Job hunting can be an overwhelming process. There’s so much that goes into the perfect job: the job itself, the company culture, the schedule, the pay, and the location. On top of that, even if you do find your dream job, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get hired.
If you’re currently looking for a new job or considering a career change, having a process for narrowing down your options will help you get better results.
Tailoring an application for each job is time-consuming and you don’t want to waste time applying for a job you are unlikely to get or you don’t even want.
Here are some things to consider as you decide what you do and don’t want from a job.
1. Think About Your Skills and Preferences
When you’re narrowing down your potential job options, it’s very important to really think about your skills and preferences. Your skills need to match up with the job you’re applying to, of course. You’ll need to be good enough at your job to stay employed.
If there’s a career you’re thinking of pursuing and you don’t have the skills yet, there are lots of flexible options for building them. If you need a degree, you can choose to attend in person or go with an online program, which offers more flexibility for parents or people in the workforce. Community service is another great way to build the skills you’ll need for your dream job.
Be sure to take your preferences into account, too. You’re going to be doing the same job, day after day. You don’t necessarily have to love being at work, but you don’t want to be miserable. When you’re trying to narrow down your options, think about what kind of job would suit your preferences and interests, instead of just choosing the job with the highest salary.
2. Evaluate Your Personality
Being comfortable at work means something different for everyone. It’s important to choose a career or job based on your personality. Some people, for example, thrive on working with the public. They’re extroverted and really enjoy helping people solve problems. Others prefer working in a quiet atmosphere that doesn’t involve working with strangers.
If you thrive on variety, you’re not going to enjoy a job that involves the same tasks day after day. If you get stressed out by change, on the other hand, a job with a lot of spontaneity and variation might not be the best choice.
3. Consider Your Values
What kind of company do you want to work for? Finding fulfillment in your work becomes a lot easier when you’re working for a company that shares your values. Do you want to work for a non-profit, or maybe a company that sells sustainable products?
Thinking about your values might seem like a strange activity when you’re job-hunting, but it can be an important factor. Working for a company that doesn’t share your values can lead to dissatisfaction and feeling uncomfortable in the workplace, in addition to making you feel less engaged in your work.
4. Decide on Your Non-Negotiables
Narrowing down your job options is easier when you know what you do and don’t want out of a job. It’s important to think about what your “non-negotiables” are so you can easily eliminate jobs that don’t fit your criteria.
For instance, if you know you don’t like sitting at a desk all day, you might choose something more active. If you hate to commute, then you’ll want to limit your search to a certain geographic area.
Everyone has different deal breakers and really thinking about what yours are can help you in your job search.
5. Benefits and Salary
Obviously, pay is crucial when considering your job options. Sometimes, you just need a job—any job. But if you’re considering a new career or deciding between two job offers, then salary and benefits can be a deciding factor. If you’re interested in several different business career paths, for instance, then choosing the one that will pay more might make sense.
Benefits are important too. Think about what you and your family need from a job. Do you need the best health insurance, or will a cheaper plan work? Do you value perks like gym memberships and free food in the office? Or does time off appeal to you more?
Each company offers different benefits, so you have to weigh the value of the benefits vs. the salary they are offering. Sometimes, the benefits can be valuable enough to offset a lower salary.
6. Schedule Flexibility and Remote Work Options
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have shifted to remote or hybrid work models. While some organizations are starting to bring people back into the office, others are providing their employees with more flexibility and the option to work from home.
Some people really enjoy working from home, while others find that they focus better when they’re in the office. If you need more flexibility in when or where you work, make sure to factor that in when you’re narrowing down your options.
7. Give Your Applications Your All
When you narrow down your options, it’s time to submit your applications. This can be a frustrating and exhausting process since each job might have its own online application or requirements for what you need to submit.
It’s important that you tailor your application and resume to the individual job. This takes more time, but it’s much more likely to get you an interview. By narrowing down your job options, you’ll be able to focus on creating more compelling application materials, which will make it more likely that you’ll get the job you want.
8. For Best Results, Wait for the Right Fit
If you can, it’s always better to wait on accepting a job until you’ve found the right fit. Unless you need the income right away, you’re better off choosing a job that works for your lifestyle instead of taking the first offer that comes along.
Job-hunting is stressful, and so is choosing a career. If you’re honest with yourself, however, it becomes much easier to narrow down your options and find a job that you will enjoy long-term.
And if you’re not happy? Don’t be afraid to start looking again.