Alex loves being a Software Engineer, but he has been grumpy about work. The idea of going into work no longer excites him and the passion he once had is nearly gone. Deep inside of himself, Alex knew it was time for a career change. Logically, his current employer looked great on paper: but, he didn’t have a good gut feeling about the job. The work at Alex’s current company wasn’t what he expected based on the interview and he didn’t look well enough into the company before accepting the job. So, he approached his job search from a different angle. Instead of only looking at salary and benefits, Alex wrote down a list of criteria his new employer had to satisfy before he would accept the job. Much of his list focused on the workplace environment, workplace culture, his enthusiasm for the company, and his values. Using the criteria he developed, Alex found an employer that satisfied him. He landed a job with the company and his passion for work was rekindled.
You may be like Alex, dissatisfied with your current employer and ready to make a transition. Or, you may be looking for work, but you don’t want to choose just any employer. Which is wise, even if your are in need of a job, as per our last article. You want an employer that will pay you well, but your job is more than a source of income. You want flexibility, satisfaction, a culture that reflects your personal values, and to be fully engaged on the job. We all intuitively have a list of criteria that we want an employer to fulfill. Sometimes we dismiss our ability to land a job that meets these criteria, but this is seldom based on truth. We use a logical approach when we take a set of facts and form our reasoning based on those facts. An intuitive approach is based on our perception of facts and/or truth and isn’t always based on reasoning. Think your intuition as a split-second “gut feeling”, as opposed to a longer and more reasoned approach with logic. When you don’t use a logical and intuitive approach you wind up in the wrong jobs, which sets us up for failure, ultimately, and wastes your time when you could be fast-tracking your career and income.
When searching for their next job, people often fail to develop a list of criteria. In my article “The Correct Response to a Job Lead” I wrote about how a company needs to meet about 80% of your criteria before you create a connection with them. In that article, I also discussed how to research a company after asking a few practical questions such as company size, location, employee happiness, and how well you could fit a potential position. It is important to develop a criteria list because it will aid you in your development of a target company list.
Criteria to consider:
- Workplace environment:
A workplace environment encompasses everything related to the location of an employer. This includes a geographical location, immediate surroundings (an office park in the suburbs, office building in the city, being near a construction site or surrounded by a small forest), noise levels and even air quality. Would you prefer to work amid the hustle and bustle of a large city, or do you prefer the quieter life in the suburbs? Would a location with very few windows and lots of re-circulated air bother you? Or do you need constant access to fresh air?
Will you like your boss? This is the person you will report to on a daily or weekly basis. If his or her attitude or demeanor is concerning to you, you may eventually clash with their personality. You will have to weigh the benefits of their leadership against their personality. By that, I mean that your potential boss could be difficult to like, but might be an amazing leader. Think of Steve Jobs or Jeff Bozos.
- Passion and interest:
Will your next job excite you? You may have the skills and qualifications to do a job, but will you feel passionate about your work with a new employer? If you only go through the motions with your job, it won’t be long before dissatisfaction catches up with you. If you don’t care about the work you’re doing it will become evident for everyone to see. Clients, co-workers and subordinates will notice the lack of interest in your work. A job you feel passionate and interested in can challenge you in new ways and provide you with the opportunity to expand your skill set. Will your next employer enable you to be exposed to the areas of interest that you want to further explore? If you find yourself at a job that doesn’t incorporate your abilities, you’ll eventually yearn for a new employer that will put your skills to use.
Will you have the ability to work remotely when needed? Can you take time off when needed? Balance between personal-life and work-life is important. If you have the freedom to create flexible work arrangements, you’ll find yourself less stressed out at home and on the job. Conversely, some people feel that working in a remote and flexible workplace is more challenging and need people there physically to complete the job with a certain quality. If you would be bothered by your co-workers taking advantage of flexible work arrangements, don’t torture yourself by working for a company where these freedoms are extended.
5. Job Structure:
How much freedom do you want at work? Are you fearful of micromanagers who are constantly looking over your shoulder? This boils down to what type of worker you are. If you like constant input and feedback, you should consider an employer that works closely with employees. If you prefer to do things on your own terms, you may want a more laid-back management style.
