Integrity Matters
January 5, 2005

Look for first job where you can grow, advance

Question: (E-162)

Dear Jim:

What should I look for in a boss? As a college senior, I need to assess the right employer and supervisor, soon. I want to work in a good environment and have a chance to succeed on a level playing field.


You have asked two questions: one about identifying the right boss and the other about discovering the right place for you to work. What you did not ask, but should, is how to convince a prospective employer you're the right person to be hired into their integrity-centered organization.

First, the right boss for you will likely have expertise you now lack. Give strong consideration to your first jobs as a valuable extension of your more formal education. Factor in this "value-added" dimension and consider that these various early-career bosses will be enhancing your fund of knowledge and that you will be "paying them" for their contributions by being willing to demand less cash as you build your credentials. The right boss, if you choose to keep growing, will have knowledge, skills and abilities you wish to develop. As you think through how you want to make a living, look carefully to make sure your prospective supervisors enjoy their work. Happy colleagues are often more effective teachers, making learning easier. If fortune smiles on you, you might even like your bosses. However, respect for them is even more important. When most job aspects are about the same, choose chemistry over dollars.

Second, the right company or organization for you will become clearer when you answer these questions:

  • In what size organization do you best fit: small, medium or large?
  • Do other younger workers ordinarily move forward inside the organization or do they often flame out, routinely moving on?
  • Will you be proud to introduce your product or service to those you know the best?
  • Are you confident about the leadership integrity of the organization?
  • Given an opportunity, would you invest your own dollars in the organization?

If you're not comfortable with your answers to the above five questions about a potential employer, then you may be unhappy working there. So keep searching.

Third, confirming to a potential employer that you are the right employee is quite simple. There is no faking integrity. Working environments demand concentration, and the real person generally shows through. Get a clear picture of who you are and do not expect to fool high-quality interviewers. Even if you are successful in pulling the wool over their eyes, remember the people you "outwitted" are probably not the right caliber to help you to get where you want to go.

Effective business relationships are built upon trust and forthrightness, and that means all transactions are integrity-centered, from the very beginning.

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