Signs that a company is worth joining

April 6, 2010 at 3:01 am Leave a comment

The other night a few friends and I were having a few cocktails and got to discussing our favorite jobs — those that, over our careers, we remembered fondly. As we each spoke up, some patterns became clear: These were jobs in which our bosses respected our abilities and let us do the work they’d hired us to do; where true collaboration rather than competition was prized; where flexibility, innovation and teamwork gained you promotions rather than vacant stares; and where you didn’t have to feel ashamed for having a life outside the office.

While a different group of professionals undoubtedly would have a different list, what struck me from our conversation was how often the things we really value in jobs and work are not the things we try to determine whether we’ll get. Often, in a job hunt we’re so focused on the bottom line — salary, benefits, title, chain of command — that we miss the signs of whether this is a place where we’ll be able to do the work we want and be rewarded for it. Of course, the bottom line is important; we all have to pay our bills. But determining whether the organization you’re exploring encourages a good working environment and the values important to you is also key.

Here are some signs that the organization you’re considering may be one worth joining:

*The job description is not simply a list of qualifications but also of qualities the employer is seeking in workers. Job leads or listings that are all about duties and requirements often indicate a fairly inflexible, bureaucratic attitude on the part of the employer. Instead, jobs that describe the type of skills and attributes the company is seeking in employees are a sign of an organization that cares about its workers and the workplace culture as well as getting the job done. (Tone is important, too — does the description sound like it was written by a committee or by a software application, or by a human being?) Also, when looking at job descriptions, ask yourself whether it is reasonable to expect that an employee can get all of this work done and done well in a standard work week. A reasonable employer doesn’t want you to be on a treadmill but cares about the quality of the work as well.

*The interview process is structured so that you can get to know key decision makers in the organization as well as on the team you would be joining. If the recruiter or hiring manager introduces you to a number of people (and especially those who would be your close colleagues) and encourages you to ask questions, that’s a very good sign. It means the prospective employer isn’t hiding key details about the workplace and wants you to have the information you’ll need to make a decision if you get an offer. Forward-thinking employers recognize the high cost of turnover (in dollars but also in employee morale) and they don’t want to hire people who are likely to leave after a short while. They want you to make a decision not only to join the company but to stay there, and they realize that you need detailed information with which to come to that conclusion.

*You found out about the job from employees (or former employees) of the organization that had mostly good things to say about the place but were honest about its downside. Every workplace has some negatives and if people aren’t mentioning them, ask yourself why — are they worried about retribution if they say something negative? It’s always best to know going in what the sour points will be so that you can determine if these are deal breakers for you. One thing that good organizations have in common is that they constantly try to reduce turnover and keep their best employees. If people you trust and respect have remained in the organization for a long time (and have been promoted through the ranks), that’s a good sign. Alternately, if an organization appears to have a great deal of turnover on a regular basis (with constant job listings — even for jobs that sound appealing), that could be a sign of an organization that takes its employees for granted and doesn’t work very hard to keep them. Ask questions about that and carefully listen to the answers.

*The recruiter or hiring manager gets back to you within a reasonable period, appears to communicate openly and honestly with you, treats you well even though they are in a position of relative power to you (as they have a job you want) and is professional, organized and considerate. As I’ve noted in other posts, these days a number of organizations are operating without trained recruiters and those filling this role are often doing this job in addition to other duties. Yet how you are treated before you join an organization is a sure sign of how you’ll be treated once you’re there. If the company tolerates hiring managers who are rude to or dismissive of job candidates, it’s a sign that the company may treat its employees this way as well. Also, watch closely– whenever you can, such as in an interview situation — how employees interact with each other in the workplace. These little signs can tell you a lot about whether this is an organization you’ll want to join.

*This upcoming luncheon at the National Press Club,  sponsored by American University’s alumni group, is tailor-made for journalists and communications professionals seeking to remake their careers:

Friday, April 9
Noon – 2 p.m.
National Press Club
629 14th Street NW

Reinventing Yourself in Journalism, the first in a series of D.C. Luncheon Panels, features Kate Heffley, SOC/MA ’07, Janet Janjigian, SOC/MA ’73, Jackie Judd, SOC/BA ’73, and will be facilitated by Wendy Rieger, SOC/BA ’80. Learn how these media and communications professionals have adapted to ever-changing trends in the market and, through reinventing themselves to fit newly evolved roles, have risen to the top of their respective fields.

