Tips On The Best Companies To Work For So You Can Thrive

By Thomas Ryerson

The Internet is full of advice on how to prepare a resume and rehearse top interview strategies and so on. This article is not another contribution to how to land your dream job. It's about how to know what that dream job is in the first place. Being adept at landing the job isn't much of a virtue if you're landing a job at the wrong firm.

Sure you have to have a solid grasp on your aptitudes and skills. That purely functional approach though could leave you in an unhappy place. Elsewhere, I've listed the elite of the best companies to work for . Anyone can do that, you have to figure out what's the best company for you to work at, based on your own disposition, preferences and compatibility.

Size Matters

Job seekers and career changers don't always take account of company size, but they really should. It can make a major difference in success and satisfaction of your work experience.

First, consider the virtues of small companies, with fewer employees there are few layers of organization, which means the opportunity for a more immediate encounter with customers, suppliers and collaborators. As well, you'll be able to have much closer personal working relationships with your peers. This is a distinctive work experience; the feeling of family can be quite palpable. An additional benefit, very valuable to many people, is the opportunity to directly enjoy the fruits of your labor. The consequences of your work are experienced in a way not available within big, impersonal businesses.

Though larger firms strive, and often succeed, in creating a team atmosphere within departments and divisions, the truth is that your team's success is ultimately always dependent upon the accomplishments of some other teams beyond your control and outside your shared group identity. At a small firm, the successes and the challenges are all much more immediate and tangible.

On the other side of the coin, though, for some people the large company is the place to be. It provides benefits and opportunities that are simply unavailable in smaller businesses. Larger size means more employees, which, due to scope of management limitations, usually mean more managerial layers, which means many more rungs on the executive ladder to be climbed, for superior compensation and benefits. Increased size also offers greater opportunities for professional specialization. At the same time, though, it can provide escape from a specialization that has grown stale. Lateral moves can open up new career possibilities without compromising seniority and tenure.

Another benefit of large firms, especially for those with a little of the explorer in them, is the opportunity for travel and residence abroad. So many large companies now are geographically dispersed in their operations that there are frequent opportunities for you and your family to experience life in a very difficult culture. This is the learning experience of a lifetime for your kids. And most large firms provide a wide range of support services for the family of relocating employees, including language training, schooling and orientation counselling. And of course we mustn't forget the bottom line. In general, large companies provide richer salaries and better benefits.

Structure Matters

Size of a firm though isn't the only thing that matters; you should be giving consideration to the organizational structure of a firm for whom you're considering working. How will your personal disposition fit with the structural operations of a given work experience? It can have a big impact on our success and satisfaction at work The extremes go from the regimented, tightly rule bound, hierarchy that prides itself on the precision of job description and responsibility, along with a rigorously practiced chain of command, at one end of the spectrum.

The other end of the spectrum has very differently structured companies, such as the video game producer Valve. These are businesses conceived as fluid, adaptive association arrangements. Their success depends upon very high levels of employee enterprise and innovation. Indeed, in some of these firms, such as Valve, there is no chain of command hierarchy. Initiative and responsibility are generated from within a culture of collegial collaboration, supervision and accountability.

Don't be misled into passing moral judgments on those attracted to one form of structure or the other. The reason that both exist is because different people thrive better in different environments. You have to figure out which is right for you.

Perhaps you thrive most when tasks are clearly prescribed? Are you stressed when blindsided by problems which you had no idea were going to be your responsibility? Are you anxious when given vague instructions or encounter unclear expectations? If so, no matter about all the great perks you may have heard about at some of the flatter structured firms, it's probably not the place for you. No number of ping-pong or massages tables will be adequate compensation for a work life that feels constantly distressed. That's not a recipe for either satisfaction or success.

Likewise, if you're a person who gets claustrophobic in the face of authority or if strictly delineated job descriptions cramp your love for the excitement of work place improvisation and adaptation, no amount of security and stability from traditional, hierarchical firms is going to compensate for the feelings of choked creativity and spontaneity that you'll likely experience trying to work there. You need a fluid, flat structured work situation to provoke and support your boundary transgressing intellectual curiosity.

To reiterate, this is not about right and wrong or good and bad. It's about what works and what doesn't. Different kinds of companies embody different styles and cultures, which are largely a function of their size and structure. Success and satisfaction from your work life rides upon a smart and pragmatic assessment of which set of business practices best complement your own personal dispositions. Hopefully this brief overview helps you better assess what choices of company to work for will offer you the most rewarding work experience.

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