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In Search of … the Ideal Employer

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

Choosing the right employer is an investment

on your welfare and career journey!

"The best way to predict the future is to create it."

~ Abraham Lincoln

Remember the time when you graduated from college and took your first job to start your career? Can you recall what was the most important factor or factors that played into your decision in choosing your dream employer?

If you’ve seen the movie “Jerry McGuire” then you can relate to my mindset right after I graduated … “Show me the MONEY!” It was all about how much the job paid. Before the age of computers, jobs were listed in newspapers unlike nowadays where you can create “Job Alerts” and automatically receive notifications of new opportunities as soon as it becomes available. The old days, it was about the well sought out part of the newspaper called “Classified Ads”. As soon as the paper comes out hot from the presses, I’d get a copy, pull out the Job Ads (and the cartoon section of course), then scan through the list of job openings focused primarily on how much it paid. In retrospect, this was a short-sighted approach.

And after some job hopping and 9 jobs later, I finally found a company where I stayed for almost 25 years – a place I called home away from home! I even took a pay cut accepting the position as a Claims Adjuster knowing it’ll pay off in the long term. My career was an adventure having served four different departments and relocating 6 times. Having served as a Talent Professional engaging students and people from various stages of their careers allowed me to gain insights on how to attract and retain talent as well as learning the conditions that create employee engagement and loyalty.

In the search for the ideal employer, I believe there are three essential elements that must play into the decision before taking a job offer. Allow me to illustrate through this story after an encounter with some interns at Genentech – a very popular and sought after biotechnology employer. I asked them, “As you explore the various job offers from employers as you graduate, what three things must exist? Also, remember that choosing the right employer is like getting married since the 'relationship' is hopefully for the long term." After a momentary pause, one said “Benefits” – I concurred stating “Compensation & Benefits” are important to care for you and your family. Another said “People” – I agreed stating that “Culture” is about belonging to a community you enjoy working in so you don’t dread coming to work each day. And then another intern said “Career and Developmental Opportunities” – Right! Being in a company that invests, supports, and is committed to your “Growth”!

All three of these elements must be your non-negotiables:

1.      Compensation & Benefits – It’s not about the company the pays the most. Consider the pay range of the position and potential for leveling up. Looking at the whole picture and future impact to you (and your family), evaluate if your pay is competitive and list out the “non-pay” benefits. Non-pay benefits provided by a company have a monetary value and is up to 30% of your salary (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Quantify this first element in your evaluation process.

2.      Culture – While culture is confused with beautiful facilities and other perks, aesthetics does not embody Culture … this is a facade! The core values instilled in the people within the organization IS Culture. Whether it’s a small, medium, or large company, you can “feel” Culture. I would further say Culture is embodied by an organization’s character – integrity, honesty, attitudes, values, etc. This is modeled by every leader in an organization and starts at the top. Does the company have a “Servant Leadership” ambiance or is everyone just out for themselves? When you reach out for help to a fellow associate from across the country, does it feel like you’re dealing with family and like they’re just across the room? Culture gets you excited coming to work every day despite the challenges. Culture creates a sense of belonging and community that bonds everyone to achieve great things together!

3.      Growth – This pertains to personal and professional growth. Is the company willing to invest and provide resources for your development? Is talent being nurtured for future opportunities? What programs are in place showing intentionality in growing talent and promoting from within? Some companies understand the importance of and appreciate their employees’ well-being. A company’s offerings can include an Employee Assistance Program, on-demand resources, training workshops/courses, Development Dollars for conferences, etc. In Dr. John C. Maxwell’s lesson on R.E.A.L. Success, “Equipping” is about helping people find their strengths and building upon them to reach their potential so as to multiply the value they can provide. Growth in a lot of ways follow the ancient Greek's definition of happiness: "The joy you feel striving toward your potential".  

Whether you’re a job seeker or employer, these three elements are essential. For an employer, you can create a powerful employment brand statement and thriving work environment that attracts and retain top talent. For a job seeker, becoming more conscious about your choices will impact your personal and professional life allowing you to live your dream.

The choices and decisions you make today are your realities tomorrow!

"I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions."

~ Stephen Covey

"The future depends on what you do today." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

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