Research should be one of the many tools in your arsenal as you begin a job search following a cancer diagnosis. While attention needs to be paid to your own online presence, you can also use information you find online to identify and vet companies. By incorporating research into your job hunt, you will not only sound more informed during the interview process, but also have a sense of whether a company would be a good fit for your needs.
Topics you may want to explore further might include:
- Benefits & company policies. While this is an important factor for any job-seeker, those managing a cancer diagnosis often place a lot of value on this aspect of the job hunt. What are the organization’s leave policies? What health insurance options do they offer? What kind of insurance (vision, dental, disability, life, etc.) is available beyond the standard medical coverage? Is it a flexible environment where you can rework your schedule, or work remotely, if need be? Do they offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or affinity programs? It is important to note that the job listing itself, and a job offer, will give you the most accurate information about the benefits available for the specific role you are considering, but stay tuned through the end of this article for tips on how to get a better idea of what the company has offered for similar roles, and what employees have had to say about it.
- Company culture. Getting insight into the work environment and culture can help determine your compatibility with the organization and save you time and energy. Look for information that addresses questions such as: Are current/former employees tweeting, writing blogs and/or posting on other social media about a toxic work environment? Or are they sharing positive experiences on sites LinkedIn, for example?
- Company size. Initially this may not seem like something you need to consider, but the number of employees at a company can play a role in your ability to access certain provisions under the law, such as reasonable accommodations or protection from discrimination, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or taking time off for your own serious illness or to care for a loved one who is sick, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For example: The ADA covers eligible employees who work for companies with 15 or more employees, and the FMLA covers eligible employees who work for companies with 50 or more employees. There are nuances to using each of these laws as well as any state or local laws that may provide protection. Click here for more on your legal rights.
- Company values. Is it important to you that a company’s intentions and actions align with your values? More and more organizations are clearly stating their mission and values on their company website and online. You can search the Internet not only for statements the company has made, but also for information on how and if they have backed up those statements with action, as well as what their employees have to say about it.
The question then is: Where do you find this type of information? Luckily, there are online forums in which current and former employees can share their thoughts regarding companies they’ve worked at. Two standouts are LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
LinkedIn is a social media platform focused on the professional sphere. Here, you can look at the size of a company, see who works there, network with employees, and get a better sense of the company’s values by what people are posting and sharing on the site. LinkedIn can also be a great way to figure out whom to address your cover letter to, for example, if a job listing indicates which role the position reports to. If you’re interested in learning more about using LinkedIn to its full advantage, be sure to check out the recording of our “Building an Effective LinkedIn Profile” webinar, which provides step-by-step guidance.
Glassdoor provides job listings and, more importantly, full company profiles that include reviews from current and former employees. In addition to company ratings and reviews, there are CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews, benefit reviews, office photos and more. These reviews can provide insight and answers to some of the questions listed above. You can gain a better sense of what the company culture is like, how managers treat those who report to them, whether employees are treated with respect and feel valued, and so much more. Knowing this information can help you, as a job-seeker, determine whether the company will be a good fit for your specific needs. While Glassdoor can provide a lot of information, not all companies will have robust profiles or even be big enough to have a listing. This isn’t necessarily a red flag; it just means you may need to be more creative in your research approach when trying to learn about smaller organizations. It is also helpful to remember that people are often more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one, so you’ll want to consider the size of the company and the number and types of reviews to assess whether the intel represents the majority of employee’s opinions and if that information is helpful.
Researching a role or company you are interested in need not be restricted to simply browsing job- search sites – it can be as nuanced and creative as you want. For example, networking is often talked about as a way to get in the door once you’ve identified a job you’d like to be considered for (and it is!), but it can also be an incredibly helpful strategy for learning about job opportunities and/or identifying companies whose job boards you’d like to follow. Consider connecting directly with current or former staff for firsthand accounts of their experience. Attend job fairs (in person or virtual) to hear directly from the company and cultivate relationships. If you have the opportunity, take advantage of career services from schools/universities you attended or certificate programs you completed. Also, why not build your skills while researching companies, or the industry/roles you are interested in? Free classes, meetups or volunteer opportunities are a great way to learn more while meeting others who share your interests and might very well offer valuable insights or connections.