When job hunting, it is easy to fall into typical trap of searching for a job that you meet the requirements for, instead of a job that meets your requirements. The kind of job that seems like a good fit on the surface because you tick most of the boxes and it has a nice insurance package, but deep down, is nothing more than a shiny object that you feel qualified enough to get, and seems good enough because of some of the perks, but will have you itching for change in a year or so. As women on the rise, we have to be extremely careful about the career steps we curate, because if not, we will end up in a dreaded beige cubicle that we can’t wait to break free from, all because we were chasing the wrong job when we were ready to transition in our careers. Instead of chasing after dollar signs and a good vacation package (although, both of these are worthy items to chase after), in order to step up farther into our roles as CEOs of our careers, and maybe even our own company, we have to chase after the job that meets our answers these two questions we have to ask ourselves:
What do I want to gain out of my next job?
What are my non-negotiable requirements for this position?
Asking yourself those two questions provides clarity on what you need to look for when searching for a new position, as well as acting as a guide for you in asking the right kind of questions in your interview to find out if your non-negotiables can be achieved if you take that position. If you aren’t clear on what you truly do want and need in your next job, you not only risk heading into a position that is unfulfilling and a waste of everyone’s time, but you also risk being right back on the job market in a year or two when you get antsy and want to move onto something more stimulating and interesting.
While, in some instances just getting a paycheck is what you need (hey, we all have been there, those bills need paid somehow) it is important, when in a position of more career privilege, to assess your career plan, understand what your next position needs to bring you in order to fulfill that plan, and discover what your true non-negotiables are, otherwise, you will end up falling into a job that tricked you with a decent paycheck and nice benefits that you can’t wait to dig yourself out of. Don’t make the mistake of falling into your next job, take the time to leap into the next part of your career.
After asking yourself what you want to gain out of your next job and what your non-negotiables are, take the time to carefully look on the market- internally at your current company, and externally- to see if there exists any positions (open or not) that can meet your needs. It can be hard to figure all of this out without getting in the room, but many job descriptions (at least, the well written kind) can lend you some clues and, in some cases, direct answers on what they can offer you that you are searching for. If you are unable to find a current job opening that meets your requirements- or even most of them- you can stay where you are currently and wait or, you can look for a company that offers what you need, and get your foot in the door at an open position there that you qualify for. Both routes have their pros and cons, as well as risks, and it is entirely up to you to make the decision that is best for your career in the long run, not the short term.
Then, once you found jobs that you believe can meet your needs, begin curating interview questions that will uncover if the job you’re interviewing for (because you know you’re going to get an interview!) can check all of the boxes on your list. If one of your non-negotiables is that your next position offers educational development opportunities- such as on the job education and courses, comped time and pay for off-site education, and reimbursement for job related certifications- then you can ask questions like “How central of a role does continued education play in an employees development here?” “What continued education programs does the company offer and support?” and “Are there scholarship opportunities or bonuses paid for certifications achieved?”. Without curating interview questions around what you are looking for in a job, you are leaving getting that information up to chance.
When you have that information at hand, you can give yourself an important career transition tool- your own power. Being able to remove “shiny object syndrome” from the mix when making a career decision (ya know, those random perks jobs offer you that are cool, but don’t really matter to you, but are a bit distracting anyway) you are fully able to make the best decision for your career, and sometimes, the best decision is to not move forward for a while until you can find the answers to your questions, or find an open job that meets your requirements. Until you know what your non-negotiables are and what you want to gain out of your next position, moving onward doesn’t always mean moving forward in your career, in fact, sometimes it can be moving your backwards or down a different path that you don’t want to walk down.
Before scheduling your next interview, or even applying for a new position, interview yourself so that you can make a clear and conscious decision when the offers come flowing in, by doing this, you will avoid increasing company turn around rates and heading back to your own square one- staring at your resume and asking yourself “what in the hell am I even doing with my life?”.