When you are on the hunt for a new job, there are a variety of factors to weigh in your decision. What will my responsibilities be in this role? Is it a growing company with opportunities for advancement? What kind of compensation and benefit packages does the company offer their employees?
All of these questions are important and will help you make decisions as you take the next step in your career. The real dilemma occurs when you have to decide what questions are the most important for you. Some job seekers may be driven heavily by salary, while others may be more interested in working for with a cause they’re truly passionate about.
This is a personal decision that everyone must make for themselves in their career. As you get older, your priorities may change and this will also have an impact on your career aspirations and trajectory. Wherever you find yourself in your journey, consider the five factors below as you move forward in your the quest for that dream job.
The opportunity for flexibility in your workday is often one of the most celebrated workplace perks as it allows the job to fit into your life (as opposed to the other way around). With greater flexibility in your schedule, you’re better able to complete all of your priorities in a day and reserve your downtime for activities that recharge your body and mind.
Depending on your industry, many workplaces are coming to understand the value of this flexibility. A happy employee means better work and productivity in the long run. If your workplace does not currently offer flex work schedules, it might not be completely off the table. This could be worth a discussion with your manager. When approaching this conversation, be sure to be explicit and compelling in your motivation, but also make it clear that you’re open to compromise and a formal review after a trial period.
When asking for a more flexible schedule, it can also be helpful to have several options for discussion. Perhaps working from home one day a week, working a compressed four-day week, or even having the option to take an extended lunch break on certain days of the week to fit in an afternoon exercise class. With multiple options on the table, you’re more apt to have one of your requests granted or at least considered.
Not every job is going to have the ability for flexible hours and remote work, but there are many other factors that contribute to a healthy and satisfying work-life balance. The hard part is figuring out which factors are a deal-breaker and which can be reorganized or better prioritized both at work and at home for the betterment of your overall lifestyle.
For many, time spent commuting is one of the biggest deal-breakers. If you’re going to be facing a lengthy commute each day before and after work and you don’t have much flexibility in working around rush hour, this will have a significant impact on your daily life. If it takes you one hour to get to and from the office, that is two hours you’re losing each day that could be better spent doing all of the other things on your list.
To help maintain a better balance when factors like this are out of your control, look for ways you can work around it in order to maximize your time. For example, go to the gym close to your office in the morning or at lunch so that you get all the benefits of your workout before you get home. You can also maximize your time by doing meal prep once or twice a week so that you’re not rushing to make lunches each morning and dinners will be ready to go as soon as you get home from work.
There are many options to consider that will help you boost the effectiveness of your downtime for a satisfying lifestyle.
While a cozy salary shouldn’t be your only consideration on your job hunt, let’s be honest—it certainly helps. Everyone deserves to be fairly compensated for their work and you should strive to work with a company that understands that and is willing to invest in their employees.
To get a better grasp for what is considered “fair” compensation for your industry and level of experience and expertise, consult job postings and pay scales for your industry and your region. Authentic Jobs offers a variety of tech-centric job postings from which you can compare your job and salary aspirations to similar roles in comparable cities. This will help you set realistic salary expectations so you’re prepared for this discussion with a prospective employer.
That being said, no matter how great a generous salary may seem, it isn’t going to keep you motivated and happy in a toxic environment, so make sure the company and the role is a good fit first.
Any fulfilling job will offer goals to aspire towards. Your goals could be within the company itself, like the opportunity for advancement or greater responsibility, but they can also include your greater career path. If you know you would enjoy this role and also gain skills and experience that would help you take the next step in your career in the future, it is worth exploring the opportunity.
If you’re currently in a position and lacking the goal-driven motivation you crave, ask yourself how you want to grow. Once you’ve defined your goals, prepare some ideas on how you could work towards these goals in your position and discuss them with your manager.
More often than not, management will be more than willing to provide opportunities for internal training or accommodation for training or participation in events that will help you grow your skill set. After all, the company will also benefit from your ever-expanding expertise.
Respect and Recognition
Finding a position where you’ll be respected and recognized for your hard work is a huge factor in job happiness. If you’re working in an environment where you feel your hard work is being overlooked, you’ll inevitably begin to feel unmotivated and resentful in your workplace. Healthy and productive work environments give credit where credit is due.
If your company isn’t quick to give recognition, don’t jump to conclusions. It may not be that your superiors are not supportive, it could simply be that there is no real organizational process or structure in place for this type of acknowledgment. Many smaller organizations and startups may run into this problem given that senior leadership is busy working right alongside you and there is often a lack of designated HR and admin support.
To help promote more of a culture of open recognition in your office, take a proactive approach and show consistent, informal recognition to others for their professional victories. As this practice spreads throughout the team culture, you can bet your accomplishments will have their time in the spotlight soon enough.
For a more direct approach, it can be helpful to stop by your boss’s office for a quick update on your projects every so often—don’t wait for a quarterly or annual review. This can be completely informal but gives you the opportunity to make sure your boss is aware of your hard work and achievements. Do be sure to be a team player and also mention any colleagues that played a part in the victory as well.
Weigh the pros and cons to make an informed decision
Do your research on any company you are aspiring to work with. Look at how they’ve branded their company, what they share on social media, what kinds of community events and initiatives they support, and what they are presenting with their mission and values.
Get a more personal account by referring to your network to see if you know anyone that has worked for the company (past or present), or if someone you know may have a connection that has worked at the company. If possible, ask around to see what the work environment is really like for the employees. Companies can market themselves however they want, but ultimately it is the employees that will be able to tell you about the true culture from experience.
If everything you’ve learned about the company seems to be a good fit for you and your career aspirations, reach out. Companies are always on the hunt for other like-minded individuals to join their team and you could be just the person they’re looking for.