It may be hard to believe, but when searching for jobs, we sometimes forget to think about ourselves. During the hunt, a lot of things don’t go our way (e.g., employers not responding to our applications), so instead of sticking with what matters most, we make sacrifices. Overlooking your values to secure a job doesn’t help you in the long run, nor will your employer look favorably upon you when you begin challenging company culture down the road. Figure out who you are and what you want before beginning your search, so you can ask the right questions to prevent complications from arising later.
What do you stand for?
Before applying for a job opening, it’s important for you as a candidate to know who you are. Figure out what you stand for. What do you want from life? What makes you happy? What motivates you? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Think about it this way: Without understanding who you are, how will you as an IT professional know what you want in an employer, where you’ll be spending a good portion of your day? Without a core set of values, it’s easy to become lost when searching for the right job.
Do your due diligence
You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but I’ll just say it to reinforce how significant it is to your success: Do your due diligence first before applying for a job. What do I mean by that? Simply, do your research. Sure, you’ll find plenty of job openings on the Bowman Williams website, but not all of them are the right fit for you (in fact, many of them probably aren’t). The system engineer position at one company could be totally different at another. Take time to examine the job description at hand.
Don’t forget: There’s so much information available to you at your fingertips. Browse websites, scan social media accounts and examine reviews, even those from current and employees (but, frankly, these firsthand accounts are only opinions, so take them with a grain of salt). Do your best to cover your bases by analyzing everything you can gather.
Now, don’t be afraid to take your due diligence a step further by conducting some interviews of your own. For example, do any of your LinkedIn connections work at the company you’d like to work at? If so, reach out to these connections to see if they could provide you with some better insight. They’re the ones on the front lines day in day out.
The job interview is a two-way street
During an interview, the employer is trying to learn more about you — to determine if you’ll be a good fit at the company. That’s a good thing (for the both of you), but what many candidates forget is to return the favor. Help yourself and the interviewer out by asking your own set of questions in return about company culture, values, and mission.
Off the top of my head, here are some questions you can ask the interviewer:
— What kind of flexible work arrangements are available to employees?
— Why do you enjoy working here?
— How does the company celebrate successes and achievements?
Did you notice what the above questions have in common? Yes — they’re all open-ended. Stay away from asking questions interviewers could answer with a simple yes or no. With your line of questioning, you want to try to uncover as much as possible.
Again, I can’t stress this enough: Do your homework. There are plenty of questions to ask to uncover a company’s culture — do a quick Google search to find out what I mean.
Most importantly, discuss your values with the interviewer. Maybe your values conflict with the company’s values (that’s okay). It’s better you find this out earlier than later. That’s why finding yourself as a person sets you up for success during the interview.
It’s a pleasure to meet you
If you’re sitting through an in-person interview, ask the interviewer if it’d be possible to meet the team. (The interviewer may already have this planned, but if not, see if you’d be able to briefly interact with company employees.) You’d be able to gain additional insights into company culture by talking with team members, but don’t forget — as I noted earlier, the job interview is a two-way street, so while you’re assessing company employees, they’re doing the same in the same in return — trying to feel you out.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for who you are by protecting your interests. Find employers who embrace the same values as you by standing firm on your principles, conducting research (doing your due diligence), asking the right questions and gathering firsthand insight. Your employer’s values should complement not conflict with your own.