Note: The original post was published on October 13, 2011, but I felt like it was time to revisit the list and get it back out there.

In my career, I have had the opportunity to work for a variety of bosses. Some good. Some not. After 12 years in the working world, I wanted to share a couple of thoughts on finding the right employer for you.

Remember, looking for a job is like dating…Be informed and particular.

Here are some of the factors that helped me make an employment decision; maybe they’ll help you, too:

  • Body Language – When it’s time for the in-person interview, body language is a dead giveaway for how your future boss will operate. If your potential boss sits across the desk from you with their arms folded tensely across their chest and they look like they’d rather be somewhere else, then take note. They should be looking for the best fit for their organization and be dialed into the interview. Remember, your time is important, too. Make sure that you’re greeted with a firm handshake, and eye contact is a must.
  • Physical Fitness – Now before I get into this, let me first say that I know that there are some very smart, very great people in this world that are a bit flabby around the belt line. But we’re looking for a leader, someone that has a well-rounded lifestyle and looks themselves in the mirror daily to make sure they’re in check. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your future boss’ physical well-being. Someone that finds time to get to the gym and eats healthy is planning on being around for a while, and their work-life balance is where it needs to be.
  • Observe Your Surroundings – Sometimes this one can be a little hard, considering that some companies have interview rooms that are void of any decorations, but if you’re lucky enough to meet with your potential employer in their office, then I strongly encourage you to take a look around. People surround themselves with things that make them happy. Is their office cluttered with papers or is it neatly organized? Do they have pictures of their family or are their walls adorned with diplomas, certificates, and awards? Is their desk facing the door or do they have their back turned to it? All of these things will quickly give you an indication of how your potential boss views the workplace, and what is important to him/her in this world.
  • Dress The Part – Your clothing says a lot about you. I’ll never forget the day that I hopped onto an elevator with one of my previous employer’s executives. While we were hurdling up 40 stories, he took one look at my bargain dress shoes and scoffed. I was clearly not dressed appropriately to him, and for as long as I was there, I never wore those shoes again. Your boss’ attire will let you know a lot about his/her management style. Are they pushing the boundaries of business casual or are they wearing custom tailored shirts with their initials on the cuffs? Neither way is wrong, but ensure that it works for you.
  • Transparency – This may be a difficult one to hone in on, but a true sign is ‘business speak’. If your potential employer thinks that phrases like “synergistic alliances”, “paradigm shifts”, and “value propositions” are a part of the English language then politely stand up, thank them for their time, and exit the building immediately. Anyone that masks their words is masking other things as well.
  • Any Questions? – The most important part of the interview comes at the end, where the interviewer becomes quiet, takes a deep breath, and says “Do you have any questions for me?” Now is your time to really find out about them and their part in the organization. What do they do to support the organization’s vision statement? Can they outline what the next 1-5 years looks like and how you would be supporting that movement? What do they think is the best and worst part of the organization? Get in there and find out the details.

Remember, looking for a job is like dating. It’s rare that you marry the first person you meet. Be informed and particular. With the wrong person leading you, your professional development may be grossly hampered, but with the right kind of leadership, mixed with your personal drive to succeed, you can make a difference.

Truebluetitan is the personal blog of Rob Schultz, a 30-something from Pittsburgh, PA.

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