Take this Job & Love It

Apply Liberally: At Outside’s 50 Best Places to Work, you can’t go wrong

Johan Smith, left, and Palmer West, founders of technical-apparel brand Aether, in their Los Angeles showroom

Johan Smith, left, and Palmer West, founders of technical-apparel brand Aether, in their Los Angeles showroom     Photo: Peter Yang

Play the Field

The hottest adventure industries to turn your passion into a paycheck. Plus: five tips for landing your dream job.

How I Did It

Ten icons of career change talk about how they made the leap into their dream jobs

On first consideration it doesn’t make sense: in the worst job market since the Great Depression, a company starts doing everything it can to make its employees happy. ­Instead of cutting back on basic benefits—“Unfortunately, we’ve had to make some tough decisions…”—it offers extraordinary perks. An all-company trip to the Olympic Games. Paid days to volunteer for a beach cleanup. Bonus checks for exercise.

What might sound like wasted dollars turns out to be the calculated strategy of a growing cadre of forward-thinking shops: spur employees to be engaged in their communities and live active lives and they’ll be more productive, creative, and committed. In four years of putting together Outside’s Best Places to Work, we’ve heard this refrain repeatedly. And yet here we are, stunned all over again by just how hard the winners are striving to provide the kind of work-life balance we imagined possible only in the best of economic times.

So if your job—or job hunt—has you beaten down, know that there are incredible ­oppor­­tunities out there. In fact, when deciding which of the 50 companies on this year’s list to send your résumé to (many are hiring), the challenge comes down to identifying the ones that could fulfill your wildest career dreams. Let us offer some guidance.

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