Decision Point: How Do I Choose the Right Job and Company?
This question really comes down to two words that should be included at the end of the question, which are: “for you.” Both the “right” job and the “right” company are a matter of many things, including career aspirations, culture, opportunities for growth, organizational values — and vision. Read on for tips on how to make this big decision.
Decision Point 1:
Choosing the Right Job for You
The right job provides us with more than just a paycheck. It can provide us with a sense of purpose and an outlet through which to channel our passions. When a job is a right fit, it aligns with your ambitions and interests, and you look forward to going to work.
Get Clear on What’s Important to You
Before you do anything else, get clear on what’s important to you in a job, especially if there are any dealbreakers. Determine your desired salary range. (AFP’s Compensation Report and Finance & Accountant Careers site are great resources for finding salary benchmarks.)
Make sure you know what makes you feel fulfilled in a role. Are you most satisfied when you are contributing to the work of a larger team? Do you thrive when you can be of service to others? Or are you driven by a desire to innovate and improve? Whatever your answer is, look for a job that lets you do what you value.
Learn About the Industry
Every industry needs financial professionals, so there are many directions you can go with your career. Whether you’re working in manufacturing, retail, nonprofit or the public sector, each industry has different opportunities and challenges that will impact what your work looks like. Consider factors like how much the industry is growing, and if the industry tends to be fast- or slow-paced.
Grow Your Network
Having a mentor in your field is incredibly helpful. According to AFP research, 98% of people surveyed said that having a mentor positively affected their career. When you’re looking for a job, a mentor can give advice based on their firsthand experience.
If you’re curious about what it’s like to work in a certain role, informational interviews are a great way to learn more. During an informational interview, you can ask questions about the person’s job experience and get tips for your own career path.
So how do you meet other financial professionals? One way is to attend networking events, such as AFP’s annual conference. Reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn or other social networking sites can also be fruitful.
Decision Point 2:
Choosing the right company for you
“Why do you want to work here?” is a question you should be asking yourself before you even apply. Take some time to understand the types of work and environments that motivate you and drain you. Identify your career goals and any sacrifices you’re willing to make for them. Then, when you’re researching a company, you’ll have a better idea of whether the company can help you achieve your goals, and whether its culture, vision and values align with yours.
Look for companies that invest in the growth and development of their employees, as these are places that will help you achieve your career goals. Find out what opportunities there are to learn new skills and gain experience. Also look at turnover rates and internal promotion rates. This will give you some insight into whether there is room to grow within the company.
Work Culture and Environment
Whether you are a good fit for a company depends a lot on the work culture and environment. Understand what the company expects of its employees. Will you be fully remote, in the office full-time, or on a hybrid schedule? Is overtime expected, and if so, how much?
Ask questions during the interview to get a sense of the company culture — values, ethics, what inspires employees, what success looks like. Ask the hiring manager about their management style, communication style and team dynamics. Social networking sites and informational interviews can also give you an additional insider perspective.
Don't Burn Bridges
Regardless of how your interview process goes, do not ghost a potential employer. You never know when you might meet a recruiter or hiring manager again at another company, or whether you might want to work for the company at a different time.
People don’t forget how you treat them, so treat them well. When communicating with a potential employer, be polite and professional, and thank them for their time regardless of your desire to work for them. And if you’re transitioning out of a job, finish strong and express your appreciation — even if it was a negative experience, as you still learned something.
Finding the right fit takes time. Patience is your friend. Know above all else that it’s okay to say no. If a job doesn’t align with your long-term goals, interests and values, turn it down. You want a job that will move you forward. The “right job” is one where you will acquire new skills and experience, learn from people you respect, and grow — both personally and professionally.