Five Traps to Avoid When Working at Big Companies

  1. Being someone’s lieutenant
  2. Developing expertise that only applies to that company
  3. Falling for perks
  4. Get raises, not readjustments (top end, 7% increase a year)
  5. Lack of recognition

h/t to Brandon Arvanaghi

I’d probably shorten this list to two items:

  1. Be good at doing something many companies and/or people need.
  2. Get recognized for being good by being paid for it, or do what you do for someone else.

You could reduce it further to the most important ability, at any job, is being able to walk out the door and easily find another. Any other situation is one based on exploitation, in one form or another.

4 thoughts on “Five Traps to Avoid When Working at Big Companies

  1. I have a suite of portable skills that would presumably enable me to go job shopping and job hopping. Others may have experienced success that way, but I certainly haven’t. At least two factors stand in the way. First is the inability of generally incompetent HR folks to identify in candidates the attributes that make an employee valuable and productive as opposed to merely easy to get along with and/or attractive to look at. Second, the ownership/employer class puts continuous downward pressure on wages and salaries (except for themselves) and erects substantial barriers to entry for those jobs that actually pay well. This in no way excuses individuals from developing themselves and trying to be better than their competitors in a meritocratic system. My point is that merit is not the sole or even the strongest indicator of success.

    1. I agree that we don’t live in a meritocracy. I also agree that the hiring function for corporations is often dysfunctional, where they don’t know what they want and are not capable of identifying good candidates reliably.

      However, I also think that people settle. They stay in toxic environments doing work they hate. Many others just do mediocre work, spend a sizable portion of their days in useless meetings or have bullshit jobs.

      If you excel at what you do, you want to work with other people that excel. But, it’s hard to excel in environments where your boss is the upper limit of how good you can be, where you are pigeon-holed in a particular type of work, where people don’t even recognize your work has value – either with compensation or with opportunity. If you don’t leave that kind of job, if you don’t avoid the kinds of pitfalls identified in the tweet in this post, you’re limiting yourself worse than anything that happens from the structure of the job market.

      1. I appreciate that you’re in favor of hypothetical people accepting the hypothetical (metaphorical) monkey on their own backs to demand better from themselves and their employers. I rather doubt human nature works in such a way. “Why don’t you hypothetical person just get even a little smarter? Better skilled? Grow a spine? Walk away from the very thing that sustains you in favor of a possibility something better will come along (and risk nothing does)?” Bird in the hand, man.

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