There’s an old, misguided idea about employment that as long as you enjoy your job role, you’re set up for happiness.
And while your pay and title matter, top candidates understand there are many other important factors that go into turning your job into a dream career. You must consider all the job-related components that affect your quality of life before determining whether a particular position is the right fit for you.
Take an inventory of your goals, both now and in the future, as well as your other life responsibilities. Think about the conditions you find necessary to sustain your happiness and evaluate how the job in question supports them.
Beyond your job role, carefully consider these 4 things before you accept your next position.
1. Location and Hours
As with real estate, location matters quite a bit in determining whether or not a job is right for you.
Is the company in an appealing section of town? How long is your daily commute? Are there options for flex time or telecommuting?
The answers to these questions help determine your day-to-day happiness. Even if you’re content with your job role, a miserable commute or unappealing work environment can turn a dream position into a nightmare.
Your Daily Commute Sets the Tone
On average, Americans commute a little over 25 minutes to work every day. That amounts to over 200 hours per year in the car just going to or from work. Evaluate how this compares to your potential regular commute.
How would adding an hour or more of travel time affect your ability to enjoy your job? If you’re the kind of person who can utilize long commutes to gather yourself or get a jump start on the day, you may not view this as a detriment.
Many others find this long commutes burdensome. The thought of fighting rush hour traffic or sitting on a crowded bus or train are enough to make them want to call in sick.
Think about how you’ll feel walking into work each day. If you begin the day exhausted from the commute, your productivity will suffer and you won’t be able to be fully present with your colleagues.
Your Commute Affects Your Bottom Line
Beyond helping determine your happiness, your office commute affects your disposable income. As gas prices continue to fluctuate (mostly rise), you must build this cost into your budget. There are also parking fees, tolls, and regular maintenance to factor into the equation.
For those who opt for public transportation, there is the cost of a daily or monthly pass in addition to the extra time you have to allot because you’re not in control of your travel schedule.
Before accepting a new job, take your commute for a test drive. It’s best to do this during the actual hours you’d be traveling, so you get an accurate sense of your routine travel time. Try to figure out any shortcuts or time-saving tricks and factor them into your decision.
If you have the option of telecommuting or even working off hours to take advantage of the reverse commute, you’ll save a lot of money on transportation. Find out how flexible your company is about where you work and the hours you must be in the office.
2. Work-Life Balance
Even if you love your job role, maintaining the proper work-life balance will have a major impact on your overall happiness. When on the hunt for your dream job do a reality check, and make sure your goals, in terms of time and energy, are in alignment with employer expectations.
Finding this balance can be very tricky for parents and workers who maintain a lot of responsibility outside of the office. You want to be recognized as a dedicated employee and a hard worker but not at the expense of your family.
Does your company support this balance? Are there other employees with similar life circumstances to yours? And, if so, are they happy and thriving in the company environment?
Is there an official policy that addresses mental health and personal wellness? Organizations that recognize the importance of proper work-life balance will offer benefits like flex time or parental leave that promote balance. They factor these considerations in as a part of the true cost of hiring the best workers.
They’ll foster a culture that doesn’t punish people for their other obligations but rather rewards them for their achievements. Do your due diligence to make sure the company you want to work for supports the kind of personal balance you need to be happy.
In an increasingly competitive job market, smart companies are working very hard to provide a healthy environment for all their employees. Not only does it attract the best people, it helps retain them and make them more productive on a daily basis.
Even as these companies look for innovative ways to support their workers, however, it’s important that potential employees take steps to enhance their own work-life balance. Try these 6 tips for better work-life balance and see how they improve your overall happiness and output.
3. Office Culture
When working for a company, employees begin to identify with its culture to some extent. Occupational values, norms, and attitudes influence behavior. Your response to your office culture may be more important than your specific job role in determining how good a fit it is.
How comfortable are you with their environment? Does it seem too laid back or, alternatively, too uptight for your tastes? Are there traditions or attitudes that resonate with you or rub you the wrong way?
It’s important to take a serious look at how you respond to office culture because you’ll not only have to deal with it every day, you’ll be expected to contribute to it.
What is the prevailing attitude about how work is done? Some companies celebrate a collaborative environment while others feel more individualized and competitive.
Assessing the office vibe is important in determining your comfort level. You want to be open to new experiences and methods, but if you’re spending too much time just trying to fit in your productivity will suffer and you’ll question whether you’ve made the right decision.
You’re likely to spend more time around your colleagues than even your family, so it’s crucial that you enjoy the environment and you feel supported at a system level by your office’s culture.
Pay attention to the language used around the office. Are there company buzz words or phrases that permeate discussion? Do you feel like your voice is being heard, even if your opinion differs from the mainstream?
An inclusive office culture that celebrates a diversity of ideas and backgrounds should outweigh the specifics of your job role in determining fit. Make sure you’re not only comfortable in your environment but that it supports you as an employee and a person.
4. Future Growth Opportunities
Take a step back from your current job search and evaluate your career goals. Where are you presently and where do you hope to be in terms of responsibility and title in the future?
Setting yourself on a positive career trajectory can be more important than the job role offered to you if accepting the position opens doors later down the road. Consider your own, and your company’s, growth potential. The right fit is one where your ambition aligns with your employer’s ability to support it.
Fast-growing companies present amazing opportunities for motivated workers. You’ll be able to leave your mark and build a legacy of impact. They’ll value your contributions as they reward individuals who push them toward growth.
Working for a growing company comes with its own challenges, however. There can be greater uncertainty in your day-to-day responsibilities. What you actually do may differ from your job role by necessity. You’ll have the opportunity to learn and grow because a certain level of flexibility is required to help the company meet its evolving goals.
If you’re actively looking to grow your career, seek out a company that is also looking for expansion. Your job description may be less predictable, but you’ll gain valuable skills and experience to take with you into future leadership positions.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking to settle into a role with which you are familiar or want to maintain long-term, your priorities will be different. Know your focus before committing.
The right fit for a position is about more than your ability to perform the tasks required. It must match your overall career goals.
For those who’ve already identified their dream job role and have reached the point in their career where their focus is more on stability than growth, tailor your search to companies that will benefit from your experience and allow your influence to help shape their office culture.
Go Beyond Job Role and Find the Match
Finding the right match goes beyond being qualified to perform tasks. There are tons of IT professionals, but identifying the best fit for your company requires experience building relationships and getting to know your needs.
We believe that by becoming an extension of your team, we can connect you with the best professionals for your situation and save you time and money.
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