Don't jump: Carefully research prospective employer for a good match

By: Barbara Bowes
Date: July 17, 2010
The Winnipeg Free Press

The recent Statistics Canada job figures indicate employment has risen by a whopping 93,000 new jobs in June alone. While the jobs were evenly split between full- and part-time work, it appears that these latest gains have offset nearly all of the jobs lost during the fall downturn of 2008.

This certainly looks hopeful for young people looking for summer jobs, but it also spells good opportunity for other job seekers as we move through the summer and into the fall.

Yet, I must warn you, there are still challenges out there. By this, I mean that job seekers still need to be careful to avoid accepting the first job opportunity that might be offered.

As well, incumbents currently employed need to be careful not to jump from one employer to another simply because one feels a sense of flattery after being contacted with a new offer. Candidates not only need to do their own research on the job opportunity itself, as well as the potential new employer, but they also must really know themselves and what makes them happy at work.

So let's take a moment and examine some of the assessment criteria that can be used to assess whether a job is the right one for you.

Industry sector evaluation -- Take time to evaluate the industry sector you are interested in and evaluate it for job longevity as best you can. What is happening in this sector? Is the sector declining or growing? Have there been layoffs? If one company has downsized, then more than likely other companies will also do so over time. Where do you think the industry sector will be in 10, 20, or 30 years? What technological changes will affect the industry? Your answers will help to assess your career potential in that sector.

Large or small -- Do you know the environment where you are best suited to work? For instance, some people shun small companies because they feel more personally secure in a larger company. Yet, there are often more opportunities to learn and progress with a smaller firm. On the other hand, yes, smaller firms might be more risky. Check out your comfort level and need for security and apply this to assessing your new workplace.

Personal and organizational values -- People have values and so do organizations. Check out your potential employer by reviewing its website, its job ads and the people described within. But don't stop there. Ask around, do an informal assessment. Is the potential employer a quiet, low-key organization or is it high profile? How will this affect your own values. Make sure there is a fit with your values. Without the right fit, you will not be comfortable and will not feel that you belong.

What's the opportunity? -- No matter what, every person wants to learn, grow and progress in their career. So, what is the value of accepting a new position with a new employer? What will you learn? Who will you get to know that could advance your career? What kind of network could you build? Will there be quality people around you from whom you can learn? Will you be challenged and for how long? Will this be a one-year, three-year or five-year opportunity?

Does the leadership style fit? -- It is well known that when employees leave, they most often leave because of leadership. Do you know which leadership style best motivates you? Find this out first and then check out to ensure a match with a new employer. For instance, if you are a team player but the new boss is more of a micromanager rather than someone who develops the skills of a team, I guarantee, you won't last long.

Will tenure help or hinder your career? -- As you can expect, every organization has developed their own reputation in the marketplace. This reputation will then stick to you as well. For instance, some organizations are known for their excellent leadership and management training programs. This training will help catapult you to another career level. On the other hand, if an organization has a poor reputation, then your experience and credentials might well be discounted. Thus, take time to assess the value of associating yourself with a potential employer.

Does the compensation structure fit your goals? -- Many candidates fail to inquire about the compensation philosophy and structure, but rather tend to focus on the specifics of the job they are seeking. Yet companies always have a compensation philosophy such as a desire to pay market rates and/or pay their employees above or below the market. I can guarantee that companies that pay below market rates will not be the first to offer up a salary raise. And so, in spite of the fact that money is never the final motivator, an employee may find their sense of "fair felt pay" is not satisfied and they will eventually leave.

Will you experience job satisfaction? -- My motto has always been that if you are not doing what you are good at and love to do 80 per cent of the time, then you need to be looking for another job. This means that candidates really need to know themselves well, not only what skills they have to offer but also what motivates them. This knowledge creates a job check list from which you must achieve an 80 per cent rating or else the job is not the right one for you.

Are there stepping stones to the future? -- Most organizations have some form of hierarchy. As a candidate, you need to know how this might affect your career over the long term. Family owned businesses, for instance, will not often provide senior leadership opportunities, yet what you can learn in the meantime might be of great value. Larger organizations, on the other hand, can offer opportunities to transfer to various departments where you can learn new skills and gain broader experiences. Assess what is important to your career success.

My experience suggests that most candidates do not take time to assess a potential new employment opportunity from the point of view of their long-term career. Instead, they focus only on the short-term issue of getting a job. Yet, if you want to be truly happy and experience job satisfaction, your job must indeed be the right job. Therefore, take time to ensure you assess any job opportunity for the right fit for your skills, your values, your work environment, your goals and your dreams.

Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group, Manitoba's leading Talent Management Solutions firm. She is also host of the weekly Bowes Knows radio show and is the author of bestseller, Resume Rescue. Bowes can be reached at