Thinkpiece - A job is not for hire, it’s for rent. What you have to work out is if the lease has expired just yet

Ask yourself an important question. When push comes to shove, which matters more to you - doing the right thing in your work or just keeping your job? Studies have found that when asked this question anonymously, most people concede that keeping their job is more important to them.

Ask yourself an important question. When push comes to shove, which matters more to you - doing the right thing in your work or just keeping your job? Studies have found that when asked this question anonymously, most people concede that keeping their job is more important to them.

Ask yourself an important question. When push comes to shove, which

matters more to you - doing the right thing in your work or just keeping

your job? Studies have found that when asked this question anonymously,

most people concede that keeping their job is more important to

them.



I make no moral judgments here, but for the sake of your career and your

own self-interest, I hope your answer was the altruistic one. The vast

majority of bosses can quickly surmise your true feelings on this

issue.



The best piece of advice I can give, based on my experience listening to

senior executives talk about their senior staff, is to take your job

seriously - but not so seriously that you are afraid to lose it.



One reason is that nearly all of us wear our basic attitudes on our

sleeves, especially when we feel vulnerable. The second reason: the more

intensely you want a job, the greater the odds are against your doing it

well. As the CEO of a major drug company told me, ’I want a

communications executive who is not afraid to confront me. I want him to

stop me when I’m about to do something stupid.’



Another dynamic CEO hired us to search for his new head of

communications.



’Of course, the person you find won’t be with us that long,’ he told

me.



’The kind of person we want for this job will be bored in three or four

years.’ My suggestion: try to think of nearly everything in your career

as being rented. Enjoy your job and all its perks, but don’t become so

attached that you can’t bear to lose them.



The great thing about renting your job is that when the lease expires,

you’re free to go out and lease a brand new model - with more horsepower

and perhaps a convertible top. Not so long ago, I received a call from a

friend who had just returned from the meeting of a PR association.

’Bill,’ he asked, ’there was no one at that meeting from Microsoft, AOL,

Yahoo or Amazon.com. Why not?’



The answer was fairly obvious. The PR people at those kinds of companies

are too busy to attend association meetings. ’Well,’ he said, ’if I’ve

got time for a meeting like that, maybe I’m not busy enough!’ He was

right, of course. His lease was up on that job, and he knew it.



Becoming head of communications at a Fortune 500 company may look like

PR nirvana, but I urge you not to think of that or any other job as your

final destination until the day you retire. It’s just not good for

you.



The most successful and dynamic people I encounter always have a plan

for themselves; they always have an eye out for the bigger, better model

they’re going to rent when the lease on their current situation runs

out.





William Heyman is president and CEO of Heyman Associates, an executive

recruiting firm based in New York.



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