What to look for in your next employer

Graduates fresh from university looking for a first big career break, those feeling undervalued or stagnant in their current role, or sometimes just fancying a change of scenery or a challenge: They all have one thing in common. Ultimately, everyone who wants to make the next step in their career can take the same path when it comes to finding the perfect role – and it all begins with finding the right company!

Finding a new role is a very exciting time, yet it can be easy to get carried away and blinded by the starry prospects of a new job. This guide serves as a go-to reference to navigate such a big change. Ask the right questions, seek the right fit, make the right choice and make your next career move as informed and as positive as possible.

So, what should you look for in your next employer?

Support for growth and personal development

The training and development commitment of an organisation speaks volumes about its allegiance to its workforce. An organisation should always promote the development of its staff as best it can – and this doesn’t just mean paying for expensive training courses or additional qualifications (though they are always a great bonus).

Support for personal development is not the preserve of larger organisations, so keep an eye out for smaller companies offering this too. If a company wants to invest in a thriving workforce, they will take the time to enhance it to its fullest potential. This could be something as simple as half-yearly reviews, setting and reviewing objectives that align with the company’s forward planning. It could be weekly team meetings to encourage staff to contribute ideas for the company’s roadmap. If financial resources are tight, then time resource is all the more valuable – and appreciated by employees.

A company which supports training and personal development is actively demonstrating their dedication to helping their employees thrive. Professionally, employees will learn more specialist skills, personally they will gain confidence and be more likely to be targeted for promotions in future.

There is no greater feeling than feeling both valued and listened to within an organisation. The right training and development practices are fundamental to this.

A clear internal career path

An internal career path is loosely linked to the previous point on development, however it is slightly more definitive. If a role has no progression within the company it can limit the number of years you may dedicate to that company. However, it could also mean there’s scope to grow the role into something more senior. If there is an internal ‘ladder’, it makes it easy to see where you might want to aspire to be in a few years’ time.

Going into a new role with eyes fully open is key, as is asking the right questions. Here’s three questions to ask at the interview stage, each can help to identify the scope and longevity of the role in question:

“What does the internal career progression path look like with this role?”
This direct and open question works great for larger organisations as the answer will be clear cut. The interviewer should be able to tell how (or if) there is a clear progression route with this role. For example, in a larger company a marketing coordinator may be able to progress to marketing executive, head of marketing and then on to marketing director.

“What does the team structure look like for the department where this role sits?”
A tactful question that has double the benefits. It allows you to gauge the size of the team you could be working with on a daily basis, and it helps to identify which roles could be progressed to within the team in future.

“If there is no direct career progression from this role, how supportive has the organisation been in the past for people to make the role their own?”
Helpful for smaller organisations that might not necessarily have a clear progression path for each role, owing to the smaller size of departmental teams. Small teams doesn’t have to mean stunted progression. Some smaller companies bestow long-term and developed employees with increased responsibilities and greater exposure to higher-level industry contacts. Contacts that people in the same role at larger organisations wouldn’t be in the same room as. Asking for examples will help to work out whether it is the kind of role growth you would enjoy.

A complimentary workplace culture

Some people prefer a buzzy office atmosphere with lots of opportunities to socialise, others lean towards a ‘heads down’ and straight home approach to work. Some like their leadership team to be dominant and others appreciate a collaborative approach. Suited up or dressed down? There are no right answers. In fact, the very fact that workplace culture is so subjective means that there is something out there for everyone… so it is important to make sure that the workplace culture aligns with your personality and preferences. It will help to secure work fulfilment, and promote confidence. Other workplace culture aspects that are worth considering include philosophies, beliefs and values – are they on the same page?

Even office decor plays a part. Consider the atmosphere in an office adorned with brightly coloured artefacts, a casual dress code and free green juices versus a corporate HQ with sleek glass meeting rooms, neat office spaces offering artisan coffee and an altogether more formal dress code. Very different environments for very different organisations and very different people. People thrive in different environments. In many ways workplace culture is intangible, so can feel secondary when it comes to seeking a new employer. However, calls for clear and defined cultures are increasing: 94% of execs 88% of employees think that a defined workplace culture is tantamount to business success (Deloitte)

A generous pension package

With the UK population booming and people living longer than ever before, it is inevitable that government resources – including pension provisions – are going to be significantly depleted in coming decades. Therefore state pensions will dwindle, meaning future generations will be reliant upon their private pensions.

