Job applicants typically look for great salary and benefits and job requirements that match their background and skills. Unfortunately, when they're hired, they may discover things are much less enticing. They can end up frustrated and unhappy, and feel stuck since they don't want to be perceived as a job-hopper. In addition, they're concerned about the difficulty of getting another job in today's tight market. But it doesn't have to be this way. Each of us has a unique gift/talent that can blossom if we're in the right job, working with the right people in a nurturing company. The first step to winning the right job is to ask (and answer) these questions:
. What do you love about your current/last job?
. What do you dislike about your current/last job?
. Of these things, which could be changed or eliminated?
. What would you like to change about your current/last job?
. If you could alter all these things to your satisfaction, how would this influence your feelings about that job?
. For each of the below pairs of job characteristics, which ones are you looking for in your next job?
. For each pair, underline the ones you want and define why each is important to you?
• Intellectual versus physical
• Spiritual versus secular
• Technical versus nontechnical work
• Scheduled versus nonscheduled workday
• Manager versus line worker
• Follow rules versus define own rules
. If every obstacle was removed and there were no limits on what you could do for work, what would you do for work?
. What types of people do you like to work with? (Consider things like age, whether they have disabilities and their personality and temperament.)
. What would your work environment be like (i.e. would you like to work outside versus inside, do you want windows and plants in your office, would you have an office or a cubicle, etc.)?
. Do you like to work with people or by yourself? Why?
. What kind of alternative occupations would you like to pursue?
If you're not sure, here's a tool to help find out. Go to the O*Net website ( online.onetcenter.org/skills) and check off all the skills you have. When you're done, click on the GO button to see a list of possible occupations that correspond to the skills you checked. An occupation that has a sun icon next to it is a "bright outlook" job. One that has a green leaf icon is a "green" job.
. What kind of company culture are you looking for? (Consider things like the dress code, how they treat their employees, management style, how much vacation/sick time you get, quality of benefits, day care, formal praise/acknowledgement program, bonuses, etc.)
. Do you need to work for a company that has professional ethics?
. Do you want to work for a company that pays you what you're worth?
. Do you want to be a line employee or a manager at some level?
. If you want to be a manager, what level are you striving for (supervisor, manager, director, vice president, senior vice president, president, CEO, board of directors)?
. Why do you want or not want management level responsibility?
. What kind of manager do you want (supportive/understanding, good communicator, fair, good coach, acknowledges staff for outstanding contributions and ideas, etc.)?
. Do you give and receive praise to your co-workers and management?
. Do you get it from co-workers and management?
. How would doing this make a difference?
. What are your quality-of-life issues?
. How do you balance work and your personal life?
. Are you leaving time for your spouse, children, friends, church, etc.?
. If you aren't, what has the cost been (short-term and long-term) to you and the ones needing your attention?
Work location issues
. Where do you want to live and work?
. Do you want to live in this area or are you open to moving somewhere else for a job?
. If the answer is somewhere else, where might that be and what would be the key attributes of the community where you would live?
. What are your commuting concerns and needs (e.g. want flextime or work-at-home options)? Be specific.
. Do you want to be self-employed? Why?
. If yes, what assistance will you need and which organizations can help?
. What are the typical traits of successful self-employed people?
. If you want to be self-employed, have you taken the time to create a formal business plan?
Career change planning
. Have you created a detailed action plan for accomplishing your career change goal? This should include both short- and long-term goals. The short-term goals relate to finding a job so you can support yourself until you can reach your long-term goal. The long-term goal is your dream job and should define how you plan to get there from here, including any training or coaching you may need to be successful.
. Are you continuing to develop your personal and business network?
. If you get a job, will you continue to regularly invest time in your network?
. If so, what are the benefits and, if not, what are the costs?
The final challenges
Write out your answers to the above questions and use them to help you determine if your current job is right for you. If it's not, you can use this information to help you define and identify your dream job and get it. For your dream job, be sure to describe it in great detail. Remember, what you envision and believe in will happen.
Larry LaBelle is president of Training Tamer Inc., which provides comprehensive training, coaching and support services for job seekers, HR staff and hiring managers. To learn more about Training Tamer, visit www.trainingtamer.com or call (813) 924-8404.