Make Your Best Career Move by Asking these Questions

Starting a job search isn’t easy, but finding the right fit instead of simply the right now fit makes the experience even more stressful. To simplify the evaluation process, we’ve compiled a list of questions for you to ask yourself about a future employer. Here’s our guide to help you narrow your options and make your best career move:

Who do you know that currently works at the company?
The best way to get to know a company is by talking to someone on the inside. Review your professional and personal contacts to see if you are connected to a current employee. When you can reach out to someone at a prospective company – either through a family friend or former coworker – it will be easier for you to make a professional introduction and navigate the application process.

What are the values and spirit of the company culture?
Considering that you will spend upwards of eight hours per weekday with your future coworkers, you definitely need to research a potential employer’s culture. Working for an organization that puts employees last (à la the movie “Office Space”) eventually will erode your initial excitement about landing a job. The best companies boast a sense of community, offer a supportive culture, and make their employees feel genuinely valued. How do you identify this before accepting an offer of employment? Reach out to your company contact and ask for an informational interview.

What is the makeup of the department’s team?
Meeting your future coworkers before you accept an employment offer is key. Introductions will help you gain insight to the tone of the department (do people seem to genuinely enjoy one another?), personalities of the team members, who you will directly work with and their attitudes toward work.

How does your future boss communicate his or her expectations?
During the interview, try to learn about your future boss’s management style and communication preferences. Although you cannot fully understand someone’s personality traits from one conversation, you can ask questions to determine if he or she will align with your work methods.

What are your opportunities for career growth?
Ask about the job’s prospects for advancement as well as its available opportunities to grow your skill set. Some companies offer education reimbursement, while others may focus on mentoring relationships. Identify what you want from a company to grow your career then make sure the companies on your list align with your vision.

How does the company commit to corporate social responsibility?
When companies demonstrate a commitment to corporate social responsibility, they’re more likely to take pride in the community in which they operate and inspire other organizations to do the same. Research if a company positively impacts its community. Does it focus on environmental initiatives or channel its money and efforts toward the people in the region? Corporate social responsibility efforts benefit the community and the company, by resulting in happier, more engaged and better developed employees.

How does the company reward its employees?
Engaged companies know to reward their employees in different ways, whether through excellent benefits, flexible hours or praise and recognition from management. To discover your ideal workplace, think about what you value most from an employer. Are you interested in extra days off? A higher pay? Sites like Glassdoor or LinkedIn will help you to identify which companies match up with your standards and a company contact can give you input on how he or she is motivated and appreciated at work.

Let us know on Facebook or Twitter: how do you evaluate potential future employers?

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Emily Knippa

Emily Knippa is a St. Louis-based marketer and writer who focuses on content marketing, career development, and personal finance. She enjoys meeting people pursuing inspiring career paths. She’d love to meet you at the next United Way event. Say hello to Emily on Twitter at @emilyknippa.