Applying for a job is tricky enough. It’s competitive, takes mental and physical energy, can be disruptive, and all the decision making and emotions, pinning your hopes on your dream job.
So, what makes the role you’re going for a perfect match?
When I started coaching in this space a mentor drew a Venn diagram (above) to outline four key elements to making sure the job is right:
Skills – to do the job
Remuneration and rewards
The work aligns to your values
Encompassing these three things is the organisational culture and making sure the work environment is a good match for you.
I like to draw people to these four points, when I coach – to help them understand the importance of not leaping at the first job that’s offered with a good salary. I don’t discount that often a job is about an income to pay the bills. Big tick there. But, if your skills aren’t aligned, adequate training’s not provided, and the work culture is unsupportive and causing stress, then you’ll find yourself back to square one. And resigning comes with angst, especially if you have a loyal work ethic.
In my mid-20s I started a job with a property management firm after backpacking through Europe and the UK. I didn’t do my due diligence and it didn’t last. I took the secretarial job because I had six years’ office admin experience under my belt with great organisations, and I’d made the assumption that all workplaces look after their staff. This one didn’t. Not only was I yelled at across the room for making a typo or missing a comma, my team mate who sat next to me was often ‘bitchy’ towards me. I tried to fit in and I upheld my professionalism. I grinned and bared it. Then I resigned. After six weeks. It was my shortest stint in a job ever.
Fast forward 25 years (or so) – I’ve enjoyed a fulfilling career in HR and career management working in cultures that have been a wonderful match for me – and given me the confidence to start my own career coaching business.
Now, my son has stepped into his first full time job and I’ll share how I supported him to find a role that he absolutely loves…(this story flows on from my previous blog post)!
Aidan finished year 12 last year and decided to pursue an apprenticeship in welding. We looked online together to see what was advertised and reviewed each job ad. My son is introverted, a bit nerdy and pretty smart. We talked about the type of engineering environment that would suit him. He was keen to find a work culture that was supportive and inclusive of their employees. A good sense of ‘team’ with a results focus. There were other factors too, including location (accessible by public transport).
With these criteria in mind it wasn’t long before he found a job that ticked the boxes, he applied, was interviewed and landed a labouring job with an engineering firm that makes sterilisation units for the health care sector. He is SO happy and thriving in the role after five weeks. The team are great. His boss is supportive. The money is right. Location tick!
So, what if the culture isn’t right. You can do the job. The money is right, but the environment leaves you wondering after a few weeks, ‘have I made the right choice?’
Firstly, if this happens, don’t beat yourself up – treat it as a learning curve.
To avoid this situation…review the company – look at the website. Google any articles about the organisation. Check their Facebook page and any reviews you can find. Do you know people who work there? Or past employees you could chat with.
When called to interview, listen to how they talk about the organisation and team.
Interviews are a two way process. You are assessing whether this is the job for you, being curious about the work culture and the job will help you make the best decision in working for them. You could ask – how would you describe the team culture? How does management lead and support the team? Is there a position description and training (and written processes) for the role?
Having sound leadership practices and work structures in place are proven to reduce the risk of stress for employees in the workplace. This Harvard Business Review article summarises this beautifully on Making Work Less Stressful and More Engaging for Your Employees.
So…for the job seeker – understanding what you want and need in the role AND workplace is a good starting point. When I coach people who are looking at a career change, I invite them to complete a values and motivators exercise. This helps give clarity on what’s important to them and help with decision making and to job search strategically.
This method has proven well for my son, and many others I have coached. Aidan’s workplace pays him a little above Award, gives rostered days off and offers flexible hours. His manager sets clear instructions and guidance, with enough rope to work autonomously, and gives praise and encouragement for his achievements. Aidan speaks highly of his experience and, as a mum, I couldn’t wish for more for my child stepping out into the workforce.