How to not take a job (or a date) for the wrong reasons
Interviewing for a new job is like dating. When you’re looking to build the right relationship and find an ideal partner, it’s usually good to have an idea of what you want. Let’s just say you might ideally want someone with the basic qualifications of non-smoker, has a job, likes to travel, is outgoing, and has a good sense of humor. So you sign up for a dating service and you start communicating with all sorts of profiles. Kind of like reviewing job listings and sending out applications. And voila: you get a few responses and schedule a few dates.
Naturally some dates are a nightmare and some aren’t. No one feels 100% right but the process is getting frustrating so you decide to take a chance on date #2. They’re extremely attractive and outgoing but the they smoke, don’t have a stable job, live at home, and have a fear of flying. You hit it off at first but after the infamous 3-month honeymoon, things start to fizzle. You want to take a trip together, but #2 doesn’t have enough money to go anywhere. You offer to pay but #2 has a fear of flying. And #2 smokes. Things that you initially found endearing now bother you and you start asking yourself why you overlooked things you knew were important to begin with.
Searching for a job is no different. Perusing online job postings and completing lengthy applications can be a royal PITA. But landing yourself in the wrong job is much worse. You spend the majority of your time at work, so you need to figure out what’s most important to you and then prioritize those things and hold yourself accountable. Bottom line: you could end up with a job equivalent to date #2.
Here are 5 reasons NOT to take a job:
1. Your old boss or friend wants you to join them.
While this can definitely be appealing, the reality is these days a lot of people have 1-3 year stints at companies. If your old boss recruits you in and then leaves a few months later (it’s happened to me more times that I’d like to admit) where does that leave you? Sometimes OK, sometimes not so much. You need to make sure the company and the opportunity are right just as much as who works there.
2. The culture isn’t the right fit.
If you’re more of a casual person and like creativity and flexibility, a corporate suit-wearing office might not be your thing. If you’re a person who likes/needs structure, and only wants to work 9-5, a startup might be the wrong way to go. If the company is super top heavy and doesn’t promote from within, you could find yourself in a dead-end job. If you’re not given enough responsibility or working under someone who can truly mentor you, how far will that get you? Think about what will make you happy and what will inspire and challenge you. And make sure this is high on your evaluation list.
Sometimes you get wind of an opportunity at an amazing company but it’s located in another a few hours away or across the country. You love the brand but the location makes you pause. Be honest with yourself. Starting over and trying to establish a friend group isn’t always the easiest. Think about what you like to do in your free time and whether or not that’s possible where the new company is located. Think about how often you’ll get to visit home (and how much you’ll spend doing so) and be honest with yourself about if it’s really worthwhile.
4. It’s not what you want to do or it’s in the wrong industry.
Assume you went to school for advertising or marketing but you’re having a hard time landing your first gig. So instead you end up taking a customer service job. Does that really help you in your career trajectory? Say you want to work in fashion but end up taking a job at a bank. Shifting industries is possible, but it’s not always the easiest, especially with limited experience out of school. Try not to be shortsighted and take the first thing that comes your way. Think about how the role/industry maps to your long term career objectives.
5. Better money or title.
This is a tricky one. If you’re grossly underpaid and need a salary jump, that’s one thing. But if you’re adequately paid and like your job, but are considering a jump to another place that doesn’t meet 1-4 above, more money might not be worth it. If you want a better title, but the company culture is way off, think about what that will mean for your quality of life. Being engaged to the wrong person so you can say “i have a fiance” isn’t as good as having an amazing partner who you’re having a blast with. Titles aren’t everything.
While this criteria might not be exactly what you care about, the point is creating a guide for yourself so you know what IS important to you. If you’re unhappy in your current job, make a list of what you like and don’t like and use that as a barometer to target the type of job and company you want. Lastly, don’t just mass apply to jobs. It’s like ignoring all of your dating criteria and accepting dates from total randoms you’d never want to be in a relationship with. Waste of time, energy (and sometimes, even sanity).
And as a general rule of thumb, making mistakes is OK. That’s how you learn what you like and dislike. Because let’s be honest: you might not have your list of wants and needs ready when you start out. As long as you learn something from each experience, it will help you along your path to finding the right gig being happier and more fulfilled at work. I suppose the same applies to dating.