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Is it ok to limit my job search?

Aug. 21, 2013 | Cindy Lee

[THIS POST IS PART OF A SERIES ON  NAVIGATING YOUR CAREER TRANSITION WITH INTEGRITY, WHICH IS OPPOSITE FROM YOUR TYPICAL "BACKWARDS" APPROACHES TO JOB SEARCHING.]

It is DEFINITELY ok to limit your search, and NOW is finally the right time to do so. Back to the first two posts in this series that discussed the various common approaches to job searching, remember that there’s danger to casting your net too wide – in general, but especially if you are simply doing so to be “open” to more opportunities.

As I mentioned last week, there are so many types of jobs in existence, so there is likely a role where you could get paid to do what you enjoy that matches your values/personality/skillset in an industry you find interesting (passion).

We’ve spent the past few weeks clarifying your Core Values, Personality, Skills, and Passions/Interests to paint a better picture of who you are created to be. Now, to further refine what it means to “match” who you are, we also want to include a very realistic perspective of who you are at this time in life.

A client loved the fact that she got to travel 25% of the time to run important meetings. She’d also be willing to work late hours and would pop open her laptop on the weekends and answer phone calls. Recently, she got married, and she now prefers to spend her evenings with her husband and weekends with friends.

A different client enjoyed taking work clients out to dinner and traveling to close important work deals. He recently had a baby, and now he wants to head home whenever possible and wishes he had a more structured set of work hours.

Neither of these examples reflect right or wrong preferences; simply realistic choices to be made. In both of these instances, the clients liked their jobs and they still matched their personality, skills, passions, etc., but the recent life change caused them to have different requirements. That said, it’s worth seeing if their existing roles can shift to better meet their needs, to see if their existing jobs will accommodate. When it’s not possible, then it’s time to look for something else. Whether you stay or leave, you’ll want to get clear about what your new job would need to look like in order to be worth it to move away from your current situation.

We’ll call these your CONSTRAINTS / PARAMETERS (aka requirements). In your notebook, create a new section across the entire bottom half of your paper, and label it such.

The key to identifying your current reality is to refrain from any judgment but to simply be honest with your requirements. This allows you to begin your search from a place that is MOST honoring to your needs, and then slowly you can tweak it as needs change.

Here are some questions to help you decide where to draw your limits and boundaries for your job search:

  • What are my commute preferences/limits? Eg, within 5 miles of home; less than 30min commute
  • What do I require to have work-life “balance”? Eg, no work on the weekends; work hours allow me to maintain my exercise regimen; less than 10% travel
  • What do I need from my manager/team? Eg, supportive manager and collaborative team environment; flexible work schedule; leaders willing to mentor and guide
  • What kind of growth opportunity am I seeking? Eg, clear growth trajectory; matches my skills well and opportunities to grow in scope and role
  • What do I want from the company culture/environment? Eg, open communication, generative discussions, respect for home life and families
  • What compensation is worth my while? Eg, must have health insurance; must be at least $80k so that I can pay my bills and still save a little
  • What kind of work is acceptable? Eg, there are certain functions that I could do but am no longer interested/willing to do; not willing to stretch the truth to meet a deadline or close a deal

For those actively job-searching, these become what I call your CONSTRAINTS because they are non-negotiables. As long as XYZ are met, then you will consider a job… so of course if they are not met, then you will NOT consider it. This helps to narrow your search to only those opportunities that are worthwhile pursuits.

For those who are passively job-searching (aka fine in your job but curious if there’s something better), these become your PARAMETERS because they guide and limit what you consider to only those opportunities that are in fact more suitable than what you currently have. When it comes to worthwhile pursuits, I believe it’s wise to regularly evaluate what you have against what’s out there since we are constantly growing individuals and we may have outgrown our existing roles… even if it means realizing that what you have is still better than what’s out there (you end up appreciating it more!). However, I’d caution against wasting time and energy exposing yourself to opportunities that are mismatched or are worse than what you have, simply so that you can say you were “open”… that’s the dangerous and unnecessary heartache that I referred to in the post on backwards job-searching approaches under “Typical approach #3″.

Next time I’ll share some examples of pitfalls in this step, to give a bit more color to why it’s so crucial to establish your constraints/parameters correctly.

We’re also at the tail end of the summer series on “Navigating Your Career Transition with Integrity”… stay tuned as I bring it to conclusion and tie it all together!