Let’s say you’re looking for a job. Your skill set, education, and prior experience make you a great fit for two or three job postings. The job requirements and compensation are basically the same. The only difference is that they are with different companies. How do you decide which one to choose?
While finding the right job is important, finding the right employer is equally important (and often overlooked). The office culture, focus on interpersonal relationships, flexibility, collaboration style, and your autonomy preferences are just some of the factors that determine whether you and your specific employer are a match. Here’s how to make sure you pick the right employer — not just the right job.
Does the employer respect your time?
Everyone always talks about being on time for a job interview and being prompt in your email or phone communications with any potential employer, but to determine whether a company is the right fit for you you need to ask yourself: do they value my time? For example, you show up at the appointed time but are left waiting for 30 minutes to an hour. This sends the message your time isn’t valued even as a candidate, much less an employee, in which case you may want to back away.
How does the company culture mesh with your preferences?
A seemingly perfect job with great pay can still be unsatisfying and you can ultimately feel out of place if you don’t mesh with the employer’s culture. In other words, you need to feel like you fit like a puzzle piece inside the company — the relationships you have with your boss and other employees, your communication style, how you like to work, what tasks you prioritize, and so on.
Forbes suggests paying close attention to the mundane within the workplace — the basic, everyday aspects of how the office operates. Get a feel for how people communicate with each other. It’s also okay to grill your prospective boss about this (a two-way interview is preferred). Get specific. Do you want to be in a workplace where everyone is playing ping pong on breaks and grabbing beers after their shift ends, or do you value a more professional environment? Neither is better or worse — just specific to your own desires.
Make sure to match your working style with what the employer wants of you
How you work is often as important as the when, where, and what of it. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are for a job, if your preferred working style is different from that of your fellow employees, team members, or at odds with what your boss requires of you, it’s probably not the right employer for you. If you like a high degree of autonomy, you don’t want to work for an employer that micromanages. If you are a collaborator, you want to find a place that values teamwork in solving problems.
They must be flexible
Rigid employers are rarely good options for skilled employees. In fact, any good employer values flexibility — and it’s a two-way street. If you are flexible with your employer, they must be flexible with you. No exceptions. And if you value your own flexibility as much as you should, you will refuse to work for anyone who doesn’t prioritize your needs.
Finally, once you’ve found the employer that’s right for you, you need to show them that you’re the perfect applicant for the job. Let them know that you value compatibility, and this isn’t just a job for you — it’s a partnership. You can do this during your interview and through your prepared resume and cover letter. That cover letter is of utmost importance when it comes to articulating your goals and desires. In writing that cover letter, which should be tailored for the job, be sure to explain exactly why you’re a perfect fit for the company, and why they are the perfect fit for you.
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