If you’re on the hunt for a new job, or considering a career move, it can be difficult to decide what you want in your next role, as there are tons of factors to consider. What should you look for in a job? Where do you start? How do you know if you’re dreaming too big? (Chances are, you’re not.)
Before diving too deep into your job search, I recommend having a clear idea of where you stand on the following nine items to avoid “shiny object syndrome” when searching for your next role:
- Company culture
- Company profile
- Functional area
- Day-to-day work
- Job title
- Salary requirements
What To Look For In A Job: 9 Things To Consider
Now, let’s dive deeper into each of these factors and get clearer on what to look for in your next job:
For starters, evaluate the role location plays in your job requirements. Questions to consider here include:
- Is your job search bound by a specific geographical location? How far are you willing to commute for work?
- Do you prefer (or need) an in-person, hybrid, remote, or work-from-anywhere job?
- How do you feel about relocating? And if you’re open to relocating, where would you be willing to relocate to?
Along similar same lines, reflect on how you feel about business travel. While some people enjoy the opportunity to travel for their jobs, others prefer to avoid it. Consequently, you’ll want to ask yourself if you’re up for travel, as well as whether there’s a limit to how often you’re willing to be on the road for work (for example: 0%, 25%, 50%, or 75%).
3. Company culture
Speaking of which, can you describe your ideal company culture? While no company is perfect, it can be helpful to write out the qualities you look for in a manager and the values you want in an organization. Examples include:
4. Company profile
Building upon this, it can also be helpful to paint a picture of your ideal company profile. You might wish to consider factors such as:
- Company size
- Market presence
- Growth potential
- Products and services
- Target customers
- Funding sources
5. Functional area
Next, try to get clear on the functional area you’d like to be in, as well as the level of responsibility you desire in your next job. If you’re in a management-level role, for instance, you’ll also want to know if you prefer (or need) to lead a team.
Importantly, similar roles can have different names. For example, “business development” and “sales” may be considered the same department at one company yet separate at another.
6. Day-to-day work
Additionally, ask yourself what you want your ideal workday to look like. While you can’t predict every facet of a job, it’s helpful to have a general sense of how you like to spend your workdays.
For instance, do you lean toward routine or spontaneity? How do you feel about meetings? Are there specific tasks you love or hate? Feel free to get specific!
7. Job title
At this point, it can be helpful to start jotting down job titles that align with your preferences, in addition to considering how much a job title matters to you, if at all, when evaluating potential opportunities.
A word of caution here: Job titles can vary significantly from company to company, particularly in the tech industry. A recent coaching client, for instance, transitioned from a senior director role to a manager role and tripled their total compensation.
8. Salary requirements
Speaking of which, you’ll want to get clear on your salary expectations. As a career coach, I advise identifying two separate numbers:
- The minimum number you’re willing to accept for a role.
- Your target salary number (and I recommend dreaming BIG here!).
As you calculate these numbers, you’ll want to take into account not only your base salary, but your total compensation, which may include any signing, retention, and performance bonuses, in addition to stocks, tuition stipends or reimbursements, and other forms of pay and benefits.
Additionally, consider how you prefer to be compensated. For example, would you prefer a large base salary upfront or the long-term potential of stock options?
Last but not least, you’ll want to reflect on the type of life you want your work to enable. Questions that can help you to visualize this lifestyle include:
- Do you want or need a flexible work schedule?
- How many hours per week do you want to work?
- What are your feelings about working evenings and weekends?
- Will this role allow you to leave work at work?
- How does this position align with your short-term, long-term, and life goals?
Final Thoughts On What To Look For In A Job
Now that you have a clear sense of what you want in your next role, keep this list nearby, and continue to update it throughout your job search. Don’t be afraid to add additional factors as you learn more about the current job market.
On a final note, when presented with job offers, be sure to refer back to this list to help you decide which one is most in alignment with your preferences. You’ve got this!