By Noël Rozny
If you’re a recent graduate or a job seeker who hasn’t been on the market in a while, starting a job search can seem completely overwhelming. And in this economy, it can also be tempting to jump up and take the first offer that looks halfway reasonable.
But if you’re looking for a new job, having a concrete outline of what you’re looking for can ensure you’ll find the job that’s really the right fit for you (and that you’ll be much more likely to stay at.) Here are some things to consider when you’re starting your job search.
Tips for a Successful Job Search
Know What You Want in Terms of Job Description
Most fields and industries have blanket job titles that can mean many different things at different companies. The might mean that a communications director at one company could be responsible for all print publications and marketing material, while a communications director at another company might work exclusively with social media. Before you jump at a job posting that has a title similar to yours, take the time to really comb through the job description. Do the details sound like something you could spend the next 2-4 years of your life doing? Are the responsibilities, managerial expectations, and day-to-day duties all in line with what you’re seeking?
Know What You Want In Regards to Salary (and Benefits)
Knowing your salary expectations are key, especially if you’re a recent college graduate or someone else who is just entering the work force. If that’s the case, you’ve probably worked throughout your education, but you might not have any clue what to expect when it comes to an annual salaried position, benefits, vacation time, and other parts of the offer package. As you start your job search, you should have a salary range in mind that corresponds with the job titles you are seeking out, as well as what kinds of benefits. This will save you a lot of time in the long run from applying to jobs that are out of your price range.
Know What You Want in Terms of Growth
It’s really easy to develop myopic vision during a job search, and only look for a position that will get you out of your current situation (whether that’s unemployed, bored, or unhappy at work) immediately. But when you’re starting a job search, you should have your entire career trajectory in mind. Where do you want to be right now, and then where do you want to be in 3-5 years? What position (and company) is going to help you gain the skills you’ll need to get to that next step?
Know What You Want Regarding Work/Life Balance
When you’re unemployed and looking for a job, any job, it’s easy to nod your head during an interview and say “Yes, I have no problem working overtime every night and most weekends.” But is this what you really want? (If you’re a workaholic and its fine, more power to you.) As you start your job search, have an idea of what kind of work/life balance is ideal to you. If you’re interested in catering, for example, but you hate working weekends, you’ll want to seek out firms that cater corporate lunches and events (which usually take place during breakfast and lunch) versus those that exclusively do weddings (which will require weekends.) The better match you can find, the happier you’ll be, and the longer you’ll be able to stay in that career.
Noël Rozny is a web editor and content manager for myFootpath, a career and education resource for students of all ages. By day, she writes and edits the career and education blog, mypathfinder. Find her on Twitter @noelrozny.
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