Have to admit, I hated that phrase when I was a kid. My parents hammered that drum when we were young, and really “got in our business” about our friends. Well, like all things, with age comes the realization of just how wise they were. The wisdom was not just about our social life – it applies to our business life as well.
Pedigree, past history, former companies – call it what you will, but there is no denying that to many “who you associate with” matters in the business world. Sophistication, polish, “understanding our level”, career progression, or just being “with the right firms” are all phrases we have heard from clients over the years. Evaluating talent is not just limited to skills, achievements or actual job performance. It is a total package issue, and where you have been and who you have worked with and for does matter. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but it is foolish to assume it is not considered.
There are countless reasons to take a new job, but one of the quiet factors that is often overlooked is the “who” part of the equation. It is not a big company, small company, established or start-up issue. Rather, it is a question of how the companies do their business, with whom they do it, and above all how they do it. Granted there are scenarios where things are not quite what they appeared to be in the interview process. Everyone understands that – things happen. However, patterns can emerge, and rest assured the savvy evaluator of talent is considering your history and associations.
It does matter. There is no other way to put it. You might be able to stay above and removed from the reputation of your previous employers or associates, but it will lead to questions. Who you hang out with says a great deal about you…it speaks to your judgement, your decision-making, and in the end it is a reflection of you. Yet again, parents seem to get wiser as we get older…strange how that happens.