Friend of Ribit Tom Hitchcock, CEO of Purple Patch Consulting, shares his considerable knowledge on helping students and employers hire successfully.
This is part 1 of a 3-part series of articles on the topic of improving engagement between job seekers, including students, recent graduates, those already in the workforce, and employers.
Meeting the needs of job seekers is surely only common sense, however, rarely does it marry up in real life. Putting aside the challenges of 2020, companies have been investing in and competing over top emerging talent for some time.
The good, the bad and the role of values
Typically, when a job seeker is appraising a company as a potential employer and considering their values, the key questions asked are:
1. Do their values align with mine?
2. Do they resonate with me?
3. Are they enough of a differentiator for me to choose one employer over another?
So, here is a thought for job seekers when evaluating a potential employer, reframe the question by looking at this idea in reverse. Ask yourself if you would join a company whose values were the antithesis of your values? In other words, what might you consider ‘bad’ values?
Bad values might include:
- Closed mindedness
Now it is very unlikely an employer is going to promote any bad values in a job posting so how can job seekers search for evidence that bad values and good values exist in a company they are considering working for?
And how can you really compare the values of one company against another when so many are the same from one company to the next?
The CTO of a large Australian company in conversation about values with his CEO made the point that values need to be actionable, something you do, not just aspirational. For example, if a company has innovation as a value, check if the organisation has the systems and support in place needed for a culture of innovation.
So as a job seeker who is considering how values align, look beyond the rhetoric and propaganda for evidence that the company enables and empowers its workers to live its values and that they are not just words on a website or on a wall in the workplace next to a motivational quote.
Here are four ways you can research if a company lives up to its values:
1. Google ‘company name’ employee reviews but remember that a greater % of people on the internet will post negative reviews than can be bothered to post positive reviews, and one beautifully written disgruntled review can overshadow a plethora of badly written positive reviews – in other words, size it up, read between the lines and use good judgement.
2. Look at media releases, awards, and other forms of recognition, is it always the head honcho who hogs all the credit, could be a sign of command-and-control culture, big egos and poor team play.
3. Research the company’s growth vs staff turnover. If the company is growing fast, maybe they just got funded or won a big client, and they are bringing on lots of new people. That is a good sign, but if they are advertising lots of roles because people keep leaving you need to wonder why. Check to see how long the job ads have been running as it could be a bad sign.
4. To research larger corporates and multinationals the go-to place for employment transparency is Glassdoor. glassdoor.com is a great resource to see into an organisation and read validated peer reviews, taking the guess work out of their legitimacy.
It could be that the company really does practice what it preaches, but what if the team you are joining is disengaged? In these cases would it be more accurate for a job to state the team and department culture instead of the company values?
Be sure to come back to read part 2 of the series for more discussion on this point.
Onions and Rabbits
Of course, all of this assumes that the fabric of company value is a primary preference in the mindset of the aspiring talent of today.
As a recruiter, I see both sides of the fence. I speak with both the job seeker and the employer. Both sides have an unconscious ‘pitch’ ready for use and rarely, is it entirely accurate. I often need to peel back the onion to get closer to the truth. For example, a job candidate might say that work/life balance is their main priority. However, when more than one job offer comes in, they may turn down the one that best ticks the work/life balance box for an offer that is paying 10k more. The same can be said for employers. I provide them with exactly what they asked and further consultation about the role brings to the surface new, previously uncommunicated, preferences.
We are now entering the philosophical rabbit hole realms of people saying one thing, meaning another, and doing either, neither or something different altogether. As they say, actions speak louder than words, and therefore as recruiters, our firsthand observations must be worth something.
Top 5 factors job seekers look for
Evidence suggests that above all, job seekers are looking for opportunities that advance their financial goals. The most compelling job offers provide a competitive salary, work/life balance, opportunities for advancement, and benefits that support long-term financial stability.
Employed workers and job seekers surveyed shared the top 5 factors they looked for in job ads:
Insight from an expert
“Job seekers crave transparency on pay, not only to make an initial judgment about whether to consider applying for a job, but also to assess if an employer holds long-term potential for them,” said Julie Coucoules, Glassdoor’s Global Head of Talent Acquisition.
“Quality candidates are typically well-researched and those that go beyond job ads and look for a richer set of background data that includes benefits and employee reviews, among other specific traits about an employer.
This means that employers should make information available to job candidates proactively, or they risk missing out on quality candidates applying.”
Company values, while not explicitly referred to in the survey or the quote, most likely could be extracted from employee reviews, number 5 on the survey.
When it comes to investing in your own career, company values do not carry as much weight as we imagine. Salaries, benefits, and the logistics of the role trump everything else.
Team culture does come into play when all other factors are even. If there is an abundance of job choice, the job seeker will be more selective on extra items like values. However, and regardless of choice, job seekers still run checks and do the research to feel confident that they will be happy applying their day-to-day trade within any given company.
Finally, we factor in the aftermath of COVID. With tightened opportunities and the negotiating power back in the employer’s hands, it necessarily follows that we are back to the primary preferences as a job seeker. It is a time to conserve what you have and preserve the foundations of the biggest investment in your life – your career.
For students, find a role on Ribit.net to kick start your career with a paid role relevant to your studies. For talent already in the workforce, we are always happy to help firstname.lastname@example.org.