Are you looking for your dream job? Do you have a job checklist with the criteria for that perfect job? Have you even thought about what you really want in a job?
Over the past several months I’ve been house hunting. There’s a possibility of a giant land fill not too far from where I’m at now and the idea of bio-hazards, smell and declining land values in the future are not very appealing. The good news is that I don’t have the time pressures typically associated with a move or relocation – I can take time to find the perfect house. As my daughter and I have been looking, we each have our checklists of the items we want in a new home. As, I was recently reviewing my list of ‘must haves,’ I began to wonder why most of us don’t approach our careers in the same way we approach purchasing a house? They’re both long-term investments which can significantly impact our financial futures and ultimate satisfaction. Why are so many of us willing to accept a job whether or not it meets the criteria we want, and possibly need, for our long-term success and job satisfaction?
Here are 9 things to consider as you create your checklist of the things you want in your next job:
1. More Than Title
Job titles vary from company to company and what one titles a job may be very different than you expect. Clearly define what you really want to do, then compare your list with the actual job requirements.
2. Who’s Got The D?
The ‘D’ stands for decision. What level of decision-making authority do you want to have? Are you looking for a job with few rules and no red tape or do you want a little more structure? If you’re the type that works best when you’ve got free reign, you’ll be more than frustrated if you end up in job where someone else has to sign off on everything you do.
3. The Know-It-All, Suck-Up and Great Guy
Do fit in and get along with everybody or do you work best with certain people? In most jobs, you spend the majority of your time working with or around your team or department. But all too often we don’t consider our co-workers when we get a new job. We either assume, or simply hope that, a) we’ll like the team, and b) the team will like us. Instead of leaving this to chance, ask to meet with potential co-workers before accepting a job. If you can’t meet potential co-workers face-to-face, make sure you ask about the team. Know who you work well with and who you don’t. Trust your instincts, if one of your potential co-workers rubs you the wrong way, it might be worth rethinking the job. A bad co-worker can make your work life a living hell.
4. Who’s The Boss?
Know who you’ll be reporting to – directly and indirectly. Find out if there others who have authority to influence or direct your work – manager’s manager, senior leader in another group, project leader, etc. During your interview, ask your prospective boss about his/her leadership style, then listen for clues as to whether they’re the type of boss you want. There’s nothing worse than having a boss you can’t work with. Statistics show that most people don’t leave a job, they leave their boss.
5. It’s All About The Benjamins
Know the market value of the job and the value of any additional skills you bring to the table. Set a specific pay goal for the job and think about a total pay package. Many companies offer bonuses and other perquisites and benefits beyond base pay. Do you want flexible work hours, the ability to work from home, a 100% 401(k) match? All of these things should be considered as part of your total package. Don’t be afraid to set an aggressive pay goal, as long as it’s not completely unrealistic. Be prepared to negotiate for what you want.
6. Where Do You Want To Be In 5 Years?
This is a common question that gets asked in interviews, but it’s an important question for you to ask yourself. Do you want to expand your skills, move into management or senior leadership, or will you be happy where you’re at for the rest of your career? If you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder, be clear about what you really want. Ask about your desired career path and what other opportunities will be available to you.
My nephew has graciously come along with my daughter and me when we look at houses; he’s a home inspector. What I’ve found is that some homes look great and hit the items on the checklist, but upon closer inspection, there are foundation problems, water leaks, termites or other issues. The same can happen with a job. You think you’ve found the perfect job, then you start work and things aren’t quite what you expected. These last 3 items to think about when you put together your job checklist will help you avoid unexpected surprises.
7. Culture, Culture, Culture
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make sure you’re a good fit for the company’s culture. For more on the company culture, read my May 17 blog, Job Satisfaction – What’s Company Culture Got To Do With It?
8. Start-Up, Fortune 500, Small Independent
What kind of company do you want to work for? Are you looking for high risk – high reward, the latest in technology and innovation, or stability and structure? High growth companies typically offer the most opportunity for advancement and reward, but require more time and may be more chaotic. Established companies can offer a more traditional career experience, but there might be more bureaucracy and less autonomy.
9. The Financial Check-Up
Do your homework on any potential company before you accept a job. You want to make sure you are fully aware of the financial health of the company and business unit or division you’ll be working in. I’ve known people who have taken new jobs, then they find out the company is down-sizing or is having financial difficulties. You don’t want to be the new kid on the block that ends up on the lay-off list.
When I interview a potential job candidate, there are several questions I always ask. One is, “What’s your ideal or dream job.” I’m always surprised at how many people struggle to answer. If you don’t know what you want, you run the risk of getting what you don’t want. So, ask yourself the question and create your job checklist. As with finding a house, you may have to compromise on some things. But if you know exactly what you want, then you can make an informed decision about what you’re willing to compromise.
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