The process of searching for the right company is a lot like choosing a partner: since you’ll be together for part of your life, you should both have the same expectations. Otherwise it won’t be long until a serious crisis threatens. And, just as in a relationship, the next partner – sorry, employer – will ask why your last partnership fell apart.
The candidate may ultimately be incapable of relationships in general... You should thoroughly prepare your choice of future employer to make sure that this doesn’t happen. Ideally, you should
Decide on selection criteria
Logically, the search for the right employer starts with you. You need to know which criteria are important to you before you can start looking.
So please think about
- exactly which qualifications you have
- which industries attract you
- which sector you would most like to work in
- which tasks you want to be in charge of
- what is important to you about your work environment
- what future prospects you expect
Some people think that this is a waste of effort, since as a newcomer, you’ll just have to take what a company offers. Quite the opposite is true. Jobs aren’t handouts – after all, you’re offering your best effort! So you need to have strong arguments ready for why you want to be hired there, by the time of the job interview at the latest.
If you want to skip this step and leave it to your interviewer to work out what they’re supposed to do with you, you’re just making it clear that you haven’t done your homework.
At the same time you should start to inform yourself about potential industries and sectors. That way you will not only find information about possible employers - you’ll also find criteria that you can add to the list above.
For that you can use
- Job centers: In addition to finding possible jobs here, you can also find information about the work conditions and opportunities and the companies that offer them – and you can choose which are relevant for you.
- Career sites: Lots of companies have information specifically for potential employees on social networks or their homepage. Here you can build on your knowledge from the job center. In particular, use the interactive options to find out anything relevant to you – and to draw attention to yourself at the same time.
- Trade directory: In these reference texts you can find a complete list of possible companies – and then you can look for more information on the employers worth considering.
- Business associations: Here you will also find names of potential employers, plus more information on the companies. You can also use this as a means of establishing direct contact.
- Career services: Internal college career services offer tips on possible companies to help you start your career. Because the career service employees keep in contact with the the businesses, they are also a good point of contact for any questions you might have.
- Media reports: These can provide background information on companies that might be suitable employers for you. That way you can check the company’s views yourself and then follow it up through other means.
Then you end up with a list of companies that fit the criteria of your potential employer. So now you can find out more about these companies to help you make a decision.
Meet current employees
The best way of doing this is to compare notes with as many people who work or have worked for the company as possible. They will provide you with a behind-the-scenes insight and can tell you whether that company would fulfill your expectations.
You’ll get the chance to do this at
- Career conventions: Here you can grill company representatives face to face. That way you don’t just discover what the company offers – you can also discuss your entry options. Additionally, you have the chance to check the feasibility of your expectations here. Make sure to read between the lines when you’re talking to the personnel manager.
- Social networking: Sites like LinkedIn or Xing give you the chance to look for current or former employees at the companies you’re interested in, to connect with them, and ask to about the working conditions and career development opportunities there. This form of communication is more honest and open, because it’s so informal.
- Career sites: You’ll find a point of contact for your questions and usually get an answer – at least on well-made application platforms. Of course, you won’t find openly negative things about a company here – but you often have to read between the lines. You’ll still learn something, even if you don’t get a response.
- Alumni networks: As a general rule, graduates from your college are happy to give you information about their current employer. You can use this to get free tips about whether your expectations are accurate – like at career conventions.
- Job interviews: At first glance it seems like a paradox, but although job interviews are the last hurdle before employment, they also offer the chance to work out whether you both have similar expectations as to what the job entails. If the answer is no, you can still turn down the job even if the employer wants to hire you.
You should be aware, however, that the process of choosing an employer always requires multiple attempts. It’s like a cybernetic system – you enter more information to refine the search. That also means that sometimes you have to give up on a pursued objective and go back so that you can pick up another thread. But the contacts that you add to your network as a result are worth the effort.