Searching for a new job is stressful. Between resumes, cover letters, interviews, and sample assignments, it can leave you feeling a little lost at sea. And, unfortunately, getting a job offer isn’t necessarily the end of your worries. After all is said and done, you still may be left wondering, “Is this job right for me?”
Luckily, there are a few things that you can do during your job search to help you find the perfect match and instill confidence in your decision to accept a job offer.
IN THIS ARTICLE…
- How to prioritize your needs in your job search
- How to analyze a job posting
- How to research employers
- What questions to ask during a job interview
How to prioritize your needs in your job search
There are many aspects of a job aside from the work itself that you should consider before starting your job search. To find a position and employer that’s best suited for you, think about what you value in a job and a workplace.
Here are some of the main things to consider. It can be helpful to jot down some notes as you go through these categories so that you can prioritize what is most important to you when you start looking at job postings.
Compensation and benefits
Perhaps one of the most important things on your mind going into a job search is salary and benefits. One survey found that the second most common reason why people reported turning down job offers was that the salary or benefits package didn’t meet their expectations.
Before you start looking at postings, you should have a good idea of what salary you’d like to earn. Whether you’re using what you made at your previous job as a reference point or going off your cost of living, it helps to have a number that can help narrow down your options.
Though compensation is important, for many jobseekers nowadays, money isn’t everything. In fact, recent surveys show that 65% of millennials value company culture more than high income. Perhaps you’re looking for a workplace that centers around collaboration and teamwork. Maybe you’re looking for a playful work environment. You may find that you thrive with structured and methodical work.
If this is something you want to place emphasis and priority on in your job search, think about what exactly you’re looking for in a company culture-wise. Think about and compile a list of the core values that you’d like to see in a company. Later, when you’re researching employers, refer back to your list of values and see which ones closely align with your ideal culture.
Do you want to find a job position that allows you to travel and work? Are you hoping to work for a company that offers flexible hours so you can drop off and pick up your kids from school? Do you prefer to come into the office occasionally to collaborate with team members?
For some, job flexibility is a must; for others, it is just an added perk. Consider what you’re looking for in terms of job flexibility and how important it is for your job search. Luckily, more and more employers today are offering remote work options and adaptable schedules to accommodate those who feel more productive from places other than the office.
Losing a sense of inspiration at work can leave you feeling drained, unmotivated, and lost in your career. According to research, nearly 70% of people say they define their purpose through work. Most yearn for their work to be meaningful and to make some sort of difference in the world.
If purpose beyond making money is a motivating factor for you, you’ll want to find an employer that can help you fulfill this. And a job doesn’t need to be saving lives to be meaningful. There are numerous ways to get this in a job, whether it’s finding an employer with a philanthropic mission, a company that provides a beloved product or service, or a role that allows you to connect with people in a positive way.
Many companies take pride in their efforts to help employees grow in their careers. You can find employers that offer educational opportunities, allow employees to learn from other departments, and provide growth opportunities by hiring from within.
If advancing in your career is important to you, it’s important to find an employer that will foster this and not let you sit stagnant for years.
How to analyze a job posting
A job posting will be your first opportunity to preview a job and employer. With that being said, there are a few things to keep in mind when analyzing a job description:
Look further than the job title.
Job titles aren’t standardized, so don’t discount a job just because the title isn’t exactly what you’re looking for. Some recruiters may tack on flashy words or titles to get more applicants. The only way to know what a job will consist of is to read the full description.
See if your skills align with what they are looking for.
Every job posting should have a list of skills that are required for the role. It’s important to have most of the abilities and knowledge that they are looking for— especially when it comes to hard skills. However, some requirements may be more flexible than others. Though criteria like a college education may not be negotiable, the employer may allow you to learn some skills on the job.
Look for any other indicators that the employer and position meet your priorities.
Some employers will include a little blurb about their company in the job description. They may describe the workplace culture, let you know about perks and benefits that they offer, or list the salary range for the position.
These descriptions can be a good indicator of whether or not the employer will meet your needs. For instance, an employer might say that the position is remote-optional. If flexibility is one of the most important factors for you, this job may go to the top of your list.
Make sure the expectations and responsibilities are reasonable.
You can usually pick up on some red flags from companies just by reading the job description. If the list of responsibilities seems too demanding for one person, carefully consider applying.
How to research employers
After you’ve looked at job postings, do a little research to decide whether or not an employer is a good fit for your personal and professional life. There are several places that you can turn to in order to find more information.
- The company’s website: Here, you’ll find information about a company’s core mission and values. It’s also the best place to learn more about the company’s history, what they do, and who they serve.
- Their social media: You can further dive into a business and their reputation by checking out their social media channels. Analyze the kind of content they’re posting, the audiences they’re engaging with, and the type of feedback that they’re getting.
- Articles in local news, national news, business journals, or forums: A quick Google search may provide you with news articles— both good and bad— about the company. Browse any PR and write ups to learn about recent accomplishments and whether they live up to their values.
- Your network or people you may know that work there: Asking people you know who have worked there or currently work there is perhaps one of the best ways to get an honest look at life at that company.
- Employer reviews: Unfortunately, you won’t have friends at every company. Using employer review sites like JobSage can give you a sense of their reputation, strengths, and weaknesses from people who work there.
Should you decide that an employer is a good match, your findings can be beneficial in the interview process and help you better understand how you can apply your skills in the role.
What questions to ask during your job interview
The job interview is one of the last chances you’ll have to assess your fit with an employer before you’re offered a job. Use this as an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the position and life at the company. Come to your interview prepared with questions.
There are several areas that you can inquire about— the role, company history, job expectations, and company culture, just to name a few. We’ve compiled a list of ten questions that you can ask or use to spark other ideas.
- Can you describe a typical day or week in this role?
- How will I be trained and do you offer any opportunities for advancement or professional development?
- Where have previous employees in this position progressed to?
- What is the performance review process like?
- What is your favorite part of working here?
- What is the company’s plan for growth or expansion?
- Who will I be working with most closely?
- What is the work environment like? Is the work more independent or collaborative?
- Are there any office traditions?
- What team-building activities does the company facilitate?
Some of your questions will likely be answered during the interview, but you’ll want to be prepared when they ask if you have any others.
At JobSage, we’re setting out to build an employer review site around things that matter most to jobseekers— inclusion, growth, purpose, feedback, flexibility, and compensation. We want to help you find the right employer by getting answers to the questions you care about. Join JobSage for guidance in your job search or to leave a review for your employer to create a more open, transparent conversation in and around the workplace.
Cover photo via Unsplash