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Finding a job that’s right for you

You’ve decided it’s time to look for a new job.

It probably took you a while to come to this decision – maybe you were waiting to see what bonuses would be, or whether you’d get promoted, or if the new CEO’s direction would fundamentally change what you do all day.

The bonus was disappointing given your accomplishments this year, the promotion wound up going to an outside candidate with less experience than you, and the new CEO, well…she’s all about vision but has no clue about process. Regardless, it’s not a decision you made lightly and it probably took some time to decide to do it.

So now, you have one foot out the door and are ready to go. In fact, you are so ready to go that you’ll probably take the first offer you get.

Not so fast! You didn’t get to this place overnight, so you won’t be able to get out of it instantly, either.

Instead of setting yourself up to run into problems at your next job by accepting the first offer you get, use these tools to land in another place where you’d like to stick around:

1. Ask in the interview why the job is open. Does the interviewer seem flustered by the question, or have too slick of a response? See if you can network with the person who is leaving the job for which you have interviewed. Even if you don’t know that person, do you know anyone who knows him? It might not be easy, but try to tease out the “real” reason behind the move. Were there performance issues, or is company morale non-existent? How long was he there before he left? Be wary of people who claim to know “everything” about a situation, but read between the lines of what is said, and equally important, what isn’t.

2. Consider more than just salary. You have a bottom-line number than you need to bring in each month to meet your expenses. If you don’t know (and many people don’t), figure it out. Then think about other ways the new job could compensate you beyond that. Benefits packages that include long-term disability paid by the employer, 401(k) matches, vacation that accrues and pays out when you leave, etc. can be worth much more than cash in a salary.

3. Think about how this job will (or won’t) work with your life. If you have to commute over an hour each way for a job that pays $2,000 more per year, is that time and stress really worth it? It might feel like it is now, but will it still feel that way two years from now when you are not trying to escape a bad job situation? Think long and hard about it. All employers will tell you that they are “family friendly as long as your work gets done,” but do they mean it? Does family-friendly mean that you are essentially on-call 24/7 (which might be fine if you are in upper management, but perhaps not if you are a contracts specialist). Two weekends a month might not sound that bad compared to what you are feeling right now, but if your family loves to go camping, is this job going to work?

4. Once you have an offer in hand, ask to talk to a couple of prospective new colleagues. This is often the best way to assess personality fit and company culture, and ask to try on the new position and see if there is a fit. If they like you enough to offer you the job, then they are probably invested enough in you to try to honor your request. The idea is to have some candid conversation. They key is to find out how large they are going to be for YOU before you take the job.

Keep in mind that no workplace is perfect, and you’ll have some bumps anywhere you work. Just take your time so you will make a good decision and find the job that is right for you, because no one wants to go from one bad situation to another.

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