As an Equinox IT team member it was rewarding to watch the way that our team responded to the severe flooding that caused havoc in Wellington, New Zealand in May of this year. As it became clear that team members who lived in the Hutt Valley and North of Porirua might struggle to get home, or needed to take action to pick up children, the team came together to overcome this problem. People who needed to were encouraged to leave early to take care of their personal circumstances and offers flowed in for alternative accommodation from those team members who lived in unaffected locations. At Equinox IT we do live by our core values, and this was yet another exceptional example of that.
In my opinion the relationship with your employer should be more than simply transactional (a trade-off of time and skills for money). When you spend a major part of your waking hours doing your IT job, you owe it to yourself and your employer to have a much deeper connection than that. So in this article I suggest some ideas on how to pick an IT employer who aligns with your personal values.
Identify what is important to you
I’m no self-help guru, so I’m not going to put forward any techniques for doing this. I’ll simply state that it will be easier to find an employer who aligns with your needs if you know what is important to you. You may want to take some time to think this through. Bear in mind too, that what is important to you will change with your circumstances over time. For example, having children or buying a house can significantly change what you value.
Don’t get fixated on an IT employer with shiny objects
It is easy to make a quick decision to work for an organisation because they offered you a job, or they offered you the best salary, or they have the latest technology. But is not fun having those things if you are ultimately miserable working in an organisation you are not aligned with. While job offers, salary and cool technology are all important considerations, they are not the only factors. You will want to look beyond the shiny objects and make employment decisions based on the whole package, including how well you believe the employer aligns to your personal values.
Target suitable IT employers
I facilitate the recruiting activities for Equinox IT. Take it from me, finding your next IT role is really a personal marketing and sales activity. One way of marketing yourself is the ‘spray and pray’ approach, where you respond to every job that has your job title through job sites or agencies. You may land ‘a’ job this way, but you take a risk that it is not well suited to your needs. It’s like going fishing, hoping to catch a snapper, but accepting whatever you land, even if that is like the foul tasting and bony spotty that my niece once caught with her dad (and I then felt compelled to join her as she tasted some). A better marketing approach is researching and identifying your ideal IT employers and targeting those organisations that you believe will be a great fit. I’m not saying don’t use job sites and agencies, just do it in a targeted way.
Take a deliberate and long-term view
If you target IT employers, chances are that they may not have a suitable role for you advertised right now. Even if they do, you may not have the skills and experience they are looking for. Getting the opportunity to work for one of your targeted organisations may take some time and patience, but as the proverb goes “good things come to those who wait”.
I’d recommend approaching your targeted employers even if they don’t have your role advertised right now. Certain specialist IT skills can be hard to find and so many employers may be happy to hear from you even when they are not actively recruiting. If the time is not right for the employer now, it is a great idea to be on their radar for when the time is right.
If you find yourself in a position where one of your targeted employers has decided not to consider you for employment based on your curriculum vitae or the interview process, then a long-term view and some perseverance can be useful. “No” can often mean “not now”. Great potential employers may also provide you with specific feedback or advice on where your skills and experience did not meet their requirements for the role. Taking on that feedback, developing the required experience and skills, and going back to that potential employer again in the future, can be a powerful statement of your resolve and commitment to make things happen.
Be realistic – no job is a ‘Pollyanna’ job every day
Know that even in the best jobs you will have challenging, tough and sometimes crappy periods. That is part of what makes these jobs great. If the job was easy and straightforward, you would never be stretched outside of your comfort zone, and thus you would never grow. If you are looking to stretch and get outside your comfort zone, take a look at our blog post Getting outside your comfort zone makes you a better IT professional.
So as you target a suitable employer, also be realistic that there will be no utopia where you land that ideal job of being paid to sit on a lounger all day in the sun being hand-fed grapes.
Pick an IT employer who aligns
Your relationship with your IT employer is a big part of your life. You invest a significant amount of your time and energy into the cause that you jointly share with them. So, the next time you are looking for a new IT role make sure that you pick an IT employer whose values are a match for your own.