According to a Pew analysis of Labor Department data, the average U.S. working adult works more than 1,800 hours per year. Given that we spend so many waking hours working, the job search process is crucial. In fact, you should think of it as something that’s as important as considering a new romantic partner.
I’ve worked in recruiting for 13 years and firmly believe that we need to reframe the recruiting process. Rather than viewing the hiring process as one where a candidate is lucky to get the job at a certain company, we should consider it a journey that the candidate and the company go through together.
As things fluctuate between a candidate’s market and an employer’s market, grounding the experience so it’s mutually beneficial for both groups is increasingly important for engagement, retention, and growth.
What can you do as a job seeker to make sure you’re not swiping incorrectly for your next role? Follow these four key steps that will help you make sure you’re finding the right opportunity for you:
Examine the company’s values
Even in today’s economy, where the unemployment rate is high, remember that taking a job will have an affect on your morale, your confidence, and your growth. Accepting short-term roles may be necessary to pay the bills, but make sure to still examine the values of any prospective company.
Think about this like going on a first date. You probably would likely ask your potential partner what was important to them. Vetting a future company is no different. All companies go through peaks and valleys (like most relationships) and what will keep everyone on the same page is the understanding of what’s important to that company.
Core values are the cornerstone of what the company believes in. Aligning yourself with those principles as much as possible will help you be successful in your role. Make sure to ask the company’s recruiter or the hiring manager about these values.One way you might get a better sense of their priorities in the initial interview is to ask:
- What pillars or values does the company hold on to?
- How have those values affected the company in this current climate?
- What are some examples of those pillars and values?
If a recruiter says that the company believes in employee growth as a principle, ask what that means. There are also a few websites that feature employee reviews of companies. While those are helpful in your research, the most helpful reviews tend to be the ones from those who are still at the company. Reading those reviews will help you understand how the company functions currently.
Look at how your future manager communicates
Communicating with someone new is always an experiment. Whether you’re exploring love languages or discovering what time of day is best to have certain conversations, communication takes work. Communication methods are critical in understanding how you are going to be successful in your next role.
When talking to the hiring manager about a new role, ask them how they communicate. Do they use readme‘s? Prefer weekly one-on-one meetings? Like written communication over Zoom meetings? Getting clear on their preferences will help you see if they align with yours.
When interviewing candidates, one of the sentences I hear the most is “I don’t like micromanaging.” I’ve only met a few people who prefer it as a means to understanding what’s expected of them. But overall, get clarity. Ask about managerial practices and preferences. What is considered “micromanaging” to you may not be the same to your future manager.
If the answers you get to the above don’t seem well thought out, you should take note and think about how this aligns with your work style. One way to dig deeper into communication style is to think of a question you may have for the company or hiring manager and send that question as a follow-up email. Did they respond in a reasonable amount of time? Did the answer satisfy your question?
Think about how you might grow
Very few people like to stay the same in relationships. Sure, you keep the core sense of what makes you, well, you. But growth is important in your personal life as well as your professional life. According to Gallup, the number one reason people leave their jobs is career growth opportunities. The key here is that mobility can mean so many things; it’s not just a monetary increase or a new title.
It’s important to understand how you will be expected to learn and contribute to your role, your department, and at the company. Will those expectations make you happy and fulfilled? Some basic questions around understanding growth would include:
- How does your company or team promote learning?
- Is there cross-training within the department or team?
- What measurables do you have for employees to ensure that they are staying relevant within the role?
Understand what agility means to the company
Discovering how we can be flexible in our relationships allows us to understand our boundaries. This is most certainly the case for your potential new company, as not all company directions are the same. It’s important to understand your own comfortability when it comes to strategic change in the workplace. Are you someone who prefers routine and stability? Are you someone who loves to be adventurous and can pivot quickly when asked to?
A recent Forbes Scrum survey of executives found that 81% of them agreed agility was important. But organizations move at different speeds. Some larger companies move at a slower pace when it comes to strategic directions or change, so their pace can be gradual. Startups have the benefit of being quick to adapt to their business needs without a lot of layers of approvals. Finding out your comfort zone by asking how the company makes strategic decisions helps you understand if that environment is right for you.
Tara Turk-Haynes is the director of people at Leaf Group, where she oversees talent acquisition and engagement. Prior to that, she worked in talent and administrative operations for large public companies, as well as start ups.