9 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Your Next Job Search

Let’s face it, sometimes when opportunity knocks your best response is t0 greet it with thanks but no thanks. Better yet, ask for more information, review and get back if the stars are aligned. All opportunities aren’t created equal, and you certainly don’t need to heed every beck and call without digging into the details and making sure that what’s presented is indeed a meeting of expectations. Naturally, when considering a new position, you evaluate how your skills, knowledge and abilities stack up against the requirements of the position.

At this point, you should be asking yourself one question, is this the right job for me? This seemingly simple question has many important little parts. If you are in the market for new opportunities and you have what it takes to be selective then you should consider these questions:

1. What’s an acceptable minimum salary?

You should always bargain for your perfect (realistic) number but keep your absolute lowest acceptable salary in mind. This should not be hastily extemporized unless you know the local job market like the back of your hand and you’ve given equal consideration to what’s required to sustain your lifestyle. It’s also worth noting that employers have different compensation policies, which means some pay at market, below, or above. So, you shouldn’t take it personally if your offer is lower than you had bargained for. It’s business, nothing personal. Nowadays, many companies have performance-based incentives tied into their total compensation package that can get you well beyond your perfect number.

2. When should I consider a lower salary?

Employers that pay below or match the labor market will typically provide better non-traditional benefits and are more creative with their compensation package. Telecommuting, free gym-membership, childcare, pet-friendly workplace, and the opportunity to be a part of something new and exciting. Many startups will offer stock options to early employees to make their offer more competitive. These benefits can be golden depending on what you value and where you are in your career.

3. What’s a realistic commute?

Perhaps your head was in the clouds as you commute to and from the interview and you didn’t realize that you would have to do this every single day. Now that the new job has lost its enchantment, you literally begin to see the forest for the trees, and slowly your drive to work begins to feel like a Subaru Outback commercial. Think very long and hard about your work commute. There are enough studies on extreme commuters being the unhappiest people in the world to help you make your decision quicker. Think about the distance, traffic congestion, and getting to the daycare on time. That extra dollar a minute will soon begin to siphon from your rainy day fund. Why even bother mentioning fuel cost. You’ve got enough to think about.

4. Then, there’s the question of relocation.

All the boxes are checked. Great company. Your salary is through the roof. You can jog to the office. And there’s a gym on site to freshen up so you can start your workday feeling crisp like a new hundred dollar bill. What’s not to like about your new boss? It’s almost like you etched-a-sketched him yourself. This is a hard deal to pass up. The grass certainly looks greener on the other side but all isn’t brown and patchy on the side you are standing on now either. Uprooting your family and trekking cross-country is a big decision…think about the opportunity cost. It’s all about location, location, location or should I rather say research, research, research.

5. What are my expectations?

I find that the best way to tackle this question is by examining the reason(s) that you are back in the job market. More and more studies are showing that individuals are engaged by intrinsic motivation (meaningful work, camaraderie, autonomy, recognition, etc.) than extrinsic rewards (money, promotion, paid vacation, etc.). No wonder job dissatisfaction is at the top of the list for the reasons people voluntarily leave an organization. This discontentment often stems from deteriorating relationship with direct managers/supervisors and job function becoming monotonous. Make a list of your must-havenice-to-have, and non-negotiable items and get ready to interview your next boss.

6. Am I willing to accept a lower level title?

Why would anyone leave their job for a lower level title, you ask? First, you are making the assumption that titles carry even weight from company to company. Second, a lower title doesn’t mean lower level responsibilities. Third, if you are looking to transition into a completely new area, where new skills are required, then it may be a little unreasonable to think you can haul along your big title with you. Finally, successful people aren’t hung up on titles. Instead, they seek out good opportunities and make the best of them.

7. Am I leaving any unfinished work behind?

Employers know that most employees don’t come to spend a lifetime. There are even some employees they wish would leave sooner. But if you are considering other opportunities while on the job then you should never make your job search affect the quality of your current work. Produce your best work from your first to last day and finish strong. The cardinal rule is to always close projects and leave nothing unfinished behind. You may need a good recommendation later.

8. Do I want to stay in this industry or try something new?

Good question. Your current industry may be all you know but you’ve always wanted to try something new. Go for it but ask yourself these nine questions and make sure you are making the right move. Professionals change lanes all the time but your move should be more safe than swift.

9. Do I really want to work for this employer?

Not everyone gets to work for their ideal employer. Some are still waiting to hear back from someone other than the “auto-reply” that wretchedly reminds them that the company has received their application for the twentieth time. Successful professionals know that they play a part in making a good opportunity into something great. Your career is your baby. You have raised and nurtured its growth to this point so you have the right to be cautious about in what hands you leave it. Think on this, if given the opportunity to grow, be involved in meaningful work, and to work with great people, would you spend the rest of your working days at this company? There’s your answer!