How do you pick a company? If you’re in your 30s or 40s this should be a lot clearer in theory right? You have the experience, and experience brings answers to questions like what values draw you in, and what attracts you to the particular role. Yet how do you know the company you are prospecting can really deliver on what you want?
Answer? Your network.
Your ex-colleagues from past jobs who have moved on and out into the wider world are a rich source of intel, particularly when you leverage the information shared on LinkedIn, assuming it’s up to date of course.
Your ex-classmates are also a great source of networking insight.
Other long time connections that were neither classmates nor work mates are also a tremendous source of insight; and that’s where my meeting with Silicon Valley arose.
In Episode 16 of this podcast, I spoke at length about networking and how to do it, so if you want insights on that process be my guest and have a listen to episode 16, this episode is about me putting this into live practice.
Tune in to this episode where I share how valuable networks can be in the job market and discover processes.
Never underestimate your network, both the close connections and the loosely held ones. Treat your network with respect and high regard, as there are opportunities on both sides of a future relationship.
In early 2021 I reconnected with an old friend of my brothers, who I’d been connected to for many years, and whose career I followed with much interest as we had a few interesting parallels. We had a really enjoyable phone call, sharing stories about family etc, and then we left it there, promising that when we were in each other’s neck of the woods we would visit.
That visit hasn’t happened yet, but something else has. Later that year he began working at a Big Tech firm in Silicon Valley. I didn’t know it at the time, but near Christmas 2021, I’d already begun the first phase of my transition process, which was to consider what companies I’d like to work for, and what I could do there, so I could begin the work of reshaping my resume. He and I had a random check in, and I told him I was contemplating going back to full time employment, and he immediately suggested that I share my CV with him.
I hesitated. I like this guy a lot, but I hadn’t really considered big tech at the time. Not to mention, my most viewed post ever on LinkedIn with more than 70000 impressions was a position I took on the ethics of some tech choices.
Although I didn’t share my CV with him in 2021, I started percolating on the types of companies I’d want to work for if I did return to full time employment, because I was beginning to see that I don’t need to work only for green companies; there would be a role for me to play in companies that are in transition, and need help to become better at supporting earth and society, and my experience in corporate governance would be exceedingly beneficial to them.
Nine months passed by until August 2022, when I reached out to my friend again. It was now clearer to me that I wanted to work at a global company, and companies that are or could have a material impact on climate change and societal evolution would be good places to work, to help them consider wider stakeholder interests.
The only companies I now will not work for are oil companies, and petrochemical companies, as I fundamentally think these industries should work toward their own extinction very soon. If they create spin off companies dedicated to alternatives, I’ll be up for it, but I won’t work in their traditional business.
My friend suggested that I scan their job sites and look for roles that I was interested in, and he then proceeded to submit applications for these roles on my behalf. I looked for roles in policy and ethics, change management, sustainability and ESG, and corporate communications.
I didn’t customise my CV for each role, and as a result, the applications were rejected. I was devastated. But then something I didn’t expect happened. I was contacted by their HR internal referral team to have an interview about what my expectations were, and she advised that I would still need to tailor my CV, and that the next time I found a role that I thought suitable, I should apply and get in touch with her. Their policy is to meet referred candidates who haven’t been successful, to help them find a job role that would be a better match for them. This is HR Gold.
Thanks to this feature, I’m still at play there, and this is encouraging for such a large company and key market player. To be part of an organisation that is likely shaping our future would of course be an honour, now all I need is to wait for the right role!
My advice: Network. Network. And network some more. Not with anything specifc in mind, but have conversations that drive insight for you or others, and offer to help where you can, and accept help when you’re offered it. This investment in time is never in vain.
On next Friday’s episode, I’ll be sharing with you about the best recruitment experience I’ve ever had in my life. It’s a shame I cannot tell you the name of the company. I’m connected and I dare say I’m friends with my prospective line manager there, and with his boss. There is deep mutual respect there no matter the outcome. Tune in next week, and I’ll tell you why this relationship worked so incredibly well.