What to Look for in a Great Employer
Wouldn’t it be great if you, the job seeker, could write a list of all the things you want your employer to be and then magically your wish list came true? If you could paint a picture of the type of company you worked for, the kind of people you interacted with, reported to and supervised? The values and goals by which you were measured and held accountable...and the vision or mission of the work your job fulfilled?
In today’s competitive job market, transitioning military service personnel often feel compelled to accept the first job offer that comes along post-service. We see highly qualified veterans taking work that they are ill-suited for and which does not fulfill them personally.
At the same time, employers are seeking a more qualified, dedicated and versatile workforce to keep up with an increasingly global, demanding and diverse marketplace. Hiring managers scour hundreds - if not thousands - of résumés for every open position. Many of those résumés are from people who are not a good fit for the company or the job.
Competition for every job is fierce, and employers are finding new and innovative ways to manage the recruiting process. Instead of using job boards and online posting, many hiring managers are turning to social networking and referrals because the job applicant pool is simply too unyielding.
Finding a job that pays the bills necessitates an application and a résumé. Finding a career that is meaningful, rewarding and fulfilling requires focus, thought and strategy. The career process starts with a keen understanding of who you are - your values, beliefs, talents and skills. And the employer you want to work for is the most critical element of a career that returns dividends over your civilian lifetime.
Start With You
Business professionals and hiring managers live in the world of differentiation, value propositions and competitive advantage. At all levels of the civilian work environment, individuals are embracing the power of personal branding to intentionally build a reputation for themselves that attracts opportunities to them. Discovering your personal branding begins by understanding what you are passionate about, what you value and how you live an authentic life. The personal branding process starts with you and your goals.
Ask yourself: What led you to a military career? What passions did you bring forward in your service that are relevant as you transition to a civilian career? What makes you stand out in the minds of your colleagues? How do you deliver your skills/talents/expertise in ways that stand out or add value? Your answers to these questions will help you define your own personal brand.
Identify Your Ideal Employer
While you might be evaluating future employers based on their ability to pay you a desired salary for work you are able to perform and that’s geographically desirable, consider that designing your career means understanding your employer more significantly. Not everyone you meet, work with or want to work with will love you, find you convincing, get your jokes or need your services. Those employers who will find you compelling must first be able to find you; then they must find your offer to be relevant and differentiated. We call this “branding” and “competitive differentiation.” For these target audiences, your personal brand and reputation are very important. When these employers perceive that you share their values, will contribute to their vision and are of significance to them, they are more likely to want to engage you for a great opportunity.
Figure Out What the Employer Needs
Most job seekers are good at figuring out what prospective employers need functionally. Hiring managers tend to spell out these needs in job descriptions in the form of criteria, skills, experience and expertise needed to work successfully in a particular role. For instance, on a job query an employer might state, “We need someone with 10 years of senior-level IT experience working across multiple network scenarios.” As long as you can meet that functional need of this employer, you are in contention for the position.
What employers also have are emotional needs. This is the softer side of the human equation. The hiring manager’s emotional needs might not be as clearly identified and articulated as those listed on the job description, but she is interviewing and evaluating candidates based on how they make her “feel” and whether she believes that candidate will be a good fit for the team/company. A human being has emotions, and those emotions drive the perception of value (“You would fit in really well here!”) and opportunity (“I want to hire you!”).
For many job seekers, learning about an employer’s emotional needs will take practice: listening, watching and responding to your target audience online and in person; asking questions of those who are close to the company and studying their value set. Your value and relevance increases when you can learn what they need to feel and then deliver that in ways that are authentic to you and meaningful to them.
Learning about the employers’ functional and emotional needs empowers you to align your own goals and needs with those of the company you seek to work with. This is where you take control back over the job search - you can and should seek out companies whose values, goals, culture, work product and ethics are consistent with yours. Then you will not only be a more compelling candidate, but if hired, you will likely contribute your best work.
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