Not many people like to admit it, but just about everyone sizes up “the new guy.” When a new hire comes into the office and meets the rest of the team there is a sort of feeling out period. Much of what happened in the past for both parties is exactly that – in the past. And yet there are people who hold onto it. Perhaps the hiring associates want to protect how they do things or maybe the new hire is insecure about their talents so he or she continually mentions their successes at other companies.
What got me thinking about this is an article from a few days ago in the NY Times called Can an Employer’s Past Follow Its Workers? by Hillary Chura. When a new hire comes into a company, especially in a prominent position, a bio usually circulates. It can be by email or a regular piece of paper. The bio accentuates all the companies that have cache, so if the person worked for the FBI then that would be front and center. Those reading the information react positively simply because of the organization brand. And to a lesser extent, the opposite happens for companies that hit hard times. Someone with Enron working experience isn’t going to get the same reaction as someone who worked for NASA.
I don’t want to paint a complete negative picture because at the end of the day it comes down to plain old execution. Some people talk a big game while others deliver one. I just think it is a fact of life right now: people that worked for companies that went under, particularly in banking (Bear Sterns, Lehman and Washington Mutual for example) aren’t bringing much collateral of the unknown with them to the new job.