Career / Career Development / Career Growth

Start your job search with companies, not roles

. 6 min read . Written by Rasika Rane
Start your job search with companies, not roles

Anu Nair was laid off her job as a software developer after working for 7 years as her company shut down one fateful day. She didn’t know what to do next. After much hardships, she decided to take up a unique way for job search.

At the time, her 5-year-old son had just begun schooling. Her husband had recently switched jobs due to poor work culture in his previous role. She tried freelancing, but her profession had fewer opportunities in the freelance world. She then decided to stay home for a bit.

The instability and stagnation ultimately made her want to hop back into a full-time job at a company. This time, she wanted a company she liked where she could stay for a long time. She started her job search but this time, she decided to take the company first approach.

This way, I get to be particular in what I’m looking for. Once I had researched and decided on a company I want to work at, I can look for openings in that company that require my skillset.

Her new method worked as she got hired in the topmost IT firm in India and is happily working there for over a year now. She found a job that she’s passionate about in a company that is fitting for her needs.

Skip scrolling through jobs boards for hours. Take the company-first approach. It is the ideal method for a job search if you are looking for great jobs that you love.

Here’s everything you need to know about it.

Why adopt the company-first approach

The greatest advantage of a company-first job search is that it leads you to a job that you love doing, a position that you are satisfied at and a company that you are happy working at. You are more likely to stay in the job for a long time.

The idea is that when you pursue a company rather than a job, you’re looking for a purpose for your work. Your growth and your work-life balance are of utmost importance. You want your efforts to be worthwhile and company-first approach enables you to do this.

Majority of Indian women drop off the workforce due to the work culture issues. Finding a company you want at the first step will pump up your chances of getting a job that makes you happy and satisfied.

You set yourself up to be a better fit for the company when you showcase that these factors matter to you. You are more likely to be hired.

How to use the company-first approach

Understand that this method is not an ‘easy way out’ or ‘simpler alternative’ to your traditional job hunt process. It takes true inner reflection and time in order for it to succeed effectively. The efforts are well worth as it has the potential to produce better results.

Step 1: Figure out what you care about most

The goal is to get you into a job that fits your priorities, and not just interests and experience. List down your preferences based on these factors and sent them into order by giving them priorities.

Here are some factors you should consider:

  • Size:
    The size of the company matters as it gives them a part of the reputation they have as a company, which also reflects onto their employees. The number of people in your department affects how much your voice is heard, the amount of work that falls onto your plate, communication between teams, and much more.
  • Location:
    Your geographic location is important if you’re looking to work in your home city. Likewise, your preference for cities to work should be a factor as you look for positions. You may even want to choose a company that has offices all over the country.
  • Stage:
    Consider at what stage of growth is your ideal company. A start-up environment is going to be much different than that of a company that’s been around for decades. Even ‘start-up’ can encompass anything from three people in one room to a ten-figure-revenue and about-to-go-public behemoth.
  • Mission:
    Think about your connections with the purpose of the company. Research to find out what each company’s detailed mission is and if the work they’re doing actually aligns with your ideologies. Decide if you want to work for that specific kind of mission.
  • Values:
    The company values are important as they determine the culture of the workplace. Consider if their company values matter to you. These are often mentioned in the job descriptions.
  • Culture:
    Layout a culture that you’d love to work in. Consider collaboration versus independence, strict rules and guidelines versus flexibility to rethink processes, dress codes, facilities, etc. There’s no right or wrong answer for the type of culture you believe you’d thrive in. Note it all down.
  • Diversity and inclusivity:
    It is important that the company you work for invests in diversity and inclusion. Evaluate their actions on your level of satisfaction.
  • Benefits:
    Consider the benefits you care about the most like learning and development budget, parental leave, health insurance, paid time off, flexible hours, and remote opportunities, etc.

Step 2: Make a list of companies that interest you

Now that you have your list of things that you care about most, it's time to find and sort the companies that fit you. Here’s how to go about it:

  • Search for the ‘top’ companies to work for: Start with the ‘best’ out there and narrow it down further by specifically highlighting the qualities that matter to you.
  • Browse social media and recent news: We interact with companies every day as consumers. Consider what favourite company is doing in the news. These could be great places to apply to because you already know and follow them.
  • Leverage your network: You might know someone who works or have worked at the company you desire. Ask them about their experience!

Step 3: Evaluate whether or not they meet your criteria

Once you make a list of companies of interest, double-check to make sure they align with the attributes you highlighted in the first step.

  • Evaluate their credibility by doing research through their company website, social media and news coverage.
  • Networking is the key. Rely on your connections, anyone and everyone you know, to understand the working environment at these companies.

A crucial step in this is to learn to let go when a company doesn’t resonate with your preferences. It can be tough to turn away from a popular brand or reputed corporation when everyone around is desperate to work there. Understand that even a well-known name on your resume can’t make up for a work environment where you won’t be happy or feel challenged.

Step 4: Look out for job openings

Now that you have filtered down and fact-checked your list, make it a point to watch consistently for job openings at those companies. You may not immediately see a position that works for you. It will take time and a lot of patience on your side.

Companies are always hiring and talent is constantly shifting. Note the roles that most interest to you as they start to pop up. Choose only the ones you’re truly excited about and that align with your experience and skill set. Apply as soon as you can.

The key to applying with a company-first approach isn’t just to highlight how perfect you are for the role and job responsibilities. Emphasise your passion for the company and knowledge about what they’re doing.

Step 5: Find the doorway into the company

Networking is the key to the job hunt process. Be proactive in order to reap the best rewards. By reaching out to the existing employees in the company, you can learn even more valuable information about its work culture and its hiring process.

Additionally, networking gives you that extra boost that you need to make it to the next round. You will be much more likely to stand out from the pile and get your application noticed by the hiring manager if someone refers you.

In case you don’t have any contacts at the company, you reach out to a second or third-degree connection on professional social media platforms like LinkedIn. Here’s a sample message template that you can use as a connect request:

Hello (name of the person),

I am (your name), and I work at (your company name) as a (your title). I notice that you work in (desired field). I’m looking to transition into this field and wish to know all about it. I’m reaching out to you as I’m interested in the (title of the role) at (the company name). Would you mind sharing your experience? I would sincerely appreciate the insights.

Thank you and have a great day ahead.

(your name)

A genuine and sincere message is enough to forge a meaningful connection.

Looking for jobs is not necessarily an easy process. It requires a lot of time and patience. Focusing on finding a company you love and a job in that company, has great potential to ensure your happiness, success and satisfaction.