again for the great advice, Dad!)
It is simple, logical advice, but too often I see individuals want to play for a great team without evaluating what that means to them. Everyone wants the “best culture fit,” but rarely do candidates perform the diligence needed to understand the various levels.
It’s true that every candidate may not be seeking the job that will help them play at a championship level. They have prioritized money or a job title (ahem…Carmelo Anthony) above all else, and to each their own. If, however, you are looking for the RIGHT team, I’ll share my advice and experience:
What is the RIGHT team?
The right team for me and the right team for you may look very different. Maybe you’re like an NBA veteran that wants join a team-centric organization with a winning culture, like the San Antonio Spurs. Possibly, you want to play with other teammates that elevate the game of those around them, like Lebron James.
Or maybe you want to follow an enthusiastic young coach that will maximize your abilities, like Brad Stevens (I had to pay homage to my Indiana roots). And, who’s to say you can’t land a job that encompasses all three?
How Would the “Right” Team Look?
Let’s look at how the right team might look different:
Teammates on the Team: Depending on your job function, department or job level, this may arguably be the most important consideration. Let’s use a sports analogy again and compare basketball (Software Development) to track (Client Support).
Both sports involve teams, but with certainty, basketball teammates have more direct impact on an individual’s ability to succeed. To go a step further, your job level or department may start to involve others outside the direct team. Take sales or senior leadership, both rely heavily on other departments for their success, so those other departments also need to be playing at a high level to ensure success.
Coaches of the Team: I wouldn’t be where I am at in my career without this one. I’ve played for Hall of Fame coaches. Those types of coaches know how to motivate, teach and grow their players. You may need different types of coaches at various points in your career, but great coaches elevate your play!
Culture of the Team: The problem with coaches and teammates is that they can come and go. But there should be a constant — the culture. Great organizations will have established a culture to ensure that success continues. Those organizations have identified that winning formula, they prioritize finding the right replacements, rather than just a replacement when a coach or player leaves the organization.
How do you identify the RIGHT team?
So, you want advice from a former free agent and current seeker of free agents? Here is how you find the best teammates, coaches, and organizations:
1. Ask lots of questions.
You are interviewing your potential employer just as much as you are being interviewed. Make sure you understand the inner workings of the job, the coworkers, the manager, other departments that interact with your job function and the organization.
2. Ask the correct questions.
Consider your long-term goals and how this job helps move you in that direction. Tailor a portion of your questions to support these goals.
As an example, let’s say you are looking for a company that fosters growth. Don’t just ask, “Is there opportunity for advancement within the company?” Instead, ask what are those opportunities? What value has been added by employees who have been promoted? What leadership role does the boss see themselves playing in the development or support of employee growth? Dive deeper and truly understand.
3. Speak to as many people in the company as you are able to (especially those who report to your boss).
You’ll likely be spending more time with people at work each week than you will with family or friends. It is your responsibility to hear first-hand experience of what it’s like working with and for your boss. It also provides an opportunity to better know the skill level, work ethic and values of the people you’ll be working with, along with the overall culture of the company.
4. Leverage technology.
Tools like Glassdoor and LinkedIn are amazing. They provide great insight into how employees view your potential suitor and what type of experiences your coworkers bring to the table. Beware that most of the information you’ll digest will be like Yelp restaurant reviews. You’ll find positives and negatives. Take everything with a grain of salt, but you should definitely expect more good than bad.
5. Be honest with yourself.
If you find that you’re more successful with a very regimented schedule and set of responsibilities, don’t go to a company that encourages a culture of autonomy. You are not admitting weakness, you are just owning your strengths and identifying the situation that is going to allow you to thrive.
Try these tips on your next job search to make sure that you find a spot on the “right” team. Happy job hunting!