The Company Doesn’t Love You

I'm rearchitecting Manage Your Job Search (again). One of the things I'm doing is working on the introduction, explaining to people why they need to consider agile and lean as a system in which to work on their job hunt/job search project. I'm selling agile and lean to people.

The reason you want to consider agile and lean is that your job search project is complex. You want to use a strategy for that project that fits that project. And, there is a meta-reason also. You always want to move your career forward. Why? You need to plan your career. You are in charge of your career. Only you. Your manager might help. But, your company does not love you.

Let me repeat that. Your company does not love you. Only the people in your life love you.

That means that you are responsible for creating your career. You need to consider what will move your career forward, day in, day out, year in year out. You are responsible for thinking about “How do I learn something this year? How do I make this year a year of learning, not just another year of experience that looks like last year's of experience?”

This is your lifelong quest.

Yes, it is a lifelong quest, unless you want to die of boredom. Unless you want to have merely an okay career. Have you ever seen Larry Smith's Ted talk, Why you will fail to have a great career?

Careers are not linear. You will learn something technical here, some interpersonal skills there. You will increase your domain expertise, your functional skills at different rates. You will decide how to change your career.

And, ‘you' is the operative word. You will decide how to change your career. Maybe you don't buy that agile or lean is changing everything. Okay. Or that the cloud or that touch screens or that embedded computers and software have changed everything. All I know is that I look back at how I live now and just five years ago and everything has changed. I'm happy about many of those changes.

And, that means if you decide to stay at one company because of the security—if you can stay these days—you need to decide how to invest in your career. And, if you don't stay at one company, you still need to decide how to invest in your career. Regardless of your career choices, you have to make your investment choices.

Long ago, I posted Jobs and Careers, an attempt to help people think about ways they might want to consider what to learn at different stages of their career. You might find that post helpful. Andy Lester and I are writing a column over at the Pragmatic Bookshelf every month to discuss issues like this. We just collaborated on our first column this past weekend.

As I work on editing Manage Your Job Search, I'll be thinking about how to reach the people who don't know about agile and lean and what I can tell them about why they should learn about agile and lean. Why it's worth their time to learn yet another system of organizing work. (Because it makes the work transparent and they can accomplish chunks of work and then change their mind about what's important next.)

In the meantime, start to work on creating your career. No matter where you are or how old you are. Because even when you retire from your first “real” career at 65, your career is not over. You still have the rest of your life to live. You want to be a vibrant, interesting, full-of-life human, right? That means you still have to learn. The skills you learn now to learn are the same skills you can apply then.

And, because the company doesn't love you. You have to love yourself enough to invest in your career.

(Updated with the finished book. Yippee!)

6 thoughts on “The Company Doesn’t Love You”

  1. Johanna:

    Pragmatic and inspirational!

    I tend to follow and recommend a “follow your bliss” (or at least your aspirations) approach: If you don’t enjoy the study, or the early experience-gathering phase, maybe it’s not a good fit. Someone said (approximately): “It’s not that we must be doing what we love, but that we love what we do.”

    So I pursue my interests and try to fold some of those into my career trajectory over time. Some pursuits have been more useful than others. I limit diversification to my biggest strengths or aspirations, and I aim high; thus relatively contented if I don’t quite win the gold medal in every category, y’know?

    Currently studying for one or two possible “encore careers” though that’s hopefully not for another 15 years. Of course, 15 years ago, I had no idea I’d be delivering coaching and courses in something called “Agile.”

    It’s been a great ride so far! Can you tell us about your own journey?

    Be well,


    1. Rob, I have always followed “learn something and have fun.” That led me to Computer Science. Which led me to project management, management, and then to start my own business. In my consulting practice, I am always learning something, because I need to stay a half-step ahead of my clients. Or, they drag me along with them 🙂

      If I look back at my articles page, I see that the articles I write now are related, but have evolved from the articles I wrote 5 or 10 years ago. The books I’m writing are different, too.

      What prompted this post was the need to reach out to those MYJS readers and help them see that it’s time to “think different.” We’ll see if I can translate that into prose that they can use.

  2. Johanna,

    Great post. I’ve seen too many people who believe the company does love them. They are so blinded by this belief they don’t take charge of their career but quickly complain about the environment they’re in (ie they just go along for the ride and accept it as status quo). The end result is poor performance Is people who checkout (quit by Christopher Avery’s model) …. Sad really.

    Then when things change they go through a terrible emotional roller coaster as they have to grieve the death of the job there. Worst yet they then go on to find a new job to find they haven’t maintained their career and they’re not marketable.

    1. I do believe that marketability is certainly your own responsibility. And, the company should help. This is why one-on-ones are so important between a manager and an employee. An employee should know what to ask for. A manager should want to train internal people before hiring new ones, especially new ones halfway around the world.

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