Written by Todd Euglow, Career Resources Specialist
In today’s economy it’s apparent that navigating the job market has become increasingly more difficult. This is due to a variety of reasons; however, a mistake that many college students make when entering the work force is jumping at the very first job opportunity that is offered to them or simply applying for jobs without having much understanding of the company’s culture, values, or mission. Everyone strives to find that “perfect job,” but the reality is that it may not exist, at least not right away. How do you balance the decision between taking that very first offer or applying to every job with finding the right fit? Too often, individuals do not take the time to educate themselves on the organizations to which they are applying well enough to make an informed decision on whether or not the company is right for them. This mistake could lead you to accept a position in which you will be extremely unhappy, which is never a good way to begin your career!
When you begin applying for positions and accepting interviews, keep this in mind: you are interviewing your potential employer just as much as they are interviewing you. So, how do you determine whether or not an organization is the right fit for you? While conducting your job search, keep these questions in mind:
- Could I see myself working here long term, more than just one or two years?
- Are there opportunities for advancement?
- What types of benefits will I receive? It’s not always about the salary. Does the organization value professional development and promote opportunities for new employees to grow?
- Could I see myself working with my potential coworkers for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week?
- Do the organization’s values align with my own?
You’re probably thinking, “I really just want to get paid!” Although it is often easier just to take the first offer you receive, studies have shown that when employees are satisfied with their work environment, they demonstrate increased levels of productivity and experience more success in the work place. You should begin to think about the long-term gain rather than the short-term benefits. Below are some tips and strategies to help you determine if a job or organization is a good fit for you:
- Do your research beyond what is listed on the company website. Although a website can tell you a lot about the organization, you need to dive deeper. Look at external sites that provide reviews of the company. Websites such as www.glassdoor.com provide reviews by current and past employees of many companies domestically and internationally. You have to remember that you can’t consider every review to be fact. For example, a disgruntled employee may have had some choice words to say about the previous employer from which he or she was just fired for stealing office supplies. You should look for themes and consistencies among the reviews.
- Are there articles about the company that have been published by a reputable source from which you can draw some information? Is the company launching a new humanitarian effort that aligns with your values?
- Do you know anyone who currently works or previously worked for the company who can provide you with some insight?
- Do you truly know yourself? Have you considered taking personality assessments such as the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator to help you better understand your values and personality traits? This service is available at the Missouri State University Career Center.
- If you already have an interview scheduled, do some research while you’re there. Survey the work environment (Is it messy or organized?), strike up a conversation with the receptionist, monitor how the employees interact with each other, ask questions of your interviewers that help you better understand them and what they value. Obviously I don’t mean asking personal questions, but make them relevant to the company and how it operates; for example a question that you may ask is “Could you describe your company’s management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?”
The job search process can be very stressful. Proper planning and research will help you to not only better understand your goals for your first position, but also provide you with a clearer concept of what you value and how you can contribute to a company. This will ultimately come through to a potential employer and assist you in making the right choice in your search.