If resumes and cover letters are meant to be about the employer's needs, when is it your turn to make the job search about you? At the start of your search, you have the opportunity to identify your preferred employers and target your search strategies toward those organizations. But the question you should be asking yourself is how do you identify a preferred employer? What makes one organization better than another?
Here are some things to look for as you go through your potential employer checklist:
Where/how you work- In the global, digital economy, the idea of working 9-5 in one specific location is becoming less and less practical. Telecommuting and flex work hours may allow you to live father away from the office if you don't have to travel there on a daily basis. Check on the employer's HR page to see if telecommuting and flexing hours is a standard practice, and if it's important to you then make sure you discuss it before signing on.
Training - Training is important, and I'm not talking about new employee orientation. Employers are increasingly recognizing that employees need continuing development to stay engaged in the company, and industry. Does your potential employer offer you opportunities for continuing education? Do they have in-house training? Tuition subsidies? Conference reimbursement? Mentoring? The more that your current or potential employer offers, the better. It means that they are willing to make an investment in their employees and in return, they will expect you to continue to grow and share your new skills or knowledge with others.
Turnover - Does the employer have high turnover? If so, find out why. Organizations like Costco have an exceedingly low employee turnover because of the work environment and the fact that they pay better than the going rate. Happy employees don't leave, so if staffers are heading out the doors in a mass exodus you need to find out why before venturing into that territory.
Culture - Read through the corporate mission statement, values, and reviews on sites like Glassdoor, and don't underestimate the value of informational interviews with former employees to get a sense of the organization's culture (check out your LinkedIn network for potential contacts). Does it fit with the environment and ethos you want? Great. Have questions? Ask before you commit yourself to make sure that the organization will fit with what you are looking for in this next phase of your career.
Benefits - I'm not talking about medical, though that's important too. What I'm talking about here are things like topping up maternity leave, extended leave for caring for family members, scholarships for children attending post-secondary training, pet insurance (yes, some companies offer this to their employees who might be pet-parents)... These are just some of the types of additional benefits that you want to look for in an organization where you will conceivably be for 3-5 years or more.
So what's on your list for your preferred employer? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or join in the conversation on LinkedIn.