Playing For Keeps: How To Pick The Right Job

Juliana Casale • Aug 1, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Much in the same way that meeting people online has become the norm in the dating world, job hopping has become a much more acceptable behavior in the business world. And the financial benefits are enormous.  

The average raise at a company is 3% per year – but the average pay increase when you switch jobs is 10%. Here’s what happens when you switch jobs every 2 years, for 10 years:

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Even if you're not looking to make a move from your current job for financial reasons, odds are high in a competitive hiring city like Boston that if you are an experienced professional, a recruiter will at some point try to poach you as a "passive candidate" - especially if you have a strong presence on LinkedIn or social media.

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With so much choice at your fingertips, how do you evaluate whether a job opportunity is worth taking? It just so happens that I gave a presentation on this very subject at She Geeks Out's July networking event. Here are the tips I shared for conducting a thorough analysis:

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1. Know What To Look For

INTERNAL

These are health indicators that can impact your happiness as an employee:

Do they have clear expectations for your role?

It's hard to be successful when there is no target to aim for (or exceed). Not to mention, working towards a common goal is what keeps most teams motivated. Does your future employer have a good sense of what they'd like you to accomplish in the first 30, 60 and 90 days?

Does the company encourage/foster learning?

Once you're settled in your new role and no longer scrambling to master new tools or achieve hard-to-reach performance targets, will you be given access to management classes or technical workshops that will help you continue to level up your professional skillset?

Do they have a good promotion track record?

How often have current employees been given a title change, and does the company have a history of internal promotions vs. hiring from outside? You'll want to join a business that regularly recognizes people for their loyalty and hard work.

Is the company transparent with communications?

Keeping employees in the loop on major product, pricing, or personnel changes is a key feature of a great management/executive team. Regular all-hands meetings and/or team check-ins is a good sign to look for. 

Can you picture yourself getting along with your co-workers?

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The people you work with can make or break your experience at a company, so make sure that you factor in how well your interviews go with your future peers when you're evaluating whether to take a job or not. Are these people you can respect and learn from? Can you envision yourself collaborating with them on projects or asking them lots of questions?

EXTERNAL

These are health indicators that impact the long-term success of the business: 

Is the company actively talking to their customers?

A business is going to fail if it's not built to solve a real-world problem. How often does the company survey its users, or talk to them in person? Are sales demos recorded for analysis? Are customer support conversations archived? Make sure you spend your time working for a company that has a healthy investment in fixing challenges for its users. 

Are they part of a community?

Thanks to the rise of digital search and social media, people expect companies to be experts in their space; to provide helpful information, comment on trends and be a trusted advisor. Is your prospective employer tapped into what's going on in their industry?

Are they keeping an eye on competitors?

The last thing you want to do is make a move to a business that's about to become obsolete. Make sure you ask about potential rivals during the interview process and take note of what the company is doing to stay one step ahead. 

2. Know What To Avoid

These are serious red flags that may pop up during an interview:

Picture99.pngTeam siloes

If your team doesn't communicate actively with other teams, you're going to be missing out on a lot of customer insights, institutional knowledge -- and possibilities for expanding the scope of your role. 

Lack of mentorship

Will you be reporting directly to someone who doesn't understand what you do day to day? Unless you're used to being completely self-directed, it can be hard to work without someone helping you to set strategy or providing constructive feedback on your projects. 

 

 

Inexperienced managers

Being a great manager doesn't come naturally to a lot of people; it often takes years of experience or some dedicated training. Even with the best of intentions, an inexperienced boss may be too busy learning the ropes of their role to focus on helping you succeed at yours. 

High staff (or customer) turnover

Are people leaving the company more often than they are joining it? Are customers buying in -- and then heading for the hills? This is cause for concern, but it's not necessarily a dealbreaker. If you notice a trend, it's worth bringing up in an interview because the company may be taking steps to correct the situation. 

3. Research, Research, Research

Here's what you can do to prepare a pro/con list for any tough job decisions you're facing: 

  • Research market salary for the role and location so you can make sure you’re being offered what you’re worth.*
  • Check out Glassdoor reviews to find out what former employees have to say about their experience with the company.
  • Take a deep dive on LinkedIn to find out whether people tend to stay at the company a while. Also try to find out what happened to the last person who had the role.
  • Straight up ask someone who works there if they like it. Bonus points if you meet up with them in person!

*While an increase in salary is important, sometimes taking a job for a leg up in the company, for the title, or for increased responsibility may matter more to you. 

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Whether you're actively looking for a job, or being approached with offers, don't forget that interviews go two ways! Knowing what to look for, what to avoid, and what matters to you will help you get the information you need to make the right decision. 

 

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