Does ‘what’ you do matter less than ‘who’ you do it for?

Let me pose you a question.

When you look at job advertisements, what matters more – the role remit and duties, or the company that’s advertising?

If I were to bet, I’d bet you’ll say ‘a bit of both’. Which is understandable. A straightforward Financial Accounting role with a small bathroom supplies company that you know nothing about probably won’t inspire you as much as the same role with Apple.

However, I hear you, there is a limit to this. Surely, the role has to be interesting to keep you interested? Right?

#1 Write a list of what you really want in a job

Before we answer this question, take out a pen and write down what you want out of your next job. What is important to you?

Opportunity, feeling like you are part of something bigger, involvement in more varied work? Maybe a clearer career path?

Now look at the job advertisements. Firstly, look at the responsibilities alone, and then, look at the rest of the blurbs about company culture. Again, if I were to bet, none of the responsibilities really got you massively excited, probably because you didn’t write ‘US GAAP month-end close’ in your list of ‘wants’. However, I bet the adverts that talked about career paths and progression as a #greatplacetowork probably did?

#2 Prioritise culture and people in your job search

We all know a business’ success rests on its people, and most great businesses have had this nailed for a while. So the businesses that are the ones everyone wants to work for are usually the ones that offer the best employee benefits, the most vibrant cultures and the clearest career paths. Take Google and Facebook for example. Everyone wants to work for companies like these, yet many of their roles in Dublin are very standard finance roles. Yet, people are engaged and happy working there, because real job satisfaction is far more complex than saying you enjoy the actual work you do.

Why? Because it’s the intangibles around you that make you enjoy your job, in particular the culture of the company and the people you work with. And this doesn’t just apply to the likes of Google. That small bathroom supplies company you passed over earlier could have a fantastically vibrant future and buzzing start-up culture.

Lesson? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover…explore the culture, people and employer brand before you rule anything out. If it’s a great company with a positive future, any role is possible once you prove yourself.

#3 Trust your gut instinct and do your research

If it’s a big brand name, this is an easier one to work out. There are plenty of employee reviews and research you can do to find out what working at any of these companies is really like. But still one of the best ways to judge whether you think you’re going to like a company is my trusting your gut. Use the recruitment process to test out key items – does the receptionist look happy and engaged or like everyone treats him or her like they are at the bottom of the office food chain? Do they give you feedback when they say they will, or do they mess you around? Do you sense any sort of a negative vibe? Look at the tenure of people in the company (LinkedIn is a mine of information!) and look around for posters of cake baking activities and 10K company runs.

It may be surprising to look at it like this but job satisfaction is more about the environment you work in than the work you do. So when you’re evaluating your next career move make sure you look beyond the responsibilities – seek to really understand what is on offer and be guided by the interactions you have with the people in the business.

If you need any guidance at all on understanding your options, please free free to get in touch with your Barden team for more advice on this and other critical career considerations.

At Barden we invest our resources to bring you the very best insights on all things to do with your professional future. Got a topic you would like us to research? Got an insight you would like us to share with our audience? Drop us a note to and we will take it from there!

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