The week@work – April 6 – April 12

This week@work included a new book describing how to get a job at Google and magazine articles detailing what you will need to get hired by a non-profit in 2020 and the new etiquette for quitting your job; which will come in handy if you plan to leave to work at Google or a non-profit in the next five years.

‘Work Rules!’ the new book by Laszlo Bock, the SVP of People Operations at Google was received well amidst an impressive media roll-out. However, the Bloomberg Business review was skeptical. Here is a sample:

Take interviewing: Most companies let their managers make decisions on hiring, but Google has a universal system, horrifically called qDroid, that produces algorithmic questions meant to tease out various attributes of applicants. Bock concedes that the questions are often rote, but “it’s the answers that are compelling.” So compelling, in fact, that Google “scores” the responses with “a consistent rubric” it calls Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales. He’s certain this automated process, which takes months for most applicants to complete, brings in the “most superb candidates.” Google does get top employees, but you have to be squinting pretty hard to think this is the right way to find them. The reason it has talented workers is that it’s a multibillion-dollar company that pays extremely well.”

If you are thinking about working at Google, I would recommend David Eggers‘ 2013 novel ‘The Circle’.

What will non-profits be looking for in 2020? A Fast Company article based on interviews with innovative non-profits found opportunities have grown with the market in recent years.

“According to The New York Times’ analysis of data from the American Community Survey of the United States Census Bureau, 11% more young college graduates worked for nonprofit groups in 2009 than in 2008. A 2012 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that the U.S. nonprofit sector grew an average of 2.1% between 2000 and 2010, while for-profit sector jobs declined by an average of 0.6% a year during the same period.”

Technology, social media and design skills will be needed by non-profits to develop solutions to complex problems. An ability to work across private and public sectors will be key in courting donors and allocating resources to meet global needs.

Whether you are considering a move to a non-profit or a Fortune 100 organization, how you depart your current employer will have long term effects on your career. Social media provides opportunities to create online networks, but the virtual world can be both an asset and a liability in your career advancement. Entertainment, Financial Services and Silicon Valley organizations share information informally, and with mobility increasing in an improved economic environment, there is always the possibility that the boss you just left shows up in a few months as your new leader.

Another Fast Company article offered some basic suggestions including providing enough notice, keeping positive and maintaining momentum on tasks. One piece of advice that resonated is to visit with colleagues before you leave and acknowledge your appreciation for their support and contribution to your career growth.

As with any advice, the culture of your organization drives behavior. You may be in a place that welcomes a professional exit approach, but you may not. Adapt your plans to the reality of your workplace, ensuring your reputation stays intact as you depart.

Finally, this week, ceremonies in Appomattox and Arlington, Virginia marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Timothy Egan, visualized Lincoln in the aftermath of surrender in an opinion piece in The New York Times  “Imagine him in the last week of his life, 150 years ago this month. Shuffling, clothes hanging loosely on the 6-foot-4-inch frame, that tinny voice, a face much older than someone of 56. “I am a tired man,” he said. “Sometimes I think I am the tiredest man on earth.” 

This was a President @work, nearing the end of his term. The challenge ahead was to unite the nation and welcome back the soldiers to their places of work now that the war had come to an end. History repeats, as today we once again welcome soldiers returning from war to their modern day workplace.

Why aren’t we asking about the value of work?

We seem to have ‘consumerized’ every decision from buying a car to choosing a college. But when it comes to the workplace, where we spent the majority of our days, we don’t take the time to consider the value of the experience or fully assess the impact on our professional portfolio.

David Brooks wrote a ‘letter’ to employers in 2014. “Dear Employers, You may not realize it, but you have a powerful impact on the culture and the moral ecology of our era. If your human resources bosses decide they want to hire a certain sort of person, then young people begin turning themselves into that sort of person.”

Google consistently ranks at the top of surveys of best employers. Recent reports indicate that their hiring process is more selective than the admissions process in top ivy league schools.

Yesterday, Laszlo Bock,  the Senior Vice President of People Resources at Google published a new book that fundamentally describes how to get hired at Google. Even as I write, I imagine potential candidates reworking their job search strategy to meet the standards described in the book.

This is the most recent illustration of how candidates are encouraged to alter expectations in order to perform the magic required to obtain an offer.

What happens after you accept the offer?

Reading the Wall Street Journal review of the book we learn that “…Google spends more than most on recruiting, it spends far less on training. Top people need less training. And the lesson for talent is watch how you’re recruited: it’s an indication of the company’s mind-set and the talent you’ll be working with.”

Similar to our most elite academic institutions, Google has created a process to attract the best and the brightest; generalists who know when to lead and when to step back, can learn and solve problems and do so with ‘intellectual humility’. The ‘hook’ is the promise of a workplace where your colleagues will mirror your talents and learning will spontaneously combust.

In some ways it sounds like graduate school. You take from the work experience what you put into it. In other words, we set the table, provide the kitchen but you cook the meal. There will be no gourmet flourishes, because attracting you to the feast is more important than the meal itself.

When you leave Google are you transformed by the experience or are you pretty much who you were on your first day of work?

You will have Google on your resume and future employers will be mesmerized by your fortune, but who will you be after a few years at Google?

These are universal questions. When you go to work for any employer, over any period of time, will the work transform you? Will others remark on your growth? Will a spectacular failure result in termination or be viewed as a critical learning tool?

The process of being courted for a position whether it takes a few weeks or a few years is intoxicating in its’ flattery. Remember that it’s a conversation about your future as well as your contribution to an organization.

What is the value of the promised work experience? When you invest your energy and ideas solving problems for others, do you also fill a void in your portfolio?