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How to evaluate a career opportunity

Many people have been in this position before, you are interviewing at multiple organizations and end up with a few offers. Now comes the hard part which is choosing with opportunity is the best fit. This can be difficult as you try and compare all the different factors that play into your decision. Having helped people through these decisions before I wanted to give some advice on how to evaluate a career opportunity.

Understanding what’s important to you

The first step to making a decision on the right career opportunity is understanding what you’re looking for. Everyone is different in what they find important and those things will change as your life changes. Compensation might be most important to you early in your career while work-life balance might be more important once you have children. Before you even start looking for your next career opportunity you should be evaluating what’s important to you. I usually recommend a list of 3-5 factors and have an idea of how they link to your goals. For example, if working with new technology is one of them ask yourself which technology you want to work with and how it will help you achieve your goals. I would also recommend stack ranking them in terms of importance.

Taking the time to know these in depth and how everything is linked will make finding the right opportunity that much easier for you. This can save you time upfront by vetting opportunities that don’t offer you the things you’re looking for.

Understanding the opportunity

Now that you have an idea of what you want the second piece is figuring out what the organization is offering. In saying this you will never 100% know how things may line up until you actually start working there. However, there are resources you can lean on to get a better understanding of who they are and what they value. Doing research will once again help you choose the right opportunity and save you time. Here are a few resources I use to better understand organizations

Company Website

The most obvious resource is the career page of their website. Most companies will have some information on the company and often a little sales pitch on why they are great. Here you can examine the organizations values and culture. Keep in mind no organization is perfect in living out the values they put on their walls, this can still give you insight into what they are trying to achieve.  For example, if they preach innovation most teams will be open to new ideas and new technologies, but it might not be the case across the board. Still if you value the ability to help innovate this organization could be interesting.

Job Description

They are typically outdated and for the most part pretty generic so not always the best source of information. However, there is some details about the company that you can gain through reading it. Something like the technologies listed can give you an idea of how advanced they are technically. Even what tasks they expect for a given role can give you insight to how they work on a regular basis. For example, a company that makes mentorship a part of their job description shows they have interest in developing their employees.

Online reviews

Checking out online reviews of a company can at times be helpful so here are 11 sites you can check for reviews. It’s important to remember that people are 21% more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one so they can at times be slanted towards the bad. This is why I’d advise looking for reoccurring feedback for either positive or negative and align it to your own needs. For example, if a lack of growth opportunity comes up consistently then it is probably an issue within the organization.

Check your network

The IT market in Montreal isn’t that big so when exploring new organizations, you should always check your network. It’s most likely someone you know is either working there or has in the past depending on the size of the organization. These people are more likely to give you true insight into what it’s like working there. Here’s where you can ask them questions around your important factors and how they align.

Ask your recruitment partner

If you’re working with a recruiter, they can at times have insight into the company you’re exploring. The best recruiters will understand the culture and how it aligns with you before you ask. However, if they don’t provide those insights then don’t be afraid to ask them before moving forward. They might even be open to connecting you with people they have placed there recently. Some recruiters can even give you information of other companies you are interviewing with. This is why having the right recruitment partner matters.

Use the interview

One thing many people forget is that an interview is a two-sided event. As much as they are assessing your fit within their organization, you should be evaluating how they fit your needs. Prepare questions that will help you understand what they value and how they see the organization. Here are 37 examples of questions you can ask to get a better understanding but craft yours around your needs. If you can ask for a tour of the office to see how people are working.

Once you’ve gathered all this information you can compare each opportunity including staying at your current organization. Outside of that perfect role you will need to weigh out which position fits your needs best. This is why having a stack rank can help you once you get to this final decision. The bells and whistles can be enticing but it’s best to look back at what you valued when you started your search. Those key factors should be your main focus and take priority over free lunch on Fridays as great as that can be.  

In any situation there is always flexibility and you have the ability to negotiate the terms. So, don’t be afraid to ask for more but approach the situation in a reasonable way. Asking for a modest increase in salary or vacation is more likely to get you what you want.

Making a new career move can be a very difficult decision so be as prepared as possible. Knowing yourself and what that company represents is the best way to make the right decision. Leveraging all this is how to evaluate a career opportunity.

How avansai can help

Our Candidate Profile is focused on understanding exactly what is important to you. We also put in all the leg work to understand our clients and make sure that you align in terms of your skills but also your interests. Our goal is always to give you the information to make the best decision for your career.