By Will Sun
One universal question posed to students across the world is “what would you like to be when you grow up?” At the time, one’s career choice was primarily determined by passion, with answers ranging from being a professional athlete to being an astronaut. However, as we all know, finding a job in today’s world, especially within the ultra competitive setting of Silicon Valley, is no easy task.
Besides simply whether you enjoy the job, it is critical to understand the surrounding work culture, job perks or features, and the company’s own background. For more general career fields, knowing what path the industry is heading, whether being manipulated by changing markets or technology, is also key to success. Without being careful to examine all aspects of a job, as well as the market, one may find themselves unhappy with their job, or worse, without a job entirely.
Work Culture/ Environment
While it is obvious that an ideal job must be enjoyable, there are far many factors to consider when looking at a job’s work culture. Compared to even just 50 years ago, the emphasis on work culture and environment have grown exponentially. A whopping 80% of Millennials examine people and culture of jobs, while 64% cited that they would rather work at an enjoyable job for a 40k salary compared to a boring job with a 100K salary (1). Thus, the value of a positive work environment is essential to many.
But what exactly is a work environment? Simply put, it is the social and physical aspects of a job that impacts the efficiency, productivity, and health of employees.
In terms of physical conditions, the size of the workplace, layout (which can concern privacy and space), and even the necessary equipment all contribute to the work environment. However, more importantly are the social features of a job. These range from the code of conduct for a job to the levels of collaboration and teamwork between employees, such as meetings and seminars.
For each job and career, there are different types of work environments. For example, an artistic work environment consists of flexible and free settings that promote innovation, independence and experimentation. On the other hand, an investigative work environment are built on collaboration, data collection, and problem-solving.
Try to find a setting that is best suited for you and your preference. If you are someone who enjoys freedom and control over their own work, an artistic setting may be best. However, if you prefer more rigid and standard conditions for work, a realistic or investigative work environment would most likely work better.
Ultimately, even the smallest factors, such as work space and company dress code, could be significant for choosing the right job. When interviewing at a company or shadowing an employee, pay key attention to how other employees treat each other, whether or not collaboration is emphasized, and how easily people take constructive criticism. Although a high-paying salary may be enticing, it is always best to look into a job’s work culture as well.
Job Features/ Requirements
The specific features and benefits of jobs are also critical to look for. Since the following factors vary among careers, every person must find the features that best fit them.
Salary- Naturally one of the biggest factors in applying for a job, with 67% of applicants looking for salary in job ads, having a sustainable salary is a key part of any job. Depending on the situation, higher or lower salary may be preferable. When applying for a job, it is important to clearly state your desired salary- making your intentions clear from the start.
Location- Not surprisingly, the location of a job is also important. If the commute to the job is extremely long and tedious, it not only may prove to be frustrating, but can also drain pockets due to bus fares or gas prices. Moreover, many jobs often require an employee to travel, whether it be for business meetings or conferences. The combining hotel fees, plane tickets, and timing of such travels add another factor which applicants must consider. If you are not willing or can’t afford to travel, remote or online jobs may be better for you.
Benefits- One of the more glamorized aspects of jobs, benefits are still significant in choosing a job. While not all careers have life changing benefits, such as Nvidia who will repay up to $30,000 of student loans, these small perks can contribute towards making a job more enjoyable. Something as small as getting extra vacation days or even providing dental or health insurance could prove to make one job more preferable than the other. Moreover, depending on each person’s situation, certain benefits could be extremely helpful. For instance, a pregnant woman may want to consider jobs that provide long maternity leave.
Education- The education requirements for a job is also something to consider. Many jobs often require varying levels of education, from simply having a high school diploma to having a specific master’s degree in a related field. As such, making sure that you are well qualified for a job is something that should be done initially.
Schedule/Work-life balance- Arguably the most important factor for an employee’s happiness, a work-life balance is critical when applying for jobs. Making sure that you have time for family or hobbies is important for choosing the right job. If a career requires that you put in long hours, travel a lot, or be away from family for long periods of time, then it may not be the right one for you.
Company/ Job Stability
An important factor to consider when choosing a job is the current status of the industry. In today’s dynamic world, fluctuations in job industries and demand are a given. As such, one must be careful to examine whether or not a prospective job will be sustainable for the long-term. In the worst case scenario, one may unsuspectingly pour time, money, and effort into a job that eventually falls out of high demand.
For instance, the gradual automation of driving will eventually affect careers in that field, such as taxi drivers, train operators, and truck drivers. Moreover, the addition of self-checkout counters in many grocery stores and other outlets could very well make cashiers obsolete. The impact of technological advances isn’t the only thing that threatens the job market.
Changes in the environment also play a huge role in shaping job availability. As public opinion gradually shifted against fossil fuels, and alternative, sustainable energy sources were found, mining has been in decline since the last 50 years. In 2020 alone, 151 mines became closed or idle.
Thus, understanding whether improving technology or changing environments would affect a prospective job is critical. Currently, several careers will always be in high demand; these include health care, information technology, and hospitality jobs. On the other hand, more laborers and unskilled jobs may eventually fall out of demand.
So what can you do to ensure job security? The best way to analyze whether a job will still be in demand is through directly researching the background of that job. Start with looking into the company history. Some things to look for include how long the company has been in business, whether or not the company has been expanding or downsizing, and any legal or financial the company has been in. On a larger scale, researching the overall job market is also important. Websites such as the Bureau of Labor statistics, which projects the growth or decline of jobs, and Glassdoor, which provides insights from former or current employees, can be great tools for choosing a stable career.