What are the most interesting companies in your industry to work for?

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Good Monday Morning!

Last week, I recommended that you interview once per quarter at an outside company, and keeping in touch with HR and the hiring managers there.

The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since before we were born, and companies and recruiters are dying to meet you. It’s smart to get to know them now, during good times, so that they can be your lifeline in case of bad times ahead.

I suggested getting together a list of twelve companies to interview over the next three years. Given your field, role and industry, what twelve companies could you enjoy working for next?

For example, if you are a VP, Logistics in a packaged meat business in Iowa, you might want to stay in packaged meats, wherever that might take you in the country. Or you might want to stay in foods in the Midwest, and will consider any CPG, food or beverage wholesale. Or it could be that you don’t want to leave Cedar Rapids until the kids graduate high school, so you’re looking to stay in Logistics in whatever capacity necessary to do so.

Those three different desired outcomes have very different strategies for target companies. For the first, you might want to meet with the top 12 packaged meats companies anywhere in the country, coast to coast. For the second, the best Midwestern CPG, food and beverage companies. For the third, you’ll end up making a list of the top companies with any type of logistics function or team in great Cedar Rapids. .

And the range of the twelve companies you might like to work aren’t limited by those three factors.

You might decide that you’re interested in the most famous new ones (“Hey, Beyond Meat went public this spring, maybe I should check with them…”). Or perhaps it’s the most established old ones that appeal to you most.

You might consider differences in size of company and variation in ownership. Private-equity backed 10,000 employee firms have an entirely different culture than 100-person family start-ups. Do you know enough about the differences between public, private, turn-around, growth, start-up and large businesses to have a well thought-out preference? If so, now is the time to explore.

What are the most interesting companies in your industry to work for, however “interesting” may be defined?
Are you looking for fast-growth, slow-growth companies?

And when you’re thinking about your horizon, do you want to expand, grow, concentrate, retrench, or stretch?

Do you want to expand your role within your function? Take on new responsibilities that you haven’t before?

Expand within a geography? Expand within your industry context to address new customers or suppliers?

Do you want to grow your skill base? Your span of control? The types of employees that you work with?

Or do you want to concentrate? And go deeper within your field, your specialty, your branch? If you’re in the agency or consultant world, would you like to go in-house to a client? Or vice versa, at a client or in-house for too long, would you like the broadening experience of going to an agency or consultancy?

Or leap into the startup world? Or try to make it work at a Fortune 1000 after spending your career in start-ups?

Or is it a time to retrench after a bold leap, and get back to the basics?

Or is it time to coast? (It’s OK to coast — you may have a family illness to deal with, or survived a life trauma that’s caused you to need some space, or you may simply have decided to short circuit the rat race and find your humble little abode on the beach.)

All of these are questions to ask yourself, to ask your spouse, to ask your friends. Nobody has worked in every environment and every possible combination of company, so none of these questions, or answers, are obvious to anyone.

You’re next step, which we’ll pick up in September, is to network into those companies through Ladders Experts, job opportunities, and company research.

Have a great last week of summer!

I’m rooting for you,

Marc Cenedella, Founder