How to Choose Your Next Employer

For new graduates wondering how to choose an employer, Career Coach Andrea Towe recommends 6 steps – starting with introspection to identify your interests. That way, she says, you’ll have a better chance of finding the right job for you.

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This article on how to choose your next employer is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School. 

When beginning a job search, deciding on which companies, industries, or titles to focus on can leave job seekers feeling overwhelmed. It’s often helpful to develop a targeted search to get things moving in the right direction. 

One effective job search method that we’ll focus on in this article is determining an initial list of companies you want to focus on for networking and employment opportunities. 

Although you’re looking for your next position, remember that you’re not looking for “just any job.”  Rather, you’re seeking a career opportunity with a company that aligns with your interests and values. You’re seeking one that is personally and professionally fulfilling. Easier said than done, right? The following tips can help you better pinpoint which companies to start with.

Identify Your Interests

Before putting together a list of companies to focus on, ask yourself some questions. Questions such as, “what interests and passions do I have that may align with companies that are in the industry?” For example, if you’ve always been fascinated with aerospace and aviation, you can research what companies exist in that industry.  

Do you have a hobby or interest in nature or wildlife conservation? If so, what companies or organizations can you find in those fields?  

Working for a company where you’re passionate about its mission, products, or services can be an excellent fit. In fact, it can be a natural extension of your interests and motivations. 

Dig deep and take time to think through what is of interest to you, whether it be a hobby, a certain issue or mission you’re passionate about, etc. Doing so will help you narrow down where you can start looking for companies in related fields.

Conduct Research

After identifying some of your interests and passions, begin researching those industries to identify what companies exist in those fields. You can research via the internet, Google search, LinkedIn, etc.  

You may find both small and large companies turn up in your search, which is fine. Once you start networking with employees at those companies, you’ll learn more about the company size, structure, locations, remote/hybrid, overall culture, and even some of the perks and benefits – which can help you determine whether it’s a place you’d be interested in working.

Make A Wish List

Once you’ve researched and identified which companies you want to focus on, make a list. If you’re using any type of job activity tracker, document it there so you have all your job search activities in one place. 

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, perhaps start with no more than 15 or 20 companies on the list. You can always increase or decrease the number of companies based on your research and networking outcomes.

Do Your Homework

Next, you can do some research on the company by checking its website. Read about what products or services they offer, who some of their customers are, and where they’re located. Search for current information such as press releases, executive interviews, employee testimonials, reviews, etc. 

You’ll want to check out their careers page to see if there are any relevant opportunities available. Some companies even provide an overview of their company culture, values, and benefits.  

It’s critical not only for your job search to have some general knowledge about the company, but you’ll also be well informed if you have a networking conversation or job interview, especially if you’re asked the question, “What do you know about our company and why do you want to work here?”

Network, Network, Network!

As a job seeker, you’ve undoubtedly heard and experienced how critical networking is in a job search. It can be the difference between getting an offer or being overlooked. 

Now that you’ve identified some companies of interest, follow their page on LinkedIn and begin engaging. Seek out employees in the company for informational interviews and discussion. Some company websites have staff directories. You may be able to find the email addresses of company employees on them to reach out with. 

If you see a job on the company’s job page that you’re interested in applying for, go ahead and do so (and don’t forget to tailor your cover letter and resume for the job for which you’re applying) but take the extra step to reach out to someone at the company to let them know you applied, why you’re interested in working there and how you can add value based on your passions, background, and experience. 

Some companies sponsor local community events that you can participate in and build relationships with. These types of opportunities are invaluable as you are directly participating in supporting the company’s mission and bottom line. 

For example, one job seeker was interested in working for a local conservation organization in a web developer role. The organization held several beach cleanup days and other related events, and this job seeker volunteered her time at these events. She met many employees and developed solid professional relationships with them. A part-time, contract opportunity opened up that the hiring manager felt she’d be an excellent fit for, so the job seeker got the contract role. Even better, the contract role eventually became a full-time opportunity with benefits. The job seeker was thrilled and is still working there. 

Never underestimate the power of networking!

Keep Your Options Open

A targeted job search is one crucial component of your overall job search strategy. But, you’ll still want to devote some time to attending industry meetups and perusing job boards. 

Looking at job boards not only shows you which companies are hiring, but it often helps introduce the job seeker to new companies, some of which they may not yet be familiar with. 

As an example, one job seeker found a relevant job on a job board that was in the automotive industry. She never had a particular interest or passion in that industry, but the job description and company mission intrigued her, and she felt she was qualified for the job. Long story short, she applied and landed a job there and couldn’t be happier. 

It just underscores that sometimes an industry or company that you may not have been particularly interested in or even knew existed can often open up a newfound interest for you! 

So, get that targeted company list ready and get going….but keep your options open too. You can have the best of both worlds!

Final Thoughts

Starting with a targeted list of 10-15 companies of interest can help start your job search on a positive note and helps build your momentum and confidence. Even if you don’t land opportunities immediately, you can still increase your exposure in the field by making new connections and relationships. 

Those new connections may even be able to refer you to others for more exposure and career opportunities – so it’s a domino effect.  

As you move forward in the job search and begin talking with employees, managers, and recruiters, you can then decide which companies would be a good fit for you. You can focus on those companies while researching and updating your list, as needed. 

There is no time like the present, so go ahead and take that first step of your job search and carve out some time on your calendar to start this process using the steps identified in this article! 

About Andrea Towe

Andrea Towe is a Career Coach with Flatiron School. She has 20+ years of experience in career coaching and corporate human resources, including employee relations, talent acquisition, career and leadership development, training development, and facilitation.

Posted by Andrea Towe  /  October 31, 2022

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