The tricky part about figuring out your values is that you can’t un-know them once you’ve gotten that clarity. Your values will become a north star as you explore opportunities and evaluate them – and, will sometimes feel like a nag.
They will be that voice that says, “I don’t have a good feeling about this,” or “This job is missing a big piece of what you’re looking for.” They might even burst your bubble about a job you were feeling excited about… or make you realize it’s time to move on from the place you’ve been forever.
The good news is that by leading with your values, it becomes easier and faster to navigate the process of job searching, because you can quickly rule out things that won’t fit.
The bad news is that sometimes it can feel like you’re letting perfectly good opportunities go, and the more time that goes by in your search, the more stressful that can become. And those opportunities might be perfectly good – for someone else.
When you make decisions based on what’s important to you, it means bringing to life a more holistic and inclusive version of yourself, without compromising the essentials.
This isn’t about being an irrational perfectionist, though. It’s unlikely that there’s one job that is 100% perfectly aligned with everything – the right position, the right culture, the right boss, the right salary, the right location, the right office space…
This process does require making some decisions about what elements are NOT a priority for you, or where you are more flexible.
Look at where you can create some wiggle room, so you can get more of what you do want.
- What are your true needs for salary and benefits? If you are changing industries or sectors, find out how your needs match up with the reality of where you want to be. This is not about compromising on the value that you bring, but about having specific information that will help you know what to expect.
- What locations are you open to? Especially if you’ve tried for a while to find a job where you are – think about what you love, and what you don’t love about your current location. And do some research on places that might offer more of what you love, and less of what you don’t. (For example – we moved from Boston to Colorado Springs a number of years ago. While I still miss my hometown (and the ocean), living in a smaller city has brought opportunities to plug into the community in ways I never could have back home – and without the traffic I hate!)
- How might you think about commuting differently? If the best options for positions involve a two-hour round-trip commute in awful traffic, what if you moved closer? There can be some big savings in expenses from thinking like that (here is a blog post that might take you down a rabbit-hole about saving money from commuting).
- What physical space is important to you? Would you be open to working virtually? From a cubicle? An open office environment?
Understanding your values and your dealbreakers is a key step in your process, and some of these elements will require engaging with your partner or family to explore some of these possibilities together.
The end goal is to have a clear sense of what matters most to you – whether concepts like values or details like desk location – and then you can move through the next steps with the confidence that you’re being thoughtful about finding the fit that is truly the right next step.