RSVP online. Please note any dietary restrictions in the “Do you have any Special Needs” section of the registration form.

Questions? Contact Heather Buckner at 202-885-5902 for more information.

View our Alumni Events Calendar to learn more about the April 28 Luncheon, Making a Difference in D.C., and other upcoming activities in the D.C. area.

*And here are some job leads to consider today:

*With a hat tip (on the first few leads) to,  Vocus in College Park is looking for a senior media researcher:

Publication or Company Vocus, Inc.
Industry Newspapers
Job Duration Full Time
Job Location College Park, MD USA
Job Requirements Immediate full-time opening for individual with excellent investigative research and writing skills. Job involves conducting internet and telephone research to maintain newspaper content in our large database of North American media, and providing editorial support as well as writing features articles for our daily e-newsletter.

Individuals applying must possess knowledge of the newspaper business or public relations industry as demonstrated by work experience or college degree. Ideal candidates will have worked for a newspaper as a writer or editor OR in the PR/corporate communications field primarily interacting with media contacts at newspapers. Additionally, experience navigating software applications, fast and accurate typing skills, attention to detail and ability to work in a fast-paced environment are required. Must be able to manage multiple tasks with varying deadlines. Naturally inquisitive people with interpersonal communication skills are encouraged.

Benefits include:

Medical, Dental, Vision Insurance options, Matching 401(k), Vacation, Sick, Holidays, Flex Spending, Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability, Life Insurance

About Our Company Vocus (NASDAQ: VOCS) is a leading provider of on-demand software for corporate communications and public relations. Our web-based software suite helps organizations of all sizes manage local and global relationships and communications with journalists, analysts, public officials and other key audiences. Our software helps customers manage media relations, news monitoring and analysis, interactive email campaigns, online newsrooms, and government relations activities.

*ASCD, an education association, has a temporary (three-to-six-month) opening in Alexandria for a project assistant in electronic publishing:

Title: Project Assistant, Editorial Services
Description: ASCD, a progressive education association, is looking for a temporary Project Assistant to assist in our growing electronic publishing efforts. We’re looking for candidates who have some knowledge of the publishing field, an understanding of markup languages (i.e., HTML and XML), and an interest in how e-books are made and how content can be distributed in the digital age.
Requirements: Candidates must have excellent attention to detail and troubleshooting and problem-solving skills. This position will help us quality-check content that has been converted to XML for posting on our website and for repurposing into other electronic formats. The position also assists in the day-to-day administration of the unit’s work. If you are technically savvy, organized, have great attention to detail, and interested in learning about the leading edge of the publishing field, this position may be for you. We’re willing to train, if you’re willing to learn.
Company: ASCD
Location: Alexandria, VA
How To Apply For This Job: This is a full-time temporary position for 3-6 months. Salary range $14 – $19 per hour. For more information about ASCD, visit our website at To apply, please forward your cover letter indicating your salary expectations and resume to
Tracking Number: PD-ES-T385
Date Posted: 04/05/2010

*The Business Software Alliance in D.C. is looking for a Web coordinator:

Publication or Company Business Software Alliance
Industry Internet/Online/New Media
Salary Negotiable
Benefits 401K/403B, Dental, Health
Job Duration Full Time
Job Location Washington, DC USA
Job Requirements The Business Software Alliance (BSA) seeks a web coordinator to provide daily maintenance, technical, and design support for companys international online properties including and over 80 corporate and campaign websites, and helping implement corporate social and digital communications strategies.

Position requires college degree, 1+ year web and communications experience with general online technical and design skills including Dreamweaver, HTML handcoding, CMS (SiteCore desired), CSS, Photoshop, Sharepoint, Excel, Word, web statistics analysis, experience developing and maintain corporate Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as strong verbal and written communication skills. Flash skills desirable, but not required.

