For most, the idea of changing jobs is traumatic enough without having to consider who it is they look to for the next pay packet. It is however true that job seekers are subjecting prospective employers to far greater scrutiny than ever before, reflecting a new maturity and awareness in their career decision-making. Graduates are looking beyond the salary and prospects to question the ethical credentials of employers; workers with families are looking at the employer’s stance on flexible working; older workers are concerned about financial stability and retirement outlooks. And these concerns are not exclusive to single age groups; they are increasingly questions that come as a package for any employer trying to attract the best talent in the market.
Whether you are starting out or somewhere in mid-career or later, you need to be acutely aware of what it is you must have from a job and what else is on your wish list; decide what is vital (salary level, bonuses, holiday allowance etc.), what you’d ideally like (paid study leave, membership fees etc.) and what would be nice but you could do without if the job was on offer.
These priorities will change as you and your career develop and you should revisit them each time you update your CV. This will enable you to target certain employers and let you direct more accurately any agencies you have working on your behalf.
How will the size of the company and its management structure affect you and your development? Do you respond well to micro-management and close scrutiny or are you happier making decisions and standing by them? Is creativity and initiative important to you or do you prefer or a more regimented regime?
Answering these questions honestly will allow you whittle your choices down when considering a career move. FM is a universal discipline and has a place in every organisation but there are some radical differences in size and nature of operations and similar disparities in the appreciation of the FM practitioner’s art.
Of course there is the age-old dilemma of In-House v Service Provider but couple that with the myriad of different sectors open to you – public/private/government, local and national/charity/academic – and the range of sizes of organisation and it makes the task very daunting!
Smaller companies are generally better places to learn quickly, assume more responsibility and progress more rapidly. SMEs employ 57% of the total workforce, however they can be less stable and have the problem of lack of delegation. Nevertheless, you will encounter a wider range of tasks and have the chance to gain new skills quickly.
Medium sized companies tend to offer better benefits and stability but have higher expectations, possibly a long hours culture and less variety than a small company. Their flatter organisational structure means advancement potential is weakened.
Large organisations can be best for security, benefits and opportunities but can also be impersonal, bureaucratic and offer less variety as they tend to hire specific people to do specific jobs.
There is no substitute for research when trying to identify your ideal match in an employer. Time invested in getting to know as much as possible about them is never wasted. You need to look at how your personal goals sit compared with the company’s stated mission. Is this a company that you feel will offer training and advancement or is this dependent upon the ‘dead men’s’ shoes’ principle? A good prospective employer should be happy to demonstrate examples of their commitment to personal development and able to explain their staff turnover at different levels of the business – you might be interested to ask what happened to the person who was in the job before you! It’s always good to meet the people that actually work there as it will give a good indication of the satisfaction levels and how that is influenced by the company’s culture. Check out their commitment to their people – are they featured in the Sunday Times Top 100 Lists? Do they have Investors in People status and have they got robust quality, customer service and environmental policies in place?
Know your own worth
You should confidently be able to gauge your value to a prospective employer in terms of the market place. There are several good salary surveys available for you to make comparisons and you can then tell where the package on offer is in terms of similar roles. If your must haves include benefits like healthcare, pension, life assurance and medical insurance, now is the time to ask the question. Such benefits often reflect the importance a company places on retention of staff and the value of the role to them. Policies on home working, flexible hours and job sharing should also be scrutinised at this stage, as should any ethical issues that may be important to you. If the company regularly gasses badgers to advance the cause of medical research or produces enough CO2 each week to choke the population of Guernsey, you might want to ask yourself if you are comfortable supporting such an enterprise.
While you are asking the questions, be mindful that the prospective employer will also be posing a few of their own. Do your reasons for leaving other jobs make sense or will they count against you? Are your must haves reasonable and achievable or do you need to re-evaluate your expectations?
Prioritise your must have package elements
Know your worth in the market place
Do your research into the company and its people
Compare their mission statement to your personal goals
Evaluate the role and the company against your career plans