Thursday, Jun 07 2012

Open Letter to IT Job Seekers: IT’s a Small World After All

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IT’s a small world after all, and no I’m not talking about my kid’s favorite ride at Disneyland.

It's no news flash that the Silicon Valley IT job market is hot right now.  When Time Magazine and the Wall Street Journal are talking about the IT Talent Wars being back “on” in the Silicon Valley, you know we’re currently in a candidate driven market.  Armada’s been seeing a lot of multiple offer situations for higher caliber talent over the last three quarters, and some mild, but not dramatic wage inflation.

However a current, somewhat disturbing,  phenomenon is worth noting … one that we’ve seen before in the dotcom boom era, and has reared its ugly head again:  Candidates accepting an offer & starting a new position, but continuing to actively interview; then bailing on the job they just started within the first 2-4 weeks.  Whether it’s for a few bucks more, a shorter commute, or a “better opportunity”, believe me, this is a bad move that eventually will come back around and bite you in a painful, yet karmic way.

While I can’t fault anyone for looking out for their personal best interests, and doing what they truly believe is right for them and their family, be mindful that the world of IT, particularly in and around the Silicon Valley, is a small one.   Your word, your integrity, and personal reputation are as valuable as your technical skills and experience.  Your reputation is created (or destroyed) by your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly interactions with people in your personal and professional life; and something that will follow you around for the rest of your life, for better or worse.  How you show up every day, how you treat people, and how you manage your relationships is the biggest determining factor of not only your career success, but your overall quality of life for the long term.  If you are known as a person of integrity, who stays true to their word and honors their commitments even when other opportunities arise, it will become the gift that keeps on giving; opening doors and accelerating your career in ways that you can’t yet imagine.  On the flipside, you can be one of the best engineers in the world, but if you have developed a reputation as an unreliable flake who doesn’t honor their commitments, you better believe that word will get around and be a career and long-term quality of life inhibitor. 

As we’ve all seen from our LinkedIn networks, there are rarely more than three degrees of separation between you and almost anyone of potential significance in your professional life. Currently, I have 660 1st degree connections on LinkedIn, which links me to 9,440,594 people in the 3rd degree.   Think about that for a minute… that means the people I have some sort of direct professional relationship with constitute only 0.000006% of the people who are in my broader network by only two more degrees of separation.     Do you think word could spread fast in your extended professional network about what type of person you are, how you treated past colleagues/employers, what you did or didn’t do in your last few jobs, for better or worse?  You bet it can, and will.  It’s easier than ever to check a backdoor reference on someone, and it’s happening every day at an accelerating pace. 

If you are fortunate enough to have multiple job offers and high quality opportunities available to you, first off, be thankful; you are in an enviable position that a lot of people would sacrifice a great deal for.  Then, be smart and act with integrity, professionalism, and respect toward the people and companies that are pursuing you.  Don’t accept the 1st offer that comes your way if you aren’t truly committed to it or not convinced it’s the right opportunity for you.  Communicate with sincerity and openness to the folks you are interacting with in your job search.   It’s much better to candidly express your reservations about, ask for more time to decide or politely decline a particular opportunity that you don’t feel meets your requirements for whatever reason, than to accept something to secure a “bird in the hand” and subsequently burn the folks who are trusting you to follow through on your commitments when something slightly “better” comes along shortly thereafter. 

In our increasingly interconnected and socially networked world, your actions are more visible, transparent, and easy for others to find out about than ever before.  It takes years to build a solid reputation, and one poor decision that at first blush doesn’t seem too significant in the grander scheme of things can compromise or destroy it overnight, without you even knowing it.