The Corporate Gig
January 15, 2018•489 words
As someone who has had quite a few (and almost too many) interviews lately, I have a few observations about work, corporations, and life that I have to share. Some of this is pure and shameless complaining, and some is just an honest reflection on how far out of touch with reality corporate culture has gone.
One of the many themes that come across during interviews is the idea of the superstar. Companies now truly expect everyone walking through the door to be a superstar. You should have figured out how to do this job even before you hit the apply button. For some roles, I understand that you may want someone who's ready to go. However, for the vast majority of roles, the person who's applying is hoping to move up, learn something new, take on some extra responsibility, and develop as a person. Pointing out to them, and expressing dismay, that their previous experience doesn't reflect their ability to fulfill the full responsibilities of the role is just pure ridicule.
Another pain point I have with large corporations is the asymmetry of commitments. Most companies are perfectly willing to ask you to make commitments, push targets on you, or impose entirely arbitrary timelines, and in return make very few commitments themselves. Partly because of the often complex liability and responsibility structures, such an attitude overwhelms and frustrates those on the other side. Many times in my experience, there doesn't appear to be a clear decision maker. The intricacies of hiring aren't always clear to those on the receiving end, and they often get confused by who is asking the questions, who is sending the emails and who is making calls.
Lastly, there is a prevailing idea at most corporations, that truly stifles career mobility: the fact that since you are now doing A, you should continue doing A. I have faced this a few times, when I have applied for roles that aren't similar to the role I currently occupy. I always get the question: Are you sure you want to do B, after doing A for a year? This baffles me. It baffles me that the idea of change appears incomprehensible to others. One isn't born for a certain career. Most skills are transferable. You could always learn something new, and the idea of doing the same thing forever really doesn't apply unless you're a doctor. My mom was a physician for 35 years, and even she will claim that while most cases are somewhat similar, all of them were still unique. I witnessed this first hand, as she and her team would sit for 15 minutes before every surgery, walk through their plan, and almost always change a thing or two based on the patient.
I have way more to say about this, and I think I would like to write a bit more about the mental models that anchor people to certain judgements about career, hiring and firing.