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11 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Apply for the Job 11 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Apply for the Job

f you’re early in your career, zeroing in on the right job opportunity might feel like randomly throwing darts at a wall... and only then trying to draw the bullseye. But it doesn’t have to be that way. To help you unlock your potential, find the right opportunity and bring your passion and interests to life, it's a good idea to answer these 11 questions before you click ‘Apply’.


Do I Match the Requirements of the Job Description?

The really critical things to pay attention to are what could be called the ‘deal-breakers’ of the job description. Typically found under a heading like ‘Requirements’, these are things without which you probably aren’t a great fit. Think: ‘Master’s degree in chemical engineering,’ ‘Advanced knowledge of programming languages,’ ‘3-5 years of previous experience in the field’ and so on.

Don’t have the necessary credentials at this stage, yet remain truly passionate about the job opportunity? Don’t sweat it. Focus instead on what you’ll need to do in order to satisfy those requirements down the line.


Is This Company the Right Size for Me?

Requirements out of the way, it’s also worth thinking about your ideal work environment. Specifically, where do you see yourself doing your best work in the future: Sprawling corporate campus? Trendy coworking space? Your home?

There aren’t inherent advantages or disadvantages to any of these, obviously, but there are certain implications that stem from company size, and these are things to keep in mind. At startups and other small-ish companies, for example, you may be asked to wear multiple hats, work late—and potentially even fill several roles at once as well.

Larger companies, on the other hand, tend to offer more support, cross-functional collaboration and opportunities to move geographically. Larger companies likely have more mature frameworks around diversity and inclusion, too, as well as more evolved pathways for learning, professional development and growth.

At the end of the day, of course, the ‘right-sized company’ simply means the company that’s the right size for you.


Can I Truly Imagine Myself in This Role and at This Company?

Try to picture yourself in the new role, taking note of a few things: First, where are you? Second, what are you doing? Third, and most importantly, how does it feel?

All of these things offer valuable clues into whether this is an environment and culture where you’ll be a good fit. Plus, this doesn’t necessarily (or even primarily) have to be an imaginative exercise. For example, think back to anyone you’ve met from the company, or track down a few employees’ profiles on LinkedIn. Are these people you could imagine as colleagues? Do any of them have similar cultural or educational backgrounds to your own? Do any of them look like you?

If you’re nodding in agreement with the above, it’s a good sign, but if you’re thinking ‘nope’, don’t take that to mean you won’t be a good fit with the company. Far from it, in fact. At Johnson & Johnson, after all, bringing together diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives is how we innovate. So we’re always looking to meet candidates who break the mould.


Does the Company Share My Values?

It can be hard to know what’s truly authentic—and what isn’t—when evaluating potential employers today. Where does the marketing end and the real mission begin?

Well, one good place to start is with the ‘About Us’ section of your prospective employer’s website. More to the point, try to pin down a mission statement or something that gives you a sense of where the company is coming from, where it’s going next and what it stands for.

At Johnson & Johnson, you’ll find all of this information laid out in Our Credo, which is the north star guiding literally everything we do. Think of it as both the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ behind our mission of changing the future of health.


Does the Job Connect to My Sense Of Purpose?

A little bit of context here: At Johnson & Johnson, we think of ‘purpose’ as a fairly specific thing—one that’s distinct from, say, ‘passion’, which usually requires external reinforcement (think of a ‘passionate’ musician's relationship to the audience, for example). Purpose, by contrast, is fundamentally rooted in your identity, core beliefs and values. It’s who you really are, expressed in terms of what you care about the most.

As such, a deep-seated sense of purpose is something that unites all of our teams around the world at Johnson & Johnson. We’re all working toward a shared and hugely ambitious goal of changing the future of health. You’ll see that sense of purpose built into our internships, leadership development programmes and other student opportunities as well.

So if a job opportunity doesn’t seem connected to your purpose, why commit? It’s probably best to keep on looking until you find a position that does.


Does This Opportunity Line Up With My Broader Career Goals?

Even if you're just starting out professionally, it’s still a good idea to think about the arc of your career as a kind of storyline—and of every job you take as a plot point within the narrative.

So take some time to think about your longer-term career goals. Where do you want to be, say, three-to-five years from now? How will this job help you get there? What might stand in the way?

These are critical questions to ask yourself before clicking 'Apply'. In fact, you should check out this article if you want to hear insights from two of our recruiters on the subject.


Will The Company Support My Career Growth And Development?

Stepping into a new role comes with a lot of excitement, obviously: new people to meet, new skills to learn, new processes to adopt and so on. But once you’re fully up to speed, it should also be something else: a stepping stone to professional advancement, a launching pad to whatever’s next. And at Johnson & Johnson, you’ll get that in spades.

For example, along with our culture of learning and development, you’ll gain access to dedicated mentors, take on complex challenges and always be challenged to grow.

Oh, and did we mention that we have entire teams focused on unlocking your potential and accelerating your growth?


Do Flexibility and Work/Life Balance Come With the Role?

You might not be aware of this—especially if you’re just starting out in your career—but burnout is a huge issue in the workforce right now. Characterised by declining on-the-job satisfaction and productivity, burnout is now believed to affect something like three-quarters of the workforce in some countries, with more than a third of them reporting high or extreme levels of burnout.

So trust us: Flexibility and work/life balance tend to make a big difference over the long haul, which is why you should be sure to read the job description carefully. It’ll probably indicate whether or not you’ll have the flexibility to work from home, for example, or how often you’ll need to be in the office.

With that in mind, we’ve deliberately worked to build a culture at Johnson & Johnson where work/life balance is a core part of the culture. That’s also one of the reasons we offer best-in-class employee benefits. We want everyone to feel, do and be their best every single day when they join our team.


Are My Resume and Cover Letter Ready to Go?

While minor tweaks to your resume and cover letter are recommended for job seekers today, this doesn’t need to be too elaborate. Simply adjust the heading on your resume to reflect the title of the job you’re applying for, emphasise whatever achievements are the most relevant, add a job-specific sentence or two to your cover letter and—voila!—you should be ready to go.

If you’re looking for more hands-on guidance, however, you should review today's top resume formats, and be sure to check out our resume-writing best practices for college students, too.


What Does My Personal Social Media Presence Look Like?

While most employers aren’t going to be particularly concerned about whether you qualify as a Tik Tok influencer (or not), it’s still a good idea to make sure there aren’t any obvious red flags out there. Take this into account before applying for your next opportunity—and make sure your online presence is as ready to go as you are in real life.

Plus, if you need tactical advice on getting your online presence application-ready, we’ve got you covered on that front, too. Just check out this article.


Are You Ready to Make an Impact Today?

If you’re looking for an opportunity to grow personally and professionally while being your authentic self and helping to change the world, you’ll feel right at home at Johnson & Johnson. Check out all of the opportunities available for students today.

Meanwhile, before you go, be sure to sign up for our global talent community, too. It’s an easy way to stay in touch, learn more about life and culture at Johnson & Johnson and even get updates about jobs that might interest you in the future.

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