Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Using social media as job search and career development business analysis resources 7: career timeframes and career development 2

This is my seventh installment to a series on the points of intersection between business intelligence and its gathering, and social media and related interactive online channels as sources of actionable information and insight, as they can be applied to job search and career development (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 397 and following for Parts 1-6.)

I began discussing how social media insight can be used in career development in Part 6 of this series. And I wrote that posting in large part in terms of a very specific career-level decision that would be faced when choosing between two possible next jobs: one of which (identified as job opportunity A) would offer greater up-front salary and benefits, and the other (job opportunity B) greater longer term career opportunity. And I stated that asking a reader to choose which would be the better job to take on the basis of the limited information provided, was unfair at the very least.

I want to start this posting by at least considering what that assertion might mean, and in that regard I offer a second set of possibilities to match my two “job description” notes from Part 6:

• You face this job selection decision at a time when your finances are strained and in fact when you are having difficulty covering all of your expenses – and you and your spouse are soon going to have a child with all of the additional expenses that involves. So the size of the up-front paychecks that you would be receiving on your new job is important, and here-and-now issues at least now and for the immediate future, look to outweigh more long-term and delayed benefits. Should you take job A now and seek out more career opening opportunities there, by for example volunteering for projects and tasks that would stretch your skills and give you opportunities to develop new ones anyway?

I wrote about jobs that you have not even made a preliminary decision on, so you have to assume there will be some opportunity for professional growth in either, and some equally constraining limitations on that for either too. This, up to here is all about identifying likely balance points between opportunity and constraints as far as professional growth and career opportunity are involved.

• You are also thinking ahead, and to the expenses that you and your now growing family will face in coming years, and not just in some distant future: soon. Should you cut avoidable expenses for now and accept less up-front , on agreement with the hiring manager for job opportunity B that you will be given a real chance to advance as you prove yourself?

Here I assume that any promotion would automatically mean a pay raise and improved overall benefits, and that in any case, real success here could offer you improved job search chances for moving on. It is always possible to look while you are already employed. And it is always possible to make yourself visible professionally through sites like LinkedIn while already employed too, posting a well-crafted resume-formatted profile and joining and networking with appropriate professional online groups (see Looking While Working – Active Searching, Passive Searching and Other Strategies, Part 1 and Part 2.)

Asking anyone to decide which of those job opportunities would be best to take on the basis of the information provided in Part 6 would be fundamentally unfair, and even if more details were offered about those job opportunities and about those hiring companies, if that was all that was offered. Any such decision would also have to be based upon an at least equally detailed and thought through consideration of the job seeker’s perspective and of their needs faced and of their resources already at hand. If you had to decide which of these jobs to take just as you won a very large lottery prize with all financial concerns suddenly rendered moot, you could validly select on the basis of any criteria that you decide to be significant to you, and leave it at that.

And with that and with consideration in mind of both needs and opportunities when making a jobs and careers decision of this type, I turn to more fully explore timeframes. And I will tie that discussion back to the issues of social media insight, and where you gather information from in making these jobs and careers decisions.

• My decision point example, as started in Part 6 and continued here is all about tradeoffs between addressing immediate need and opportunity, and long-term need and opportunity as you variously perceive and weigh them.
• That evaluation, and where you set your priorities out of it, determines whether you would better position yourself by accepting a here-and-now opportunity or by accepting what might become a greater future opportunity.
• And as a crucial consideration in that, longer timeframes mean greater uncertainty and even if disruptive change is not added to this mix.
• But change happens and not always just in rapidly changing industries. In principle any business: A and B of this working example included, could face real success and opportunity for growth, or real challenges and even need to enact layoffs and downsizings as their futures unfold.
• What you start with as offered advancement opportunity from a prospective employer, that is offered in writing and explicitly stated, is more certain to happen and particularly when this is to take place according to an explicitly stated timeframe, than would be the case when such an offer is suggested or even more explicitly offered but only as a future possibility.
• And the longer the delay between when either of these types of offer is made, and when it would be enacted, the more opportunity there will be for either to be changed or even taken off the table as a possibility. And that most certainly holds when the timing for a positive future possibility cannot be predicted and only intent and a sense of likelihood of its being realized “someday” can be agreed to.

Now let’s consider how mining social media for business intelligence can offer value here. And I begin with the owners of these hiring businesses, and with the managers who you would work for depending on which of these job opportunities you accepted.

What have their career trajectories been like, and how have their businesses done? Consider the company hiring for job opportunity B, that offers less now but real opportunity moving forward. This is a younger business than the one hiring for opportunity A. How long have they been in business and how are they performing? Particularly if this is a very young business, and if it is an early stage one, what have the owners and founder done in the past? Where did they work? Are they coming out of long-term successful businesses, and if so why? Are they serial entrepreneurs and if so with what success? You would need business intelligence from a range of sources in order to answer these questions, with both more traditional and newer such sorces included: social media sourced data definitely included.

• Know the businesses that you would consider working for and know the people who you would be working for, and working with too. Learn what you can about them, at any rate, and research and gather business intelligence for this accordingly.
• Consider your potential workplace colleagues in this and not just the hiring managers involved here; do the types of people who you would likely work with as peers come across through sites like LinkedIn as narrow niche specialists, or as more open and entrepreneurial, and oriented towards career advancement?
• What can all of that tell you about the types of positions and the types of longer term opportunities that you would face if you were to take an offer from one of these potential employers?

Yes, all of this takes time and effort, but when you accept an in-house position working for a business, you expect that to last for years and to demand a large portion of your time, attention and effort, every work day through all of that.

I am going to switch directions in my next series installment to consider where and how a possible new job opportunity fits into a business:

• And whether it is directed towards fulfilling that business’ core capabilities and keeping it competitive and profitable,
• Or whether it is a support position that would fit more into what for that business would be more of a cost center service, than a profits generating service (see Turning the Functional Units of a Business into Value Centers for a brief discussion of the business side of what that involves.)

And after discussing that and related issues of how you would use social media sources to evaluate potential hiring businesses, I will turn tables and discuss how hiring businesses can and will research you as a candidate too – and you as an employee as well, once you are hired by them and certainly when you are under consideration for a promotion there. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. And you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its continuation page too.

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