Since I left the education/graduate ‘treadmill’ (confession: I didn’t graduate) nearly a decade ago, I’ve learnt a whole lot about myself and a whole lot about the sort of job that’s right for me, and that which isn’t.
I now have a very specific set of criteria - with must-haves and nice-to-haves. Here they are.
1. A small-medium sized company
Not necessarily ‘start-up’, like all the cool kids are talking about. But working for a smaller company is generally-speaking more conducive to having more variety and autonomy. Also, you’re often ‘closer to the human impact’, and you probably know all - or lots - of your co-workers.
In a bigger organisation, the level of intimacy isn’t the same, there’s usually more bureaucracy and office-politics, and flexibility on how/where you work isn’t there as much.
I tend to get pretty bored if I’m just doing one thing, or the same thing, over and over again. Amongst other things, this is ultimately why nearly 5 years in recruitment was more than enough for me. I didn’t feel intellectually-stimulated, nor challenged. It got increasingly dull and mindless, not to mention exhausting.
Again, smaller companies are more conducive to broader roles with more variety; a marketing role in a startup, for example, will be very different to the specialised marketing role you’d get at, for example, Google.
3. Balance between people-facing and solitary work
My sales job was all people-facing. I’ve also tried doing ‘my own thing’ and worked remotely (albeit in sales), and I have learnt that my energy management is very important. I do miss having people around me, but a purely people-facing role is a little too much to me. My background is in sales & marketing, and I prefer to have a marketing-type role rather than one where I’m selling. (In a smaller firm, sales & marketing are smaller and overlap more closely, so my sales experience still helps).
In an ideal world, I would have the option of going into the office as I pleased, depending on what my mood or energy was saying when I woke up. That’s not realistic, but what definitely is an option is fully-remote, or being able to work from home something like a day a week.
Right now, I’m actually missing being part of a team with people around me. I haven’t actually had that in 4 years! But, I have gotten used to working remotely and being able to manage my time and energy, so I am mostly looking for roles that will at least entertain that idea, or advertise themselves as remote (on the job spec, look out for clues like “we accept remote applications” or even “our workforce is almost entirely remote”).
I’m using Angellist, Indeed & LinkedIn to search for jobs. On Angellist you can search for remote jobs specifically, and other ones I’m applying for are tending to be a short distance from me, or otherwise indicate ‘remote’ as an option, even if it’s not full-time remote. Like I said, I’d ideally want the best of both worlds.
5. Boss and team are nice
This one’s harder to get a sense of. But you can read reviews on pages like Glassdoor to get a sense of the culture. I’ve had a micro-managing boss, and this was not nice. Also, I really *really* despise office politics. Which is what remote-working helps eradicate, actually - you are judged on what you do, not how much time you spend at work or otherwise spend sucking-up to the boss. Yuck.
6. A company that takes it’s employee wellbeing seriously
I’m not just talking a ping-pong table to use at lunchtimes. (In recruitment, we had one, and apparently the CEO was unhappy that people were jumping onto it on the dot of 12 when lunchtime began… and this was then communicated and people stopped using it. Pointless, eh?).
I’m talking they show visible evidence of this, whether it’s in the employee benefits (e.g. lunchtime yoga), the Head of HR is vocal about this sort of thing (e.g. mental health, equal paternity/maternity leave). Basically, look beyond those trivial ‘free beer and employee benefits’ - you can usually dig a little deeper by searching on the company website, Glassdoor, and just having a nosey-around on google.
7. To get a good ‘vibe’ from my managers/the interviewers
Of course, it’s hard to tell what someone will completely be like to work for/with, until you are doing. But I’m a big believer of the fact that you get a gut feeling either way. Trust it, lean into it. It probably knows more than you think… in fact, it almost always does!
PS. Can you relate to any of what I've just said (well, written)? Do you have anything you'd like to ask/share? Please do! Just leave a comment here on Twitter.
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