The Landscape – Surveying The Job

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 13, 2012 in Job Search, Lessons Learned |

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“The Bare Necessities of any Job Hunt”

Whether you’re fresh out of college or a veteran of the workforce, establishing expectations is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself when you’re searching for a job.

Many people are so consumed with obtaining a job they may have to forgo considering whether it’s a good job. Settling for a good enough for right now job is likely to be a poor investment, but unfortunately it is sometimes unavoidable. With so many dangers and pitfalls in the job search jungle, a survey of the landscape in any position will give you enough information about what kind of employment is right for you.

If you find yourself in a less than favorable position, turn it into a learning experience. Write down what you dislike about your work life, and consider what circumstances would make it better. This can give you a better sense of what you will want in your next position, and it could possibly inspire you to suggest changes in your current job.

For those young, bright-eyed college graduates who are not expecting the pitfalls such as office politics and income taxes, it’s easy to get blindsided by a job that seems appealing in the interview stages. The challenge is, without work experience, you may not know what you want.

In the jungle, you will need food, water, and shelter to survive. In the work world, salary, coworkers, and work environment are among the bare necessities. Here are some questions to help you whittle down your expectations to the bare necessities.

But first, let me explain that the bare necessities are different for everyone. Some people crave order and instruction, while others crave creativity and independence. Some people prefer benefits over salary, and some prefer great personnel dynamics.

How much money will I take home?

The least romantic (but most practical) question is often the first and only question that eager potential employees will ask. The answer to this question is more complicated than it seems. In addition to the salary, you will need to factor in the state’s income tax, cost of benefits and other costs such as commuting and purchasing new clothes. All jobs come with a price.

Employers are rarely upfront with starting salaries in the preliminary interview, which means you can be excited about a position only to be disappointed with the amount of money offered. Also, the opposite is possible. The job could sound iffy, but the money may be appealing.

Money is the bare necessity of any job, but it can’t realistically be your only gauge for whether a job will be a good fit. Before you step foot in an interview, know the absolute lowest amount you can afford to accept and be willing to negotiate based on the above factors.

Who is on my team?

This question isn’t just about who is on your team; it’s also about how your team operates. Office dynamics can ruin or strengthen a good work experience.

If you haven’t had enough experience to know what type of office environment suits you, consider what types of organizations or circumstances have allowed you to excel.

Think back to your strongest relationships among peers, employers, mentors, coaches, parents, teachers and professionals. Did you feel that the motivation was coming from a superior, your team or yourself? Chances are, you’ve found motivation in all three; but pick the one that made you feel the most successful and brand it as a bare necessity.

  1. I respect strong leadership from my superiors.
  2. I need a strong support system and open communication from my teammates on all levels.
  3. I prefer minimal supervision for maximum creativity and success.

Depending on which type of communication you prefer, you can use an above statement to open up a dialogue with your interviewer about team dynamics.  The right communication is vital to feeling motivated, inspired and fulfilled at your job.

What are the working conditions?

Considering the job, you could be on the road, at a desk or under the sun. Asking this question in advance can help clue you in to overtime expectations. It can also prepare you for the challenges of the office environment. (No office environment is perfect.)

In this instance, your health is the absolute bare necessity. Make sure your work environment offers plenty of breaks and that it won’t strain existing medical conditions. If you feel it’s appropriate, inquire about social activities (sports teams, happy hours or charity events) that allow for a sense of community beyond the office.

Whatever landscape you prefer, keep your salary, coworkers, and working conditions on your mind for your next position.

This blog post was contributed by Mariana Ashley. Mariana is a freelance blogger who primarily writes about how online education and technology are transforming academia as we know it. Having spent a good portion of her professional career trying to reform high schools in East St. Louis, Mariana is particularly interested in how online colleges in Missouri make higher education a possibility for students of all backgrounds. Please contact her at mariana.ashley031 @gmail.com if you’d like to discuss this article or education in general.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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