Researching a Potential Employer? Here’s What to Look for.

December 20th, 2019

Before you get dressed and ready to roll on the day of your job interview, you’ll want to spend some time researching the company so that you can impress your potential managers with your knowledge of the organization, its culture, and your potential role here. But AFTER the interview, when you have an offer in hand, and you need to decide whether to sign on the line, your research matters even more.

Here are a few things you’ll want to search for at each stage of the process. Remember: smart career management always starts with planning, preparation, and informed decisions.

What do these managers admire, and what qualities do they prize?

To answer questions like these, start by scrutinizing the job post. Read between the lines and look for words or phrases that appear more than once.  Then go online and look for the kinds of words and cultural expressions the company likes to associate with its brand. If, for example, you’re researching a service provider and you see lots of references to speed and quick response times, that’s a signal. If you see a few references to speedy service but lots of emphasis on quality work or a personal touch, make a note of it. In the second case, your managers may prefer an employee who gets things right over one who does things fast.

How does the company make money?

Do your best to understand the company’s business model fully. In our modern world, that can sometimes take a close look and a little effort. Media organizations often make money by selling ads, not delivering information. Bulk retailers often make money selling subscriptions and memberships, not necessarily products. Insurance providers, solutions architects, and third-party agencies often have business models and departmental structures that are not clear at a glance. A little homework can help you impress.

Does this company share your values?

There are few things more disheartening then accepting a job and finding out only months or years later that you’ve signed on with a company that’s committed to personal values you don’t share. If you aren’t sure where this organization and its leadership stand on the issues that matter most to you, from the specific (like politics) to the general (like kindness, giving back, or community service), consult the internet. Scrolling through search results and news articles can give you a sense of what – if anything – this company stands for beyond making money for its shareholders.

Understand the organization you’re dealing with, what you can offer them, and what they can provide you with. For help, turn to the career management team at PSU.

Jump Into 2018 With a Plan

December 15th, 2017

The new year is appearing around the bend, and every time the clock resets and the confetti rains down, we all get a chance to start over. It’s a time for new begins, a time to let go of our past mistakes and move forward with our hearts set on better decisions and a brighter future.

In the career management world, this tends to mean one of two things: Either you’re leaving your old job behind and searching for a new one, or you’re buckling down and redoubling your commitment to the job you have. Either you’re facing a transition and 2018 will bring you into a new workplace, or you’re looking for ways to reengage with your current role and bring new passion to your daily tasks.

In either case, the STAR goal-setting system can help. During the remaining days of this year, star putting together a plan based on the STAR acronym and you’ll cross the threshold into next year with your path laid and your ambitions blazing. Keep your goals:

Specific

Instead of setting countless ambiguous goals like “Become more proactive” or “Start Self-Promoting”, try shortening the list and keep each item concrete and specific. Instead of becoming “more proactive”, set your sites on the specific actions you plan to execute each day. Try: “Send out five resumes each day, 25 per week”, or “Contact three network connections by phone each week”. If your plan emphasizes engagement at your current job, try this: “Ask for feedback twice each week” or “Ask to be assigned to the Jones project”. General efforts toward self-promotion might include: “Send out three manuscripts each week to potential agents” or “Start a blog and post one entry per week.”

Trackable

Measure your progress toward your goals as you move through the year. And if this seems impossible, adjust your goals so you can attach numbers to your definition of success. If you’d like to make more sales, track your increased cold calls and presentations. If you’d like to land more interviews, start with your baseline (four per month, for example) and raise that number to five.

Achievable

Unattainable goals are a fast track to discouragement. No matter what you decide to do, break your large goals into milestones, and make sure each milestone isn’t so ambitious that it’s unrealistic. If one of your milestones feels like a stretch, break it down into two or three smaller ones.

Relevant

Keep every step of your path focused toward a realistic and meaningful vision of yourself and your career. Don’t get so bogged down in the details that you forget the larger picture and get lost along the way. For more guidance as you lay out your plan for 2018, contact the career management experts at PSU.

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