It’s never too early to start putting away little and often into a pension pot – after all, the pennies soon add up to pounds, especially on a 40+ year scale! Finding an organisation with a generous pension contribution scheme can really help to top up the golden years nest egg.

The Government’s Workplace Pensions scheme now requires employers to contribute a minimum 3% of an employee’s salary, with employees putting in a minimum of 5% of their salary. A generous pension plan therefore makes a huge difference to the quality of your twilight years. Help to secure the best retirement possible today by identifying – and negotiating if required – a satisfactory pension package when going into your next role.

A good work-life balance

Achieving a happy work-life balance is fast becoming one of the biggest reasons people change jobs. It’s perfectly acceptable to clear emails or respond to the odd query during out of office hours – that is entirely your prerogative. However, when the work emails are coming in thick and fast over one too many family dinners, or when your working hours creep up regularly, something has to change – and more often than not, it’s the job.

A poor work-life balance often accumulates over a number of months or even years. But there are some sure-fire ways to spot the companies that value their employees’ right to downtime, they even have measures in place to support it.

Flexible working – A typical example of flexible working at its best is for parents. Whereas a 9am start could be tricky with the school drop off, getting in and leaving an hour later could make all the difference. However it’s not just parents who benefit from flexible working: a 2018 study revealed that 77% of Millennials say that flexible working hours would make their workplace more productive. Another form of flexible working is job sharing – it shows that a company is dedicated to its employees who aren’t able to commit to full time hours, but have some serious skills to bring to the table.

Remote working – Hot-desking seems to be taking over in recent years. And with good reason! Whether a fully-fledged hot-desking office, or simply having the option to work from home on occasion, it is a great tool to help achieve work-life balance, increases productivity and shows that a company trusts its employees.

Restricted working hours – a dedicated team is fantastic. A dedicated team that works until 10pm every evening is quickly going to burn out. Some companies have started to roll out ‘restricted working hours’ which see the office close at a specific time – either every evening, or set days of the week. The aim is for employees to be more productive in the time that the office is open, thus getting them home earlier feeling satisfied and balanced.

Defined overtime – beyond the occasional email or call, work outside of office hours should generally be compensated financially. Some employers may have an established overtime policy, employees will understand that employers respect personal time, which goes a long way for employee loyalty and retention.

If this is something that is a priority for you, make sure any future employers appreciate your out of office time as much as the time you put in at work.

Clear organisational stability

Stability and security are essentially two sides of the same coin.

Firstly, look at the stability of a potential future employer. This counts double for smaller or start-up companies, where the opportunity to carve out a real name for yourself is huge – but making the leap can be daunting if the company could fold in the next six months. A simple Companies House check could be all it takes to build an idea. Poor financial records and an ever-changing senor executive team could be explained fairly simply, or it could be a red flag. Digging a little deeper will uncover the kinds of clients or number of customers the organisation has – depending on whether it’s a B2B or B2C company. Checking this will help plot a rough performance trajectory and assess whether it aligns with where you see yourself going.

Evidenced job security

Whilst there’s regrettably no crystal ball for the stability of, or security offered from a company, a little homework never harmed anybody, and it could save a major headache in the long run. Head to Glassdoor.co.uk and search for the company name. This should provide details such as salary information, employee reviews and will provide an insight as to the staff turnover rate. A revolving door or underpaid employees could be a sign that the company offers less secure roles, and also doesn’t invest in their team.

Find benefits and perks that resonate with your lifestyle

Never underestimate the power of a robust benefits package. In many ways they make up your employee compensation. Some of the most desirable work benefits include gym memberships, unlimited holidays, company laptops and regular work social events. For those with existing gym membership, making this saving each month through work benefits will add up. Employee benefits are important, and they can go some way to demonstrating the company’s culture. A 2019 study revealed that a staggering 69% of employees would choose one job over another if it offered better benefits, do you make benefits part of your career decisions?

We hope you found this guide useful. Take a look at our current vacancies.