How to find your first graduate job at an emotion-friendly workplace – Part 2

Apr 6, 2018

We’ve been speaking about how the chances of you finding your first graduate level job at a company that’s a joy to work for will increase if you get in tune with your emotions.

This is because our emotions determine the choices we make about our careers far more than we often realise. Our hearts will do a better job at guiding us to job bliss than our rational mind.

But – how can you recognise the emotion-friendly company you want to work at without knowing what to look out for? Well, the way to recognise such a workplace is by how it makes you feel – but, how will you know this without first working there?

The solution? You must know the right questions to ask at your job interview, as well as the sort of answers you’re looking for in return.

Here they are.

You feel you are growing.

Growing gives us a feeling of progress; we feel like life is moving forward. So working for a company that offers ample opportunity to grow your skills, knowledge and abilities will score top marks on your happy-at-work barometer. Look for an organisation that offers training, whether formal or informal. This includes coaching or mentoring, classroom-based or online. At the job interview ask, “What will you do to help me to grow?”

You feel you are heard.

As with our personal relationships, knowing that you’re listened to at work helps generate happy feelings. Managers at the Marriott do this by walking the floors to interact informally with employees every day. TSB’s CEO, Paul Pester, gives a live speech fortnightly ahead of which employees can submit any questions they’d like him to answer. And at Iceland, employees can email the board and have their views published in the company’s internal newsletter, ‘The Voice of the Stores’. People won’t always use these methods but it’s nice knowing they exist… just in case. So, at the job interview, ask whether opportunities exist for employees’ voices to be heard.

You feel you are making other people’s lives better.

Top companies tend to be those that give something back to the community. They engage in charity work and encourage their employees to get involved too, whether it’s fundraising or volunteering. EY, for example, helps young people develop employability skills, qualifications in team leadership skills and paid work experience during their final year of studies. Deloitte launched ‘one million futures’ in 2017, which is helping a million people achieve their goals in the boardroom, workplace and classroom by 2021. So, what’s the organisation you want to work for giving back?

You feel well rewarded.

Of course, this means you’re earning a good salary that both reflects your job responsibilities and compares well alongside similar positions in the industry. But there’s more to it than that. Happy companies also tend to be those that reward your good deeds in other ways. Take, for example, EE. Their ‘Best Recognition Scheme’ recognises and rewards colleagues for doing good by giving them an e-card or a nomination for the monthly recognition award. Does the company you want to work for do anything similar?

You feel your wellbeing is important.

Stress is a big problem at many workplaces, but the best companies will take steps to reduce and manage this. This is especially so where the job comes with high levels of pressure, as in teaching or sales. Explore Learning, for example, runs wellbeing roadshows and distribute wellbeing goodie bags to its tutors. And EE has its own wellbeing committee for its sales teams, which is responsible for ensuring employees feel supported. Feeling that you’re working for a company that values and sees its people as its most important asset is a good recipe for a blissful work environment, so ask questions about this.

You feel part of a team.

Spending time with people on a daily basis, getting to know all about their lives, seeing their strengths and weaknesses, and sharing key moments, like births and marriages, all work to create a bond with your work colleagues that is much like being part of a huge family. Working for a company that understands and manages this feeling of belonging well helps make for a happy workplace. This might be communicated via a newsletter or intranet, where information is published about what colleagues are doing and the company keeps you updated on other news. Or it may be an annual conference to bring employees together. So, ask, “What does the company do to help teams bond?”

You feel connected to those at the top.

Iceland’s CEO Malcolm Walker is a good example. In 2011, aged 65, he made it to the North Col of Everest at 23,000 feet in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK. Sir Walker, who was knighted in 2017, is the sort of person you might like to work for. Managers, CEOs and leaders who make themselves accessible and human create a stronger bond with those who work under them. What does the CEO of the organisation you’d like to work for do to stay connected with workers?

Now, remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If you want to find your first graduate position at an emotion-friendly company, then you must be geared up to give back in return what top graduate employers look for. That includes relevant experience and technical skills, plus soft skills such as resilience, enthusiasm and the ability to manage your emotions at work.

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