I write a great deal about finding a job. Finding the right job that fits your skills and a good work environment that makes you want to stay is equally important. This is why I named my practice, Best Fit Forward: I think it's essential to know your own skills--as well as what you are looking for--throughout the process.
Taking a job is like jumping off solid ground on a rope swing: Once you've made a decision to move forward, you need to ensure a safe landing. As soon as you leap, you have no choice but to hang on with all you have, and pay attention with hope for an easy entry. It's okay to be picky selective in deciding when to jump. You should be. After all, when you accept an offer you are making a commitment. Can you believe you just signed up to spend a significant percentage of your waking hours with individuals who you've only met once or twice? Would you choose to spend over 40 hours every week with a potential partner after two dates? Probably not.
Recently, I asked my dad an ethicist--for advice on how to weigh a difficult decision. Here is his suggested guide, modified slightly for the job search.
- Take the time to write your thoughts down. What are the specifics. Do you have all the information you need to make a decision? Will the position allow you to leverage your natural strengths? Are there aspects of the job that will challenge you to work in ways that don't play to your strengths? (If yes, how will you overcome your weaknesses compensate or adapt?)
- If you anticipate a gap in your job function or potential problems with organizational dynamics--how will you "mind the gap"? Are there people in your current network or in the new organization who can help you? Determine the best way to approach the problem.
- Assess the opportunity and figure out where it fits into your overall career "life cycle." It's easy to think about year one, but what are your goals for the next 3-5 years? 5-15? How will this opportunity help you prepare for others? How will your decision affect others in your life--your friends, your family, your community?
- Is your opportunity aligned with your values and ideals? Can you imagine yourself working with your potential co-workers? Do your prospective co-workers appear to be on the "same page" as you are in terms of organizational mission, goals, and style?
- How can you best manage uncertainty? If you find that the job you've been offered is not the right one for you long term, how will you proceed? What's your game plan for future success--how will you seek out an opportunity that does fit?
Once you've got your "list," mull it over with trusted friends and advisers who know you well and can support you in following through on whatever decision you make.
After you've weighed all your options, lean forward into the decision you've made. You should now have full confidence that you've put your best fit forward.
Do you have any additional criteria you also recommend? If yes, please share!