What are the first things you look look for in a job opportunity?
Is it the prestige of the company or the job title? How about the salary or benefits?
While these are things worth considering, there are other job aspects to evaluate that will greatly impact how much you enjoy working for a company.
Here are 7 things to think about before you apply to another job.
Time to be creative
When work is hectic it’s challenging to think about anything other than the work that’s right in front of you. You might think of a great idea of a product or process improvement, but won’t have time to do anything about it.
Building time into your schedule to be creative means that you’ll have time to think about the future, test new ideas, and experiment.
Companies that are intentional about giving employees time to be creative have seen great results. Google, for example, is famous for giving their employees 20% of their week to work on other projects.
The results of some of those side-projects have turned into important Google products, like Gmail. Imagine the satisfaction of seeing your side-project turn into a huge success like that!
Unlike some of the other ideas on this list (which can be harder to determine in advance), this is normally something a company will brag about, if they offer it. So check out their hiring page or company culture page and see what they say.
No one likes to be micromanaged. It’s a great way to make someone feel incompetent and untrusted.
This can be hard to evaluate from outside the company, but you may be able to get a vibe by reading company reviews on a site like Glassdoor.
Also consider looking up some of the employees you’d be working with on LinkedIn and ask them what it’s like to work there.
During an interview, ask the hiring manager what their leadership style is. They’ll never explicitly say they’re micromanagers, of course, but you may be able to read between the lines.
Projects that make you think
What kind of projects will you actually be working on? Sometimes it will say this explicitly in the job ad. Other times you’ll have to read between the lines to get an idea of the size, scope, and variety of projects you’ll be working on.
Jobs tend to be more enjoyable when they challenge you and are intellectually stimulating.
Although you might be tempted to look for an “easy” job, the reality is that jobs that don’t require much from you and don’t grow your skills in any way, are not going to inspire you.
Not everyone dreads Mondays, and you don’t have to either. Look for opportunities that you think would stretch you in new ways, and where you can achieve new milestones in your skills and abilities. That’s the kind of stuff that will make you look forward to going to work every day.
Success and Failure
Does the company recognize employees when they do something awesome? This can go a long way to boosting employee morale.
How much this matters to you depends on your personality; some people prefer other forms of appreciation, but it’s nice to see a company giving credit where credit is due.
On the flip-side, how will the employer handle any shortcomings on your part? Ideally, managers will have regular one-on-ones with their direct reports to let them know how they’re doing. This gives you an opportunity to grow and make any necessary changes to the way you work before your next performance evaluation.
Some employers will provide the bare minimum to help you get your job done. Others go the extra mile to make sure you can get your job done as efficiently and comfortably as possible.
For example, a previous employer of mine let us choose our own mouse, keyboard, computer, external monitors, and noise-cancelling headphones. The noise-cancelling headphones were especially appreciated because we worked in a co-working space. The combination of gear I chose is still the best work setup I’ve ever had.
If you don’t know anyone who works at the company you want to apply to, check online to see if other employees have given any indication about what the company provides in terms of work equipment.
Do employees have a way to provide feedback to management? And is the company responsive to that feedback? If not, the risk is that employees will air the company’s dirty laundry on social media or sites like Glassdoor.
One employer I worked for did an annual anonymous employee survey and would review the findings at the annual company meeting, but no real change ever seemed to come from that.
A wise employer knows that happy employees are productive employees and will listen to your positive and negative feedback and respond to it.
I know that’s a lot of information. These are just things to keep at the back of your mind as you consider different opportunities.
I recommend choosing the one or two that resonated with you the most and focusing your research on them.
Are there any other criteria you use to evaluate jobs?