Job hunting is demoralizing and disorienting. In our society, people generally define themselves by what they do. Without that essential element, life can get pretty strange.
Even at our best, many of us are not so good at getting what we want. A short stint of unemployment or a couple of years working for a crummy boss can aggravate the problem. It’s hard to believe that you can have what you want. It’s so hard to believe that most job hunters don’t think very hard about what they want.
The first time you try to get your arms around ‘what you want’, it may seem overwhelming. Coupled with the belief that it’s impossible to get what you want is the fear of defining it. Disappointment is often on the minds of job seekers and the thought of taking on more is scary. It’s important to face the fear and stick with it.
Knowing what you want isn’t so hard. Being clear about it is the most useful thing you can get from a job search. Knowing the answer to the question makes it possible to tell whether or not a job is right for you. Use your job hunt as a way of clarifying the question.
Did you know that 40% of employees and 55% of employers are unhappy with a hiring decision a year after it’s made? If job hunting was car buying, there would be congressionally mandated ‘Lemon Laws’. Knowing what you want is the difference between ending up in a job you hate and having a gig you’re proud of.
Here are some things you can do to clarify ‘what you want’ when making a decision about a job offer.
- Don’t let desperation be your guide. If you feel desperate or have the sense that this is the only job you can get, don’t take it. Desperate decisions always have bad results.
- Take it easy. If this is the first job you’ve been offered in your job hunt, be very careful about taking it. (See item 1) There are plenty of fish in the sea, you are learning how to be a fisherman.
- Don’t place all of your eggs in one basket. (See item 1). Placing your entire energy into securing just one particular job is a way of guaranteeing disappointment. Be a generalist: think about the type of work not a specific job.
- Identify who you want to work for. Develop a clear picture of the six or seven companies that you want to work for. Over time, learn about their operations and imagine the role you’d like to play at each one. Imagining is the key to knowing what you want.
- Expect some disappointment. Seek it out. If you have a long term plan (looking at a number of options), disappointment is the tool that clarifies what you want.
- Keep a journal of your efforts. You’ll be able to see how your mind changes as the job search progresses. It’s a nice tool for some day in the future when you ask yourself, “How did I get here?”
- Really, really trust your gut. If the job is wrong, something about it will tell you. Listen closely, and work hard to look beyond the fear and desperation.