As I run this series on job searching and finding employment, I think it is important to talk about the actual process of finding a new job.
I wrote earlier about resumes and job interviews and how to prepare for both, but I received some great tips from Ford Myers, a career expert and consultant, regarding the pre-preparation stage: thinking things through.
You have been staying at home for a while, or perhaps working in one career and now want to make a switch. You decide to do this and the next day begin typing up a resume, which gets sent out to 100 different companies in just a week.
Good idea? The answer may surprise you: Probably not.
Myers says this: “Don’t go out there and put out feelers and think you will figure it out by applying to a bunch of jobs and taking the one that pays the most.”
Why would this be a bad idea, this idea of mass applying and settling for highest pay? Because, says Myers, it is more about “creating it”, meaning the job, that you want.
What things should you be considering in this pre-preparation stage?
- Family Commitments
You need to know exactly how many hours – in office and out – you want to put into the job each week. If you work 40 hours there but have to spend another 10 on work at home throughout the week, this adds up. If you have a spouse that works long hours, chances are you’ll need to cut back – at least in the beginning – to make things work at home. Taking a management position that requires 65 hours a week may not be the best option for you because of family, though the pay may be the best.
How much money do you need to make? Will the job become a primary breadwinning career, meaning this money must be made in order for things to work in your household, or is this ‘extra’ money, meaning your salary ‘can’ be used for essentials (and probably will be, for the most part) but, in the worse case, would not have to be. (If you have been staying home for a while, you already know you can do it if it has been working – figuring this out when you are already working full time can be more difficult).
What’s the working schedule of the jobs for which you are applying? Do they require nights or weekends? Holidays? If so, is this something that you are okay with going into the position? (It won’t change once you are there, so make sure you are really, really okay with that beforehand). Can you work part time, or four days a week instead of five? Can you work some from home? These might be things you can ask the employer if a more flexible schedule would work better for your family.
Now, turn toward your family. How many of your kids are involved in dance, ballet, soccer and football? How many are involved with clubs that meet after school or on the weekend? Will these activities be interfered by your schedule? If you will no longer be able to drive your child to and from these activities because of your work hours, do you have someone who can?
How are the benefits of the job? How is the insurance, the annuity, the overtime, potential bonuses for good work? How quickly does it take to move up the pay scale, or would you be near or at the top going in? Oftentimes people look at the base salary only and forget to include these items. If you have great insurance, for instance, it may be better to take a cut in pay for this.
Finally, what are the educational requirements for the job? Do you meet them? If you do not, can you take coursework to get there quickly (and if you have to do this, will it inflict a lot of problems on your family’s schedule now?) If you are overqualified for this job, what will you be giving up if you take it (for instance, will you lose some of the heavier requirements – which could be a good thing or bad thing – if you take a job that you are overqualified for?) I know of someone who worked a tedious, high paying job for many years and has recently stepped down. The pay is less, but so are the requirements. In some ways this has been good, meaning less time involved. In other ways, it has been a step back, meaning the job itself is not as ‘exciting’ as it once was.
Myers suggests taking some time to write out exactly what it is you want – and then making sure that the jobs for which you are applying fit this bill. Of course, you may not always find exactly what you want. You may have to work more in the beginning (or even for the long haul); you may have to give up a flexible schedule, or work nights and weekends. Still, you should make sure that the majority of your needs are being met by the job so you can go into that job understanding what is expected of you, and knowing you are able to give what is being expected.