While the sports world shakes, rattles, and rambles to the free agency hi-jinks of basketball all-stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and others, another free agent is preparing to hit the market. A free agent who unlike these stars has won accolades every year, exceeding the standards of ownership and changing the environment and direction of his workplace. A free agent whose creativity has inspired avenues that could be key in ensuring the success of his organization in the 21st Century.
I am writing, of course, about me.
(That’s a link to my LinkedIn profile, by the way.)
Back in 2006, I was living in a friend’s spare bedroom in Tallahassee, surrounded by boxes of my stuff from previous apartments. Despite being the recipient of a master’s degree and enough credentials in my industry, it still took me six months to find work. Although I received three different offers, they all came in the final few weeks of my search, as my finances were dwindling to a precious few. After weighing the salaries, benefits, and future potential for advancement, I took my current position in Tampa. And all was well.
Until three weeks ago, when my company politely told me the contract holding me to my job will be moved to another company starting September 1st. As a contractor, I can either stay with my company and find another position, probably outside of Tampa; apply for my same position with the new company; or seek employment elsewhere.
In other words, after August 30th I can become a free agent.
Fortunately for me, there are a limited number of people with my qualifications in my area. Also at my age, there aren’t many people who have accomplished all that I have, especially with my credentials and education. That’s not just boasting, by the way, that’s what management and the human resources departments have told me. Hence, I like to think it’s a fact.
(Yes, I am counting my blessings, especially considering the current miserable global economic climate. Despite the bravado, that fact is not lost on me in the least.)
So, like LeBron, Wade, and the other NBA free agents, I stand at a crossroads of opportunity, where my decision will affect the next few years of my life, to include location, finances, and possibly family.
Granted, I know I will not be offered anything close to the multi-million dollar contracts NBA teams are presenting to the best of the NBA’s unemployed. I won’t get my own helicopter, tv show, endorsements, or celebrity greetings. But my job hunt and that of LeBron James and company still have some things in common.
Last week there was an interesting article by Marc Stein of ESPN that claimed that in his search for a new team, LeBron James is considering not only his potential teammates on the court but also the competency and ability of ownership. The same thing is important to me. Will my new company consider me a number, or do they have a good reputation of individualized care and concern for their employees?
Teamwork is also an area where LeBron and I have our similarities. Like most NBA players and most people in every workplace anywhere, I have worked with good people who brought out the best in me as well as uncooperative people who I failed to mesh with and made me dread going to work. Of course, I would like to find a job with the former much more than the latter. I know I will not have the freedom to pick and choose my teammates like LeBron James will, but if given a choice, I am going to pick a job with a positive teamwork dynamic.
(Note: In my field there is a huge generation gap. We still have people in the work place who are in their late 60s to early 70s and a great majority of my co-workers are members of the baby boom generation. As I was born in the late 70s, I am part Generation X and part Generation Y. I understand technology and am far more comfortable with the web than a majority of my co-workers. These are things LeBron doesn’t have to worry about.)
Finally, location is big for me. Like LeBron, I am working somewhat close to where I grew up. Most of my family is in Florida and many of my friends are here. I also have a little nephew I like seeing as often as possible. Of course, my job doesn’t have the travel of an NBA career, but without the offer of my own jet (odds of that happening are far below zero), if I took an offer out of Florida, I doubt I would be able to see my family as much as I would like. I don’t how important family is to LeBron, or if winning a championship is more important than a home cooked meal, but family is important to me.
As of today, I know I am going to have to choose between at least three to five offers. Some, like the Bulls, Heat, and Knicks to LeBron, will have a legitimate shot of gaining my employment. Others won’t have as great a chance, like the odds of the Clippers being LeBron’s chosen squad.
Of course, you won’t find news on my employment on ESPN or anywhere else. But I promise I will keep you posted here. Especially if I am no longer blogging from Tampa and have to change the banner on the top of the site.