Ever been to a potluck dinner?
We have them at our boat club periodically. Potluck dinners are fun because you never know what you will find. Last time there were ten kinds of baked beans and no potatoes. Next time you might find ten kinds of potato salad and no beans.
The smart option at a potluck dinner is to contribute the food you would like to eat. Then you have a modicum of control over your meal.
Relying on job ads for your job search is like going to a potluck dinner. Your options are limited to the potluck universe of whatever jobs happen to be posted at the moment when you look. You might find the equivalent of ten baked bean jobs or potato salad jobs when you would be more comfortable with a coleslaw kind of job. No coleslaw available? You are out of luck.
A quick story to illustrate what I mean…..
I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I thrive in a specific kind of environment that values my high energy and my urge to solve problems with humor and creativity. Not every company values those characteristics. I know. I have the scars to prove it!
One time early in my career I walked into a new company and knew by the end of the day that I made the wrong choice. I took the job because it was available and I needed the money. But I could tell I was never going to fit into this company. The next three years were the longest work years in my life. Every day was a frustration because I had taken a baked beans kind of job when I was a coleslaw kind of gal.
I went to the job search potluck and took the first job that made sense out of the jobs available at that moment. I did not do my due diligence. At that time in my career I did not know what I needed from a company to evaluate the options effectively.
It doesn’t have to be that way. This is the first in a series about how to structure a different kind of job search built around finding your own opportunities – the potluck antidote!!
Start by knowing what you want. I was an HR Executive. You would think that every opportunity with that title would be the same. You would be wrong. Every opportunity is different with its own pluses and minuses. The trick is figuring out what you want then comparing every opportunity to your requirements.
Step 1 then, before you get started, define what the ideal job for you looks like. Ask yourself “What”:
- What size – revenue and number of employees? Small or large?
- What geography? Where live now or some other place? Don’t just say “anywhere” because everyone has some preferences. Narrow it down to just a few geographies to make your search more targeted.
- What industry?
- What culture? What kind of people do you want to work with? What level of integrity? How do they talk to one another? Are they nice or is cutthroat ok with you?
- What energy level? Quiet and traditional or bolder and cutting edge?
- What kind of hipness? Older and traditional or younger and trendy?
- What kind of independence? Can you make your own decisions or do you prefer a structured bureaucracy?
Write it down. There are no right or wrong answers. There is only what is right for you. That means that some of the companies out there are wrong for you, which is fine. If you don’t know exactly what you want, describe the place you worked that made you the most happy or just imagine what would make you happy. That is as good a place as any to get started.
Writing it down at the beginning allows you to compare opportunities and companies against your needs to increase the chances that you make a match that works for you. Not potluck but controlling your destiny to find companies that fit your needs.