Your Next Job: How Progressive is A "Progressive Company"? (Part 4 of a 5-Part Series)

Judi Perkins

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Have you said this one? “I'm looking for a progressive company. "

Progressive is a real buzzword. It conjures up delightful feelings of working for a company current with the latest trends, using cutting-edge techniques and thinking, employing the latest technology, providing means of convenience for its employees, demonstrating an understanding of the employees’ personal needs—in short, a company where everyone is happy to be there because this company is doing things that other (thus unprogressive) companies are not.

Web sites, want ads, brochures and other marketing pieces are designed to perpetuate this feeling. Even when the word “progressive” isn’t stated, it’s implied. Companies don’t usually specify what part of the company is progressive, and few job seekers notice – or know what part of their next job they want “progressive”.

No company is universally progressive, and one or two progressive aspects don’t guarantee a progressive company. But almost every company considers itself universally progressive!

Here are some examples from Google:

  • ThinkHost, a progressive, socially responsible, web hosting company…
  • Epson is a progressive company, trusted throughout the world….
  • KnightsOptical: a progressive company…
  • Tincan is a progressive company working primarily….
  • Employment opportunity in a progressive company…
  • Hallmark Jewelers: a modern, progressive company…
  • Lab Safety Supply is a progressive company that offers…
  • Ben Meadows Company: Put your experience to work for a progressive company….

    Then there are companies that take the concept a step further and use the word in their name: Progressive Insurance, Progressive Moving Company, Progressive Tool Company, Progressive Windows, and thousands more.

    The understood definition of progressive is forward moving, making progress; promoting or favoring progress toward better conditions or new policies, ideas, or methods. Well, of course!

    If you don’t want a progressive company, does that mean you want a backward or stagnant one? Perhaps you would if you like troubleshooting. But even then, if the company is looking to move forward and change its reputation that, too, could be progressive. It's a word applicable in either reality or goals to almost every company, whether they’re achieving it or not.

    So the real question is in what way do you want a progressive company?

    • How it thinks?
    • What it does?
    • How it does it?
    • Progressive externally or internally?
    • New products?
    • New marketing strategies?
    • Unconventional employee configurations, policies and procedures?
    • The way in which the management approaches problems?
    • The way in which you are allowed to do your job?
    • Flexibility in working hours or location?

    Be clear with yourself on exactly what progressive means to you, so that, not only can you convey it to your interviewer if need be, but also so that you know if the company with whom you are interviewing is progressive in the manner that you want.

    Progressiveness in providing facilities such as a gym and cafeteria for employees is not the same as providing progressive services to clients. Progressiveness in the latest equipment and technology doesn’t guarantee you a progressive-thinking boss or the flexibility some companies offer to single parents.

    Most companies think of themselves as progressive, but it’s a broad term. Make sure you define it before you become seduced by the spin of the stereotype.

    Copyright: Judi Perkins 2006

    Judi Perkins has been a search consultant for 25 years in both the contingency and retained market, with a short stint in the temporary and local permanent placement markets. She has owned her own firm and successfully assisted numerous repeat clients in hiring all levels of management. She is a Career Expert and Forum Moderator with To sign up for her newsletter and learn thousands of powerful concepts to find your perfect job go to

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