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Choosing Your Boss

July 28, 2020

I have a lot of empathy for those of you who have just graduated and are trying to enter the job market right now.

I graduated from college in December of 2007, so I was searching for a job during the 2008 recession. It was not a fun time to be unemployed.

In 2020, not only are recent grads (or anyone looking for a job) dealing with economic volatility, but they’re navigating the unknowns of life in a worldwide pandemic and experiencing the frustrations and disappointments that come with it. For those just trying to begin your career, you weren’t able to finish your senior year with friends or have the closure of a graduation ceremony. And in recent months, you’ve probably had enough over-the-phone and virtual interviews for a lifetime. Your world has been turned upside down, and you’re just looking for some sense of normal—like a job.

To make matters worse, you’ve also been given some pretty terrible advice. I get frustrated when I hear people in positions of prosperity or prominence tell young people to simply follow their passions and everything will work out fine. This is not always true, especially in seasons like this. You may not get to follow your passion right away, and you may not get your dream job. You may just need something to pay the bills.

So here is my advice: If you can be picky about one thing, be picky about who is leading you. When you’re evaluating different job opportunities, the choice of a boss is far more important than your choice of a company. Especially when you’re young in your career, who you work for means more to your development than the logo on your pay stub. 

Radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt said, “My biggest regret was leaving a great boss for a better job.” 

As a young person, it is tempting and easy to follow the path of a little bit more money, a better title, a bigger office, a more prestigious benefits package, but the truth is who you spend this time with will matter more to your development. Although a great boss may look different to every person, here are some things to consider when choosing one:

– Do their values align with mine?
– Will they help me grow?
– Is this person ethical?
– Do they provide open and honest feedback?
– Is this person self-aware?
– Do they work to connect their vision to the task at hand?
– Do they genuinely care about the people they lead?
– Do you want to be like them in ten years?

Choose your boss wisely.

If you do, you may not be doing the type of work or making the amount of money you want to make, but you’ll gain the kind of investment you need now to succeed later in your career.

By the way, the reverse is also true. If things aren’t working, you need to do as retired President of Chick-fil-A Jimmy Collins says and fire your boss.

This isn’t just true for young people but anyone in the workforce. Growing in your work is important no matter what stage you find yourself in, so strive to find a boss who is in your corner.


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