There are a lot of questions that go into job hunting: questions the interviewer will ask you, questions you might want to ask the interviewer…
But what about the questions you should be asking yourself before you apply for a job?
As with almost anything, it’s important to know yourself and your own mind before you start. So whether you’re applying for your first job or thinking of looking for your next, start by asking yourself these questions:
- How do you really feel about your current (or last) job?
Sometimes we start looking for a new position because we think the grass is greener somewhere else, but it’s helpful to look at what’s really true about your current or last job — the good and the bad. What did you like the most? What did you like the least?
- What are your long-term goals?
Sounds like prep for an interview question (like being asked about the dreaded five-year plan), but knowing your long-term goals is very important when looking for a new job. Are you hoping to climb a career ladder, or looking for a bridge job while you pursue education or other opportunities? What’s the most likely path to success with your overall goals?
- What’s your passion? Where does your genius lie?
For many, your passion and your job description may not line up identically. If that’s the case, what would you love to do more of? Less of? Where does your unique genius really shine (everyone has this!)? And most importantly: How can you do more of what you love and do best?
- What management style do you respond best to?
Some people need to be closely managed (what others might call micromanaging) while others thrive in an environment where they’re left to their own devices. Do you prefer daily check-ins or a manager who lets you work independently? How well do you manage yourself? These are especially important for anyone hoping to work remotely.
- What kind of work/life balance do you aspire to?
Even if you think your aspirations for work/life balance will never be met, it’s important to know what the ideal situation would look like for you — you never know what you may find. Do you dream of working from home, or just being able to leave the office at the same time every day? Is it important for you to be flexible enough to go to your kids’ school plays and football matches or just that you have weekends to yourself? Do you dream of taking a month off to travel the world? It’s important to know your goals so that you can examine company culture with them in mind.
- What’s your personality type or personal working style?
If you’re extremely introverted, a position in sales or one where you’re required to make many presentations may make you miserable. Likewise, an extrovert might not be happy in a quiet office where no one chats. Understanding yourself will help you understand how you fit into a company’s bigger picture.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Some jobs will naturally play to your strengths, while others will play to your weaknesses — even in the same field. For example, one office manager position might involve lots of phone conversations and scheduling, while another might require accounting and budgeting skills. Understanding your limitations and where you excel will help you narrow down your choices when applying for a new position.
- Are you willing to make a big change for the perfect job?
Don’t be thrown off if you receive an offer from a company that requires a longer commute, a different shift, or even a big move. Ask yourself ahead of time what you would consider. If the perfect job opened up today would you go across the country for it? Across town? Would you work a night shift or swing shift? Would you be willing to travel several weeks each month?
- What does your online reputation say about you?
Before you ever send out a resume or application, take the time to do an audit of your online presence. Google search yourself and see what comes up. Update the privacy settings on your social media accounts and clean out any embarrassing photos or status updates just in case. Then, take some time to optimize your social profiles, especially your LinkedIn profile, to make a good impression.
- What are your financial goals?
If your current salary and your long-term financial goals are at different ends of the spectrum, that’s OK, but it’s important to have a vision of how you’re going to get there. Do some salary research into your field or the field you hope to work in. Does the average salary get you where you want to go? How quickly? If you have big goals, you might need to consider a different field or a side hustle to make up the difference.
By answering these questions for yourself well before you ever fill out an application or send a cover letter, you improve your chances of landing the job you want and not just any job.
What questions would you add to this list? What do you think is important to consider before starting a job hunt? I appreciate your comments and additions below.
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