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How to balance your head & your gut: 8 tips to help you choose between employers

Written by Lenny Sluyts on 8 August 2022 for Tech Graduates

In an age where the war for talent has debouched into a war for people, young graduates with technological skills are entering a job market where possibilities are abundant.

Similar to how having endless possible dating interests at the tip of your thumb on apps like Tinder and Bumble doesn’t guarantee you a happily ever after—having more choices on the job market doesn’t necessarily improve your chances of finding happiness at work.

In fact, having too many options makes it almost impossible to choose. Weighing the pros and cons and deciding between two or three options sounds like a dream, whereas having to decide between fifty possibilities sounds more like a stress-inducing nightmare.

So how do you choose between employers? How do you narrow those options down to a top two or three? In this article we give you 8 tips to help you decide, balancing your rational thinking abilities with your gut feeling.

Consider your long-term career goals

Don’t just focus on what you can do for a company. Instead, ask yourself what the company can do for you. Is there room to grow? Are there learning opportunities? Will this job challenge you in the long run? These are all important questions to ask yourself while deciding on your next move.

By the way, if you’re not sure yet where you see yourself in 5 or 10 years, don’t worry. This is something we at Exellys can help you with. Who knows, we might even help you discover a path you never even considered, like psychology students Erik, who became a DevOps Engineer.

Investigate the cultural fit

In line with the previous point, don’t just focus on how you can be a good asset for a company. Ask yourself instead if the company is a good fit for you. Having to work in a place that doesn’t feel right can knock all the life out of you, however much you may like the actual work you do. But the reverse is also true: you might develop passion for an employer if you feel valued and challenged there, even if you were doubtful about taking the job at first.

Figuring out what the culture is like, is tricky of course. A hiring manager is probably not going to come out and say ‘don’t do it because our boss is actually an a**hole’. Use your network to find out what it’s really like working at a company, and if you don’t know anybody there, you can always check sites like Glassdoor for employee reviews that can tell you a lot about the company culture.

Weigh personal satisfaction against salary

Don’t get blinded by the pay check. It is a demonstrated fact that as long as you have enough to live comfortably, more money doesn’t mean more satisfaction. If you’re bored or frustrated 40 hours a week, having more money to spend on the weekends won’t do much to boost your happiness. You’re better off choosing a position that pays less, but that challenges you, excites you, makes you feel like you have an impact, with co-workers you can have a laugh with.

Also, compensation is more than some numbers in your bank account. Do you get to learn new things and advance your skill set? Are there opportunities for growth? How about other benefits? Take them into consideration as well. On the other hand, if the job you’re most excited about doesn’t pay you enough to support yourself, maybe you should keep looking. Although it can never hurt to try negotiating for more salary.

Assess your work-life balance

A good work-life balance means something different to everyone. If you have young children, then being able to work flexible hours or work from home when your kids are sick can be paramount. If you have a lot of hobbies, then it’s important to know you’ll have time for them. Figure out what you need and compare that to what the company offers. The job itself is only part of the equation, the other part is the quality of life outside of work.

Use the interview to your advantage

Even if you’re unsure about a prospective employer, you should always take the interview. This is a unique opportunity to gain a good understanding of the company culture. Is the atmosphere very formal or more laid back? Are you met with smiles and the occasional joke, or is it seriousness and a poker face all the way? If you feel uncomfortable during the interview, this might be a first indication that you might not match with the company culture.

Don’t get blinded by logistics

Of course you’d like to work close to your home. You’d like to be able to take your bike to work, you don’t want to get stuck in traffic for hours, you want to be home in time for dinner. We get it! But although a commute can play a big role in your work-life balance and overall happiness, we strongly urge you not to pass up a fantastic opportunity because of mere logistics. It’s time for a reality check: what are the chances you’ll find your dream job withing 10 kilometers of your home?

 

 

This takes us back to the first pointer: think long-term. Maybe your best options for growth lie in a big city. Think of ways you can make it work: maybe you can take the train, and use your commute time as work time (thus reducing your hours in the office) or leisure time (thus improving your work-life balance). Maybe you only need to be in the office once or twice a week. It might not be as bad as you imagine it will be, so don’t write off an employer just because of their location.

Map out a typical day in each role

It’s not enough to be on board with the company’s mission or to fall in love with the awesome office (did we already mention we have a bar?). Make a realistic overview of what a typical day will look like. Ask yourself questions like: what will I be doing on a daily basis? Who will I be working with? What’s the commute like? Can I work out at lunch time? Does this job involve travel? And so on. If there’s things about this job you don’t know yet, fill in the blanks during the interview.

Trust your gut

Finally, after you’ve considered all of these reasons for choosing an employer, if you’re still left with two or three options, it is very much okay and even advised to ignore logic and listen to what your gut tells you. Deciding with your heart doesn’t make you dumb or naïve, in fact it’s drowning out your emotions altogether and choosing only with your head that’s the stupid thing to do. You have feelings, you should take them into account. After all, however well you’ve researched your options, you can never rule out every uncertainty. Making a decision is never without risk. So at a certain point, you just have to take a leap of faith.

An important question to ask yourself here is: which of my options excites me the most? Even should your family or friends urge you towards another, more prestigious choice, they’re not the ones having to do the work every day. Trust yourself and go with what feels right.

Conclusion

Although this might still seem like one of the most difficult choices you’ve ever made, we’re convinced that these pointers will guide you in the right direction. If you take these tips into account, you’ll be set up for success. So take the leap and enjoy the ride!

About Exellys

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We match ambitious companies with the finest tech talent. Are you ready to drive the innovations of tomorrow? Ready to make an impact and become a future-fit digital leader?

Whether you are a graduate or (young) professional, Exellys will unlock your full potential by guiding you to a challenging work environment that perfectly matches your personality, expectations and ambitions.

On top of that, you are enrolled in one of our very own training and coaching programs (based on your personal and professional ambition and experience). This means that, while working as an Exellys consultant, we are helping you to bridge your ambition to excellence.

Through intensive training and coaching, you’ll gain the essential skills, competencies and knowledge necessary to become the highly effective professional you aim to be. Become an Exellyst and get in touch with us today!