What I wish for everyone is the time to figure out if the next career opportunity is the right fit. At a high level, it can help to let go of the idea that there is one perfect job out there for you.
The reality is that there are multiple paths that you could take, and each one will take you in a slightly different direction. You never know who you might meet, what challenges you will end up taking on, or how you will grow.
You can come back to a few elements to help you evaluate the opportunities you’re exploring, and the offers that come your way.
Values & Priorities
Check in with your list of what matters to you as you go deeper in exploring different jobs or organizations. Listen to your heart, your gut, or whatever speaks to you when something feels right, or feels off. Use those feelings to ask yourself what else you need to learn about in order to feel confident in your choice.
For example, you’ve placed a high priority on finding a manager who will help you grow. Your potential boss seems promising and has good answers to your questions about management style, but it’s hard to know after a handful of conversations if it really is a good fit. That provides a nudge to get more specific information from them:
- Ask the hiring manager some follow-up questions such as: Can you tell me about a team member you’ve helped to grow, how you helped them improve, how you supported them? (Just like in interviews, asking these kinds of situational questions will get better answers than theoretical ones.)
- If you haven’t met anyone else from your potential team through the interview process, ask who you can talk with to get a sense of what the boss’s management style is like. (It would be even more ideal if you can talk with the person they gave as an example to the question above!)
Investigating the Culture
Interviews usually give us a distorted sense of what it’s really like to work in an organization. There’s no perfect place to work, and each place has its issues – the question is whether they’re issues that you’re comfortable dealing with. Are they just quirks, or big red flags? Here are a few strategies to go deeper:
- Use your network – LinkedIn or otherwise – to connect with other people who work there, to pick their brains about their experiences, good and bad. You can also reach out to former staff – just be sure to take their negative feedback with a grain of salt.
- Rating sites like Glassdoor can also give you a sense of some of the warts – but again, keep in mind that the people who comment here (anonymously) are the ones who feel strongly enough to do so, usually in the negative, so the reviews and comments will be skewed and not fully representative of the reality.
- Keep coming to each round of the process with questions to go deeper about what the opportunity is like, what the daily life is like: What are the challenges they’re facing in the marketplace? What has been the most difficult thing they’ve experienced in the last year? What is their vision or strategy for the next year – for the organization, and this team, and this role?
- See how you can connect with other members of the team, or the HR department. While the organization will have a particular structure for their interviewing process, it never hurts to ask for another conversation – particularly if they’ve made you an offer.
At the end of the day, you’ll know if it’s a good next step for you. Thinking of this as a next step can be liberating as well – especially for career changers. You might not find exactly what you were imagining in your career transition, but what you have in front of you might be a great stepping stone to that ideal as you adjust to a new sector or function.
And if there are some lingering doubts, that’s normal, too – it’s impossible to be 100% sure about everything based on a few conversations. There’s always some degree of risk that comes from making a decision.