What Do You Want Your Job To Look Like?

Mary Rosenbaum | February 25th, 2014

Are you looking for a new job? Are you deciding whether it’s time to look for a new job? There are important factors to consider to make sure the job you’re in or the one you take positions you for the career goals you set.

There are always tradeoffs but there are also a few non-negotiables you might consider before making any decision. Based on my years of experience as an executive recruiter and a career management coach, here are my thoughts.

1. Reputation. Whether you are a seasoned employee or someone in the early stages of developing your career, there is value to working for a company that is respected and successful in its industry.

What is the company’s reputation? How does it compare with its competitors? What is the company’s track record?

If the company is considered among the top in their group the chances are that they are ahead of the curve in how they do what they do. The learning opportunities are greater. The skills you learn and the knowledge you gain will be leading edge.

If they are at the top of their industry they are respected for their ability to succeed in a competitive environment. Unsurprisingly, a halo effect of that respect trickles down to their employees.

As a former recruiter in the financial services industry, I found that there were a handful of companies whose name on your resume greatly enhanced your chances for future employment. These companies were considered to be the “Harvard” of the financial services world. Their names always helped open doors. And companies like this exist in all industries.

At the same time, working for a company with a dubious reputation has the exact opposite effect. In my experience, it’s not unusual for a company that has problems, internal and/or external, to make offers and promises to potential candidates that are above what they might expect from more successful and well regarded competitors. Careful research into what those problems might be and how they could impact you and your career would be advisable.

2. Risk/Reward trade off. I’m often asked by clients whether they should consider moving to a start-up. Whether you are a seasoned professional looking for an opportunity to stretch your intellectual muscles or a young professional enticed by the new kid on the block, here are some things to consider.

If you are someone just starting to build your career you might be willing to look at opportunities in companies that are just emerging. Start- ups and young companies present excellent opportunities for professionals without a long track record. These companies tend to operate leaner with a more egalitarian approach to advancement based on success and performance rather than years of experience. They offer the ability to increase your knowledge and skills and move up the ranks faster than larger and more established companies.

If this risk doesn’t pay off, a younger professional has more ability to bounce back and secure a position with a more established organization down the road. Their “investment” in the startup could be viewed by a prospective employer as a skill building opportunity without any of the negative overtones.

Conversely, if you are a seasoned professional you would have to evaluate, aside from any financial considerations, how you could benefit from this move as you have a lot more at risk should the effort not pan out as anticipated. And just as important, you might consider what your exit strategy might be should you need one.

3. Impact/Responsibilities/Control. Any position should offer you intrinsic rewards that make you want to come to work each day. The following questions should adequately answer the “What’s in it for me?” question.

What impact will the work you do have on the company and it’s bottom line? Will you be able to expand your knowledge and skill set on the job? Will the company offer opportunities for you to grow professionally? How much control will you have over your day to day responsibilities? Will there be opportunities for professional advancement?

4. Culture. You will be spending most of your time at work and as we all know, work often occupies your mind most of the time regardless of where you are. Make sure you will be spending your time in a place where you feel comfortable and respected.

So ask yourself: What’s the company culture like? Will I fit in? Does my work ethic correspond with those I’ll be working with and for? Will the values I live by be respected? Can I be myself on the job?

4. Compensation. This is always a factor but not one that deserves the top spot. In most situations, compensation is largely determined by industry standards.  As I wrote earlier, an outsized offer is often a red flag that should be carefully evaluated.

If you are new to your career, compensation should play a much smaller role in the decision making process. Opportunity to learn, exposure to the industry, relationship and network building opportunities, and career building responsibilities should be the focus of any new position.

If you are a seasoned professional, the focus of your evaluation should be improved opportunities for advancement into leadership roles, the ability to leverage past experience into new areas of responsibility, increased visibility inside and outside your organization and industry, and increased autonomy and control. If you are the right person for the right job, the compensation will be commensurate with your expectations.

What other factors do you consider when making job and career decisions?

Want to grow your career opportunities and define your next role? Contact me.

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