Selecting an ideal employer can be a tricky endeavor. It is easy to judge a company by the friendly interviewers, modern furniture and above-average perks. However, employment satisfaction requires a few more factors that may be challenging to assess. Here are some things to consider before saying "yes" to a job offer:
First, is the position something you truly want? Of course, there are some roles you take because you need to be employed. For the purpose of this article, let's assume you do not need to take a specific job. Rather, you are looking to upgrade or alter your current role.
Take a little time to ponder what you desire in a career. Consider the tasks and duties you enjoy and make you feel successful when completed. Think about your professional goals, both for the immediate future as well as three to five years down the road. Also, factor in environment, culture, management style and the company's future, as well as other lifestyle priorities, such as work-hour flexibility and commute.
While there is no such thing as just one perfect position, knowing your criteria gives you a reasonable scale by which to grade potential opportunities. Look at how the position matches immediate and longer-term desires and goals.
This process can be very similar to selecting where you want to go to college. Truly career-minded students evaluate schools on both the experience of actually attending the college as well as how their education will impact their professional life after graduation. An ideal university can be really enjoyable to attend and set you up for life in the real world. The right job can do the same.
Second, what are the perks, and what are their trade-offs? If you are fortunate enough to have an offer in process with a firm that has perks, calculate the true value of these benefits. Employers offer perks to increase their ability to attract and retain highly competitive employees and to boost productivity or minimize nonwork distractions.
In a recent Silicon Valley Business Journal article titled The Best Things at Work Are Free: Revving Up the Race for Perks, reporter Angela Swartz writes how Google, a clear leader in providing on-campus benefits, offers perks to minimize the need to complete mundane tasks typically done after work or on the weekend, such as dry cleaning, grocery shopping and getting haircuts. The logic is that if you can get these done at work, you can go home and relax. By the way, if you work a 50-to-60-hour-plus workweek, you probably won't be able to accomplish many of those tasks if they weren't provided at the office.
Perks seem enticing. All forms of compensation, perks included, are offered for a reason. Before overvaluing a benefit, determine what the trade-off is for receiving the benefit and if it is something you really want or need. If it is, great. If not, make sure to adjust accordingly when comparing the payoff for a specific role.
Third, will you work for a manager, team or business that is invested in your success? Don't solely focus on who is the smartest or most accomplished in a field, but who will also take the time to impart knowledge and award opportunity. We live in a time of information excess. It is easy to access "knowledge" online, but it is tough to discern what really matters. In-person mentorship and guidance is priceless. It is customized to your needs and relevant to your path.
Find a boss or environment that promotes individual employee development. Even the best mentors are limited by their own work commitments, so inquire how other employees have performed under their management and how the organization supports (or impedes) professional development.
The best teachers do not have to be experts in your specific role. Take, for example, renowned orchestra conductors. They are not selected because they excel at playing every instrument. However, they excel at drawing out the best of each musician and bringing many players together for a brilliant concert.
Great managers and great businesses are similar. If there is a track record of achieving success through inspiring the best in others, you will likely be in great hands. Furthermore, investment in your professional development is a benefit that will serve you well throughout your whole career -- not just while you are employed.
Robin Reshwan is the founder of Collegial Services, a consulting/staffing firm that connects college students, recent graduates and the organizations that hire them and a certified Women's Business Enterprise (WBE). She has interviewed, placed and hired thousands of people across a broad spectrum of companies and industries. Her career tips and advice are used by universities, national clubs/associations and businesses. A Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Robin has been honored as a Professional Business Woman of the Year by the American Business Women's Association. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and as a Regents Scholar from University of California, Davis.