We all know how important compatibility is in our relationships.  I remember a blind date years ago that was arranged by the guys at work – it did not take me long to recognize there was not any compatibility.  Though well-intentioned – the date was not a success. Yet, one month later I met my husband and we are still going strong 30 years later.

While a career is not a marriage, it is a partnership of sorts.  We do spend 40+/- hours a week at work.  That is a lot of time to be with people with whom you are not compatible. Even a successful blind date moves forward into determining long-term compatibility.  We all have good intentions but are you putting the same focus on determining if you are compatible with a prospective employer? 

Before starting a career search, you need to know what you seek.  This will ensure you focus on what is important to you.

But how do you know what is important?  Determine:

  1. Exactly what you want in a position – include responsibilities, remuneration package, etc.  Indicate what is a must and a want.  What is non-negotiable?
  2. Will you relocate for this ideal position?  If not, what are you willing to compromise to avoid relocation?  If so, where are you willing to move?
  3. What is important to you by way of values.  What do you value in an employer?  Take into consideration work-life balance, teamwork, flexibility, etc.
  4. Is there a specific industry in which you want to focus your career path?  If your position is available in another industry, will you consider a change?
  5. Do you seek internal advancement and growth within a company?  Is this important?
  6. Have there been bridges burned that would negatively impact career progression?  Can you provide references that will benefit your cause?

Your values need to align with an employer to have a happy and productive relationship.  If there is not compatibility, even if hired you will be looking for another job within the year because your dream job turned into a nightmare. 

Once you have determined what is important to you, now you need to see if the company matches:

  1. Do you like the work environment described by a recruiter or hiring manager?
  2. Do you sense your hard work would be acknowledged in a manner you need?  Will your skills and abilities be utilized?  Is there a challenge?
  3. Is the business on a good track for growth?
  4. What feedback can you find about the company on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc.  Is there anything to be concerned about?
  5. Is the employer willing to introduce you to team members to ask specific questions about the corporate culture?  Get a referral to speak with someone not ‘approved’ by the employer.
  6. Find out why the hiring manager joined the company and what has kept them there

Every interview should be two-way – you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.  They do reference checking for a reason.  While you still want to keep the Hiring Manager’s interest, if you have questions or concerns, make sure you address them before it gets to an offer stage. Do not enter into a working relationship with the same ‘unknowns’ as a blind date.

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