How to get crystal clear on what you want from your job

Define your non-negotiables to prioritize the most important aspects of your professional fulfillment.

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When considering a change in your job – and career – you fundamentally have three options:

  1. Stay and grow where you are in your current company – either in your existing job or a new role
  2. Making a job change – to a similar role in a new organization
  3. Making a career change – to a new field and role in a new company 

You may know which track you are on – in fact, you may even find yourself on more than one, for example continuing to grow where you are before eventually making a job change. Regardless of which track(s) you find yourself on, you will have the highest chance of making the move feel net positive when you know what you are looking to create for yourself. That comes from clarifying your non-negotiables.

Your non-negotiables are a set of criteria that, when met, let you know that you have found your right job fit. These criteria stem from completing a comprehensive inventory of your desires and wants, including your:

  • cherished values – what you hold dear and how you know you are honoring these values
  • favorite skills – innate and acquired talents that you enjoy using on the job
  • personality – how you need to be able to show up to feel authentic 
  • ideal work environment – characteristics of the work environment that allow you to thrive
  • key satisfaction areas –things that are energizing and that you look forward to each workday
  • preferred job duties – how you want to spend your time, and problems you want to solve
  • favorite competencies – the things you know something about technically and would like to use
  • interests – areas you enjoy thinking about and spending time on that are either supported by the type of work you do or by the lifestyle it affords you
  • package and benefits – your target compensation, schedule, work location, and benefits 

Compiling this written inventory helps you distill the wants and desires you have for your career. Then, you can cherry-pick and prioritize the most important aspects of your professional fulfillment. This shortlist becomes your framework for trying on opportunities, exploring possible matches, and negotiating the terms to land your right job. You can use your non-negotiables as a checklist against which to measure various opportunities, in addition to putting your best foot forward.

With this approach, you not only clarify what you want, but you also experience the energy balancing effect of coming to each opportunity checking to make sure it is a good fit for you and the employer. In other words, you are checking them out as well as they are checking you out. This level of discretion, paired with genuine enthusiasm, makes you a more compelling candidate to potential employers.

This article also appeared on the Merideth Mehlberg Group website.

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