I get it. I have been there many times. Three hours of straight searching on SEEK, feeling overwhelmed and paralysed about which jobs to apply for because, ‘How do I know if I am going to like this job?’
From the age of 15 to now (age 33) I’ve had 16 jobs. That’s right - 16!! So it is safe to say I’ve done my fair share of SEEK searching, job applications, job interviews, and stepping into new organisations, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Today I’m going to share with you some crucial tips on job hunting that I wish I had known before I threw my CV into that online circus ring called SEEK.
Before I continue, however, I must mention that this article is for people who have trained or worked in a specific field and want to remain in that field BUT hate their current job and want a change. If you want a CAREER change rather than a job change I recommend you read my other blog post ‘How do I change careers?’
So what’s the secret of finding the job you love?
1. Know Your Values
It is going to be very difficult to know what you are looking for in an organisation if you don’t know yourself or your values. The best places to work for are those where the organisational values match your own.
Do you know what your values are? Click here to download my values worksheet and identify your top five values. Knowing these is crucial to understanding if a particular role/organisation is going to be a good fit for you.
For example a client emailed me last night and identified her top five values as;
Love may not be something she is looking for in the workplace, but what about community? The past two organisations I’ve worked in were both intentional about creating community. There were Friday night drinks, lunches and brunches. Having a sense of community is very important for many people and has shown to increase productivity and workplace cohesion.
So take some time to learn what your top values are and look to see if that organisation is living out those same values.
My top 5 values are
When going for a job interview I always ask, what do you offer in the way of professional development? And I get specific! For example, I ask,
How regularly will I have supervision with my manager?
Do you offer external supervisions?
What is your budget for professional development?
How many conferences and seminars can I attend each year?
2. Find out the values of the organisation.
This comes down to research. Gain all the information you can about an organisation before you decide whether you want to work with them.
Tip One: Read their values and mission statement
Start by visiting their website and reading their values and mission. Are your values in alignment with theirs?
Note that a lot of organisations values and mission statement are only something stuck on the wall and referred to during induction. However, if you don’t align with what’s written on the wall than you may want to question whether that’s the best workplace for you.
Tip Two: Find an employee to talk to.
Use your networks to reach out and find someone who works or used to work with that same organisation. Even knowing someone who was a client or business associate to the organisation may help. You are looking for first hand experience, which is the best source of information.
I once applied for a job that looked perfect. I aligned with their values and mission statement, it played to my strengths and I could work from home which aligned with my freedom value. However, when I went for the job interview, both interviewers looked exhausted. They were unenthused during the interview and lacked energy. Straight away I thought, ‘This isn’t a good sign’. I asked around to try and find someone who had worked there before.
After some networking, I received two critical pieces of information; ‘They overwork their staff, and They don’t collaborate well with other organisations’. For me these were two big no nos. The second one especially flew in the face of my value of generosity and how much I love to collaborate and network with other professionals. The organisation offered me the position but I turned it down.
Remember that during the interview you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Be observant and look for red flags from the moment you arrive.
Does the receptionist greet you with a smile?
Are you able to catch interaction between current staff members while waiting for your interview?
How do staff speak to one another?
Do staff seem happy? Or stressed?
Tip Three: Look for like minded people
I have often found that it’s not the work that makes my job enjoyable, it’s the people I work with. Your co-workers will have a MASSIVE impact on how much you enjoy your job. In my own experience I have found that when I work alongside like-minded people in a similar life stage to me it has been the most fun and enjoyable workplace experience ever.
So how do you know if people in the team are like-minded? This is where Facebook comes in handy. Many workplaces list their staff on their website, at the very least you will have the name of the person or team leader interviewing you. Stalk them on Facebook or online and find out as much information about them as you can. Do you have mutual friends? What type of thing do they post on their Facebook page? You will be amazed how much you can learn about a workplace by doing some social media investigation.
Tip Four: Location
What suburb is the office located in?
How long will it take you to get to work?
How will you get there?
Is there parking?
Can you ride your bike? Do they have showers?
This point may seem overly practical but I am blown away by the number of people I know who spend 3hrs every day commuting to work. This is seriously going to have an impact on your quality of life (unless you don’t mind spending three hours on a crowded train everyday).
You will be more tired and have less time to spend with loved ones or engage in meaningful activities such as sport and hobbies.
Also how you get to work will have an impact on your mental well being. If you have to take 2 buses and a train to work that is adding stress to your day. How many times do you think you are going to miss one of those buses by less than two minute? And how does it make you feel when you miss a bus by two mins? If you’re anything like me it probably pisses you off much more than it should. My advice. Don’t put yourself in that situation. Find a job where you can get to work easily and efficiently.
In case you need another reason working close to home is also better for the environment, unless you ride your bike in which case you are an environmental superstar!
I recognise these tips I have given are very specific and you may not be in a situation where you have the luxury of being ‘picky’ about what to look for in a job. I understand that, but I thought it was worthwhile giving some practical tips for those who are feeling confused, overwhelmed and asking themselves, ‘How on earth am I supposed to know if I’m going to like this job?’
Remember, your interviewers are not mind readers. They don’t know your values and what it is you want in a potential workplace. So have a list of questions to ask them before you submit your application and during the interview. This will help you decide whether it’s a workplace that is a good fit for you. After all it’s where you will spend most of you week. It’s important you enjoy your job.