If a company sparks your interest, you should assess them just as carefully as they will assess you if you land an interview. Before you actively pursue a position, be sure you feel confident that joining the organization would both grow your career and meet your lifestyle needs.
Step 1: Self-Evaluation
To thine own self be true. Be sure you know what you want and what your career plans look like before you even begin to evaluate employers.
- Be honest. Know your priorities and obligations. Of course, money matters. But don’t let it overshadow your passions, values, interests or personal needs.
- Consider your professional goals. Make sure this move will provide growth opportunity, both short and long term.
Step 2: Evaluate the Company
Be as objective as possible. If you’re thorough, this will involve soliciting input and opinion from other sources. Even though you may be anxious to throw your hat in the ring, take ample time to do this beforehand. Consider company:
- Dynamics: Has there been a recent restructuring, stock upheaval or other market disruption? As the economy continues to recover, look for a pattern of steadiness and stability if not aggressive growth.
- Size: Employers are not one size fits all. The one that works for you depends on where you are in your career, where you want to be and your personal preferences. Larger companies tend to pay better due to their broader revenue bases and profitability. They also may offer more sophisticated benefits and training and are more financially sustainable. However, they can be more rigid, with more management layers. Positions can be more delineated with less room for ambiguity or involvement in varied projects. At smaller companies, your efforts may be noticed more rapidlyand it’s easier to implement changes. But revenue bases are generally smaller and likewise, so are profitability and salary ranges. (The keyword here is “generally.” There are exceptions to every rule.)
- Market share: Look for a company with a robust and growing market share. These are organizations at the forefront of their industry and in no danger of being rendered obsolete by their competition. If a firm is losing customers, they may have no room for you in the long run. Look for a potential employer that has differentiated itself from the rest of the pack and can clearly articulate its value propositions.
- Products and services: It’s unwise to take a job at a company where you won’t take pride or feel a sense of ownership in the commodities with which you work.
- Reputation: Do your homework and ask a lot of questions. Get a firm grasp on a company’s reputation before actively pursuing them as an employer. Select an organization with high positive brand recognition.
- Turnover: If a company has a high turnover rate, approach it very, very carefully. This is a bright red flag when it comes to job security, long-term employment and career stability. Find out why a position is open, what happened to the previous employee in the job and what attitude management has toward development and retention.
Step 3: Evaluate the Position
Some of this will overlap your assessment of the company itself, but drill down to the position itself and see how these factors relate to your career aspirations:
- Potential for promotion
- Intellectual stimulation
- Personality and management style of supervisor
- Social significance of the job
- Flexibility of hours and overtime required
- Pace of work
- Decision-making opportunities
- Travel and relocation requirements
- Working conditions
It’s a lot to think about – but what could be more important? Thoroughly assessing a company where you could potentially spend a significant portion of your future is good business on your part.