The 5 most important things to look for in your next job
Tl;dr at the bottom of the post.
What do you see yourself doing next year? How about 5 years from now?
I always thought I knew what I wanted... an engaging job that pays well. What I didn't know is how many other duties and responsibilities play into me feeling "engaged", and let's not even get started on my ever changing definition of a good salary.
My first job as a developer had me solving interesting problems with a great team, but paid slightly under market value. I was happy but thought I'd be happier with a better salary. I stayed at that job for around 12 months before accepting an offer from one of the larger corporates in my area that paid almost 50% more. I lasted 6 months there and learnt an important lesson - Money doesn't motivate me.
I'd always assumed "money doesn't buy happiness" was a luxury saying reserved for people who have money. I thought I was the type of person that wouldn't mind putting up with a bad work environment as long as i'm being compensated well. Not true! The work at this new job wasn't engaging, I didn't feel I was solving any real problems and there a was a toxic culture of individuality. But the biggest problem was that I was bringing my bad mood home, which was effecting my personal life.
I had to figure out what I actually wanted to do. What would make me excited to get up in the morning and feel content at the end of the day? What is my dream job?
I started thinking about the person I want to be and came up with 2 main themes: 1. I want to help people 1. I want to be a leader
Next, I had to figure out what I need to do to become someone that embodies those themes.
- To be able to use my skills to help people I need to find a company that's solving problems that I feel are important.
- To be a leader I need to gain experience in the right way to lead. I need to be good at communicating, at making decisions, solving problems and resolving conflicts.
I finally felt like I had figured out what I'm missing. But getting a job that allows me to be a leader so early on in my career would be tough to find. I needed to find something in between my current job and my dream job that allows me to grow into the person I want to be. This time the difference was that I knew what I wanted and I could use my objectives as criteria for qualifying my next role.
I listed down some additional points and questions to bring up during conversations to make sure I get a good picture of what I'm looking for.
I realized I spent most of my time communicating with people, in planning meetings, organizing and thinking about problems. I wanted to find an organization that values this and sets me up for success. I came up with the following questions to help me understand this:
- How are projects managed?
- Does the organization follow agile principles?
- How are conflicts resolved?
- What does work/life balance look like?
The most valuable feedback is from current and past employees. Asking people whilst they're at work would probably give me disingenuous answers but I found other ways to get the information I was looking for:
- Do Google searches, look at the company website and look at reviews written by employees on Glassdoor
- Try and understand how employees feel
- What is the company's goal/mission statement? How does it relate to my own objectives?
- Seeing commonalities between a company and myself not only helped me make a clear decision, but also allowed me to craft strong responses during the interview process
This is the most important question for me. I try and pursue companies whose mission I believe in because it makes me passionate, productive and creative. Some of the things to answer are:
- Will I enjoy the work?
- Can I learn from the people around me and be able to grow in my career and as a person?
Job hunting is stressful and time consuming enough without being picky. It's too easy to go for the job that pays the most, but this strategy rarely works out well in the long run. The most important think you can look for is happiness. Do what makes you happy. It's a two-way street between candidates and employers. Just as an employer vets a candidate it's important that candidates also vet companies too.
Career questions are always tough because what works for you may not work for someone else. Just remember that somewhere out there is a company that wants to hire you. You don't have to work for a bad company... There's almost always an alternative.
When looking for your next job or promotion, some things to consider are:
- What motivates you? What likes/dislikes do you have and how can you incorporate this in to your work life?
- If your next job isn't your dream job, figure out what skills you want to build on and set some goals for yourself
- Look at the company culture - do the processes set employees up for success?
- Current and past employees, company website, Glassdoor and LinkedIn are all great resources for getting insights into a company
- Make sure you have a plan for what you want to achieve. Align this plan with the company's goals, values and mission
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