Some intense months later, here am I with some fresh ideas and happenings. Secrets follow. Well no, not really, but I’ll put everything in a list to make things easier to digest.
1. Getting in is hard, staying in seems even harder
When the commercials go out, the movie starts: the interview and then the orientation do not prepare you for the environment you’ll be swimming in once you start your daily work. On my path to illumination I realised that kitchen personnel, the people that cook that good food for you 3 times every day, are likely to be evaluated on par with the people they are feeding. At the end of the day, nobody is getting any free meal.
I’ve also found out that the photos floating around the interwebs with colourful interiors, pool tables, arcades or pinball machines straight from the ’80s are true. What I have also learned is that an unhealthy balance between productivity and time spent having fun in the games room or sleeping in the library will lead to a PIP (performance improvement plan) before your 1st anniversary. Failing that is obviously your ticket out, but some people choose at that time to leave on their own terms. For the company the outcome is the same, though: a “no rehire” stuck in your file, possibly for life.
From the outside, people are leaving or are let go, but it’s impossible to discern between the two. There seem to be “sweet spots” for leaving, at certain intervals, like just before 6 months for people that are not into paying too much tax to the same country or, who knows, maybe it’s just a quick divorce type of ending. Another sweet spot seems to be at roughly 1 year, when the first batch of shares vest and the actual payout may be significant. Seeing many people that go beyond their 5th year or so is encouraging, though.
2. Recruiters tend to avoid you
Changing my position in Linkedin dropped the visits on my profile by more than 30%, while the messages and the connects dropped from nearly daily to maybe once every few weeks. Simply put, very few companies can offer compensation deals like the big ones everybody talks about. The big companies also have their own recruiting pipelines and do not work with 3rd parties.
On a side note, there are recruiters that basically cold mail every candidate that matches certain keywords from their internal database, without checking if these people are still on the market for that type of position. Nevertheless, I don’t have figures to decide if such strategy actually works out, but now I tend to ignore everything from recruiters that have less than 5 years of experience, no exceptions.
3. The Ulysses syndrome is real
The path from “wow, I’m so lucky” to “what the beep did I get myself into” is short, really short. In the first month or so you might consider writing angry emails to everybody that did not believe in you and/or refused to give you some position you really wanted at some point in your career. Of course you don’t do that, because you realize that people – starting with you – are in a constant evolution and by definition focused on their needs. What others can potentially put on the table sometimes falls behind.
I’m kidding – you don’t do it because the honeymoon ends faster than you wished and you find yourself in a different country, in some environment governed by different rules, away from familiar places and intimately close to a very demanding workplace. If the family is with you, the challenge is multiplied, as they may have their own difficulties adjusting to the local life. This is actually the one leading cause of people leaving companies in the 1st year, after relocating to a different country or maybe to a different continent.
4. There is light at the end of the tunnel
At some point the roots start growing and the new environment no longer looks menacing. You start meeting people and doing work that seems to make other people’s lives easier. The perspective of ending your first formal perfomance assessment in a PIP slowly fades away. Maybe the entire future of the humanity does no longer look so grim, after all – and neither the outlook of your career moving forward.