by: Ian K. McEwen
As we close out another year, many take the time to reflect on careers and possible changes. In our recruiting/outplacment practice, we hear employees comment about frustration, boredom and ‘spinning one’s wheels’. Career satisfaction is waning and the employee is becoming disorientated and out of touch. And, the employer is more distant in acknowledging the work. We have seen examples where lack of job satisfaction has affected one’s health, family and social relationships.
At this point, what comes to mind is the 1965 hit recorded by The Animals – “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” – is it time for a career change?……you bet!
The aggressive and results-oriented job seekers are the ones who put a strategic plan in place and not wait (like winning the lottery) to be picked by a company. Before jumping into the career market however, make sure you have done a career assessment to determine your skills inventory including your behavioural characteristics. Identify the strengths and weaknesses from each of your previous positions.
What is also critical is the type of career and the type of company that suits your DNA. Every company has a culture, so it is important that you take the time to thoroughly research a prospective employer. Not to diminish factors of the job itself, the compensation, benefits and perks, more emphasis should be placed on the employee-employer in terms of how one fits in with the culture of the organization. Many of our clients conduct personality profiling as part of their hiring process.
So what kind of company satisfies your appetite? As an example, some prefer to look at small companies that offer the opportunity to quickly learn a variety of useful, transferable skills while being actively involved in several interesting tasks. In this environment, employee relationships tend to be more integrated and career advancement often happens more quickly. Smaller companies however may not offer a strong remuneration package, and job security might become a concern especially when there is an economic downturn or fiscal issues arise. Smaller companies worth considering should be entrepreneurial where decisions are made quickly and employee input is welcome.
Large companies tend to offer more stability and job security. Pay packages tend to be stronger coupled with broader career options. But, qualifications needed for entry into these companies arehigh. The speed at which one climbs the corporate ladder may be affected by strong competition from colleagues. Also employee relationships may not be as tight, and in order to get noticed one may have to pay the price of working longer hours with additional pressure of not making mistakes.
What you should be looking for is a coherent company culture. There are a number of things to look for when researching a company’s culture. Do you sense the company has a pulse when you walk in the front door? Do you feel the energy emanating from the building? An exciting work environment fosters productivity and efficiency. It creates a sense of purpose individually and collectively for the team.
Is there consistency with the way the company treats its employees and customers? You can tell a lot about a company by observing how employees interact. Are people treated fairly? Do they have input in the decision-making process and how are those decisions communicated to the staff? Are the workers acknowledged for their contributions and accomplishments in a timely fashion? Are they adequately compensated?
Take a look at the company’s organizational structure. Does the organization emphasize working in teams? Are there defined career development routes and is there a training and skills development program? Does the company promote participative management and employee involvement? Does senior management embody the values, vision and strategic priorities of their company?
Choose your work environment carefully. You may function well in one situation and not another. Your instincts are probably the best guide to use when selecting the right company. Take the road that is well marked and has smooth pavement. Look for a place where you can have a voice, be respected, and have opportunities for growth. If the company makes you feel relaxed and comfortable, chances are you will navigate your career in a positive direction and enjoy the ride.