Choosing the Right Place to Work

Working with job seekers and career changers, I discovered one common trait about them. When people transition between companies/industries, or just start out (after university or after a pause to have children or a maternity break), they tend to focus on positions being offered, and not beyond.  They usually get so excited about what the position might involve, they forget that they will be working in a culture/environment and not alone.

The company culture is more important than the position – jobs can change but cultures evolve harder and tend to remain constant. Moreover, if the culture is not supportive of employee growth and evolution, you will be stuck in the same role forever with no prospects to change.


Choose a company to work for based on how well its values match your values.  Make sure that the company is one you will be proud to say you work there, where you will enjoy going to work every day, and where there is potential for you to grow, learn, advance and flourish.

For some people, a smaller company or a start-up may provide opportunities for personal development, growth they’re seeking. They are usually a greater training ground. You are likely to have a greater opportunity to make an impact on the strategic direction of the business, to take on more responsibilities and to try out different roles.  Smaller companies also involve greater risks, and pays/benefits might not be as generous. You need to choose the trade-off based on what you value most at this stage of your life.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of “Lean In”, said that her priority in pursuing a job is the opportunity  for her personal growth. She found the best opportunities for growth were in smaller companies where she could influence the company’s growth strategies and, by doing that, build her own personal wealth.

What are your most important career values? Do you want to contribute at your highest level, grow, develop?  Use your values as the filter to make a decision.


Find out what compensation package include, eg salary, bonuses, health insurance, education, training, vacation, sick leave, stock purchase opportunities, retirement plan.  Find out how the salary review works. Check if there are workplace flexibility policies and practices and see if the employees are comfortable taking advantage of such policies.

The French think-tank Great Place to Work rates the top 10 companies in France annually for the quality of the workplace environment. Interestingly, the front-runner is a French company this year.


Research local, national and industry news reports about the company. Does it have a good reputation? A company’s commitment to innovation and customer relations can tell us a lot about its leadership, culture and standards.


You probably know by now that your boss is the key to your success. Take time to investigate the company’s management style and structure and who you will be reporting to. If you are a woman, do your best to find out the track record of your future manager in hiring, developing and promoting women. Seek out to meet and talk to the manager in person so you can find out about development opportunities, about their values, goals, management style and expectations. Listen and trust your instinct as to whether this person and you would be a good fit and would form a good team.

Tip #5 (for women job seekers): LEARN IF THE COMPANY VALUES WOMEN

Look at how many women there are at senior positions. What functions do those women lead? The role of women is a critical clue about the company culture.

Having women at all levels of the business structure means that there are ready female role models and, hence, more opportunities for growth and support for a new female employee.


Look for informal opportunities – eg conferences, networking events, etc – to meet employees of all levels from the company you’re targeting so you can find out more about the company culture, their opinions, and the opportunities the company offers for professional growth.

I am curious as what criteria are important to YOU when choosing a new workplace. How do YOU pick the right company? Please share your views below.

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