What’s Your Ideal Job?

In 1988, my husband and I jointly chartered a sailboat with some good friends of ours, Shawn and Sandy. Shawn was an experienced sailor, and with his coaching, we took turns staying up all night to keep the boat exactly on course from Florida to an island in the Bahamas, across the tongue of the North Atlantic Ocean. Our captain made it clear that we must keep the wheel exactly aligned to the compass degree that he had specified. One degree off, and we could end up on a completely different island…or worse, out in the middle of the ocean! To Shawn’s credit, we hit the marker dead-on and couldn’t have felt prouder when we docked at the island of Bimini.

Just like sailing, charting the course of your career is crucial in reaching your goals. Yet how many of us have fallen into a career because we found a certain job that we could do, rather than defining and pursuing what we really wanted in a job? Every day here at Amtec, we meet people who are unhappy in their jobs because they’ve unquestioningly accepted an available position without comparing its requirements to a personal checklist of must-haves for job satisfaction

What’s your ideal job? Scott Kuethen, our CEO, often asks candidates this question. More often than not, they can’t answer it because they haven’t taken the time to define what their ideal job looks like. How about you? If you haven’t, how will you know when you find a job you’ll really be happy doing? And how can a recruiter match you with an employer if neither of you knows what would really bring you the most job satisfaction?

We recommend using COBS, an acronym from industry consultant Bob Bassman, that can guide you in defining what it is you’re looking for in your ideal job:

Company: What size of company do you prefer, small or large?

Opportunity: Are you looking for room to develop certain skills, move into a different marketplace, or be promoted to a management role?

Boss: Do you prefer a hands-on manager who jumps into the trenches to work alongside you, a mentor who coaches you and cheers you on, or a boss who sets you in motion and leaves you alone?

Significant Incentive: What would make you feel like getting up and going to work every day? Is it a better title, higher pay, more flexible work hours, or a lighter commute?

Kuethen says it’s not enough to just think about your ideal job. He challenges candidates to actually make a physical checklist and bring it with you to your interviews. He also advocates prioritizing the items on your list and being prepared to make compromises. For instance, your commute may end up being slightly longer than you preferred, but the salary you were able to negotiate is higher than the amount listed as your ideal.

Will defining your ideal job guarantee that you’ll find it? Not necessarily! Clarifying your ideal job helps set the trajectory of your career path but doesn’t automatically ensure your destination. While you may be fortunate to find exactly your ideal job the first time around, more than likely, achieving job satisfaction will be a process, one which you’ll help to shape. However, even if your next position doesn’t provide every item on your checklist, at least you’re heading toward Bimini, and not the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!

Is your job hunt wearing you down? Here are some ways to help you persist!

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