I subscribe to the philosophy that work should be fulfilling and fun! I believe that even though it is “work,” your job, your career—your chosen vocation—should not feel so much like a chore. If you hate your job, or if you believe you chose the wrong career, it is imperative that you make a change sooner rather than later. Life is just too short and far too precious for you to be doing something that you don’t love and enjoy.
I believe the trouble is that when we are young and starting out, we often feel a greater sense of pressure to whatever job we can find. Any job is better than no job, and that is especially true if you are managing a ton of debt from going to school and getting your degree in these times of high tuition rates. It is also easy for young people to take jobs that don’t necessarily play to their strengths because they aren’t yet crystal clear on what their strengths are.
Whether you are more experienced or just starting out, here are three ways you can decide if a position is right for you.
1. Is it in alignment with your core values?
Each of us has a set of core values, and if we work in an environment or for a company that is out of alignment with those values, we will eventually become unhappy. Before you take a job, you need to determine the core values of the company. You can find them embedded in the company’s mission and vision statements. You can learn about the company’s values by talking to people who have had direct dealings with it whether it is an employee or as a customer or client. If you find that the company or organization has values that are in opposition to yours or are not in alignment with yours, then you are better served to decline a position with them. As important as money is, money alone won’t make up for your feeling that you are out of integrity with yourself.
I was unfortunate enough to work in an environment that made me feel out of integrity for a time, and I was miserable, so I know what I am talking about, I assure you. I witnessed actions on the part of my superior that I believed were unethical. I observed a so-called “leader” who was more of a master manipulator. The occasions when total untruths were told to both employees and superiors are too numerous to count. I would have been a whistle blower except that I felt that it would come down to “he said – she said.” To say I was miserable is a major understatement. Take it from me. If you can avoid a position that puts you in that kind of bind, do. No job is worth that pain in the long.
2. Will there be room for advancement over time?
This question is one that you will only answer if you ask the right questions and you do your homework before you take the job. You probably can’t expect to come in at the top of the organization unless you’re already an executive. If you are just starting out, the prospects of advancement would be important to consider. Will there be room for promotion? Are there other roles in the organization that you might grow into over time? Most people would like an opportunity to grow over time as opposed to staying stuck in the same job for years. No one wants to stay in the same position forever! Finding a place where you may have room for growth and advancement will be important to you over time.
3. Do you like the people there and does the culture feel good to you?
The culture of a company or organization is important and often under appreciated. I have already shared that the culture in a previous position that I held was not so great for me. I have a former client who took a job that was perfect for her–on paper. We were so excited for her when she landed that job. It was right for her in every way until she actually started the job. How would we ever be able to anticipate that the culture she was about to enter would be hostile?
From the first week, however, she ran into trouble getting the training she needed. She was also teased by younger workers who seemed to take delight in forcing her into uncomfortable positions. They played practical jokes on her. For example, they hid her phone from her and snickered among themselves when she got upset over it. Those examples are extreme, of course, but they were very real. Before taking a job, you may want to talk to some of the employees who are already working there to collect a little inside intel. Find out if people feel respected there. Inquire about whether or not co-workers support one another or undermine their fellow workers. Culture impacts your day-to-day experience of a workplace, so don’t under estimate its importance.
Given that you spend at least a third of your life on the job (if not more), it only makes sense that you give taking a position with a company a lot of thought. Consider each of these three questions carefully before you take any position. You owe it to yourself to use caution and be smart about where you decide to work.
Kitty Boitnott, Ph.D., NBCT is a former educator turned Career Transition and Job Strategy Coach specializing in working with teachers who are experiencing the painful symptoms of job burnout. She also works with mid-career professionals from all walks of life who find themselves at a career crossroads either by chance or by choice. Learn more about Kitty at TeachersinTransition.com or at Boitnott Coaching.com.