Job hunting is exactly that- job hunting. When you are seeking a job, you are looking for one that’s the right fit for you as much as employers are looking for the right fit for their business.
Interviews are a two-way process. If you’ve been job hunting for a while, it’s easy to start letting desperation and panic creep into your search. Take a breath, and try to keep calm- desperation to find any job can land you somewhere miserable, and missing out on opportunities you might enjoy (and that might pay) better.
I’ve already written a list of the “red flags” to look for at bad jobs, so this post is a few of the “green” flags that earn a job a more considered look from job-seekers.
Remember, this list is not comprehensive and you should always go with your gut. Your goals and priorities are your own- make the moves that get you closer to them!
1. Pay Rate
No, money isn’t the only reason to take a job (or to stay in one.) Plenty of people chase the Almighty Dollar, take the highest-paying job they can find, and wind up living more miserable lives than folks who make less.
At the same time, most landlords and grocery stores don’t take warm fuzzies as payment. You still gotta make some kind of a living, and that means finding a job that pays enough to be worth your time, is commensurate with your skill and experience, and will support your desired lifestyle. It’s not uncommon to look at postings for jobs you might like just to go “I can’t afford to sell my time for that little.” If you really like the job (and have the chops to back it up!) you might be able to argue for a better pay rate with the employer. Be prepared to prove your added value though.
2. Actual Benefits
As I said on the “red flags” post, “free pizza and beer,” casual dress code, “play your own music” etc are all fun and cool- but you can’t pay off a hospital bill in pizza. Finding out about actual benefits (health insurance, dental, vision, 401K, etc) are worth your time.
Depending on your situation, a job without real benefits might be worth it (if the pay is high enough to afford getting your own insurance.) If you have kids, a chronic health condition, or need a regular medication though, keeping money in your pocket might be a better call. Remember- if you have insurance, but can’t afford your deductible/out-of-pocket-maximum, you don’t have insurance.
3. Hours/ Schedule and Commute
An opportunity you can’t take advantage of isn’t an opportunity- it’s a distraction. Consider the priorities in your life, how much time and when you are willing to dedicate to work. If you are married and want to enjoy as much time with your spouse as possible, you’re not looking for a job on an opposite schedule. After 7 months of me working a morning bake shift and seeing my wife for only about 12 hours in a week, we made the decision that the strain was hurting our marriage and I’d find a different schedule.
Yes, this can limit your options, and may need a personal discussion between you and your partner (finding baking jobs that don’t start at 2am is not easy.) Depending on your situation, you may be willing/able/need to bend a bit.
The rule still applies though- consider jobs that give you time and space to live your life. A job is a support system for life, not the other way around.
4. Type of Work
A little bit of self-knowledge goes a long way- what are you looking for in a job? What makes you happy in one? If you are looking to learn new skills, or go from a more stressful job to a more regular and sedate, you might be alright with taking lower pay for a while.
At the same time, if you are used to being creative and self-directed, taking a job where you’ll be following formulas as a “cog in the machine” might not be worth it regardless of the pay. You can’t get the time you spend back, and you deserve to feel happy and utilized at your job.
6. Vibe of the People/Space
If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that despite all our usual inclinations, humans are social creatures. The people we work with become our pack, our tribe. We vibrate off each other’s frequencies and riff on each other’s energy.
This is why checking out a new space and doing a working interview is so important– pick a job that fits your energy. If you’re a hard-liner for structure, detail, and schedule, maybe the place run by hippies and no hierarchy isn’t gonna work for you. At the same time, if you like to be a bit more self-directed and “go with the flow,” a place run by suits with a schedule and spreadsheet will probably feel suffocating.
Go to a place, feel it out, ask the questions! Where do supplies come from? Who makes decisions? How is production decided? Who decides division of labor? Will it be you- and if not, who do you answer to? Let those answers guide your decision making!
What other factors decide whether you take a job or not? Leave it in the comments!