What to Look for During a Job Search

What do you look for in a job? You might hear this question in an interview, but it’s also an important question to consider in your own planning and decision-making process.

By: Emily Dexter & Jake Hreha

What do you look for in a job? You might hear this question in an interview, but it’s also an important question to consider in your own planning and decision-making process. While many job seekers are stressed about having a great interview, it's important that you conduct an interview of your own. Look at each new job as a potential employer, not just a paycheck.

Whether you’re preparing for graduation or the next stage of your career, here are five key topics to keep in mind during your job search:

1. Salary and Benefits

If your first thought when asked what you want in a job is the position’s salary, you’re not alone. Many people list high salary as one of their top desires in a dream job. You want to ensure you can provide for yourself and the people who rely on you. Free online paycheck and salary calculators can help you evaluate your next role’s compensation. Paycheck calculators show you how much you’ll earn after taxes and other deductions – and salary calculators can help you compare your salary offer with others in your industry.

You’ll also want to find out what benefits a company offers. Consider whether the company provides healthcare and retirement saving plans, if they will cover relocation costs, and what other perks, like wellness plans and stock options, are available.

2. Work Environment

Moving beyond questions of salary and benefits, you’ll want to look into the company’s work environment. Here are some questions to ask about the place where you’ll spend so much time:

  • Where is the job location? Make sure you know how far you’ll need to commute to work. How much will you spend on transportation costs – and how will the commute affect your stress level? Will the job sites move from day to day?
  • Are there options for remote or hybrid work? There are more ways than ever to work from home or split your time between home and the office.
  • What hours do employees usually work? Will you be expected to work on weekends? What about regular overtime hours?
  • Who will be your direct supervisor? Asking about this person’s communication style, strengths, and weaknesses can give you a feel for life on the job.
  • What are the tasks for the role? Do these tasks meet the skills you have? Are you interested in doing this role day to day?

You can also ask to tour the office or workspace before saying yes to an offer, so you can see how the work environment feels to you.

It's also smart to take time to consider the work environment of your current job. Is it a place you enjoy being? Are there specific things you are looking for in your next job? Consider these questions when job searching and during the interview process.

3. Job Security

Researching the company’s track record can give you insights into the group you are considering joining. It’s important to know if the company is in the process of expanding or downsizing, and if it has a frequent history of laying off employees. You can also explore recent news coverage of the company. Has it been in any financial or legal trouble? Is it expanding into new industries? Asking questions like these can help you gauge the level of job security you’ll have in a new position.

A few questions to consider when looking at job security: How often does the company post job openings? How many job listings are currently open? What is the job market of your industry? How difficult is it for someone to find a new job in this type of role? These are all good questions to consider when you are on the job hunt.

4. Growth Opportunities

You want to find a job that will help you develop professionally and advance your career. The following questions can be a good starting place as you research what opportunities will be available to you:

  • What new things will you learn in the position? New challenges can help you grow. Ask the hiring manager what professional development resources are available to employees.
  • Is there room for advancement within the company? Will there be chances to move into new roles down the line? Look at company websites to see the structure of the company.
  • Will the company help you further your education? Find out if the company provides stipends for employees to take additional courses or earn professional degrees. Hiring managers may share this information with you as one of the incentives to work for the company.

5. Company Culture

Company culture can make a big difference in your level of job satisfaction. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do the company’s values align with your own? For example, you may consider how the company addresses environmental concerns, or diversity and inclusion.
  • How does the company approach mental health? If mental health is something you value, this question can give you an idea of workplace boundaries and expectations.
  • Does the company offer team retreats and team-building events? How does it encourage a sense of community?

During the hiring process ask specific questions to get a strong understanding of the culture. Consider how this new culture compares to that of your current employer. You can also look at the job description to gain insight into the company's culture.

Job searches can be challenging but with these tips you will know what to look for in new jobs and what questions to ask along the way. For more tips and resources to move you closer to achieving your educational and career goals, visit our Student Resources and Services page.

Emily Dexter

Copywriting and Marketing Assistant, IWU-National and Global

Emily Dexter is currently a senior at Indiana Wesleyan University, where she majors in English and writing. She is passionate about all things literary, and in her free time enjoys reading good books, attempting new art projects, and exploring the natural world.

Jake Hreha

SEO Copywriter, IWU

Jake Hreha is a graduate of Ball State University, where he majored in advertising with a concentration in media presentation and design. He is passionate about design, and in his free time he enjoys cycling, traveling, and reading.

Read more

Celebrating the Achievement of Occupational Therapy Doctorate Graduates

Indiana Wesleyan University Celebrates the Achievements of Occupational Therapy Doctorate Graduates

Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) is proud to announce recent accomplishments of three occupational therapy doctorate program graduates, highlighting their impactful capstone projects and contributions to the field of occupational therapy. Under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Rachel Timmons, Doctoral Capstone Coordinator and various faculty mentors, these graduates have demonstrated