Finding the right employer can be as important as the job itself

Job seekers hunting for work in a tough economic climate where employment opportunities are limited should ensure they find the right employer, as well as job title, according to an Aberdeen-based support centre manager.

For Sharon Chalmers, finding a company with a corporate culture which matched her values was just as important as the role on offer suiting what she was looking for in a job.

The ambitious, career-driven mother of two, who joined leading independent SAP consultancy Absoft as customer support manager earlier in 2012, says the experience gained in her career to-date has helped her realise what she wants from an employer.

Sharon, 40, moved into her first job after having her two young children, looking for a role which was flexible and allowed her to juggle family life with work.

“I started my career as customer support manager at Atlantic Telecom and really enjoyed working in their office environment. When the company went into administration and I had to search for a new employer, I wanted to work within a similar setup and kept this in mind as an important factor when applying for a new post."

Sharon aimed to move into the energy sector and took up an opportunity with FPAL, first as a customer service advisor, before being promoted to a supervisory role which saw her play an instrumental role in establishing the supplier management company's Aberdeen office.

“It was great that I was part of FPAL's setup in Aberdeen right from the start, as it gave me the opportunity to develop processes and procedures and build up the team, which stood me in good stead for further career progression," she says.

“The pivotal moment was when I moved up to an account manager role, giving me exposure to clients for the first time and I realised that it was this aspect of the job that I really enjoyed and wanted to continue in.”

Sharon was promoted to operations support manager and went on to spend almost a decade in charge of FPAL's customer service team, before moving to work for a major oil and gas service company, where she was head of supplier qualification.

After seeing her customer-facing activity drop significantly, Sharon found herself drawn to an opportunity to become support centre manager at Absoft. She says that, within the first 10 minutes of her interview, she knew the Aberdeen-headquartered firm was where she wanted to work.

“It very quickly became apparent that Absoft was perfect for me. It is clear that the firm is ambitious and there is a strong drive to continue to develop the company. It also shares my passion for building enduring customer relationships. I knew straight away that I wanted to be part of the team to help take Absoft to the next level,” she says.

Sharon has been working for Absoft since January and thoroughly enjoys the customer-driven role. She plays a central role within the team which supports Absoft’s customers’ SAP systems, acting as first point of contact for clients and organising its consultants to deliver the constant support they need.

“Providing our customers with support for the systems that are critical to the running of their business is core to Absoft’s existence. I play a vital role in ensuring we provide a prompt and consistent level of service.

“A high level of client interaction, developing an understanding of customer requirements and internal and external relationship-building are all very important to me and are what I love most about the role. It’s also great to be working in a friendly and supportive environment.

“I am also glad to see that the growth plans that were talked about during my interview are being followed through – since I joined the company it has made its first acquisition, of Hexarus Consulting and I have been working alongside our new colleagues to familiarise them with some of our customers. Working for Absoft is extremely rewarding and I'm very happy to have been able to join the team.”

Audrey Bowker, director at Absoft says: “Although it’s a competitive job market, it is equally important for job seekers to look for the right employer as well as the job itself. Sharon is a perfect example of someone who has managed to do this successfully.”