At my company, ProLango Consulting Inc, I see clients that get excited about job descriptions that look interesting on the surface but aren’t a good fit long term. Desperately wanting to become employed they accept the new opportunity only to find out that the company culture is just not working for them and they either terminate their employment or are fired for being a misfit.

Besides the physical experience of losing employment, all over again, the psychological impact is often devastating and similar to that of trauma or the feeling of loss.

Why waste time targeting a company, customizing your resume, finding and networking with the right decision makers, preparing for the interview and even negotiating salary when it’s just not the right opportunity in the first place?

Is there a way to avoid this? How can you decide in advance if a company is a good fit for you?

Conduct secondary research. If you haven’t yet, take a look at a site called glassdoor.com. It shows anonymous reviews by both current and former employees of the company. Since the information shared is anonymous, chances are high that you’ll get details beyond what a current employee would feel sharing without running the risk of jeopardizing their career.

Also consider looking up the company on Google. Reviewing customer feedback, lawsuits, media coverage, third-party blogs and tweets could give you a better perspective on the company. This type of research is often called secondary research.

Engage in primary research. Look up former and current employees on linkedin.com and reach out to them to setup an informational meeting. In my experience working with hundreds of clients I’ve noticed that former employees are more willing than current employees to share the truth about what it’s really like to work at the company.

Ask about the culture, management, work environment and anything else that is important to you. What is work-life balance like? Is the company pro-collaboration or micromanaged? This information can help you decide whether you wold really enjoy or excel in working at this kind of environment. This type of research is often called primary research.

Compare your career goals and values with that of the prospective company. Now that you’ve gathered the necessary information from these sources it’s time to make your final decision. Is this company aligned with your values or is there a major possible conflict? If you truly want work-life balance do yourself a favor and avoid working at companies that have an extreme burnout rate.

To find your values ask “When it comes to my career, what’s most important to me?”

List your top 3 – 5 values and make sure to find companies that will fulfill your needs. After all isn’t that the primary purpose of our careers?

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6 Responses to Is that employer a good fit for you? Three things to check for

  1. Samia says:

    Hi Paul,
    I really appreciate your thoughts and approach on such a timely topic. As a career coach like you who is connecting with job seekers and career changers on a consistent basis, I also see people rushing to make quick decisions to seize an opportunity just because it’s offered and they are eager to make a change or be employed again. Like you, I also teach my clients to have ‘filters’ like being in touch with their values, career expectations, desired work environment, etc. Additionally, I ask them to consider how working for this company or in this job helps them not only with this current step in their career, but also with their longer term careers goals. This alignment and thought process truly helps the candidate feel empowered to make a conscious decision that leads them to long term satisfaction and fulfillment with their choice.

    I would also add another two questions to consider –
    1) Does the company respect and value your functional area of expertise? The answer will show you how secure your job may be, how valued your contribution could be and whether you have an uphill climb to prove not only your place, but potentially your functional area’s place, in the organization.

    2) Does the company see your area of expertise as an integral part of the organization? The answer to this will reflect your opportunity to have a meaningful impact on the business and the organization…maybe even within your industry and the marketplace as a whole.

    Thanks again for this great article, Paul! I look forward to sharing it with my clients and other job seekers who are doing research to target their next company.
    Cheers,
    Samia Kornweibel

  2. Tasha Mills says:

    Thanks Paul for this post. It speaks to what I have been telling my career coaching clients about not just taking a job because it is open and offered. I set the foundation for this early in our sessions so that they understand that they are in control of their job search and to be proactive instead of reactive. I find that it is difficult for people to understand that they have a say in their career and that it is ok to not take a job that does not fit their career goals. I like to give examples of people who are very strategic in their career goals and go after what they want and not just take a job that comes to them.

  3. Gwen says:

    I’d like to second Samia’s suggestion to investigate whether the company respects and values your functional area of expertise. You ideally want to be highly valued to the business. For example, if you like to program, you contribute more to the bottom line for a software company than a for a retail store. Just something to keep in mind.

  4. Marilyn says:

    Thank you Paul and Samia for your advice. All very good advice, I wish I could have had that a year ago. I did my research but did not think of those avenues to research and I think would not have taken my current job if I had. I will be looking for another job soon and plan to implement these new techniques. Thanks

  5. Donta' Moore says:

    I totally agree with all of your suggestions with how to choose a new employer. As a head-hunter for 10 years, many people are referred my way looking for new opportunities, or for interviewing help. In 85% of the cases the individual knows little about the organization and has done little research on the potential employers website to familiarise themselves with the organization, the companies mission, values etc.

    We are in a new day and age it pays to be prepared. I would add to look at the potential employers website and find things you can genuinly find interest in.

    Good Luck

  6. Katy says:

    I had never thought of this, until taking the Prolango. I had to keep catching myself, as I prepared the list of companies I MYSELF wanted to work for. I would be distracted to look at customer service jobs, when of course I didn’t know much about the culture. It is surprisingly possible to know something about the culture, I have learned in Prolango’s thorough information about the whole process of getting a job. Last week, I realized about three days into the process of interviewing with a company that it was far from what I was in sync with, values-wise for my role.
    THANKS Paul and Jason, for continually reminding us that, even though you want us to get a job as much as we want that, you really can focus on what you want and getting that across. And researching to know that, before a first interview even. (and I sense that an interview is more possible by researching.)