If you're in agreement with 64 percent of the people we recently polled, sustainability is important enough to you to influence your choice of employer. Here are four topics to inquire about to find out if an employer passes the green test.
Coming in as the most popular green activity practiced by employers in a recent poll, you could learn a lot about a company that doesn't recycle. It seems that everyone is doing it to some degree. If, for some reason, a company doesn't have an official recycling program, look for at least a paper reduction pledge.
2. Alternative Commuting
Commuting is a reality for most people - how does the company address this? Do they offer telecommuting as a part-time or full-time benefit after a probationary period? Do they encourage or support carpooling, public transportation or cycling to work? Assuming one's job can be performed remotely, telecommuting is typically offered to long-term employees who are in good standing, and usually after a life-changing event (i.e. the birth of a child or relocation due to a spouse's job situation). You could always start this conversation with: "Does your company participate in Commute Another Way Week?"
3. Community Giving and Volunteerism
Everyone has a warm and fuzzy feeling about companies who make local arts and education programs possible through donations of resources. Asking about it gives the employer a chance to brag, but it also gives you a chance to shine. When you ask about a company's giving programs or volunteer opportunities, you disclose your values, including: your ability to work as a team member while meeting goals, your altruism and your leadership skills by being involved in such endeavors. Be sure to mention any of your past volunteer efforts to complete the picture.
With pressure from all sides, flexible schedules are still close to the top of people's wish lists for varying reasons. In a previous JobsInMD.com poll, 42 percent of the group said a flexible schedule was more important than salary and telecommuting. However, bringing flexible scheduling up during an interview can be risky and appear premature. Flexible schedules are often granted as a benefit to long-term employees who've proven their worth.
First, get a feel for the job and the company. If the work environment seems rigid, avoid the question. If it seems safe to ask, try something along the lines of: "I work best in early morning, is there flexibility in the schedule to allow me to work an earlier shift now and then?"
It's All in the Timing
Ask these questions with a spin of finesse - explain how you excel at something and then find out how those traits would fit into their workplace. Don't worry if you can't gracefully address these areas during the interview process; you can always save them for the job offer negotiation.