By Lee Vikre | @LeeVikre
Are you looking for your first real career opportunity, or need to change to something that challenges and energizes you? Choose wisely. Your grandmother said “don’t put the cart before the horse”, and she was a wise woman. Here’s how to order your job search to give you the best chance of getting it right the first (or second) time.
Here’s the secret: choose your target industries first, then your target companies, and then your target position.
Choose your industry wisely. You may hear advice like “Sales is sales”, “a job is a job”, or figure that you can be an accountant anywhere. However, you’re going to spend so much time and energy learning an industry that you’d better like it – or face a lot of long, miserable days. Working in an industry you find rewarding will help you feel accomplished and become an expert. Plus, hiring managers are notorious for insisting anyone they hire beyond entry level have specific industry experience, so if you get your start in the wrong field you may end up pigeonholed in an industry you don’t love.
Recently, Bill, the CEO of a construction-related business, told us what he would do if he were starting over. “I’d get into a field I’m passionate about right from the start. I never enjoyed being around construction, and I ended up here because I took an offer from a builder, then I never could seem to move into anything else.” Bill was successful, but disliked going to work every day. While it isn’t impossible to change careers or industries, why make it harder on yourself? Choose an industry you love from the start.
Choose your company wisely. Once you’ve determined what industries you plan to focus on, research specific companies within that field. You will want to narrow your search to about 15 companies. Choose companies where you want to work, not necessarily just the companies that have job openings.
How will you choose your target companies? Focus on the culture. The best cultures are tribes, so make sure you’re joining a tribe you can feel at home in. You’re going to spend a lot of hours at work, so make sure there is a good fit. One way savvy job seekers find companies with strong cultures is to focus on award-winning companies, such as the azcentral.com Top Companies to Work for in Arizona. The 2016 winners were just announced June 7! You’ll find many different industries represented on this list, and all of the companies have cultures that make them great places to work, for different reasons.
Here are a few examples of companies that are great for different reasons:
- Great company for diversity and inclusion: Charles Schwab.
Why? Diversity and inclusion are woven into the fabric of the company. One result? A 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, recognizing LGBT equality.
- Great company for launching a career: Synchrony Financial.
Why? Programs for interns and new grads in career development, interpersonal skills, leadership program, functional training, and tuition reimbursement.
- Great company to get and give a second chance: Progrexion.
Why? Progrexion employees help hundreds of thousands of people better their lives every year. They operate the technology and support services that enable consumers to repair their credit and realize their financial dreams.
- Great company with an inspiring mission: USAA.
Why? USAA’s mission is serving those who serve – providing insurance and financial services for veterans and members of the military. What a great opportunity to help those who sacrifice for our country!
- Great company for women: GoDaddy.
Why? By actively working to increase the number of women in technical roles, GoDaddy has become a magnet for women, ranking as one of the Anita Borg Institute’s Top Companies for Women Technologists.
- Great company for learning and development: Vanguard.
Why? Vanguard was recently recognized by Chief Learning Officer magazine as the Top Learning and Development Group in the world.
- Great company to be a part of change in healthcare: Dignity Health.
Why? “Hello humankindness” is not just a slogan. Dignity Health is changing healthcare in ways that lead to more empathy, listening, and respect.
- Great company for advancement: Hyatt Regency Phoenix.
Why? Hyatt’s practice of promoting from within means opportunities are not only available, they’re abundant.
Once you know what companies you are most interested in, you can focus on the specific positions in that company that might fit you.
Choose your position wisely. Look for a position that will make the best use of your strengths. Don’t get hung up on a title. Focus instead on opportunities. Roles that allow you to make an impact will create more opportunity for you. Look not only for a job you could probably do, but something you would rock. No matter where you start, if you make a solid impact in your position, you’ll be noticed and likely promoted.
You might wonder if you can afford to be so choosy when you feel like you just need to get a job! But your future self will be happier if you choose wisely now. Start by scanning through the companies listed in our Best Employers section.
About the Author
Lee Vikre – Hiring Jedi
A workplace culture maven, writer, and speaker, Lee Vikre has helped numerous companies develop “best company” cultures, gaining recognition at the local and national level. Lee has been called the Jedi Master of hiring because of her exceptional recruiting abilities and friendships with people who love Star Wars. Her favorite activities involve matching people with their dream jobs at award-winning best companies. Lee coaches CEOs but still hasn’t been able to train her three dogs not to bark during conference calls.