What should you look for in a job?

Job applicants are expected to demonstrate what makes them great. They have a right to expect employers to do the same.

This year more than 300,000 students graduated from universities across Pakistan and are now transitioning into the workforce. Some have already started working, others may still be looking for jobs as white collar professionals across a slew of private sector businesses, public sector corporations, and government institutions.

Each year, Khareed receives hundreds of CVs from bright young graduates. Most of them want to secure gainful employment as soon as possible, and want to be paid a salary that reflects their qualifications. This is a logical objective and is as it should be given the financial obligations facing graduates as they begin to stand on their own feet.

However, this should not be the only objective. Choosing a job is an important decision. For fresh graduates, money is only one element of what they gain in their first job. We advise each of the job applicants who come to us to think through what they want in their career, what sort of work they enjoy doing, and what type of environment brings out the best of their capabilities.

Our advice on selecting the right employer is based on psychologist Dan Pink’s work on drive and motivation, which explains that people are most motivated not by money, but by having a clear sense of purpose, a trajectory towards mastering a skill, and having a reasonable degree of autonomy in one’s work.

Too often, companies treat their employees as mere cogs in a big machine. Employees do not get transparency or clarity on how their work is relevant, important, or part of the greater mission of the company. Without knowing the bigger picture, an employee’s contributions and their ability to make an impact is limited at best.

Most companies fail to invest in the development of their staff. No university program fully trains an individual for professional work in the real world. It is the initial few years at one’s first job that provide the foundational on-the-job training, disciplined work ethic, and management toolkit that prepare a person for a professional career. The first job is thus a continuation of one’s education rather than the beginning of a lifelong career. We advise each of our job applicants to seek out employers who offer them the best opportunity to learn and develop over the span of their career, employers who will help them master a specific skillset that makes them more valuable over time.

Finally, the work environment offered by employers should be conducive to bringing out the best of their employee’s capabilities. Micromanaging employees, implementing unnecessary bureaucratic checks, and limiting resources available to employees signals a lack of trust, and rarely brings out great output.

Like any other marketplace, the job market is subject to the laws of supply and demand, and job applicants may not always have the luxury of being selective about where they start work. But they can be discerning about where they apply and ask the right questions of their prospective employers.

At Khareed, we recognize that our team is our only real asset. We strive to empower our team members by giving them ownership of their work and supporting them with the training, guidance, tools, and resources they need to be successful.  We uphold the values of transparency and working with a purpose to ensure our team is fully motivated and committed to our collective goals. These are small efforts with outsized gains, and not an unreasonable request of employers.

In job applications and interviews, candidates put their best foot forward and try to persuade their interviewers why they will be a good hire. At the same time, candidates must remember that this is a two-sided interaction, and they owe it to themselves to ask what makes the prospective employer a good company to work for.