Make sure it passes this test...
After finishing uni, your next step is probably finding a job or joining a graduate programme. As well as sorting out your CV and perfecting your interview technique, it's also a time to do some soul-searching about what you want from your career.
Sometimes, an opportunity will feel right and you’ll just know. But in case that doesn't happen, here are the seven questions to ask yourself when applying for jobs or deciding whether or not to accept an offer.
1. What matters most to you?
Everyone’s different, so what’s right for you are likely to be completely different to your friends and family.
If you have a clear idea of what you want, it’ll be easier to apply for suitable jobs, ask the right questions at interview stage and decide whether an organisation matches what you’re looking for.
PositiveThoughts says that for her future career, what matters most are “making a difference in the world and career progression.”
“Also just enjoying the job and getting on well with my co-workers is essential for me, I can't think of anything worse then spending the majority of my week in a place which I hate and felt I couldn't talk to anyone,” she adds.
Make a list of the five things that matter most to you — they could be things like company culture, being part of a close knit team or opportunities for progression.
2. Will it give you the work/life balance you need?
In a TSR poll, we asked the community what is most important factor when choosing a job. Out of 96 people who responded, more than 41 per cent said it is work/life balance.
If work/life balance is important to you, make sure you are well-versed on flexible working arrangements like flexitime, working from home and the possibility of reducing your hours in the future.
Neilos said work/life balance was the most important factor for him, adding: “The other stuff is important too, but as long as I can continue to live my 'proper life' away from work without excessive intrusion, I like to believe I could handle them not being great.”
And hannxm agreed, saying: “Work/life balance and not loathing getting up in the morning to go to work each day.”
3. Is it in line with your salary expectations?
In a survey conducted by CEMS, the global alliance in management education, 61 per cent of business graduates named salary in their top three criteria when looking for a new role.
If earnings are important to you, work out your monthly living costs, the minimum you’d like to save and look up average salaries in your industry to make sure you’re being realistic.
Even for TSR poll respondents who place importance on salary, money still isn't everything. (づ￣ ³￣)づ said: “A reasonable work/life balance and a good salary are equally important.”
And Acsel said that while he chose salary in our poll, for him it's "a mix of salary, work/life balance and the actual work I do."
He added: “I'm willing to compromise to an extent but it's usually going to come back to money. I'm probably not willing to work 20 hours a week on a job I love if it comes at the expense of low pay.”
4. Does the work sound enjoyable?
UK workers spend on average 82,000 hours at work in their lifetime, so it makes sense to find a job we want to get up for every day.
No job’s perfect, but if you find the tasks and day-to-day work enjoyable and rewarding most of the time, it’s a good sign it’s the right profession for you.
“Work/life balance for me, assuming that also broadly includes actually enjoying your job," said StriderHort. "I like money, and I def need it, but it comes and goes and i've tried doing the 'sticking with jobs i hate because the money is good' thing.”
And SJW- said: “I want a job i enjoy; no Sunday night anxiety, morning dread, bad commute. I’d take a job i enjoy at expense of salary, work/life and progression. I volunteered at a charity and the dudes there probably weren’t earning much and there wasn’t much if any progression but they loved their job; they walked in pumped up and excited.”
5. Are the career progression opportunities right for you?
Where do you see yourself in five years from now? If career progression — being promoted, preparing for the next step up the ladder — is important to you, make sure your prospective employer can give you these opportunities.
Several TSR members say they value career progression. If this sounds like you too, think about what you’d like your upward trajectory to look like and find out if it’s possible and how long it’s likely to take.
CrazyKittenLady says: “I need a good enough salary to pay my bills, a good work/life balance, and I love pushing my self to be better and learn more so I would want career progression.”
6. Will you be making a difference?
Every job makes a difference in some way — some big, some small. But if making differences to people’s lives and the world is important to you, you’ll want to make sure your chosen job can offer this and align your career choices with your values.
_NMcC_ says: “Ultimately (the most important factor) is making a difference in the world. So research science, teaching, even medicine are the areas I'm aiming at, even If I don't earn a lot. I'd rather help humanity in general in a small way rather than help a few rich executives earn more millions.”
And auburnstar agrees fulfilment is more important than money, saying: “Feeling like you are helping other people and making a difference is the biggest one for me. Even if I was well-paid in a job if I felt like I was just a cog in a big commercial wheel I would eventually start to dislike it. I take a lot of significance and meaning out of what I do and am very hard-working by nature, so feel like I need to be challenged and do something positive.”
7. Does the employer offer a good support system?
When deciding whether a job is right for you, look at the support they have in place. Whether you have a specific need for support or not, an understanding employer can make a real difference to your job satisfaction. If you can, gather experiences from people who have worked there.
aamirac says having an effective support system paves the way for all the other things that are important: “Something I always look for is what kind of support system they have for their employees. I do believe that it sets the foundation of being able to have a good work/life balance, steady career progression and enjoy coming into work.”
While The_Lonely_Goatherd says that the lack of support meant leaving her dream job: ”For me, as a disabled person, it's about feeling comfortable and confident in the role, and feeling supported by my team.
“In 2017 I landed what should have been my dream job but there wasn't proper support/reasonable adjustments in place for me as a disabled person. So I ended up quitting before I finished my probation period."