It seems like simple advice: Find a job you love and you'll never work another day of your life. For many of you reading this, that statement makes perfect sense. It fills you with joy because you truly are happy at work. I personally fall into this category, because I am excited about my work. But, that hasn't always been the case.
I've also been on the other side. For other people, that statement can make you sick to your stomach--because your optimism about finding that perfect gig has been beaten down, shattered, and broken. Every job began with you thinking, "this might be the one," and ended with either "Meh, it's okay," or worse, "I'd rather stab my eyes with flaming toothpicks than spend another day here."
Yes, I've been there. I've had the horrible, controlling, manipulative boss. I've worked on horrifically mind-numbing projects. I once actually sat in a pole barn for 10 hours a day and wrote driving directions for truckers hauling waste from one state to another. Sexy job description, right?
If you're in this second category of people, like I once was, you're not alone. A lot of people hate their jobs. They dislike their manager. Or they have become numb to the idea that their skills, knowledge and effort can produce anything beyond a paycheck--there's no joy, no purpose, and no excitement.
Let me pose a question to you: Are all employers and workplaces really that bad, or could it be possible that you're not very good at understanding what truly would make you happy at work? Could it be that you're choosing jobs for the wrong reasons?
Here are nine questions to ask yourself before sending out your resume:
1. Are you simply escaping your current situation?
While there's nothing worse than being unhappy in any relationship, you don't want to rush into another bad relationship. Take your time. Consider all the things you don't like about your current situation, and make sure your not applying to a situation that is the same, or even worse.
2. Are you simply in a slump of boredom?
Careers can sometimes feel like seasons. You might feel totally invigorated in the spring, but get the 'blahs' during summer. Recall the times you felt most engaged at work. Think about what you were doing. And, see if there's an opportunity in the near future to do something similar.
3. Do you actually like what you do?
I've talked to tons of people who hopped from company to company only to realize they chose the wrong career. Ask yourself how you'd really like to spend your days. If the answer is something opposite of what you're doing, don't look for a new job. Seek a new career.
4. Is the company culture a misfit?
Maybe you love what you do and think the world of your boss but the culture is wrong. Before you send a resume pay careful attention to things like energy levels at your work, work flow, office humor, safety, aggressiveness, and values. Some people love high-intensity. Others enjoy working in laid-back atmospheres. Pinpoint your perfect culture.
5. Does your future path lead in the right direction?
It's one thing to seek a higher title or role, but it's another to actually do what you love. Before you send a resume, even if the position is a step up from yours, it's important to ask yourself how you want to spend your time at work. Prestige and position might feel important, but if you're no longer doing what you love to do, you might be making a wrong move.
6. Are you entering a situation of wellbeing?
Stretching for goals is admirable. But, stretching yourself to the point of danger--emotionally or physically--can create a long-term impact on your life. Before you send a resume, make sure your wellbeing is a priority.
7. What impact does the salary have on your life?
While money is important to all of us, your time is the greatest currency of your life. A new company may offer you more dollars for your time. But, you need to consider how much that increase in pay will truly change your life, especially if your time and energy is consumed by something less desirable than what you do today.
8. Do you connect with the company's values?
We all perceive life and work from a different perspective. But don't be willing to sell certain aspects of yourself for a short-term gain. Do your research. Find out if the organization shares your values.
9. Where can you offer the most value?
Titles, compensation, commute times, perks and cultures are important to all of us. But, forget all those things for a second. Find the place where your skills, talents, personality, and knowledge creates the most value for the organization, and all of the rest will follow.
It's easy to point fingers at things we don't like. It's easy to assume the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. And, it may be. But, know this: The grass is always the greenest when you go into any job with your own water, seed, and sunshine.