By Virginia Franco
Consider: Every job you take is a step forward in your career. Or, a step back.
If the thought of work makes you feel ill or if you’re sticking around strictly for the paycheck...
If you find yourself daydreaming on the job more and more frequently, or if you find your confidence and motivation are rapidly on the decline...
Then, you are experiencing one of many signs that your job may not be a great fit.
If even 2 or 3 of these signs feels familiar, and you’ve determined it is indeed time for a change, identify and evaluate which criteria will be important to you in your next role.
Determine any -- and all -- aspects of a job that may be "deal breakers" for you.
If you skip exploring this critical next step, and leap at the first job that comes your way, you run the risk of trading an old set of problems for new one.
This is the very definition of "jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire."
While everyone’s criteria, factors, and deal breakers will be different, and rank differently in terms of importance, below are 6 to consider. I’ve included a personal example from my own career journey to become an Executive Resume Writer and Career Storyteller
Before you move on in your career, consider these 6 criteria to determine if the new job is a good fit for you and your career.
There’s little doubt that job satisfaction is in large part influenced by how much you enjoy what you do on a daily basis -- in other words, the day in and day out tasks that make up your job determine whether or not you actually like your job.
Reflect on if these daily responsibilities align well with the skills that come naturally to you and that you enjoy.
Begin by making a list of the skills you bring to the table from past paid, volunteering, and even internships.
Then, go back, and circle the ones that bring a smile to your face.
When reviewing job postings, or speaking with others in roles of potential interest, evaluate how well the job matches up with those skills you have circled.
Speaking from my own experience, my skills include writing, editing, and interviewing, and I had experience applying these skills in paid freelance writing and corporate communications roles as well as volunteer roles where I supported marketing for special events and fundraising.
For many, pay is a deal breaker. And by “pay,” we usually mean “total compensation” which encompasses base salary, bonus, commissions, and benefits.
Before jumping ship, research salary averages so you know the going rate for your role and others that you may be contemplating.
Before launching my own company, I tested the waters by dipping my toes in as a contract resume writer. I conducted research and even had some informational interviews to get a sense for how much everyone from resume writer newbies to experienced writers alike earned on a per project basis.
How does your ideal manager act and speak? Are they hands-on or detached? Do they make decisions from the gut or based on data?
It’s a good idea to ask the prospective manager point blank about this and verify with potential peers. If the manager’s leadership style does not sync well with your own – then job dissatisfaction will likely follow.
Speaking again from experience, during interviews with resume writing companies, I asked questions around process, deadlines, and deliverables, as well as strategies for dealing with challenging clients. Their responses gave me a solid sense for each business owner’s leadership style.
Many choose to move up the ladder by job hopping. If your preference is to ascend within a company, then it is critical you uncover the potential for internal progression before making any leap.
For others, moving up the ladder is not a deal breaker, but job security is. Factors to evaluate then must include whether the company is on the rise, or if the industry is in decline.
My situation was a bit unique in that rather than career progression I was looking for skill progression – and wanted to gain as much experience as possible writing across levels and industries. To this end, I made sure to ask about an owner’s willingness to take on more and different kinds of clients.
In my experience, next to salary, commute length is likely the top deal breaker for many.
Be sure to evaluate what kind of a commute works with your lifestyle and explore if the company offers free or reimbursed parking, telecommuting opportunities, and/or if alternative forms of transportation are available before proceeding.
For me the commute was an absolute deal breaker. The work needed to be virtual. Period. In my experience, when location/commute requirements are ignored, employees are left very unhappy, so be sure to know where you stand on this topic.
For many, job happiness is closely tied to a company’s culture and corporate values.
With regards to values – it’s important to do a bit of soul searching to see if the stance a company takes on certain issues aligns with your own. These may range from corporate social responsibility to workforce diversity and even environmental sustainability.
Culture can take on many forms – from dress code (suits or business casual?) to office layout (offices and cubes or open workspaces?) to decision-making (top to bottom or more democratic?) and work/life balance (is 40, 50 or 60 hours the norm?)
I successfully uncovered this through responses to earlier questions. Furthermore, a quick LinkedIn search allowed me to find out who worked where. I even reached out to one or two people who graciously shared culture-related intel!
There are many ways to evaluate your level of “fit” in a role, if it is time to make a change, and what that change might look like. If you’ve determined it is indeed time for shake-up and considered the factors that are important to you, it’s time to evaluate if the pros outweigh the cons – and make your next move!
Career Change Expert Virginia Franco is a 4 times Certified Executive Resume Writer, LinkedIn Writer, Coach and Career Storyteller. Her experience in corporate communications, journalism, and social work offered her a unique understanding of how people read, communicate, and share information. Connect with Virginia via her website VirginiaFrancoResumes.com, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter @VAFrancoResumes.