While on the job hunt, companies within your choice industry can start to blur together, and it's hard to figure out which one seems like your best options. This may even bring back memories of your college search! There are a few qualities that take companies from good to great -- like cultivating a supportive culture or engaging with the surrounding community. In addition, there are wild-card categories that are unique to you that may also cause some companies to rise above the rest. That said, it can be hard to know a company's qualities before you've started working there.
Here are a few factors I looked for from my company that might help you during your search as well!
Growing up, volunteering in my community was always a given -- a choice encouraged and respected by my parents, and one that I carried through high school and college, even spending two spring breaks building houses with Habitat for Humanity. I derive a lot of value from using my strengths to help community organizations thrive, whether it's mentoring an underserved middle schooler in math, running social media for a nonprofit's auction or chairing a charity fun run, being out in the community is when I feel like I am my best self. Working a full 40-hour week may mean some of your extracurricular activities get pushed to the side, but activities like volunteering don't have to!
Luckily, some companies have organizations they support through volunteer efforts and may even offer volunteering as a work-sponsored event. Check the company's website or social media pages for volunteer-related past events. This gives you the chance to do some good in your community, while also potentially learning about a new charity or organization. Volunteering not only helps the community, but it also improves the positivity of your workplace and those within it. When I chose AT&T as a job front-runner, reading the company's annual report and seeing the emphasis it placed on community investment was a major draw for me.
Volunteerism is a fantastic way to get involved in creating positive change in your community, but is the company creating lasting impact too? At AT&T, for example, our education-focused work through AT&T Aspire has enabled our community to provide not just training and classes, but preparation for the workforce through mentorship and career prep. Some companies will post corporate social responsibility reports -- browse what efforts the company has done over the past year and, if you're interviewing with them, ask about it! This will show future employers you care about community issues, are invested in the company for more than a paycheck and will be an engaged future employee.
I am super passionate about the environment. In college, I loved participating in and following the work of the organization Net Impact, a nonprofit that consists of students and professionals focused on using business skills in support of various social and environmental causes. Long-term sustainability saves a company money, makes the company more attractive to customers and, most importantly, proves to you the company cares about issues beyond profitability.
But “going green" isn't a simple task -- it requires cooperation from all levels of the corporate ladder. For example, AT&T recently announced an agreement to purchase 300 megawatts (MW) of wind energy during a groundbreaking ceremony in Webb County, Texas, for the first AT&T-backed wind farm project. Not only does this help deliver clean energy, it also creates jobs and boosts the local economy. A company like this that values sustainability proves to you that it cares about longevity and the long-term impact of actions, from the newest hire to the CEO. Even small changes like paperless meetings, getting rid of plastic straws in the breakroom or replacing paper cups with ceramic mugs prove the firm cares about its environmental impact.
Trustworthiness and Honesty
Understanding the company's reputation within your industry is likely a good indication of its trustworthiness. Do a scan of community posts, social media or local news articles on the company to grasp the general sentiment. Are people emphasizing the good the company does within the community and industry, or does recent news raise red flags about the company's reputation? It's important to know what you're walking into, so do your research!
Diversity and Inclusion
A diverse and inclusive workplace means more creative ideas and better performance. This type of work environment makes everyone feel safer and more respected in the company, which impacts all aspects of a company's productivity. AT&T values all employees' perspectives and encourages diverse conversations through our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and networks, which support employees of all races, cultural backgrounds, abilities, genders and sexual orientations.
Finally, once you start at a company, will the firm continue to help you grow and learn? Companies that value learning opportunities and personal development will encourage you to grow within your industry and therefore within your job. A company's culture is extremely important for your future happiness at work, so learning about its opportunities will give you a better understanding of the day-to-day experience you can expect. Plus, a culture that cultivates a positive work environment encourages retention. Take a moment to consider what your must-haves are and, alongside these tips, you'll be ready to find the perfect employer.