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4 Things You Should Consider While Job-Hunting

 

Is salary all that matters?

As a fresh graduate, I made the mistake of rushing into an organisation just because they offered the highest pay. Although I am in a good place financially, this decision ended up causing a lot of pain and regret. I have come to the realization that there are many other important factors to consider when it comes to job-hunting. Whether you are a fresh grad or an experienced hire, it is always beneficial to spend time thinking about what you really want when it comes to your career. So, before you make one of the biggest decisions of your life and say “yes!” to an employer, make sure you consider these aspects of the job other than the salary.

 

The book, Pay People Right, by Zingheim and Schuster, introduced the Total Rewards model:

Individual Growth

You need to decide for yourself how steep of a learning curve you would enjoy. It is also important to consider whether you prefer obtaining a breadth or depth of knowledge. For example, if you prefer being a jack of all trades (being exposed to many areas but only on the surface), then you would benefit a lot more from joining a Graduate Programme that allows you to rotate in different departments. On the other hand, you can also choose one specific technical skill and be an expert in that niche area. Some questions to guide your own thought processes:

  • Am I comfortable with a repetitive role?
  • Do I enjoy being involved in many different projects?
 

With whatever focus you desire, you should also find out if the organisation you are applying to has any interest to help you grow. These can be through formal learning and development, or through informal mentoring or coaching sessions. A career coach whom you can relate to and truly cares for you would make a huge difference in your experience. In fact, I had friends who left their firms simply because they felt like their coaches were not truly invested in their lives or aspirations. Examples of questions you can ask the recruiter:

  • Is there an opportunity to be attached to a coach I can relate to?
  • Is there any in-house training or subsidy/allowance for courses?
 

When it comes to your individual growth, remember to ask about the career track in the organisations you’re interviewing for. For example, how is performance being managed, how often do reviews occur, how regular is the cycle for raise or promotions – this is to make sure that you would have the opportunity to continuously expand your bandwidth or be exposed to different opportunities.

 

Compelling Future

This has a lot to do with whether or not you can align with the style of work and the variety of opportunities you get to enjoy in the longer-term.

 

Although it is “just a job”, you get a lot more satisfaction if you work with an organisation with a mission, values and branding you can resonate with. Being able to align yourself to its goals makes you a more committed and engaged employee, but you will also be happier and more at peace with yourself. This information is often easily available on the company website, so do give it a thorough read and ask yourself if you can create a meaningful and purposeful career with them. Ask yourself:

  • What are the pros and cons of working in a globally-recognized firm?
  • What are the pros and cons of working in a local firm?
  • Do I prefer more structure or fluidity?
  • Do I resonate with these values?

 

When it comes to relationship building, it is also crucial to ask yourself about the circle of network and influence you are trying to create for yourself. For example, do you want to be in a client-facing role or an in-house department? As you progress on the career ladder, also ask yourself of the kind of influence you want to have and the stakeholders you would like to manage. Whether it is to engage government officials, thought leaders in the tech industry or beauty influencers, it takes the right job and requires a lot of intentionality. Examples of questions you can ask during the interview:

  • Do I get to manage or interact with external stakeholders?
  • Are there any collaborations with other organisations, brands or individuals?
 

Positive Workplace

A clean, tidy, spacious space with good lighting is more important than we think it is. This affects our day-to-day functioning and efficiency, and it also affects our health (and eyesight)! So, if you do have the chance to visit the office (rather than just a virtual interview), pay attention to the physical space and ask yourself if you would feel comfortable working there. The emotional and social aspects of the job are really important, too. This is not only about who you can have lunch with, but the overall culture and people you can journey – both in work and in life – with: leaders who truly listen and are invested in you, seniors who respect you and subordinates who are comfortable conversing with you. Although these are hard to filter out before you actually enter the company, you can try to find out more through social media, or by asking friends or acquaintances who work there. Also, ask yourself:
  • Does autonomy matter to me when it comes to executing plans?
  • Do I have a clear distinction between work and play?
  • Do I want my colleagues to also be my friends?
  • Does this organisation have Employee Assistance Programs (to assist in my mental well-being)?

Online reviews (such as Glassdoor) are also very helpful to determine the culture of this organisation.

 

Total Pay

Of course, the salary is key, but the benefits package is an important factor to consider too. There are some packages that are mandatory, such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), annual leaves, overtime pay and so on. When it comes to pay, it might also be helpful to find out the increment rate. Other than these, are there any other benefits you’re looking for? For example:

 

Flexibility: this could be in terms of hours, location or dress-code

Discounts: employee discounts or privileges with certain shops or brands

Claims: parking, toll or mileage claims (which might take up a huge chunk of your salary if it is not subsidised)

Medical coverage: health insurance and hospitalisation

 

There are also non-monetary rewards that you might appreciate, such as recognitions and celebrations (birthday leaves).

 

Whether or not we like it, we spend a lot of time at work. I thought that the pay was what mattered the most, and ended up wasting a lot of time in a place where I could not fit in or grow. It is an expensive lesson, but I am glad I realized so much more about myself and what I desire in a workplace. So, don’t be afraid to take your time and to really think about what you want, future You would thank you!

Change Management Consultant by day, writer by other parts of the day - because at night I sleep. Being funny is my self-proclaimed strength and I enjoy talking about politics, social issues and faith.

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