Brad has just been offered two great jobs in the financial industry, but doesn’t know which one to select. In particular, he does not know what organization would best fit his needs, values, and goals.
An important, but often overlooked factor in career decision making, is clarifying the kind of company and industry you would like to work for.
To research companies, use the internet, library, professional and trade groups as well as your networks. Useful government directories include the Occupational Outlook Handbook and The Dictionary of Occupational Titles.
Talk to professionals in the organizations you are considering to obtain an insider’s perspective, and get information from industry professionals.
Ask questions during job interviews. Appropriate questions will enable you to get information to evaluate the job and company. Good questions can also strengthen your position as a knowledgeable employee and demonstrate contributions you can make.
Inquire how the position had been performed previously, and what happened to the last person in the job. Know what’s expected of you, the first issues that need attention, and how quickly you’ll be expected to work up to speed. Be positive, direct, sensitive, and alert to the feelings and reactions of the interviewees. Evasive, hostile, or defensive responses may signal a problem.
Request meetings with prospective co-workers and superiors. Ask them about their job descriptions, and advantages and disadvantages of working with the organization. Try to determine the pecking order and potential challenges you may have when working with certain superiors or subordinates.
After you’ve gathered information about several companies, evaluate each from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, on each of the following criteria.
Evaluating company-worker fit
Organization mission and values. Note the organization’s mission statement, ethics, values and culture. Observe whether the organization is committed to it’s mission and values. Identify the management philosophy and style, and whether it uses formal or informal lines of authority. Recognize the organization’s communication network and whether it supports creativity and intelligent risk-taking. Determine whether it’s concerned about employee safety and well-being. Note whether the company promotes from within, and is committed to diversity.
Organization performance. Pay attention to the organization’s financial and market strength. Note the company’s standing in the field or industry, its growth prospects, challenges faced by the organization and impending changes.
Nature of work. Understand the value of your job to the company. Clarify your responsibilities, level of accountability and scope of authority. Know whether the company will adapt duties to maximize your strengths, preferences and goals. Determine whether the job fits your interests, skills and needs such as challenge, variety, growth, and achievement.
Work environment. Note the company’s physical setting, overall appearance. Recognize the political environment, staff morale, types of employees and those who get ahead. Find out about potential conflicting agendas, who could support you and who could feel threatened. Determine your comfort level with such things as the organization’s size and dress code. Notice your gut reaction to the people and environment.
Professional development. Identify professional development resources. Note in-house and external training, reimbursement for off-site training, coaching and networking, advancement opportunities and potential career paths. Determine by whom and on what terms your performance will be evaluated. Assess your compatibility with your prospective boss, and identify potential projects which could benefit from your strengths.
Salary. Know the degree to which your potential income is consistent with the marketplace and organizational responsibilities. Clarify your starting salary, frequency of salary reviews, potential income in five years, and opportunities to attain raises for superior performance. Also consider variable pay, additional cash compensation for contributing to the organizations; performance. This includes bonuses, sales commissions, profit sharing and stock options.
Benefits. Know potential vacation time, sick days and retirement plan. Understand the kinds of protection you’d receive for time off due to illness or family problems. Note when the coverage would begin, how much you’ll receive, and for how long.
Work-life balance. Identify the degree to which the organization’s values, programs, and practices match your needs, values and goals. Note expectations regarding night or weekend work, travel required, commute time, technical and clerical assistance, travel and entertainment expenses, flexible work schedules, telecommuting options, and child cares assistance.
Which company that you applied the above criteria to, attained the most points? What is your intuition telling you?
Don’t take a job you won’t enjoy for security, work for someone you don’t respect, produce or sell goods or services you don’t like, or take a job that has poor people chemistry.