Sustainability: Hiring the perfect employer

Jim Beqaj offers his expertise in how to sustain yourself in employment by finding your FIT in your target rich environment.


"It took me quite a while to find my target rich environment (TRE)," says Jim Beqaj, author of How to Hire the Perfect Employer. "I was all over the place looking for a job. I handed out resumes to anyone who'd take them, I pitched my skills and experience, networked with anyone who'd talk to me and met with interviewer after interviewer. I wasted a lot of time and effort. I could have pitched a thousand people and it wouldn't have made a difference, because I wasn't looking in the right places.

“I was focusing on finding a job instead of finding the right fit. I even applied for a job with someone who's style was opposite to mine, who micromanaged everyone around him. I would have hated the job! Luckily I didn't get it. Instead, I thought long and hard about what I was good at, what skills I had an employer would pay me for, and what kind of people I worked with successfully. I gradually took control of my job search process and learned to focus on my TRE, where I had the highest probability of finding a job and an employer that truly fit me.”

Fish where the fish are
Sometimes blinding glimpses of the obvious are hard to see. It’s human nature to see what we have always seen or want to see. We keep going back to the same fishing hole even though we haven’t caught anything there in a long time. We keep casting a bigger net in the same fishless place. Why? Because it’s what we know. It’s what we’ve always done. It’s what we’re comfortable with. The approach you are using to search for jobs may seem right, but it’s not working. If you want to catch fish, you have to fish in your target rich environment.

Don’t think of your TRE as a place but as a concept that defines the type of work, people, company, and industry – the total environment –where you fit. Your TRE is the one in which you have the highest probability of finding an employer that fits you.

Six tips for searching for an employer in your TRE
1. A company thatneeds what you are good at
The whole concept of TRE came to me when I realized all the places I was applying to either didn't need the skills that I had to offer or if they did, they didn't want me.

Before you can determine which company fits you best, you need to get to know yourself. What are you good at? How are you wired? What kind of people do you work well with? You cannot find your TRE until you know what you have to offer. Then you can start to search for companies that fit you best. It was only after understanding myself and what I was good at that I could determine who might need the skills that I possessed.

2. A company that wants you
Do your research about the companies you are interested in. Look at their website. Read their annual report. Talk to the company's suppliers, competitors and customers. Learn everything you can about the company before you decide to apply for a job.

3. A company that shares your philosophy, vision and culture
This is a process of self discovery about you and then looking for your FIT. When you read through the company's information, pay attention to their overall vision and results. Do they match? Look for clues about their culture. Do you think you would be a fit?

4. People who are compatible with you
It was only after understanding who I had (and had not) worked most effectively with in my career that I could spot these people in the interview process and articulate what kind of people I was and was not looking for. It is most important that you fit with your boss; ask what is her or his management style.

5. A team with a conflict-resolution process that fits yours
Once I understood my preferred method of conflict resolution, I knew what questions to ask and who I was most compatible with. Upon reflection I realized that my conflict resolution mode never matched the firms that I worked with, and that is one of the key reasons that I always felt like a fish out of water and unable to work through difficult situations because I was fundamentally a collaborator (right answer) in a world of competitive ( win/lose ) people.

6. A company that meets your criteria regarding size, growth and opportunity
In the process of understanding who you are and how you work best, you will sort out which companies offer you the right opportunities. Then when you do find the right fit in your TRE, the upside will take care of itself because if they need you and want you and you end up doing a great job, opportunities will be plentiful.

Stop pitching yourself in places that aren’t suited to you
Let’s re-emphasize what doesn’t give you a high probability of success: scattering resumes far and wide, answering dozens of Internet postings, flitting about networking, and attending workshops. Your focus must be on finding organizations that fit you based on your newly acquired self-knowledge.

Your objective is to interview with companies that are most likely to need you, want you, and hire you. Marketing 101 teaches us to be targeted when promoting and selling products and services. And what product is more valuable than you? None.

Interview the interviewer
Ask questions during your interview to figure out whether the company is made up of the sort of people you’re compatible with. This is especially important when it comes to your direct superiors. (The company should be looking at you in this way, too, but don’t count on it. Take responsibility and do this detective work yourself.)

During the interviews and meet-and-greet sessions, look around the organization and talk to as many people as possible. Don’t make your judgment based solely on your perception of the interviewer, however. He or she may not be typical of the firm’s workforce. Get information from people outside the company, as well. You can learn a lot from a company’s customers or even its suppliers. It’s easier than you think. Start with a visit to the company’s website and then make a few telephone calls.

Charlene, a young woman I coached, is a good example of this kind of detective work. She had worked for three years in sales with two difficult bosses. “They micro-managed me, gave me menial tasks, and made it pretty clear they didn’t like working with women,” was her summary. “And I hated the rote work I had to do preparing spreadsheets for presentations.”

It was a toxic environment and so she left. I walked her through the personal balance sheet process. She identified what she liked doing, what she was good at, the evidence that supported what she was good at, and the type of people she worked best with.

What set Charlene apart was her commitment to perform due diligence. She assessed potential companies and asked friends and friends of friends what they thought and knew. She talked to over forty people during her search for the right fit. “I had conversations with anybody who would talk to me and met with people who worked in those companies or were connected to those industries. I focused on people my age. I bought a lot of cups of coffee for people. It was worth it.”

Charlene ended up in a company where she wanted to be: a place with a high level of compatibility with how she is wired.

Beqaj’s final advice, “Search within your target rich environment, an environment where your probability of success is highest because you are wanted and needed. Focus on finding organizations that fit you based on your new self-awareness—and your research into the market. Put yourself in the driver's seat and find your FIT!"

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Jim Beqaj began his career in investment banking in 1977 and at age 37, ended up president of CIBC Wood Gundy. In 2002 he reinvented himself as an executive advisor, coach and recruiter and founded Beqaj International, Trusted Advice, Human Solutions.

How to Hire the Perfect Employer, Finding the Job and Career that Fit you Through a Powerful Personal Infomercial, is available for purchase at all major online bookselling outlets. Follow Jim’s blog at