Oftentimes, candidates are in a position where they JUST NEED A JOB. You’re in career free fall. This can be because of any number of reasons. Whatever the motives, they usually aren’t from a careful consideration of why you want to work for said company in said role. Desperation and need are never good reasons to apply for any job, but it is so common that it’s really the norm and not the exception. You may find yourself in this situation in your career at some time or another. Is there anything you can do apart from the knee-jerk reaction of taking whatever is available?
One thing you can do is start to treat job searching as a two-way street. Sure, every company you apply with has criteria for the job. But what is your criteria for working for that employer? Do you ever have any? Many candidates boil their criteria down to the ultimate size of the company (bigger is better) and the compensation (bigger is better). Those are hardly criteria at all, and almost certainly won’t set you up for success.
What you really need to ask yourself is, in what ways does this company fit my needs, my sense of self, my career path, and will my hard work be seen, appreciated, and rewarded?
It’s not a rule of thumb, but it could be said that the larger the organization is, the more anonymous you will be among a sea of others vying to get seen and promoted. But you also might make more money. According to the latest stats from The Cato Institute, a federal government employee can make as much as 80% more than their private company counterpart. The question you should probably ask yourself here is what are you giving up in the process? With that larger salary (and a pension) you might be giving up on your dreams entirely. It also might be true that all that makes you happy (or so it seems) is more money and more security. If you feel this way, that’s perfectly normal, though I can tell you that almost every coaching client I have tells me they gave up on their dreams to pursue money and financial security, only realizing years later that they feel unfulfilled by that choice, and want to start in a fresh direction again. This is the most common thing I hear in coaching sessions. Oh, and the fear of trying something new. But you know that this fear has been with you all along, and was instrumental in making you choose safely in the first place.
If you’re going to have any chance at being happy in your career, or with the companies you choose to work for, you cannot keep treating your career like a one-way street, with all of the power at the employer end. You are so much more than your skill-set. They are also buying your ‘x factor’, whatever that ‘x factor’ is. It’s what makes you special and more than one in a 100 other applicants. Because you are a special resource, you absolutely need to make sure the company you apply with is the right fit for you. Or you will be settling for a function than wilts your inner reserves and heart for the work.
How do you do that?
The first way is to research the company in every way possible. This will include talking to employees and former employees. There are many ways to research the reality within, which can be done by asking questions on that company’s social platforms. If you want to be more discreet, you can search out other postings by employees and former employees, see what people say on Glassdoor, see if there are any negative or positive reviews on sites such as Better Business Bureau.
Compare the company’s values, what you see of how they communicate about themselves, against the competition. Do you get the feeling they are a company who walks the talk? There are a lot of organizations out there who merely sell the function. Is the company you want to apply for selling an experience? Are they speaking to you?
How are you treated in the process? In an interview? There’s a misconception that candidates have to take whatever comes to them from an employer. This is particularly true if you’re in a tough economy when you have a great deal of competition and little opportunity. Fact is, if you don’t like how you’re being handled or talked to, not only do you not need to participate, you shouldn’t. You might think that you’ll lose if you don’t just take whatever comes on the chin, but that’s ultimately not true. You might lose this opportunity, but if you feel like the process or the interviewing was in any way insulting or demeaning or belittling, you can walk. Be prepared to walk from things that don’t sit right with your morals, ethics, or basic behaviours of decency.
When your job hunting, often you’re in free fall and need that parachute to open and save you from crashing out. Most of us don’t have savings enough to glide our way to the next thing. I get that. But don’t compromise who you are in the process of finding that next job. Be aware of what’s important to you, be aware of who you are and what you stand for and against. And make the best choices for you. Attracting the right talent isn’t a one-way street. You are the other part of that equation, and what’s important to you should be just as important, if not more important, than what’s important to the company looking to benefit from your skills and personality.
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