There has never been a better time to look for a job. Across all industries, employers are eagerly looking for talent. Here’s a number to wrap your head around: According to Statista Research Department, by the last business day of December 2021, there were about 10.93 million job openings in the United States.
If you’re looking for your first or even second job, and the future is something of an abstract concept, consider this: The average 18–24 year old will have 5.7 career changes between the time they enter and exit the workforce. In short, your next move is likely not your last trip to the plate, so you can be selective.
Newfound flexibility around work caused by COVID, paired with a historically tight labor market, has led to the Great Resignation. This means that companies are looking to aggressively compete for your talent. As you look to enter, re-enter or reposition yourself in the workforce, you may find yourself with the luxury of choice between multiple employers. COVID has drastically changed the rubric by which we measure a workplace’s value—(i.e., hybrid work environments, generous benefits packages, historically high funding)—so use the following tips to decide the best fit for your next career move.
You deserve to be proud of where you work. You deserve to be accepted and heard at work. You deserve to work at a company that goes beyond the fluff about being a force for good. Find a company that walks the walk on sustainability, social responsibility, diversity hiring, and inclusive communication. Do research before the job interview and feel encouraged to ask questions.
- Do they have a handle on emissions-releasing activities?
- How does their product positively affect the average American worker?
While you’re asking your interviewer questions, observe their responses and ask yourself, “Do the people you’re interviewing with listen and seem genuinely interested in what you have to say?” Novelist Milan Kundera once wrote, “All relationships are essentially formed at the beginning.” That means the job interview is a leading indicator of integrity. Wise words in today’s job market.
There are a lot of definitions of culture, but the most serviceable is: “the way things get done around here.” Attempt to draw back the curtain and find out how culture dictates peoples’ actions within the company. Are prospective colleagues given the tools and support to exceed expectations? Is feedback delivered consistently and fairly? Culture should be articulated easily, so if folks interviewing you have trouble defining it, then that could be a red flag.
If the business model at the company you’re considering seems to be unsustainable or wouldn’t survive the stress of competition, follow your instincts. Here’s an example: Suppose one of the companies you interview with is marketing and selling the exact same product as another more established player in the space. Unless their business model has a unique value proposition, it likely won’t make it. Sometimes companies are working with an outdated or unsustainable business model in the hopes that they will get funding or get acquired, but it’s far more likely they will be disrupted by new innovations or interrupted by stagnant revenue.
- How do you see the company evolving in the next six months, year, or five years?
- What obstacles will impact the business’s success and longevity?
- How does this company compete with its main competitors?
These questions should provide you with a better understanding of the company’s business model and position in the marketplace.
Every company will promise growth. Focus on the opportunities to grow your skill set and be exposed to new disciplines. As time management guru Steven Covey espoused, “Begin with the end in mind.” Have a sense of where you’d like to be in your career in one, three, and five years. A good company will support a career trajectory, not just a short-term gig. Some questions you may want to ask are:
- What benefits do you offer to support the individual growth of employees outside of the workplace?
- Does the company offer internal networking opportunities?
LinkedIn learning, tuition assistantship, and learning stipends are examples of ways employers can encourage employees to upskill outside of day-to-day work. Other opportunities for growth happen within companies, i.e., networking with peers across departments to develop a deeper understanding of how the business operates cross-functionally.
All this is not to say you shouldn’t hone your resume and work on your personal presentation skills. Those are the basics. The company you seek will go beyond the basics and your career will be the better for it.
Jason Lee is the CEO and founder of DailyPay.