Interview YOU First

Everyone hates the job search. There are any number of reasons for this, beyond it being an awful user experience, but I want to offer a few words of motivation and a humble opinion.

As for motivation, know there is no such thing as a job or a career. There is only the decision on how you spend most of YOUR LIFE…and you only get one. Choose wisely.

How do I choose wisely? Stop focusing on what potential employers want; what do you want? If the goal is to enjoy life versus survive it, place more importance on what you need and want to ensure happiness. If happiness isn’t a concern, stop reading now.

What are you looking for? Create your employee profile. What kind of player are you? What sort of position are you hoping to find? You can tap into these answers with some internal examination, but there are tools to guide you and friends and family who know you well. One day I’ll go into my experience with this, but needless to say it resulted in me betting on myself, a decision I’m enjoying!

Check out aptitude tests such as Tom Rath’s StrengthFinder, Predictive Index (PI), and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. An online search also renders multiple, useful results. Even personality tests are helpful, as they can be guide to what type of job fits you best. According to my PI, some traits are that I openly challenge everything. I’m assertive and demanding, and I put high pressure on myself to achieve. I’m a risk taker who is highly adaptive and quick to decision, rarely dwelling on a positive or negative outcome. A common word for these traits is “jerk”. I’ve been told it’s French.

Input from friends and family helped me determine what type of role fits. Friends, family and coworkers (past or present) know you well and can see what makes you happy and unhappy, where you excel and where you…well…suck. Ask for feedback, and be grateful for it, because you’ll probably need to talk to these individuals again later for clarification.

Develop tough skin when receiving critical feedback and if you don’t get critical feedback, demand it – the world is still looking for the perfect person, odds are it’s not you. Accepting and assessing the feedback doesn’t mean others are always right, but consider the fact that these are perceptions you may need to alter. One of my best friends wonders why I can’t just work for a company versus starting companies, while another great friend believes I’m perfect for it. I tend to agree with the second friend. My wife tells me starts ups – mine or others – are best for me but she’s scared to hell of them She fears losing the house and stability for our kids, we agree there, but we also agree it’s a driver for me no matter where I am. This is all feedback I requested, and it’s honest. So make these conversations raw and real or don’t waste your (or their) time.

When defining your ideal job, don’t neglect factors like travel, weekly hours expected and various other responsibilities. If you derive joy in spending lots of time with family, don’t take a job that requires 70 hours a week. If you can’t handle airplanes, avoid jobs where you’ll spend lots of time in a seat with limited leg room. All of this makes a huge difference in career happiness. I’m like Dr. Seuss; I can work on a box, with rocks, while sitting on a fox, depending on what the fox is doing. I work all the time because it doesn’t feel like work, but when I need a break I take one. I desire flexibility because I hold myself so damn accountable. Seminal moments with my wife and kids are what get me going outside of work, so I schedule around those things…which leaves a ton of time to work. I don’t miss Cleveland Browns games either, though maybe it would be healthier if I did.

Once you’ve established these terms, consider your wallet. Remember that the amount of money you want and the amount you need are often two different numbers. Experts like Suzy Orman or Dave Ramsey can help create a budget of need, an annoying, but necessary evil. From that point, determine how much money you want overall. I hate family budgets, but I respect them. My wife and I barely met our “need” number last year. This year we should, but my want number is astronomical. I don’t care about boats or cars or things like that. I’m a dreamer and I have ideas I want to build and companies I want to make successful. I also want to buy the Browns; all that takes capital outside my family’s essential needs.

Once your employee profile has been built, define your preferences and skill sets in company terms to determine where you will be most comfortable. Are you a creative thinker? Are you money-driven? Do you prefer to work alone or function better as a team member? Different types of businesses value different characteristics, so this step is important in matching you with a corporation, start-up, small business, etc. In what sort of work atmosphere do you feel most at home? Do you excel in client relations or prefer to work behind the scenes? Figure this stuff out before searching . Sales 101 – if you go to France and you NEED something, you’d better damn well speak French. Stop speaking English and expecting them to get you what you want. Put your needs in their language…or don’t and see how that works for you.

Knowing what you bring to the table and what you’re willing to accept is pivotal in finding a satisfying career. Don’t discuss jobs if they won’t meet your needs. Ascertain who you are, then strap on your job binoculars. Your perfect fit is out there; but it helps to know what you’re looking for.