When you begin a job search, you may not know what to look for in a potential employer. To find a job you love, create a list of criteria that the company should meet before applying or accepting an offer. Some questions to start with include:
- Location and workplace flexibility
- Job title and responsibilities
- Company values
- Workplace culture and environment
- Work-life balance
- Professional development opportunities
Location is a major consideration when figuring out “what to look for in a job.” While you may find a perfect career path and salary, the opportunity might not be worth a long, expensive, and stressful commute. Or working in the office five days a week.
When looking for a new job, make sure it’s the right opportunity by considering these factors:
- Does the organization offer hybrid work?
- How will I split my time between remote and office work?
- How long does it take to get to the office, and is there usually heavy traffic?
- Will I need to use public transportation when working in-person?
- When working at the office, will I need to leave home early in the morning or return late at night?
To find award-winning Top Workplaces with job openings, explore the Best Remote Companies to Work For.
2. Job title and responsibilities
The job title is an essential factor when considering what to look for in a job. It can impact your career path, including salary, benefits, reputation, future opportunities, and more.
Also, make sure the job title and responsibilities are aligned. For example, if the title is “Accountant,” but the responsibilities include managing a team, you might be able to negotiate a higher salary or additional benefits.
3. Company history
When you want to know what to look for in a job, it’s essential to consider more than just salary and benefits. Evaluate the company’s culture, including its history as well. Look into:
- The company’s past economic performance.
- The profit formula for the business.
- The company’s competitive environment.
- The organizational structure and reporting relationships.
- The company’s reputation in the marketplace for culture, quality, and customer service.
If a company has a history of mergers, downsizing, and acquisitions, expect to be a part of that trend.
4. Company values
It’s crucial to find a company that aligns with your values. Everyone has different values, and what matters most to one person might not matter as much to another. Aligning with company values is also one of the biggest drivers of employee engagement. Here is what to look for in a job:
- Does the mission statement sound interesting, and is there evidence that the company values are part of the everyday culture?
- Does the company value a good work-life balance for its employees?
- Is there anything in the news about the company’s values?
- Is there proof employees recommend the company, and are they happy at work?
- Will you like the impact you are making by working with the company?
You can’t judge a company by its cover. Do your homework to determine if the company is a good fit for you and your values. Start your research with our guide to Top Workplaces for Values.
Benefits packages vary widely from one company to the next, so comparing what companies offer is best. Some may pay for cell phone usage or let you work from home, while others do not. Even something as simple as vacation time is one of the things to consider when looking for a job.
Companies may not be able to compete on salary, but they may compete on benefits. For example, the opportunity to work from home may be a major priority on your list of “things to look for in a job,” even if the job offers a slightly lower salary than others.
Here are some common benefits and perks to look out for:
- Childcare assistance
- Disability insurance
- Health insurance (dental, life, and vision included)
- Health savings account contributions
- Paid family leave
- Professional development opportunities
- Remote work flexibility
- Retirement plan
- Stock options
- Student loan repayment
- Tuition reimbursement
Explore Companies with the Best Employee Benefits to get started in the right direction.
What does it mean to be well compensated? The best way to determine whether you’re being well-compensated is to make sure the company’s salary matches what you think you should be earning. It helps when organizations use pay transparency in the hiring process.
Some companies emphasize the salary they offer employees, but there are other essential things to look for in a job. At the end of the day, it’s about more than just salary. Health insurance benefits, vacation time, and retirement plans are other things you should consider.
When an employer asks about what salary you expect for the role, it’s good to research the range of salaries usually paid for that role and ask the employer about pay transparency. This knowledge will help you negotiate a salary if you are successful in your application. Start exploring award-winning Top Workplaces for Compensation here.
7. Work hours
Some companies have different departments and work hours, so it’s important to know what your job entails regarding working late nights or weekends. Even if you have flexible hours, there may be times when you have to stay a little later or come in early, or you may enjoy an on-call schedule to pick up extra hours.
8. Workplace culture and environment
Your workplace culture and environment can significantly impact job satisfaction, happiness, and productivity. After all, you spend most of your time at work, so it’s essential to find a company where you feel comfortable.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important, as everyone should feel welcome and part of a team when they come to work. Many companies are going above and beyond to promote DE&I in the workplace, creating a more welcoming and equitable atmosphere for marginalized employees.
When looking for a job, it’s good to know what type of workplace culture and environment you want. You might consider Top Woman-Led Workplaces or the Best Companies for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
9. Work-life balance and workplace flexibility
Work-life balance refers to the relationship between professional and personal life. The term “balance” implies equality between the two, but that’s not always possible or even desirable. Workplace flexibility refers to how employees can schedule and structure their work time.
Flexibility and work-life balance are important factors to consider in your job search. It’s best to find a company that offers flexible options to accommodate your current needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for the perfect work environment because it depends on what’s suitable for you and your lifestyle. Explore our Best Companies for Work-Life Balance & Flexibility.
10. Professional development and advancement opportunities
Professional development improves your skills and enhances job performance. By providing professional development opportunities for their employees, employers can increase productivity, employee retention, and workplace morale.
Providing professional development and advancement opportunities also shows employees how much they are valued, not only in their current role, but at the company in general. If an organization offers different types of training and development programs, chances are they value individual growth just as much as organizational growth.
When you’re considering a new job opportunity, ask about the company’s professional development program and history of internal promotions. Explore our Top Workplaces for Professional Development to learn more.
11. Employee appreciation and recognition
The best workplaces are those that recognize and appreciate their employees. Savvy employers know that offering recognition is a great way to reward workers and show them they’re valued.
As an employee, it’s important to know how your workplace values you and gives you the recognition you deserve. To find companies that make appreciation part of their culture, explore Top Workplaces for Employee Appreciation.
12. The team and management
The team you work with and how the company is led are two important things to look for in a job. Asking questions about the company’s management style gives you a better idea of how it would be to work there. Know the qualities of a good manager and look for any red flags. Leadership impacts culture on such a deep level, so it’s helpful to learn as much as possible.
13. Tools and technology
When you ask yourself what to look for in a new job, you will want to ensure that the company has the right tools to do the job effectively. Some things to look for include:
- Technologies you will be working with
- How you get access to tools
- Hardware and software provided
- Backup procedures for your work
Some companies think that investing in the right tools and technology is a waste of money. Make sure the company is willing to adopt new technologies to continue improving the workplace in the future.
When looking for a new job, it’s crucial to consider communication. Poor communication negatively impacts the employee experience, which means it also negatively impacts company culture, retention, and productivity. Finding a job with effective communication lays the groundwork for a healthy, growth-oriented career.
Signs of a bad company
So you understand the qualities of a great workplace and what to consider when looking for a new job. But do you know what to avoid? Things like an unstable work-life balance, high turnover rates, and low engagement are sure signs you should look elsewhere. Here’s a complete list of 15 signs of a bad company, so you can keep your eye on the good ones.
Find what you’re looking for in a job with Top Workplaces
If you’ve found yourself asking, “What things should I look for in a new job?” you aren’t alone. Perhaps you’re looking for a job that allows you to work from home, or you want one that offers excellent benefits, lets you work with cutting-edge technology, and pays well.
These are all critical factors when it comes to choosing the right job. But the most important thing is to find a position that makes its employees feel valued, heard, and appreciated.
We want you to love where you work. At Top Workplaces, we are dedicated to providing you with in-depth information on the best companies in your area. We want to help you make informed decisions on your next career move.
Our national and regional awards shine a light on companies that put their people first. Be informed when you start your next job search. Explore Top Workplaces to see how companies shine.