When assessing a job opportunity, there are two important areas of inquiry and examination to help candidates determine the viability of a new position:
- How would this opportunity help me move forward in achieving my career goals?
- How does this opportunity align with my values that are core to my personal and professional happiness?
In your situation, you have a strong offer that includes an excellent role…but the company is unexceptional. So will a company with an average/below average/unknown brand hurt your career and future marketability if you take the job? Does company brand even matter?
Generally speaking, lackluster company brands do not sabotage candidacies in the legal profession if other valued factors are present including: excellent…and relevant experience, strong interpersonal skills, acceptable credentials, good presentation/interview skills, a good reputation etc.
With this said, there are exceptions. In some instances, company brand can play a more compromising role. They include (1) joining a company in a vastly different industry than the one you’d like to pursue in the future (i.e. joining a food/beverage or life sciences company when you want to maintain marketability for software or social media etc.); (2) the company is a fierce competitor of the company to which you’d like to apply (i.e. Apple v. Samsung); or (3) being affiliated with a patent troll or other negatively viewed entity.
**As a side note, while mediocre company brands won’t typically spike a candidacy, a superb brand can enhance a candidacy quite a bit – and is a strong factor when evaluating your prospects.
As you assess the viability and attractiveness of your current opportunity, you’ll need to analyze how the position will advance your career, how it will facilitate personal and professional happiness and what negative impact may result from working at this ho hum company. And then weigh your conclusions.
Regarding career advancement, answer the following questions about this opportunity:
- Is there a compensation increase?
- Is there a title elevation?
- Is there a more appealing reporting structure?
- Will you manage anyone?
- Will you enhance and/or diversify your experience? If so, how?
- Does the company allow you to transition into a more desirable industry?
- Does the company allow you to move to a more preferred company status (i.e. public, private, international, bigger, smaller)
- Do you like the culture and the people?
- Do you like the person who would be your boss?
- How important is it to you to work at a “hot, sexy, well branded” company?
- What type of opportunities will this role position you for in 2-5 years? Do these prospects appeal to you?
- Is there a chance this “moderately successful” company could go under, get acquired or undergo mass layoffs?
Next, assess how the aspects of this opportunity align with your values for happiness. If they do…How? Are there any that do not? If so, what are they? Are any misalignments or deal breakers – or can you be flexible and still preserve happiness? How much happier do you believe you would be in this role than your current position? Why?
Finally, think about the company itself. Is “boring” ok if you are in a great role? Are you ok with the risks associated with a “moderately successful” company? Is the brand just “Blah” or does it fit into one of the top three exceptions above? If it’s an exception, how negative is it when weighed against the career advancement and happiness factors?After you’ve gone through this exercise, work through your thoughts again and then take some time away from the issue to let things percolate. I recommend at least one day, but if you don’t have that kind of time, take a few hours – and then revisit. At this point, your gut will tell you what you need to know.
In an opportunity-rich legal market, selecting the right job can be stressful and at times…confusing given all the factors to consider. A company’s brand can influence marketability, but rarely will it destroy it. By assessing all the factors in front of you, you’ll be armed with the information you need for your decision. Because the best choice is the most informed one.