Computerworld released its best 100 places to work in IT. Some of the companies have great perks, such as financial services company USAA’s coverage of 87 percent of its employees’ medical benefits, the 23 percent of General Mills’ IT workers who can telecommute, or Verizon’s $8,000 in annual tuition assistance.
Beyond the surface, there are valuable career lessons hidden in this list that can bolster what you gained from your computer science degree or IT degree. In fact, you can use these these factors as decision-making tools in your next job search. The job satisfaction factors can help shake up your assumptions and suggest aspects of a job that you might otherwise overlook. For example, IT employees answering the Computerworld survey considered an enjoyable environment and fair compensation as the first (94 percent) and second (93 percent) most important aspects of a job. But not far behind were access to training to advance skills and opportunity for career advancement.
A job should not only provide what you want today, but help prepare you for the next stage in your career. At 75 percent and 73 percent ratings, paid vacation and health insurance were the two most important benefits. However, profit sharing, telecommuting, and flexible hours, although less important, can be factors that could tip the scale in favor of one job over another. The employer scorecard suggests more possible benefits to look for. Of the top 100 companies, all had paid vacation and health insurance.
Don’t forget to probe further, though. How much of the insurance bill will the employer cover? Does the employer you’re considering offer pre-tax programs for uncovered medical expenses, like 97 percent of the top hundred did? And how often do employees actually get to use their vacation time, or do hectic schedules make it a benefit with no benefit? Career development should include the ability to train in new technologies and, possibly, tuition reimbursement for a masters of information systems degree, or perhaps a business degree.
But don’t discount mentoring programs, which can give you an edge in practical career development and a better understanding of how to succeed in a corporation. Workplace diversity is important as well. When you’ve compiled a list, use an old consultant’s trick. Create a grid, with the top ten factors that you deem important running down the left side, from most important to least. Across the top, list the companies you’re considering. Rank each factor for each company on a scale from 1 (worst) to 5 (best). Also, number each of the factors, with the most important a 10 and the least important, a 1. Now you can multiply each company’s score for a factor by the factor’s rank number. That helps you roughly compare companies, taking your ranking of factor importance into account.
It’s also important to remember that an organization may be interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them.