Employer Profiling vs. Job Search (29/30)

“Look for a company that sells products, not people.” @aral

During this past year, I have witnessed a lot of my friends and acquaintances go on professional hiatus. I guess the official term would be ‘sabbatical’. Taking a year off, a few months, or as long as they need. Me, along with them.

For me it has been a more complicated process, as I have been doing a lot of projects in the past few years, but did not have an employee status, per say. Instead I was a contractor, consultant, collaborator to various projects.

As I have decided that I would like to have a job again and am also ready to have one, I also realised I need to do a bit of a career shift, as the path I was on would’ve lead me on a direction that did not fit me: even though impactful and necessary at times, working with bureaucrats and getting involved in backstage politics is not something that makes me feel accomplished professionally. I am aware it is an essential part of creating change, but when you do too much of it, you end up losing sight of the real problems that you can only witness when staying connected with the ones that encounter the issues that need changing. I was always best in the role of a catalyst between communities and bureaucrats, between corporations and startups.

I could keep doing this, but the learning curve is not as exciting anymore. The backstage politics started taking over the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and after forcing myself to fit in for a while, I now know want no part in that.

Having decided to go back to being involved more in the tech community, and in order to be as efficient and beneficial to it, I need to relearn coding. This is truly why I am learning. When making this decision of a career change I was kind of wishing to become one of those badass programmers / hackers, but truth is I don’t think I have the desire to give up on what it would take for me to get that good. Hopefully I can get really good at it naturally, and I will always do my best to be as good as I can, but I also want to have time for love and life and walks in the park.

I got involved in the startup world 7 years ago because I loved helping and inspiring people to believe in personal freedom. I always had a problem with classic work environment, 9–5 schedule, unnecessary meetings, “divide and conquer” office politics, etc.

I believe that if all companies would allow their employees to work remotely, the world would be a happier place!

I am better at improving and contributing, rather than creating.

In 1914 Henry Ford initiated the 8 hour / 5 days work week program. Currently, with the rise of technology and automation, we can produce a LOT more in 8 hours than 100 years ago! However, both employers and employees are still domesticated in the ways of the industrial age, so the only way to personal freedom was entrepreneurship.

Good thing is that the world is changing. Slowly, but let’s be positive. With the boom of the internet startups age replacing the old industrialised ways, remote work is getting more and more traction. This is truly brilliant, because not all of us are meant to start businesses and be entrepreneurs! I know for a fact that I am better at improving and contributing, rather than creating and I am sure I am not the only one. (That’s not to say I am not good at creating, though :) )

I have now been scouting for a couple of months. What companies would be a good fit for my profile? I don’t even know if there is a title box you can shove me in, that’s why I call myself social innovation architect, even though I’m more of a catalyst. Well, let me tell you: it’s complicated.

“Look for a company that sells products, not people.” Aral Balkan

I know my sabbatical friends have similar issues. We learn how to do a lot of things, but still end up with that “I don’t know what next” feeling. How is that possible? Most of these people are experts in various fields! So much better than me at multiple things! How can they be in the same situation? What is missing from the work place? There must be a missing link somewhere, right?

Well, yes. Aral Balkan made a brilliant suggestion in one of his articles, and that was “Look for a company that sells products, not people.” — this hit a nerve! (The whole article is really good, I highly recommend reading it).

We keep hearing about unicorns, funding, exits, making big money! It’s what most people want, isn’t it? Let’s get rich or die trying! This is what is being actively promoted in the media, that’s why you read about a lot of “Startup x got y amount of funding” instead of “Startup x has consistently maintained profitability and hired 3 more people”. This data / money game is what is hugely contributing to stress and unhappiness and well, screwing humanity over. Also, we started missing the point of entrepreneurship completely! Instead of being a gateway towards personal freedom, entrepreneurship became a symbol of “unicorn exits” hipster culture.

Big data has no real value if it is being generated via people farming, by violating our human rights and our right to privacy.

I had a few attempts of collaborating with startups that had brilliant product ideas, but when I see the obsession for data and unrealistic growth (mostly on paper) and pitching competitions, I cringe. That is a clear sign not only of future failure, but also of a faulty company culture, such as “it’s ok if we lose a few customers by implementing a new onboarding process focused on data gathering rather than customer experience”. No. It is not.

Of course data is important and it’s the future! Big data, you hear left and right. And don’t get me wrong, I love numbers and spreadsheets and analysing well, basically everything :)), but only that which is being generated due to authentic company behaviour. Big data has no real value if it is being generated via people farming, by violating our human rights and our right to privacy.

I loved Noel Pullen from Hootsuite talk at 2016 @how_to_web conference, which can be summarised as:

“Culture as a competitive advantage should be built on: 
Trust 
Do > Say 
Work out loud 
People > Data 
Don’t copy”

These things are extremely important when building a company! These should also be the work environment values we should search for when we look for an employer, not were the funding is coming from, or how many times the founders were in Tech Crunch or @Mashable or Entrepreneur Magazine.

We talk all the time about tech innovation, but seems like there is a need for innovation in the job search area. This should not be a “take whatever job you can” world anymore! The answer to that “I don’t know what next” question that so many of us find ourselves pondering, is that it takes a combination of personal skills and an employer profile that matches your core principles. As soon as you give up one of these principles to produce more ‘data’ in return for money, you go back to square one of ‘job unhappiness’. Also, there’s no point in using your skills to produce something that goes against your core principles.

How does one identify which companies sell products, not people? With thorough research , by starting with identifying consistent answers to the why? who? for whom? how?.

This is a months long selection process of potential employers! I don’t want to just send my resume to get whatever job to whatever tech company for whatever salary. I am not interested in working for “people farming” companies just to be able to brag about my fancy title, even though I could probably arrange my resume to make me be a great candidate for these. But that would end up with me being miserable.

Employer profiling is more important than *job searching*

Hopefully everyone I know that’s at the same stage will eventually find what they are looking for and identify their own answer to the “what’s next?” question soon. In our need to have the best job that matches who we are and results in both company’s success and our personal satisfaction, it is crucial that we keep in mind that employer profiling is more important than *job searching*.

When you have found right employer, you won’t need the perfect job title or to fit in an “employee box”, as you will get to use all your skills and develop new ones, switch roles (in traditional context you’d call this promotions), adapt to what is needed for contributing to growth and also keep learning, while smiling in the process.

Who do YOU work for? Are you proud of your impact and outcome?


This piece is part of the 30 Days Writing Challenge. For one month I will write short stories about whatever is on my mind each day! Thank you for reading them, I hope they’ll inspire you! :)

Here is the previous one.