By Felicia King
President & CEO, QPC Security

Above industry average pay, two weeks of vacation accrued from date of hire, additional Paid Time Off (PTO), profit sharing plan with no waiting period, snacks and beverages in the break room, catered lunch every Friday, cell phone reimbursement ‑ and the list goes on. All are ‘perks’ used by companies as incentives to attract new hires. But just like the saying goes, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

Before falling for these “perks”, you need to ask yourself, what are you looking for in an employer and more importantly, in a career? Are you looking for stability and something you can be proud of or are you okay with just be an expendable number in a sea of employees?

Large organization does not equal stability

Those new to the workforce often make the mistake in believing that working for a large, well‑known organization inherently means job security and stability. That could not be further from the truth. Joining one of these organizations simply means you become an employee ‑ nothing more, nothing less. You are a worker, in a position, within a department. You do not stand out from others and it’s almost impossible to excel and become a ‘star employee’. This means that when it comes time for cutbacks or reorganizations (which happens time and again in large organizations), you are expendable.

Some also make the mistake of believing that giving more than 100% also translates to job security. Wrong again. Large companies are notorious for taking as much as they can get from an employee without that translating to being ‘above the cut line’ when it comes to layoffs. Working those extra hours, weekends, holidays and responding to emails and phone calls 24/7 does nothing but guarantee you growing resentment and eventual job burnout. It can be nothing short of soul‑sucking. Having done this early on in my ‘career’, I am speaking from experience.

Many also believe that because they have been with an organization for “X” number of years, it somehow guarantees job safety. While tenure may result in receiving that $100 gift card at the 5‑year mark or silver writing pen on your 10th anniversary, it in no way guarantees that your job is safe. Remember, you are ultimately just a worker, in a position, within a department. Having a few years under your belt gives you only one thing ‑ a line item on your resume.

Finally, there is the pay scale dilemma. Sure, it may seem like a good thing to have documented pay levels and scheduled wage increases. What happens though when you reach the top? And by top, I do not mean the C-suite of the organization because very rarely, if ever, do you see someone start at entry -level within a Fortune 500 organization and then work their way up to the C‑suite. That is just not how those positions are filled. It is more likely that you will reach the top of your pay scale for your position and department at some point so then what? You have now given years and years of your life only to find out that you have maxed out on pay and benefits. That is just how large organizations work. It is nothing personal and that is the crux of the issue here as you are not a person to them. You are a worker in a position, and it does not bother them one way or the other when you are laid off.

The perks versus career conflict

Perks like those listed above are nothing more than carrots dangled out in front of you to create incentive to apply for a job within these large organizations. And if you are just looking for a job ‑ versus a career ‑ then by all means, go for the perks. But if you are looking for a career, a position where you create value, and work that gives you true experience you can build upon then don’t fall for the perks.

So, what do you look for then? Look at the company, the culture, and the vision of the leadership team. Do you have an opportunity to grow without limitation? Is the leadership in it for the long term or are they just looking to get rich quick and sell off? Will you be a valuable team member instead of just a worker in a position? Does the Owner know how to do your job? Are you able to build a career you can be proud of instead of just doing time and ending up with that 20-year anniversary lapel pin? You must stop and ask yourself if you are just looking for a job to pay the bills or are you looking for a career where you can continually add to your experience and knowledge building?

Can the Owner do your job, and would they?

I asked that question in the section above but let me expand on why it is so very important and should be a non-negotiable on your potential employer checklist. Let’s start with overcommitment of time and resources. If they do not know how to do your job, they have zero understanding of how long it will take to work on something, complete a project etc. They commit to ridiculous timelines or even worse, things that cannot actually be done.

They also struggle with priorities. They tend to be sales focused and do not spend the time needed to identify and correct operational inefficiencies or manage risk exposure. As long as new clients keep signing on the dotted line, they don’t tend to care about what goes on behind the scenes or how/if the company is able to deliver on those new contracts and services.

Many also tend to be overly accommodative to clients. Just because a client thinks they need 24/7 support, do they really? If that commitment is made, is the company Owner willing to pay for a 2nd shift to support that client? If the answer is “no”, then you can expect it will be you that is scheduled to patch an Exchange server at midnight on a Friday night.

Finally take it consideration the lines of communication. If the Owner does not know how to do your job, how will they know what you are talking about when you bring issues and opportunities to them? Is there a culture of continually wanting to get feedback and input from the team in order to improve and grow? Or is everyone but the Owner just expected to come in, keep their head down, do the work, and return the next day for the same? If organizational improvement is not a priority, then you can bet that you are not one either.

Let me take this concept one step further and ask you, even if they know how to do your job, would they? A perfect example of why this is important just happened in my company. One of my top engineers was gone for two weeks without PTO. When he came back, I let him know that if he could get all his hours in over the following two weeks, he would be paid for the full month. The key to this is that I personally worked weekends and into the evenings to support his additional productivity. You need a hard‑working leader that will not leave you high and dry in any situation and is committed to supporting you in meeting and exceeding your goals.

QPC Security is a career company

I am proud to say, we offer careers here at QPC Security. Of course, we have PTO, reimbursements for exams and certifications, flex time etc., but we also offer a truly unique opportunity to work with direct end clients as well as other MSPs in need of our exceptional vCISO/MSSP services.

When accepting a position with our company, you can be assured that you are joining a team of highly experienced architects and engineers. You can grow as fast and as much as you want to. It is all dependent upon you and your attitude. Read my article The Right “Entry Level” Attitude to learn what I mean about “attitude”. We absolutely have a rigorous hiring process but that is because we are looking for team members that want to drive value and be a part of something unique. We are looking for critical thinkers who care about making things better and work to continually kaizen our internal operations. If you are looking for a job that comes with a lot of extra ‘perks’, there is no need to apply. If you are looking for a career that you can be proud of, then please visit our Career page to learn more.