It’s not so much about passion as it is finding a place you can get excited about and applying yourself. If it’s a fit, you’ll know and thrive. If not, you’ll move forward better prepared.
- You have had enough life experience to identify things you like to do, things you want to do, things you’re good at doing, and their opposites. Use this knowledge to formulate criteria for your job selection.
- Industry is a big one. Finance, Education, Technology, Social Services, the list goes on. Focusing on a particular industry will narrow your search and allow you to focus on the specifics.
- Location is another factor. Are you searching for a job in a particular city, or a particular job in any city? Is your industry tied to a certain location? Answering these questions will help you move forward.
- Compensation also plays a part. Everyone’s financial situation is different, so it’s important to craft a preliminary plan that meets your own needs. Begin with a budget:
- Estimate your monthly cost of living. Be thorough and include the essentials; rent, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, entertainment, debt. This personal budget will determine how much you’ll need to make and what kind of job you can afford.
- Budgets are extremely personal and there is no formula. Job decisions and spending requirements can be adjusted to meet what you can do or what you prioritize to meet your goals.
- Don’t get ahead of yourself. Only when you know how much money you need and what you earn, can you start to think about saving and/or investing.
- Company culture is another important criterium. Think about what you might want in a work community – a group of peers, experienced team members you can learn from, equal gender balance, etc. Is it crucial that the company values align with your own?
- Find industry matches and look at the best performers. Who brought in the most revenue, who saw the most growth, who is winning the awards. Would you rather work for the current winners or help a different company work toward the top?
- Research the size and strength of organizations. Large established groups will have more stability, but potentially more hierarchy and bureaucracy. Small start-ups might give you more flexibility, but there is certainly risk involved. Think about what appeals to you, and which might better suit your needs.
- Find out about an organization’s reputation – what are they known for? If the reputation is currently negative, how are they combatting this? Do you see a commitment to positive growth and development?
- Get a sense of what you’re qualified for. If a job title includes the word manager, executive, director, then there is a good chance you are under-qualified. But titles like associate, coordinator, or assistant might be a better fit.
- Look into pay and benefits. If your ideal organization only offers unpaid internships, can you find a way to supplement this? If you want to be an elementary school teacher and live in Manhattan, will you make a living wage? Money should never be the sole motivation for taking a job, but financial negligence will only hurt you in the long run.
- “Follow your passion” is easy to say, but passions in the working world can be hard to identify. Often times, it will take some trial and error and basic experience to know what kind of work you’re passionate about.
- That being said, the only way to find your ideal job is to dig in and start working. Come up with some basic “must-haves” and “like-to-haves” and go from there.
- Remember that all your experiences are valuable. A temp job in a coffee shop might seem irrelevant – it’s not. The lessons and skills you pick up will hold value down the road and will continue to shape your working self. You will learn something from every job you hold, so use that knowledge to move forward.
- When choosing a job, there usually won’t be a perfect solution, so use your established research and criteria to thoroughly weigh your options. Keep in mind that your first job won’t necessarily dictate your career.
- Once you’ve committed to a job, be resolute in your decision and be committed to making this first step a valuable learning experience.
- Be bold. Take risks. You don’t have a lot to lose, and it’s the only way you’ll grow.
- Leave nothing to chance you can control. This process begins and ends with you, you dictate your own direction, take the wheel and go for it.
Industry specific job sites are a great way to focus your job search and get a good sense of what’s happening in your field of choice. For jobs in marketing / advertising, check out TalentZoo. If you’re focused on the tech industry, Dice is a great place to start. But these are by no means the only ones – find an industry you can get excited about and start exploring!
There are plenty of job boards out there and we encourage you to find one you like, but here are a few of our favorites:
- Idealist for the non-profit industry
- Mediabistro for media / communications
- EdSurge for education tech
- GitHub for software development / programming
- Talent Zoo for marketing / advertising / design
- VentureBeat for start-ups
- USA jobs for government work
- School Spring for education
There are many factors to weigh when considering a job, and solidifying your top priorities is a useful exercise. Review the list of categories below and rank them in order of importance. Your priorities may change over time, but focus on the here and now and consider how the outcome will shape your job search:
- Job function – What are the tasks that comprise my day-to-day?
- Location – Where’s my office, how’s the commute, do I want/ need to relocate?
- Benefits – What’s my salary? Is there a health plan, retirement plan, or tuition reimbursement?
- Stability – Are you in a position to take some risks? Is is a startup or established? Is it local or global? An emerging industry or embedded?
- Mission – Is a mission-driven organization important to you? What kind of community impact (if any) are you looking to make?
- Culture – How diverse is the staff (in age, gender, race, background, etc)? Is the environment formal and buttoned up, or more casual and relaxed? Are employees working 60 hour weeks, or encouraged to have a social life?
- Advancement – Will there be room for job growth and advancement? Do they offer professional development opportunities?
- Autonomy – What does the organizational structure look like? Are you being left to your own devices, or getting consistent hands-on management?