BSA provides $100 of Metro fare monthly, weekly happy hours and breakfasts, and an array of other competitive benefits including a high-energy, collegial and fun office environment. Free building gym on site. Salary is commensurate with experience.

About Our Company The Business Software Alliance (BSA) is the voice of the world’s software industry and its hardware partners on a wide range of business and policy affairs. BSAs mission is to promote conditions in which the information technology (IT) industry can thrive and contribute to the prosperity, security, and quality of life of all people.

BSA is the largest and most international IT industry group, with policy, legal and/or educational programs in 80 countries. While several of BSAs initiatives are global in scope, most of its policy, legal, and educational efforts are led and conducted at the national level, with a growing emphasis on emerging economies.

BSAs member companies are some of the most innovative companies in the world, investing billions of dollars a year in local economies and delivering software solutions trusted by billions of people to help them be more productive, connected, and secure.

*CG/LA Infrastructure Inc., a global consulting business based in D.C., is looking for a director of Web communications:

The position of Director of Web Communications is threefold:

– Content Management (excellent editing skills, strong writer) – 60%
– Website marketing & sales (creative thinker, business-minded, analytical approach to website mapping) – 25%
– Programming / HTML (technical background, able to liaise with contracted programmers) 15%

Responsible for all online content and internet marketing (including website, blog, email marketing, social media, e-commerce, document management)
• Publish and edit daily web content updates in English and Spanish, as well as Portuguese, Chinese and Cyrilic
• Implement and manage Web 2.0 applications including company blog, Youtube channel (video editing and production), podcasts, Google suite integration (Docs, Picasa, Analytics), Twitter,
Conference Organizer Duties
• Manage all event logistics including hiring and overseeing support staff (event photographer, videographer)
• Manage private meeting system, which includes programming with the Scheduling software 1 month prior to the Forum, client relations in scheduling private meetings, and onsite logistics of maintaining private meeting scheduling matrix
Management and Supervisor Duties
• Train new staff in day-to-day operations, database use, website management and analytics
• Manage research projects with multiple team members, finalize work product/white papers, coordinate widespread distribution of work product (including via creation of press releases, email marketing campaigns, and use of Web 2.0 tools) Facebook, Linked-in, and Internal Wiki
• Company’s online presence and improve website’s user-friendliness by focusing on user-centered design and search engine optimization industry practices
• Email marketing strategy and operations iContact and Survey Monkey, increase number of email subscribers and RSS feed followers.
• Maintain company e-store with integrated registration and document management system
• Serve as liaison between company and external website programmers and graphic designers

The ideal candidate will have 3 to 5 years of Experience as well as a related degree in the field
Must be a creative thinker, able to complete projects within a limited range of time
Good communicator, able to relate to people from multiple professional and cultural backgrounds
Must posses knowledge of HTML, Java Script, Flash, Video, photoshop suite, dreamweaver
Must be fluent in a second language (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Russian)
Google Analytics and Online Marketing strategy is a plus

CG/LA Infrastructure LLC
1827 Jefferson Place N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

*And to wrap up today’s leads (and with a hat tip to, the National Geographic Society in D.C. is looking for a designer of interactive information:

about National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to ”increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 350 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and four other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; radio programs; films; books; DVDs; maps; and interactive media. ….more info

View all our jobs

Job Description

National Geographic Digital Media is seeking an Interactive Information designer  who will take the lead in designing and implementing interactive informational graphics that appear across the breadth of We are seeking someone with experience in creating compelling, easy-to-use interactives that can be templated for producers and editors to work across a variety of platforms. Candidates must have good collaborative skills and high standards in quality ui and visual presentation. Innovative problems solvers should apply.


Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of two years of information graphics experience and a deep knowledge of online technologies for the production of interactive graphics. Candidates must be able to demonstrate excellent visual skills and have a solid understanding of data visualization and interactivity.
To learn more and to apply, please visit EOE

Happy hunting on this lovely spring day!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Strategies from the (job-search) front When are you really underqualified for a job?

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