4 Keys to the Perfect Career or It’s NOT Just the $$$

There is an old saying that goes like this, If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.
I tell my clients, You MUST have a target because if you shoot at nothing you will absolutely hit it . . . NOTHING.
One of the things job seekers today do most often to sabotage their job search is to be unclear about their perfect job. When asked what kind of job they are looking for, many will answer, Any job. Any shift. Anywhere. I understand about keeping your options open, but the truth is that you will not be happy in just ANY JOB. Unless you are specific about what you can and will do in your next position, other people can’t help you find opportunities. If your job search does not have a clear target you are very likely to hit that target . . . which is NO JOB.
Here are the 4 key ingredients you MUST be clear about in order to define a target for your job search:

  1. Job Satisfaction. What do you do well that you would like to do in your next job? What skills, knowledge and abilities would you like to use in your next career position? What gives you energy on the job, and what sucks the life out of you? What are you good at, and why? These are key questions, because if you don’t have job satisfaction you will not be happy or productive in your next career which ultimately will lead to looking for another job soon. More than 2,500 years ago Confucius said, Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. Some things never change!
  2. Growth Opportunities. What kinds of growth opportunities will keep you engaged in your next job? Is it important for you to have the opportunity to move up the corporate ladder? Or are you more satisfied by doing work that is physically engaging or mentally challenging? Without opportunities for growth you will, sooner or later, become disengaged from your job . . . which leads you back to the job hunt (see above). It’s important to know yourself and what learning, development, growth opportunities you need in order to stay engaged.
  3. Work Environment. Do you work best in a large company or a small one? Do you need to have a team of people working alongside of you or would you rather work alone? Are you willing to travel or do you prefer to have a routine schedule every day? Is relocation an option? To where? What kind of corporate culture fits with your personal values? Do you like a fast paced environment or one that is slow and relaxed? What kind of boss or manager do you work best with? These are questions that you need to research before you agree to your next job. The wrong environment can be deadly to you and your career! Do your homework BEFORE you start looking for your next job.
  4. Salary Requirements. What do you need to make in order to be satisfied? What is your target salary? Do you need health insurance, or are you covered under your spouse’s plan? Are retirement benefits important? How about vacation, training, etc. One problem I see too many times is that people put the salary question first. That’s a BAD idea! As we have discovered above, if you aren’t satisfied on your job, don’t have opportunity for growth, and are working in the wrong environment you will not be happy.

If you are not happy in your career it doesn’t really matter how much money you make, because you are not likely to stay there long. Salary considerations are important, but only so far as they fit in with the other three keys to your perfect career.
Identify these 4 keys to your perfect career and your job search will start to move along quickly. By being clear on what you are looking for, you will see more opportunities and you will help others (i.e. your network) help you find potential jobs. Get a clear target and you will have something to aim at!