How to evaluate your current job & career… and thoughtfully consider future options

society, workplace

I’m doing the whole job-hunting thing again… searching for interesting contracts (I luckily am still blessed with several cool ongoing ones!) or a really smashing full-time opportunity. The latter option in particular has gotten me to do some deep soul searching about career / relocation criteria, and I thought I’d share a list I’ve been compiling.

Your feedback is VERY welcome! Any major missing categories / criteria, or some that should absolutely be split up or combined?

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Oh, and I’m such a geek, that I’m thinking about making an Excel sheet out of the criteria list below, along with spots for optionally specifying item weights and having the sheet calculate optimal choices… e.g., you could specify that you especially care about being mentored and getting free food, and the spreadsheet would give more weight to jobs that offered those things.

Ideally, this list could be used to help one determine if they should stick with their current job or transition to a new one (with the same or a different company)… and also assist people who are unemployed and evaluating new opportunities.

So without further ado, here is my list (and yes, I realize there are parallelism — or rather, lack of parallelism issues — but this is just a first draft… I’ll smooth over that later 🙂

1) The industry (e.g., pharmaceutical, digital photography, pro sports)

  • Alignment with your interests and passions
  • Awareness / experience (how strong is your past history in this space?)
  • Future (weak or strong demand for this area in the years to come)
  • Perception of current and future HR folks & hiring managers (how association with this industry looks on your resume)
  • Perception of others (what family, peers think of the industry and your association with it)

2) Position type (Product Manager, Software Engineer…)

  • Enjoyment (do you like working in this sort of position?)
  • Personality and skills fit (can you cut the mustard?)
  • Perception of current and future HR folks & hiring managers
  • Perception of others

3) Basics about the company and company site

  • Company reputation, products, and positioning
    • Products and services (is it stuff you feel passionate about or disconnected from?)
    • Perception of current and future HR folks & hiring managers
    • Perception of others
    • Alignment with personal morals (e.g., donates a lot to charity, possibly
      not a cigarette company, etc.)
  • Physical atmosphere
    • Conduciveness to concentration (quiet, not too quiet, etc.)
    • Office surroundings (plants, decorations…)
    • Immediate work space (privacy, ergonomics…)
    • Resources available (modern computers, enough pens, etc.)
  • Overall feel
    • Size (startup vs. BigCo)
    • Morale
    • Socialness (fun atmosphere daily, special parties…)
    • Excitement (cutting edge sector or boring)
    • Pacing (relaxing, stressful)
    • Department / position fluidity (can you easily move amongst departments, job types?)
    • Security (company — and your position — will be around in 5 years)
  • Your department or immediate team
    • Your relative placement (big fish in little pond or the reverse…)
    • Your department’s placement (revered or shunned in company with regards to resources, opinions, etc.)
    • Size
    • Morale
    • Socialness
    • Pacing

4) People

  • In general
    • Personal attributes (smart, friendly, interesting, helpful, thoughtful…)
    • Work habits (hard working, sane…)
  • Direct contacts
    • Boss (communicative, has reasonable expectations, smart, thoughtful)
    • Subordinates (respect you, do work effectively, enjoyable to work with)
    • Department / team members (respect you, pull their weight, good to work with)
  • Leadership, your position, and autonomy
    • Opportunities to be mentored
    • Opportunities to mentor
    • Hierarchy (flat, deep)
    • Responsibility and autonomy (highly structured task list and oversight vs. high levels of responsibility and autonomy)

5) Your actual work assignments and available / required tasks

  • Short term / current value (satisfaction, joy derived from them)
  • Future value (good or useless for career)
  • Stimulation (intellectually or emotionally challenging)
  • Corporate relevance (your work measurably contributes to company’s bottom line or company’s visible
    presence)
  • Perception of current and future HR folks / hiring managers
  • Perception of others (what family, peers think of the industry and your association with it)
  • Travel required (little, lots, to cool places, horrible places, stressful, enjoyable, etc.) 

6) Benefits

  • Compensation package
    • Upon start (signing bonus, moving allowance)
    • Salary and bonuses
    • Stock and stock options
    • Vacation and personal days
  • Other direct benefits
    • Free or discounted access to desired services / products
    • Good health insurance, other types of insurance
    • Education and training (on site / external)
    • Substantive discounts on commuting
  • On-site benefits
    • Cafeteria (pricing, food quality, quantity, nutrition, hours…)
    • Utilitarian offerings (car wash, laundry…)
    • Health-related (dentist, doctor on staff, gym, nutritionist…)
    • Daycare

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P.S. — A special thanks to my friend Kelly for providing such a thoughtful sounding board and suggesting many of the items above!

4 comments… add one
  • Rachel Dec 20, 2005

    This is very comprehensive and contemplative :-). From the big picture to the day-to-day. I think you should split up the third section.
    I also really recommend to anybody contemplating these questions to use their investigative side and take a Myers-Briggs test and Strong Interest Inventory. These are sometimes offered at at community career centers and those on college campuses. Between the two of these, some of the questions of why you were unhappy in a job may become clearer.

  • Online Shopping May 21, 2008

    Amazing post i have ever read on work place, well Adam, i strongly think if one gets good job satisfication in less earning is far better than without job satisfication in high earnings.

  • Thierry Jun 27, 2008

    😀 You did a wonderful job and managed to keep it simple. Very thoughtful and helpful, many thanks

  • Adam Jun 27, 2008

    A belated thank you to those of you kind enough to let me know you enjoyed this post.  It’s neat to know that even my older entries are still helpful 😀

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