Securing the right role for you

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The job sounds great, the work on offer is interesting, you have relevant skills, the people seem nice and there is scope to move up. You feel you will fit in, and you are leaning towards accepting the role. But before you do, you ask yourself: “what about the horror stories?” Remember the story of that friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend who accepted a similar role at a similar company, only to find all was not as promised: a tyrannical boss, crazy working hours, unfriendly colleagues and salary bonuses that never materialise. How can you be sure you’re not making a mistake?
 
It is difficult to really know what a job will be like before starting. Below are some tips designed to arm you with information to best judge whether you are making the right decision for your career.
 
Know what you’re looking for
Most importantly, you need be clear in your mind as to why you have left or want to leave your current employer. Communicate this at first interview stage, in addition to what you want from the new role and how your skills align with the requirements.

 Good career choices happen when both parties (employer and employee) are transparent about their needs. Your potential employer needs to know what you are hoping to achieve in moving to a new role and what may make you leave a position. If you’re honest and clear from the get-go, your future employer will be able to manage their expectations accordingly. 
 
Don’t take anything on trust
Research your new employer to understand their business, market position, developments in place, challenges they face in the market and their values and culture. You need to be aligned to the new employer, the business and what they stand for as a business. This is especially true of those moving in-house: are you excited about the product? For example, a vehement anti-smoker will never do well at a tobacco company, or even within a corporate law firm that acts for that company as a major client. If you’re not aligned with the company’s values as a brand, you are unlikely to stay.

In your research, go beyond the company website. Reach out to your network, and speak to people who are either working with the business currently or who left on amicable grounds. Are the realities of the role similar to what the advertisement promises?

If you don’t have any contacts within the company, ask your recruitment consultant. Don’t assume recruiters are simply trying to “sell” you roles and sweep any negatives under the rug. It is in recruiter’s interests to have an honest and open conversation with you about the role. We want you to succeed, and that means being honest about both the benefits and the downsides of the job.
 
Read the fine print
Most of the time, everything you need to know about the role will be in the job description. It is crucial that you are capable of performing the role: understand what they need from you. This requires you to analyse your skills, and honestly evaluate your ability to pick up new areas against the position requirements. It is important that you sell yourself at interview, but it will be disastrous for both your job performance and self-confidence if you talk your way into a role that you are not qualified for.

If you can, reach out to your potential new manager and any other stakeholders in the team to get an understanding of the job on a day-to-day basis; its challenges and attractions. In most cases, HR will facilitate this meeting during interview stages. While it is important to stay professional during these meetings, attempting a candid conversation will ensure there are no “nasty surprises” in wait should you be offered the position.
 
Listen to the signs
How an employer manages the recruitment of their staff and their induction is a good demonstration of their commitment to their employees and how they operate as a company.  Have employees at the firm approached the interview process with professionalism? Is the process clear and timely? Are you kept fully informed of your progress?  Are interviewers well prepared and, do they understand your resume?  The recruitment process provides a good insight into how the business is managed, its culture and values.

I recently met a junior lawyer who reached the final stages of interview for an in-house position within a coveted industry. Throughout the process, much was made of the “work/life balance” and other lifestyle perks offered at the company. When she went into the office for the final interview, she witnessed her would-be-boss break down in tears due to stress. Needless to say, she did not accept the position.
 
Insist on a proper induction
Your engagement and success in the role will be greatly assisted by a good induction. Beyond the usual handbook, staff training and welcome pack, many employers will offer regular newsletters and opportunities for staff to meet, exchange ideas and socialise. Successful transitions are achieved when new employees are made to feel part of the team.


Lisa Gazis is the Managing Director of Mahlab NSW. Lisa manages Mahlab’s NSW operations and conducts senior corporate and partner level search and recruitment campaigns. She provides strategic consulting services to corporations and law firms in Australia and abroad.
 

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