Finding the Right Employer
How Do You Know When Mission Accomplished?
I normally write with employers in mind and how they can attract the best qualified people to their companies. However, when candidates are better informed about an employer or the interview process this will benefit both sides. The more informed a candidate is about selecting an employer the sooner he or she can start the job, and it is less likely that they will run into frustrating surprises three months into the role. No one wants a relationship to sour because something was overlooked, forgotten or thought too obvious to mention during the interview process. But before we get to interviews let’s consider whether you are a passive or an active job seeker. A passive job seeker is someone content in their current role but open to new opportunities if they should arise. An active seeker is someone who is a lot more eager to land a new role because they are unhappy in their current position or without work. The first step, which ever category you fall into, is to decide what perfect looks like; the role, the companies, the industry and the terms and conditions. Write this down and pin it to your notice board or fridge. Any offer you receive should be compared with it and the trade-offs considered – no offer will be perfect. How eager you are to find a new role, the more willing you will be to give up some of your goals ……but never too much. Active job seeking takes much more effort and should be considered a full time job. You have to network and do research with the objective of gaining introductions to the companies on your target list with the aim of side stepping the search process – once a search is in the hands of a recruiter it is further out of your control. Don’t be perturbed if you are asked to attend a number of interviews. You are being tested for how you will t with the team. These are likely peers and you need to consider it a two way process – like a good conversation. Be yourself – you need to make sure that you feel you t and will be happy. Make sure you ask a couple of the same questions at each interview. Compare the answers to see if colleagues look at their work place in the same way. Is there a consistent attitude and outlook? Nothing should be off your list but don’t begin by asking about salary.
Many companies will also ask you to complete a screening questionnaire, probably online. This is another useful tool that should serve you as much as the employer. It is designed to identify the values and competencies that you exhibit and to ensure that they align with those of the organization. The last thing you want to be is a square peg in a round hole. If you are curious ask to see where you will be working too. Ask about the on boarding process and what it will entail. An immediate, clear response will indicate an organization eager to get a new recruit off to a flying start.
You will hear the term engagement a lot these days and simply put, it means a happy work team. Happy workers are more productive, more creative and are absent less. Better employers will strive to achieve this. An important item that can emerge once an employee is on board is that the new role may not contribute to his or her well being. In fact, such a risk can be so significant that it could potentially spill over into how that person works with their team and serve to undermine a whole department’s productivity. While we are on the subject of negotiation let’s talk pay. I can be happy I hear you say, just pay me more, lots more. But employment is not a game of what you can get away with in negotiation. In the pursuit of engagement many employers are moving away from negotiated pay because of the impact different pay levels have on internal equity and team spirit. This is not a bad thing. You should take comfort from the fact that everyone is paid fairly and based upon the same principles. You won’t want to stand out that your close colleague is paid significantly more. Equally, if it is important to you that you fit in, being the standout in terms of compensation will not help that.
Higher negotiated pay when starting a new role is pretty much an illusion anyway since over time that will erode through lower annual increases to bring the new hire in line with everyone else.
When the offer is received make sure the terms agree with what has been discussed and that other terms are clear and unambiguous. In fact an offer in plain language rather than legalese suggests an open, transparent culture. Ask for clarification where necessary. Deciding whether to take a new role is a research project involving input from different sources that you need to compare. If the signals that you are getting suggest that a target company is not offering the culture that you want don’t hesitate to start again. Better take a little more time now than be unhappy for much longer. Equally, don’t dismiss opportunities, that arise in organizations that you haven’t considered – just undertake some more due diligence.
Paul Pittman is the senior partner and founder of The Human Well (www. thehumanwell.com), a collaborative HR consulting practice located in Oakville, Ont., with clients globally. He previously held executive HR positions with Alcan, RJR Nabisco/Japan Tobacco, Laidlaw and Massey-Ferguson, and was the Canadian HR practice leader for Arthur Andersen. He has lived in the U.K., Canada and Switzerland, and managed pension, benefit and compensation plans globally. You can reach Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org.