Five green flags to look for in a prospective employer

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By Rebecca Siciliano, managing director, Tiger Recruitment

When leading careers platform The Muse surveyed 2,500 workers in early 2022, almost three-quarters (72%) said they had experienced ‘shift shock’ when they changed jobs.

In other words, they were shocked or surprised to discover that the role and company were a far cry from what they had hoped for. This tallies with findings from Harvard Business Review and aligns with Tiger Recruitment’s own experience.

The pandemic has driven record numbers of people to take bold steps to change their careers, and many have found that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Some jobseekers have simply had unrealistic expectations. Others, in the haste to leave an unfulfilling job, have overlooked the importance of doing the proper due diligence before jumping ship.

So, how can you tell if a job opportunity is right for you? Here are some green flags to look out for that suggest a prospective role and organisation are worthy of your consideration.

  • Cohesive workplace culture – With many companies working hybrid, the way a prospective employer builds and maintains its culture matters. How do teams collaborate? How often do they get together in person? What are the opportunities at a company level to connect? Look for evidence that the organisation is intentional about keeping its culture alive. Reach out to your network to identify any current or former employees who can tell you what it’s really like working there and ask to meet your prospective team. This is the best way to see how people interact with one another and work out if you will fit in.
  • Transparency on diversity & inclusion – Many companies have clearly defined diversity and inclusion policies, which are readily available on their website. While this is a good start, it is vital to dig deeper and ascertain whether an employer’s stated intentions translate into practice. Look at the make-up of the leadership team and the workforce, and even the panel interviewing you. Monitor what its employees are saying on social media and review sites such as Glassdoor, and ask probing questions during the interview process. What does the business do to help underrepresented and minority groups feel welcome and progress? Where is diversity lacking and what is it doing to address it? Look for evidence of actions and a willingness to create a more equitable workplace.
  • Good communication and flexibility during the hiring process – Applying and interviewing for jobs can be stressful, all the more so if you don’t hear a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for weeks at a time. Regular updates from the recruitment team show there is respect for your time. Flexibility in the recruitment process also bodes well for the future. If an employer is accommodating with interview dates and times, it is a good indication of how flexibly it will treat you as an employee. Ultimately, a positive candidate experience suggests you can expect an equally positive employee experience.  
  • Clear career progression opportunities – The classic “Where do you see yourself in five years?” could just as easily be countered with “Where do you see me?” I’m not suggesting you ask this outright, but the point stands that an organisation needs to be able to show there are real opportunities for you to learn new skills and climb the career ladder. Ask about the learning and development you can expect beyond on-the-job training and the company policy on promotion. Examples of progression from the current workforce are the best proof.
  • A focus on employee wellness – Despite the benefits of remote and hybrid working, many people find it hard to switch off when they work from home and put in extra hours. This can lead to stress and, in extreme cases, burnout. The good news is that the pandemic has opened employers’ eyes to the importance of protecting employees’ mental health and many now offer wellness benefits as standard. Be sure to check that your prospective employer is one of them. Benefits might include access to wellbeing apps and counselling, which are increasingly common, or personal wellbeing days. Also, ask what work-life balance means within the company and how it is supported, including how it is modelled by the leadership team.

It is almost impossible to know with certainty what a job and company will be like until you take the plunge. But by asking searching questions, talking to your prospective colleagues and people within your network and looking for signs of a flexible, inclusive, and supportive employer, you’ll be in the best position to avoid ‘shift shock’ and secure the role of your dreams. 

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