|Christian Sepulveda's Blog Archives|
October 19, 2005
Three Important Considerations for a Candidate
In a previous blog post, I ranted a bit about how candidates can make themselves more attractive to employers. While I still am interested in things from a employer's perspective, there are three critical consideration for a candidate: Do I want to do the role offered? Is there an opportunity to have an impact? Will I have the support and environment necessary to effectively do the job?
For each candidate, the consideration of each question will vary as well as its important. During all research and interaction with the organization, a candidate should structure her questions to build a "dossier" that addressees these concerns.
Do I want the role offered?
While a relatively simple question, it requires that a candidate has a clear sense of his goals and priorities. Timing is generally a key component, as different roles may be more or less crucial throughout the different stages of professional development.
Is there an opportunity to have an impact?
Ultimately, I think the most rewarding positions are ones in which there is an opportunity to have a significant impact to the organization. The organization benefits and the candidate usually does as well; the experience is generally better and prospective employers want to know what results were achieved. The scope and scale of this opportunity will usually vary with the position; a developer who introduces TDD to a group may help lower defect rates while a VP of Engineering has the opportunity to impact the company's profitability. However, I think all candidates, regardless of the position, should be ambitious and consider the largest impact the role may have. Similarly, it is a big warning sign if the position being considered has little impact to the organization; there will generally be few resources, support, professional development, etc.
Will I have the support and environment necessary to effectively do the job?
This is a very open ended question and probably the most personal for a candidate. Part of the consideration is about organization support: autonomy, authority, budget, latitude, and counsel are some significant elements. Environment is quite personal. Some candidates like dynamic, fast paced environments and others prefer academic settings. For some people, co-workers that can be potential friends is significant. Some people need flexible working hours. Ultimately, an employee will be most effective in the environment best suited for her.
While these questions may seem obvious, I am always surprised by how few candidates (or so it appears) are trying to address these considerations. A key part of my evaluation of a candidate is an assessment of his evaluation of the position; I want candidates who are looking just as hard at my organization and I am looking at them. Also, you will notice that there is a certain bias in these considerations towards professional development and satisfaction. I've made no mention of practical considerations such as salary. While practical concerns need to be satisfied, I don't think they should be prime motivators. This is not to say that elements such as salary aren't important considerations, but I think it is harder to find the position and organization that matches well with the three described concerns than to find a position to satisfy practical issues.
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