How to tell if a job is right for you – Career Counselling – arty workplace photo

How to tell if a job is right for you

A 4 minute read • Jane G

Part of our career counselling series. Following my article on starting a new job, a reader asked how to tell if a job is right for you before you accept it.

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When I’m advising employers about recruitment practices, I always remind them that recruitment is a two-way process. The way organisations recruit ought to recognise that candidates have a choice of employers – and they should try to ensure that candidates have what they need to make an informed choice.

The best outcome for both a recruiting employer and their new employee is when everyone understands what they’re committing to and what’s expected of them, so that they have all the information needed to be successful.

It’s worth bearing in mind too that the recruitment process is one where everyone is trying to put their best face forward. Both sides are usually looking to make a good impression and it can often be difficult to see through the ‘sales pitch’ to the reality of what lies beneath.

So how do you find out if an employer and a job are right for you?

Research the employer

A quick Internet search will bring up some useful information about most organisations. This should include their website and may include details of their financial position. You can also download the accounts submitted to Companies House for any limited company and find out who the directors are easily and at minimal cost. They don’t tell the whole story, but they’re often a useful part of it.

Some employers also have accreditations which will include some assessment of how they treat their employees – e.g. Investors in People, Best Companies, Quality Mark – so it’s worth looking at those accreditations and what they really mean.

Social media

You can research the organisation and the people who work for it through LinkedIn, Facebook and Glassdoor.

Glassdoor can be particularly useful as it provides anonymous reviews of the employer, including comments about their recruitment practices and the CEO. It’s a bit like TripAdvisor and it’s employees and ex-employees who provide the reviews. As on TripAdvisor, a review cannot be removed by the employer, but they are able to respond.

Many employers have set up a company page on LinkedIn to enable you to see more information, including the LinkedIn members who work for them – some of whom might be your own connections. You can check out the organisation’s Facebook page if they have one and also see if you have friends who work there.

Connecting with current and former employees

Some employers now include the team in recruitment rather than just the manager. This provides an opportunity to meet current employees and ask questions about the job, the organisation and the manager. Prepare some questions in advance in case you go blank when you’re put on the spot. Ask to meet people who are already doing the job or who know about how it really works, rather than just what it says on the job description.

We are all so much better connected than we used to be, so reach out to your wider network of friends and colleagues and find out who knows what about the organisation you’re interested in. Most employers have a reputation and it’s good to find out what that is, even if it seems to be primarily based on gossip and hearsay. It might even be possible to connect through your network with someone who has already done the job that you’re interested in.

Asking the right questions

Lots of organisations have their values emblazoned on their website and even stuck to the wall in the office, but how are those values demonstrated on a day to day basis? If you’re looking for an organisation that has integrity and that operates in line with the values you hold, this is an important question to ask.

How to tell if a job is right for you – Career Counselling – arty workplace photoUnderstanding what will be expected of you in a new role is key to making a success of it. As I mention in my tips for making your new job a success, people often have expectations of a new person in a job that they’ve never openly expressed. Asking questions about what’s expected and within what timescales will give you an indication of what the job is really about – and whether you’re interested in doing it.

Ask how you would be able to put forward new ideas and challenge the status quo. Listen and watch carefully for the answer to this one. And don’t feel you need simply to accept the first answer. Dig a little deeper if you think there’s more information to be had. If you want to have some freedom over how you do a job – bringing your own ideas and taking the initiative – the response to this question will give you a sense of how likely that will be. What’s more, employers who embrace such behaviour will love you for asking the question.

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Finally, remember that you don’t have to accept a job just because it’s offered to you. If you follow our tips below, you should be well placed to make the best decision for you.

10 tips to avoid accepting a job that isn’t right for you

  1. Take control. Remember, you have what employers need and you do not have to accept a role just because it’s offered
  2. Do your research about the organisation online
  3. Use your network to do some digging
  4. Take every opportunity offered to talk to current employees during the recruitment process
  5. Connect with ex-employees and others that know of the reputation of the employer
  6. Check out the reviews (and responses) on
  7. Ask about how values are lived throughout the organisation every day
  8. Find out what’s expected of the successful candidate
  9. Investigate how open to new ideas and change the organisation really is
  10. Be open about what you’re looking for throughout the recruitment process

In conclusion

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