You're hired, you're fired

Anyone who talks to me about their current corporate career will likely have heard me utter—likely innumerable times—my quintessential thought about staying in one place too long, “You’re not going to retire from there.”

Truth of the matter is that there are very few, if any, corporations that should be giving away gold watches to long, long, long term employees.

In my opinion, it’s not good for the employee or the corporation. Plain and simple.

Now, hold that thought. I’m going to take you somewhere else for a second. And then I’m going to come back here. It will seem completely disjointed. But I promise to bring it back around.

Know one of things I appreciated most about college? It was a finite experience. Better yet, it was defined as a finite experience.

I knew, going in, that I was expected to complete my work in about four years. I knew that if I was able to successfully meet the set objectives by the end of that period, I would receive a valuable piece of paper as proof that I had successfully completed the effort.

No surprises. Everything was set from day one: my time of hiring, my vesting period, my goals, and my time of firing.

And I believe that part of the reason that I continue to have a very strong relationship with my alma mater is because of this open communication. This honest communication.

So, given this little piece of information. Let’s go back to the first scenario.

If I’m not going to retire from there. And staying somewhere forever isn’t good for the employee or the business. Then wouldn’t it be nice if part of my hiring also included a specific time at which I would be fired?

I mean, if I’m working in a set period, with set goals? Just like college?

Maybe it’s 18 months. Maybe it’s 2 years.

But on my firing date, I would be let go, fully vested.

I would be required to be away from the company for at least one month. After which, I would be allowed to reapply for my former position, if I wanted.

If I was truly the best candidate, I could get rehired for another period. If not? Too bad.

Maybe there is another position available at the company for which I am better suited. Maybe it’s just better that we part ways.

Point being: current hiring practices are predicated on an outright lie. That lie being that the company expects you to work in the job for which they are hiring you, forever. When in actuality, you know you’re not going to like the job forever. And, in reality, the company expects you to stay in that job just as long as it is convenient for them to have you there. When it’s no longer convenient for the company, they will fire you. Despite any promises made to the contrary.

Lies, lies, and more damned lies.

So why not tell the truth? This is a finite relationship. During which time, the business would like to have the best you have to offer. And the employee will be justly compensated for contributing said effort to the company.

Doesn’t that make more sense?

If you hire me, let me know when you’re going to fire me.

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Founder and editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
This entry was posted in Career, Employment, Firing, Hiring, Jobs. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to You're hired, you're fired

  1. Chris says:

    Interesting concept, for sure. I think you may be forgetting one very important distinction between the “animal farm” and the “cube farm,” though. At the end of your four (or 6.5) years in school, they don’t have the luxury of getting your money anymore. If your work term were to end, however, you don’t have the luxury of getting theirs! Makes parting ways a little more stressful, don’t you think?

  2. Rick Turoczy says:

    a) I still give money to my alma mater on a yearly basis. Albeit not at the tuition level. 😉

    b) For me, staying in a job that is neither inspiring nor challenging is more stressful than finding another one. But that may just be me.

  3. Chris says:

    I definitely agree with your statement in ‘B.’ I guess that brings up a good point, too. I have heard that a lot of people who get fired from a job are more relieved than upset, because it gives them the license to go out and do what they’ve been wanting to do, but have been simply too afraid/too comfortable to step out. I wonder if that’s especially true for people who have climbed a corporate ladder they thought they wanted, only to find out the air is too thin up there, you know what I mean?

  4. Rick Turoczy says:

    Absolutely. I hear the same thing quite a bit, as well.

    That’s why I like the idea of using a defined point of time. If Parkinson’s law holds true (that “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion”), then by constricting the time allotted maybe, just maybe, you’re getting higher-quality work out of a shorter, defined period of time.

    It definitely gets you out of that “I’ll get to that later” mindset, if there is no later.

  5. Scot Herrick says:

    I’d offer a couple of observations.

    First, looking for a new position is quite a bit of work — almost a full-time proposition. So the relief of being let go can be permission to go look for what you want.

    Second, in the last five years, I’ve looked at every position I’ve been in and asked myself “how long will this position last?” as part of the start of the job. I’ve at least asked myself that question.

    I’ve been pretty close in the answer, too. My intent is to go find something different before the current position doesn’t work any more — kind of like firing yourself.

    One has to wonder before the whole world works on contracts with defined objectives for the time period. Would almost make things easier…

  6. Chris says:

    It’s me again. It’s funny how timing really is everything! No, I didn’t get fired from my job, but I am getting “fired” from my place. My roommate (owner of home) is having a family member move in, and is asking me to look for another place now. Immediately I realized how this is that little nudge I’ve been needing to really weigh my options about where to live, where to work, and so on. Being that this just happened this morning, somehow I am still scared to death. On the other hand, I see how having an actual deadline makes making a decision a little easier. So thanks for the perspective…I guess. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Getting to the Next You: Employment Contract or Employability Compact? | More than a living

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