I have a colleague who recently started to search for a new job. While out for coffee with him, we talked about the types of things we look for in future employers. Both of us agreed that the compensation package is obviously important when considering future employment, but there are lots of things beyond that to consider when job hunting.
We also agreed that a job interview should be (somewhat) two sided – the company obviously wants to know more about you, but you should also learn as much as you can about the company as well to see if you would be a good fit.
Previous Track Record
One of the most important things to consider is the track record of the company. Specifically – how did they do during the economic downturn of 2008? Did they layoff any staff or were they able to weather the storm? If layoffs were made, how many and what departments were hit?
A quick google search should give you a good starting point. A company that is strong enough and well diversified to handle an economic downturn is a huge draw for job hunters. On the other hand, a company that is forced to layoff staff during a downturn is less attractive because it means more risk (of job loss) is involved.
Other key questions to ask about the company’s track record are:
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they sell one product to one specific area or are they diversified?
- If they are public, how has their stock price performed and what are analysts saying about it?
Mindset of Senior Management
The way a company treats its employees is a good reflection of the values that it has. A quick glance on the company website should give you an idea of how employees are valued within the company. The best companies specifically answer the question that most job hunters have: why would anyone want to work for this company?
Along with a healthy compensation package, they should also give an idea of how staff is kept satisfied and motivated. Are there any corporate events to boost employee morale? Solid companies tend to offer flexible scheduling, the ability to work from home, the opportunity for professional development and mentoring.
I have browsed numerous company websites and can definitely get a better feel for what the mindset of senior management is simply by looking at what content there is available. If a company can’t explain what it offers job hunters and why you should want to work there – this could be a red flag.
Opportunities for Growth
If you do succeed in getting the position that you’re applying for, is there any opportunity for growth beyond that position?
The best companies offer the opportunity for professional growth no matter what stage of career you are at.
The company should be able to describe, in a nutshell, what the potential career paths within the company and also give an idea of how you can get there.
Personally, this is something that my colleagues value the most – it’s one thing to score a job you have always wanted, but in the long term it can hurt your career if it isn’t going to take you to the next level.
Conclusion: job interviews work both ways – the company is looking for the best candidate but you also need to make sure the company is the right fit for you. Companies that offer opportunities for cross training or promote ongoing education are more likely to develop their staff – and keep them happy.
What are some qualities you look for in a company when job hunting?