There’s more to any job than base salary. There’s also job satisfaction, which is crucial element of any employment experience. ICS recruiters agree that candidates who are ultimately hired almost always are more successful and satisfied when they have begun their job search with a quiz that identifies what matters most to them at work.
Indeed the best time to take a job satisfaction survey is BEFORE you’re hired. By taking the time at the very start of your job search to determine what aspects of a total employment experience really matter most to you, you are investing in your future job satisfaction in a way you won’t be able to do after you’ve accepted an offer. Moreover, once you know your priorities, you will approach your entire job search—from the research you conduct, to the interviews you accept, to the offers you entertain—from a position of relative strength that this self-knowledge conveys. Getting to know all the aspects of a new job is tough enough. At least you can take the time to know yourself before the new job.. Here’s how:
To find a job that’s a great fit for you, the experts at ICS recommend that you first ask yourself questions about which aspects of your total employment experience matter most to you. To make it easier, you can divide your analysis up into four categories:
Structure: Are you flexible at work, or do you require a flexible work environment? If you crave flexibility you may find it difficult to thrive in a strict environment. While some employers allow employees a great deal of freedom to determine everything from their dress code to their hours in the office, many more employers take a more rigid approach, detailing employee policies with great precision, and expecting compliance. If you have a long history of adapting to rules in the workplace, this is unlikely to be a major obstacle for you. However if you have difficulty complying with rules, this is something you need to factor into your research of potential employers. If flexibility is of paramount importance to you, then getting as much information as possible about the organization’s structures and practices is something you must prioritize as you consider future employers.
Culture and Collaboration: Ask yourself how much it matters to you to feel as if you are part of a team. Some people place a very high value on collaborative approaches to work, while others are happier to work independently, with only a vague sense of where their efforts fit into the organization’s larger goals and challenges. Ask yourself whether team spirit is important to you and whether you seek a position where group collaboration is evident from casual conversations in the lunchroom to high-level meetings. For many, a work environment that welcomes creative, diverse opinions fosters growth, and, in turn, makes the workplace a fun place to be. Ask yourself how much this means to you and then make sure to ask your interviewer for information on workplace culture and collaboration.
Benefits: For many, salary is only part of the equation when it comes to adding up the things that matter most in the workplace. There is the relative generosity of the health plan (how much does your employer contribute, how extensive are the benefits and are they a good fit for your needs?) and the retirement plan (does the employer provide a 401k match? When do employees vest?). For some candidates flexible spending for health and dependent care costs matter a great deal, while for others, they are almost inconsequential. Similarly, some candidates rank on-site child care or tuition reimbursement as being almost as important as salary. As a candidate, it’s your job to obtain and understand the entire benefits package on offer, because when weighing similar roles, benefits often prove to be the deciding factor.
Physical Surroundings: Does the physical environment of the workplace matter to you? Great energy can be created by an attractive, comfortable physical environment, ultimately enhancing productivity. For some, windows are an essential, while for others, an inner office or cubicle is just as conducive to a productive day. What are your views on an open vs. closed office area? Some find that an open work environment that is not closed off by cubicles fosters group communication and helps build relationships between employees. Others find the distractions of an open office plan nearly unbearable. You need to understand what matters to you about your physical surroundings before you embark on interviews, because this is a vital aspect of job satisfaction for many candidates.
Armed with this self-knowledge about what aspects of a total employment experience really matter to you, you will be far better prepared to target specific roles and employers where you can flourish. Your job satisfaction will in some important measure be determined by your environment, so understanding your own needs is the first step toward finding the job where you will succeed.
Once you’ve assessed your own priorities, you’re ready to use the ICS Talent Toolkit (link) to embark on your next job search!