How to Evaluate Potential Employers to Ensure the Right Career Fit
More and more people are re-evaluating their career and life goals. A Gartner poll indicates that employees are increasingly looking for change, seeking more purpose, and shifting their overall attitude towards work. For those whose soul-searching leads to a new job search, the process of evaluating potential employers has become all the more important. Finding the right career fit is not as simple as checking the boxes of the job description and preparing to shine in the interview.
Resource 1 has written recently about how to align your career path with the current IT job market, but this is only one facet of a successful job search. Finding an employer that is the right fit for your career will also require equal parts reflection and research.
Identifying What You Want from Your Career
Regardless how urgent your job search is, an article from the Harvard Business Review underscores how important it is to be proactive in determining your values, goals, and overall vision for the future of your career. Part of this process is being introspective about what you like and dislike about your current role, employer, and career trajectory. It is important to ask yourself, what parts of the culture make it better or harder for you to thrive? What responsibilities are you looking to increase or decrease? What is most and least fulfilling about your current job, career, and industry?
At an even deeper level, articulating your values and overall purpose is critical for choosing a job that is fulfilling for the long term. The Gartner poll showed that 52% of workers were questioning the purpose of their daily job after the pandemic. Furthermore, an Indeed report shows that 43% of employees are attracted to jobs with meaningful work. Reflecting on the purpose and meaning of your work will help you discern the place that work has in your life, empowering you to pick the right opportunity and not just the first one that presents itself or the one with the highest salary.
Leveraging the Interview to Dig Deeper
The interview is never a one-sided conversation. It is the ultimate opportunity for you to evaluate the employer and discern if it is the right fit for you. As Matthew Burr, professor of business administration, says in one SHRM publication, “You should be interviewing the organization just like they’re interviewing you.”
The first opportunity to evaluate them is in the questions they ask you. If their questions focus entirely on your technical skills without any concern for the cultural fit, this may be a red flag. Similarly, consider if they are asking time-worn questions that fall short of getting a full picture of who you are and what you are looking for.
The questions you ask are equally important. For example, how would they describe their culture and team dynamic? How do they define career growth and development opportunities for their employees? Additionally, a Forbes article recommends asking questions that reveal how transparent a company is. For instance, questions that address the company’s future milestones or, conversely, how they adjusted over the last few years to the challenges of the pandemic or the changing economy will give you an idea of how the company communicates and shares information with their employees.
Conducting a Thorough Assessment of a Potential Employer
When you are evaluating a potential employer—especially if you have multiple job offers to decide between—a thorough assessment is critical to making an informed decision. An experienced interviewer is naturally going to be good at “selling” their company as an employer. Digging deeper than the advertised employer brand will help you make a more informed career decision.
To start, checking out the organization’s social media profiles can provide a glimpse into the culture and shared beliefs of a company and its employees. What does their social presence look like? What are they and their leaders saying and sharing on social media? Does their online activity align with your values? Do their posts suggest the kind of work environment where you can thrive? Are they vocal about initiatives like community support, DEI and ESG initiatives, and philanthropic efforts? Do they publish metrics and anecdotes to back up their commitments?
Furthermore, what are the career paths of their leaders and other employees? What is their tenure at this company? What is the apparent growth track? Does this align with what you are looking for? The founder of HubSpot points out that a CEO who is on his fifth startup in the last decade is going to have different traits, mindset, and expectations than a CEO who has risen through a more traditional career ladder. What kind of leadership will you thrive under?
What are customers saying? A Forbes article looked at studies correlating customer happiness with employee happiness, suggesting that happy customers are a byproduct of a satisfying workplace. If customers are leaving positive reviews on Google, this may indicate a positive experience for the company’s employees. For further insight, find out if anyone in your network has information about the company, such as any former employees or customers.
If it is a public company, what do their financials say? They are required by law to report their financial performance, and an HBR article also points out that any member of the public is welcome to attend earnings calls for more information. Does their business performance appear to support employee growth?
Finally, if the company is in a different industry from your previous experience, make an effort to understand it first. Is it historically recession proof or more prone to turbulence in the economy? Is it growing or stagnant? How may this impact your long-term career?
Working with a Recruiter for the Inside Scoop
When you are searching for your next contract opportunity, the process of evaluating a potential employer is critical to ensuring the right fit for your career path.
It can be difficult to get an objective view of your circumstances and prospects when you are in the middle of it all. That is where working with a trusted advisor can be highly valuable. A great recruiter may fill that role well. Recruiters have a clear view of how their clients’ hiring processes work and what their culture really looks like. Their networks run deep, which means you get the inside scoop when they have information about a potential employer.
At Resource 1, we take a relationship-based approach to IT recruiting and consulting. That means we put you and your goals first so we can be sure we are making the best fit when finding you your next opportunity.