Want To Avoid Bad Job Situations? Then, Remember These 4 Key Things
On the cover of one of my career development books, Know The Game Play The Game, there’s a picture of a maze. Unfortunately, it represents the career situation of too many people I meet who want to leave their current company. They feel trapped, frustrated, and/or disappointed about their development and overall career. Some don’t like their company culture. They don’t like their boss or colleagues. They don’t like the job they’re doing, or feel they’re in a bad fit situation. As they talk about making a change, I wonder what will keep them from getting into another bad job situation.
There are many reasons for ending up in a job you don’t want to be in. A fundamental one has to do with making poor choices in the first place. I meet others who are better at avoiding this. Somehow, they’re more thorough and selective in their job decisions. Based on my conversations with them, here are four key things you should pay attention to so you’ll also make better choices when considering a new job opportunity.
#1) Assess the whole platform, not just the job – No matter how talented, motivated, or hardworking you are, no matter how attractive your job description, if your platform has big limitations you’ll face limitations too for your development and ability to perform your job well. Many people, however, focus too much on the job scope, title, and salary when assessing a new opportunity. Instead, I tell them to Think Platform, Not Just Job.
This means assessing the key success factors of the entire platform, like the company’s business model and best practices, culture and way of doing things, unique competitive advantages, leadership, and commitment to doing what they say they want to do. It also includes the quality of their products and services, processes, and available resources. It even includes their market and competitive situation. All of these can significantly impact your job situation and ability to succeed in it.
#2) Note their orientation, not just their words – When making important job decisions, you can’t believe everything you hear. It’s not because others are intentionally trying to mislead you or are not sincere in what they tell you. In business, saying you want to do something is easy. Doing it is another. What matters is the true orientation of those in the situation you’re considering.
For instance, I met one candidate who joined a real estate company to develop a new online app that could attract and service customers better. However, after getting onboard, he discovered the conservative nature of not only the top management who created the position, but also his boss who attracted him to it. While he was hired to build something new for the company, getting the approval and convincing others to do things became exhausting to him.
It wasn’t difficult to understand why. His company is in a traditional industry. As such, those in the company aren’t oriented around doing things differently, even though they recognize that they need to. Beyond just the job scope, this candidate should have also assessed the management team and company’s track record to drive change.
#4) Don’t sell out your future! – When someone tells me they’re in a job that they quickly discover they don’t like, I ask them, then why did they decide to take it? Often, it was because of an attractive title, or because they were offered more money. Effectively, they sold out their future for a short-term benefit.
Most people don’t feel good about their job situation because they see no future in it. Their job is routine, unchallenging, and/or uninteresting to them. They don’t feel they can learn much, or see limited potential for their growth and development. That’s why it’s dangerous to base key job decisions on what it can give you right now. That’s a good way to end up in a dead end situation. Instead, you need to assess how an opportunity you join today can help you achieve the next steps in your career.
#4) They’re not you – Even if you’re not seeking their input for a new opportunity, your parents, friends, and colleagues are likely to give you their opinion about what’s right for you. Their advice is genuine and sincere, and has your best interest in mind. However, if you end up making a bad decision, they’re not the one who must show up every day at a job or company that you don’t like. It’s not them who have to live a situation that you later realize you don’t want to be in. It’s you.
Many candidates tell me they took a job because of someone else’s view of them and their opportunity. But you should know yourself better than anyone else. You should know better than others what you like, what you care about most, and what gets you excited. Of course, you want be open to the experience and advice of others. However, you have to remember that, ultimately, whatever others tell you are from their perspective, not yours.
Here's the thing. Nobody forces you to make the job decisions that you do. They’re choices that you deliberately make. Sometimes you have bad luck, or come across opportunities that are hard assess about beforehand. However, to better avoid poor fit situations, don’t base you job decisions on just the job, words, today, and what others think. Instead, look at the platform, orientation, future, and your view of the situations you’re considering. While doing these still won’t guarantee you’ll make great job choices every time, you’ll minimize those that are clearly not right for you.