2,080 hours a year.
That is how long many people with a full-time job work. The amount of hours expected on the job are misery for those who do not like what they are doing, who they are working for, and how much pay they are making. If this becomes your situation, it won’t take long for your body, mind, and spirit to start showing signs of stress and discontent. How can you avoid this path where either you “get used” to the suffering or find yourself breaking down more emotionally (increased anxiety and depression) and physically (illnesses and chronic disease) day by day?
Money, benefits, and prestigious job titles at companies are not indicators of career happiness. Instead, recent research studies on wellbeing in the workplace are discovering that other factors affect happiness at work. Happier and better performing employees have a high level of trust in management, are recognized for going the extra mile, get offered flexibility in how and when they do their job, and are encouraged to make time to attend to a personal life.
But how can you increase your chances of connecting to a more healthful and enjoyable work experience? There is a job interview step that many people skip in their eager and intense pursuit of landing their next opportunity. You need to ask yourself the right questions before accepting a job offer.
After you have followed all the tips offered in the last three segments of this mini-series on job interviewing and you hear good news from an employer, take a pause. Don’t rush to say “YES!” to the job offer. Sometimes we are so excited to get the next positive step going in our lives that we skip the step of making sure it is a good fit. Do not fall into the trap of feeling the fear of missing out if you do not accept the position right away. Ask for more time. Most reputable companies will allow at least twenty-four hours and sometimes up to three days for you to consider their offer.
The company likely has all done all it can to avoid showing you the down side of working under their watch. From their website and all the way through the interviewing process they are usually working to impress you just as much as you are trying to show your best side. Every job will have some negative aspects, but you can avoid being blindsided by finding out about what challenges to expect. For example, recently a twenty-one year old client of mine told me she wished she had learned my career tips sooner and “dug deeper” into the office culture of the Fortune 500 company that she now works at as an intern. She was nervous and excited about clearing all their hurdles for getting offered the job. Unfortunately, she spent very little time looking into the company culture, growth opportunities, and expectations of her new boss.
The new job honeymoon feeling very quickly faded when in her first week she discovered that late nights at the office and still having to take work home was the “norm”. She might not have minded so much the extended hours “off the clock” that the position was demanding if other issues did not come into play. On top of it, her boss was a micromanager and yet never available for support when she had questions. Why not just quit? She knew she would have to tough it out for at least a year or her work history would take a beating that she could not afford. The last time I talked with her we discussed ways to still make the most out of the negative work environment. Both of us are looking forward to her being able to high tail it out of there and be somewhere that values her job satisfaction level. She will learn what she can from this grueling experience and be more prepared to line herself up with a healthier and more suitable opportunity next go around.
When you find yourself applying and interviewing for a job, ask yourself the following questions about the opportunity that is in front of you. Invest the time to find out the information and make the contacts needed to answer each question as best you can. Most importantly, review and reflect on your answers before you accept any job offers.
Skipping this step in your job interview process could cost you time, self-worth, growth, and ultimately career happiness.
Yes or No Questions
If you answer “No” to more than one of these questions, chances are you are in highly troubled (and maybe toxic!) job territory. Re-evaluate to determine if this new opportunity is worth it.
Do my values seem in sync with the company’s mission and vision?
Does this position move me closer to my career goals?
Did I gain a good sense during the interview and my research of how the company treats its employees?
Have I talked to at least three or four other people in the organization outside of those who interviewed me to find out what their roles and work commitments involve?
Can I see myself growing professionally and personally here?
Will I be able to learn from and make positive connections with mentors or other leaders?
These exploratory questions will help you create a more objective picture of what you are getting yourself into with the new job.
What type of work schedule is really expected?
What signals show me that a work-life balance is going to be genuinely possible?
What growth and challenges (such as people leaving or organizational change) has the company experienced in the past few years? What was behind those transitions?
What success stories does the company seem most proud of?
What lessons and new ways of business have the management or human resources shared with you that they have learned recently?
You will increase your adaptability and productivity by thinking ahead of different situations you may find yourself in after taking on a new job.
This position is not in line with my career goals, but I need to take this job because it meets my financial needs. What steps could I take both on the job and outside of the experience to move me closer to where I really want to be?
If I find out the job is not what I expected when I walk in the door, what is my plan to adjust so my work history is not negatively impacted by quitting too soon?
I might be told to do something on the job that is against my values or work ethic. What will I say and do to address this challenge?
What are my go-to ways to relieve stress in a positive way if I discover that not all my co-workers are easy to get along with or the workload is overwhelming?
How can I best prepare to show confidence and an eagerness to help if I am called upon to share my idea or opinion in a meeting?
Whether you are continuing to search for a better job or working to be promoted in one, this holiday season please give yourself the gifts of time, reflection, and stress relief. Career happiness is possible when you make space to really hear what it is inside that you want, pause to make a clear plan towards it, and provide healthy support to yourself along the way.
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