Professor John Sullivan helps some of the world's best-known companies recruit and retain top-flight talent. He also helps his students at San Francisco State University select the job that's right for them. He's put together a guide to help talented people choose among competing offers. Here are five of his simple but powerful criteria for evaluating a job.
1. Does the job reflect your passion?
"What drives you in life? Is there anything that you love doing so much that you would continue to do it even if you were filthy rich?"
2. Will you have a great mentor?
"The leading cause of career unhappiness is working for a bad boss. Good jobs can easily be ruined by supervisors who hold you back. In contrast, your career will soar (and you will smile every day) when you have a great mentor helping you along the way. If you find a job with a super mentor, jump at the chance to take it."
3. Will you have opportunities to learn a lot, fast?
"Learning early in your career is crucial to advancing quickly. A job with lots of projects, growth opportunities, benchmarking, and many challenges is the kind of job you want."
4. Does the job encourage rapid change?
"Being at a company that is growing and changing quickly forces you to grow and change more quickly than you would otherwise."
5. Is the company either an EOC or an FPW?
"An EOC (Employer of Choice) is a company that everyone wants to work for. Being there exposes you to world-class business practice and gives you an impeccable pedigree that will prove invaluable if you ever choose to look for another job. A close second to working for an EOC is being at an FPW (Fun Place to Work). These two often overlap, but not always."
A version of this article appeared in the October 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.