6. Public perception of the company:
Will your next employer be a high-profile company? Will you work for a household name, or would you prefer a company very few people know about? If your company is a household name, do they have a positive or negative image? For example, are they a well-loved hardware and software maker? Or are they a notorious monopoly in constant litigation? You may have to ask yourself if the perks and benefits at the company outweigh a negative public perception.
7. Force for change:
Will your new employer be a force for good in the world? Do you want your future employer to give back to local communities, donate to charity and place an emphasis on people and profits? And if so, with what non-profit organizations do you align with and that you also want your employer to align?
8. Workplace Culture:
A workplace culture is a big factor to take into consideration. A company may have a flexible management style, a causal dress code, and may be geared toward younger workers. Or the workplace could be traditional, with a business professional dress code and workers may be accustomed to greeting each other formally. If you scream for tradition, a culture that embraces a causal style may not be for you. Just as you would consider a company’s culture and if it matches your personal values, a potential employer is just as interested in making sure you’re fit for their culture.
Will your job align with your values? Do you care if your employer or your immediate bosses have strong religious beliefs? For example, your employer may insist on adhering to Christian values, especially if they are a smaller company. Does that idea excite or horrify you? Are you okay with an employer who has different religious beliefs from your own? Or do you prefer an employer not to embrace any religious beliefs? There are also other values to consider, such as political alignment. Many of my clients scratch their heads when I ask them what they believe in, because they wonder why that would be relevant to a job search. However, if you hold your beliefs close to you, and it causes you conflict and stress to be around people who are staunchly opposed to the things you believe strongly, it can impact your quality of work and life. Even if you don’t talk much about these things, if other people do, conflict will be hard to avoid, and while differing views can be a source of growth, it is not always welcomed in the workplace.
10. Co-Worker Relationships:
How will you get along with your new co-workers? Unless you’re working remotely, your co-workers are going to be a major influence at your workplace. Will you socialize with them inside and outside of the office? Or do you believe that business and pleasure should not mix? Does your personal life stay at home or do you engage others about life outside of work? You’ll have to consider if your next employer will sponsor activities such as a softball or bowling team and whether you want to attend those events. Would you be comfortable working for a company that believes in team-building retreats and workshops?
Tapping into the subconscious to know what’s right for you:
Once you have idea of what criteria you want your employer to fulfill, you can use physical and mental exercises to help reflect on your list.
Muscle testing (also known as Applied Kinesiology) is great way to diagnose specific nervous system problem or nutritional deficiencies, and restore energy. Dr. Jeff Echols has a great video that demonstrates how muscle testing is done and its benefits. Some new age career coaches promote muscle testing as a way to help determine if a decision is in alignment with your inner wisdom. This practice can help calm your mind in order to better focus on an important decision. You can use muscle testing to help elicit a true “yes” or “no” answer on whether you should pursue a career opportunity. A sound body helps form a sound mind, and a sound mind helps make important decisions.
Meditation is great way to tap into your subconscious mind, reduce stress and improve concentration. By sitting and concentrating on your breath, you can keep your attention focused. It allows you concentrate on one thing and to block out other distracting thoughts. Once you’re able to sit quietly, focus on your breathing or even chant a mantra (a phrase to help you focus), you can tap into your subconscious mind to reflect on your work-related criteria. It may take some practice but your subconscious mind can help guide you that “yes” or “no” job-related decision.
Creating a list of job criteria is one step that far too many job seekers skip. Yes, good pay and benefits are extremely important, but a satisfying career consists of more than pay. Do you love what you do at your job or are you just there to draw a paycheck? Can you imagine waking up each morning and being excited by the work you do? How about the pride that comes with working for an employer who makes a difference in your community? Are you willing to take less pay for a more personally fulfilling job? For example, choosing employment at a non-profit company that directly works with a disadvantaged population, versus employment at a larger for-profit company in the tech sector that may only donate to charity. Your need to make a difference in the lives of others may outweigh superior compensation and benefits. Or you may strive to work at an organization that can provide you with a great salary and the ability to directly help others. We all intuitively know what we want from our lives and how our professional choices will reflect our desires. By developing a list of criteria and tapping in your subconscious, you can choose an employer that will personally satisfy you.
If you need or want more help developing a list of criteria, we’re here for you. Our Criteria Identifier and Target Company Evaluator is a tool to help you with your employer research.