How to pick the perfect employer?
Finding the right company to work for isn’t easy. We have seen a lot of companies in our time and have seen our fair share of different working environments. And although we have been blessed with having some awesome companies to work with, we have also had a few that didn’t work out.
The companies that our Office Pantry partnership didn’t work out in weren’t necessarily bad companies and they didn’t do anything wrong, but for one reason or another things just didn’t work out.
Now before I go into finding the right company to work for, I want to break down the reasons why finding the right employer is important:
- Motivation – in day to day life you’ll experience a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes things will be going swimmingly and at other times they just won’t. By having a great employer, you can push each other to work harder, smarter and make sure that you are on top form as often as possible.
- Divide and Conquer – it’s difficult to do everything. One of the best things about having an employer with their finger on the pulse is that they can delegate tasks to others when it does not lie on your critical path, and in some cases take some of the work load from you. You’ll be able to focus on the areas you want to work within, specialise, and then become more efficient.
- Ideas – when you think of something awesome that will help the business and want to bounce it off of someone, who better a person than your employer? A great employer will be able to help germinate those ideas across the business, and you can always ask them for their take to make sure the idea is as good as you think it is.
- Networking – you can never know too many people. If you have a good relationship with your employer, not only can you help by tapping into your network, but you can also tap into theirs and find yourself and a gaggle of events that you never knew of to develop your interests and career.
- Development – a great rule of thumb to have is to learn something new every day. If you find yourself stuck in a job rut, you can quickly find your career stagnating. By learning something new and pushing your own development, with the full support, guidance and perhaps even mentoring from your employer, you will always find your job fulfilling.
Now that you know why you need to choose your employer carefully, here are some tips and tricks to go about finding the right one.
The company you work for is like a marriage
Before you pick one, you really need to understand that it is just like a marriage. Once you sign a contract, just like when you sign a marriage certificate, you’ll realise that things won’t be as romanticised as you initially thought and you’ll even discover things you won’t like about the company.
Don’t worry. This is natural. Underperforming areas are actually good because they will help you to flag and identify them and make change recommendations. Just make sure the issues you pick aren’t about people and filled with subjective reasoning. You need to make objective observations.
And don’t expect to simply resign when things aren’t going as well as you want them to. You have to work through things because an early resignation can be detrimental to your CV and career.
Don’t take on too much at once
Time has proven that the ideal number of direct managers to have in a company is 2 (with one of them being you). You can find yourself working for 3 (with two managers), but 4 is typically pushing the boundaries. If you have too many voices demanding your time you’ll notice that you will waste too much time prioritising work and sweating the small stuff.
From personal experiences, I have always found that the ideal number of managers is 2 (one of them being you). When there are more direct reports it can still work out, but you don’t want to have that much on your plate. You can typically find project work or offer to help with ad-hoc tasks around the business during your workflow lulls.
Never stop looking
You don’t know where you are going to find the right employer, and there is no short cut, so never stop looking. For example, we have been to plenty of employer fairs and looked on plenty of jobs boards before, but I ended up at Office Pantry after a recommendation from a friend and a mutual connection.
For ideas, the best places to find the perfect employer to work for are:
- Local networking events – head to meetup, eventbrite or Attending and filter by your preferred industry
- Industry events – keep tabs on upcoming conferences, such as what is going on at the ExCeL in London
- Career Fairs – such as Silicon Milkroundabout
- Friends and family
- University (if you are still studying)
Don’t jump at the first thing that moves
Once you feel that you have found the right fit, both in company and direct manager, don’t get ahead of yourself by taking the first job spec they give you. Before you start your career marriage, you need to make sure you really know them.
That means understanding what your potential boss is looking to do with their career, where the company will be focussing their future growth and which other areas they are looking to hire in.
Typically if you can’t find at least 6 months of company track record you shouldn’t jump into the job straight away. There is nothing wrong with waiting to learn more and hear advice form a mentor or others within the industry because you can’t make a choice after one meeting alone.
Set expectations from Day 1
Before you sign on the dotted line you need to make sure you do some expectation setting. All of my successful and happy friends have found a company and boss that works for them because they are a mutual fit for each other, and that was made clear from even before they started their first day.
You have to know what each of you are looking to get out of it before you start working. That way if one of you negates on your agreement, you can clearly point to what you expected and set it right immediately.
You aren’t doing this to mummy each other, but you are doing this so you can both benefit from the arrangement. Knowing what each person is looking for will also allow you to help each other if the opportunity arises.
Sign the deal
Now it is time to sign the contract. If there is no formalised employee contract (this should be a bit of an alarm bell in itself!) then it is worth getting a lawyer to draw one up. Make sure that both your name and the company is on the document. This way each party understands where they stand and what they are being held accountable to.
If you don’t have an employment contract you could run the risk of not having any rights. These problems won’t be immediately apparent in the honeymoon phase, but they will arise if the company gets itself into difficulties or if you want a promotion or pay rise.
Not only does it take time and effort to find the perfect employer match, but you’ll also endure a few bad ones along the way. Just don’t get discouraged by these because you will learn from your mistakes and be better able at identifying the right characters in future. It also happens to the best of us.
Just keep your head up and keep moving forward to where you want to end up. If you never look around or put the effort in to find the perfect match, you’ll never be truly satisfied and your career will never flourish.
As one of my friends said to me recently, his current job will never make him as happy as his last one. It isn’t because the current company he works for doesn’t pay him well, in fact it pays him more, but because his manager doesn’t work with him in partnership that he won’t be truly fulfilled by his current job.
How did the best employer you ever worked for make you feel special?