Great Companies to Work For

Back in mid-December I published a post about companies you would put on your job search wish list. This post is somewhat of a continuation or offshoot of that one. If you had your choice, you’d want to work for a great company or organization, right? At least I doubt whether anyone in his or her right mind would deliberately choose to work for a terrible employer! That’s assuming you have a choice, of course. Sometimes choices are limited. Anyway, that said, I wanted to explore the topic a bit further. One of the things that prompted this decision was publication of Fortune’s 2012 Top 100 best companies to work for.

Top 10 companies to work for

According to John Zappe of, the list hasn’t changed much from last year. The top 10 are Google, Boston Consulting Group, SAS Institute, Wegmans Food Markets, Edward Jones, NetApp, Camden Property Trust, Recreational Equipment (REI), CHG Healthcare Services and Quicken Loans. Obviously, you aren’t all going to be able to–or want to–work for these companies or, maybe, for any of the others in the top 100. The reason for mentioning them, in my opinion, has to do with focusing your attention on what makes a potentially great employer. That can give you some useful pointers on what to look for when you’re researching possible target companies for your current or next job search.

So what makes a great employer?

I’d put fair treatment, respect and concern for the well-being of their employees at the top of requirements for my list of great employers. That lines me up pretty well with what Zappe notes in his article, “Who’s the Best Company to Work For?: “While economic and financial conditions influence the rankings, the Trust Index is the cornerstone of the ranking. Building a high Trust Index takes time and commitment from every part of the company, beginning with the CEO and C-suite….It doesn’t hurt, though, to offer great pay and great benefits.”

Your “top employers” list

I won’t repeat what I put in my earlier post. However, I do believe it’s important to ensure as much as you can that you and the company will be a good fit for each other. For instance, if a company is culturally stodgy and you’re a free-spirited, creative individual, it probably doesn’t matter how great the job itself is. You could be good at marketing yourself and end up in a job that turns out to be a real mismatch–the company, its culture, the position expectations, you name it–and that’s a tough mistake to correct. The task of disengaging yourself from it can be emotionally painful and financially costly.

Besides being a good fit, you probably want the company to offer you decent growth opportunities and career advancement potential (unless you’re satisfied to perform the same job day-in, day-out, year-in, year-out). That means it has a reasonably healthy progression situation, it encourages its employees to learn and grow, and it does its best to stay on top of business opportunities that will enable it to continue growing as a company. (It’s pretty hard to have good progression in a company that’s behind the curve or, worse, headed down the slippery slope to corporate oblivion.)

One (company) size does not fit all

Remember that while in some cases size counts, that’s not always the most important factor. An elephant is large and powerful, but it doesn’t move as fast as the wings of a hummingbird hovering over a flower! Your top companies list might have small or medium-sized companies predominating, while your colleague’s list focuses on mega-corporations. Concentrate on what’s best for you and matters most to you.

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