What am I really looking for in a job?

Job selection is a big decision. It can be the difference between a great career and a big waste of time and effort. To really get a good idea of what you want, there are two basic methods, and they work together.

The exclusion method

This is about knowing what you don't want. It's a quick and reliable way of removing unsuitable selections and reducing the amount of time spent considering jobs which are in your skill set and qualification range, but don't appeal to you as real choices.

The main product of this method is indirectly defining what you want. It's a good indicator of job problems and your risk aversion preferences. The jobs you don't want help identify your career issues, too. They include low grade jobs in your bandwidth, workplace environments, and the unacceptable elements in a job type.

Defining a good job choice

The exclusion method is a good quality control, and it does cut down on unnecessary effort, but you're still looking for a positive lead for your job hunting. The job selection process can be very accurate, if you make your decisions systematically.

To identify a good job lead, use these criteria:

  • Career strengths. These are really credentials, in career terms. What does the job represent, as a career asset in itself? Is it where you want to be? Is it the sort of job you want on your CV or resume?
  • Career opportunities. Where does the job go, in terms of career moves? Does the career track look promising? What are the options, in terms of further development? Does the job offer added career skills?
  • Wages. Wages are a quality check when valuing the merits of any employer. Employers that pay well are a positive sign in any frame of reference for jobs. They're also usually much better employers.
  • Conditions. Like wages, conditions of employment are a major indicator of job quality. Modern employers use a wide range of methods to attract staff, not just packages. These can include flexible work arrangements, flexible hours, bonus systems, commissions, stock incentives, and a fun working environment.