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Clever and Intelligent Questions to Ask on your Interview
 

 

Chapter 2

 

Questions to Ask Yourself

Who are you?
What are your strengths?
What is important to you?
What specific things do you require in the job you’re seeking – adventure, glamour, a bigger office, more money?
Where do want to work?
What sized company do you want to work for?
How many people would you like working under you?
What are your long-term goals?
What are your short-term goals?
What have you already done to accomplish these short-term goals?
What do you still need to do?
Whew! And you were afraid the interviewer was going to ask tough questions!
There are a lot of questions to ask yourself long before you let your fingers wander through the want ads.
Answering these questions should enable you to define both short – and long – term goals – personal, professional, and financial – and could even help you develop a road map to reach those dreams. Additionally, they will help you better assess the fit between a company’s culture, the job, the boss …. And you. Unless you do this kind of analysis, on what basis will you be evaluating job offers? As the old saying goes, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
So let’s make a few lists to help assess who you are, what’s important to you, and what this analysis should tell you about the kind of company you want to work for. You’ll quickly see that this is a far more detailed and completely different assessment than you were advised to do when collecting data for your resume.

 

Questions About You As A Person

What are your key values?
What kinds of people do you enjoy spending time with?
Describe your personality.
What activities do you most like doing?
What activities do you least like doing?
Are you a risk – taker or risk averse?
What in your personal life causes you the most stress (relationships, money, time constraints, etc.)?
What in your personal life gives you the most pleasure?
If you had to spend 40 hours a week doing a single activity, what would it be?
What were your favorite subjects in school?
Would they still be your favorites today?
What were your strongest subjects?
What games and sports do you enjoy? What does the way you play them say about you?
Are you overly competitive? Do you give up too easily?
Are you a good loser or a bad winner?
Do you rise to a challenge or back away?
What kinds of friends do you tend to have? Do you seek out people who are just like you or those who will laugh at all of your jokes?
What has caused you to break up friendships?
What does this say about you?
If you were to ask a group of friends and acquaintances to describe you, what adjectives would they use? Why do you think they would describe you in those terms? Are there specific behaviors, skills, achievements, or failures that caused them to choose those adjectives? What are they?

 

Questions About You As A Professional

What kinds of people do you like working with?
What kinds do you dislike working with?
What are your goals and aspirations?
What would it take to transform yourself into someone who’s passionate about every workday?
What are your passions?
How can you make yourself more marketable in today’s competitive job market?

 

List Your Current Strengths, Abilities, And Values

The following list of descriptive adjectives should help you further define who you really are, both professionally and personally. Circle those words or phrases that you believe describe you, and keep them in mind when assessing any job offer or any company and its attendant culture.

Active
Active in sports
Active reader
Active volunteer
Adaptable
Adventurous
Ambitious
Artistic
Attractive
Brave / heroic
Calm
Efficient
Empathetic
Ethical
Excellent analytical skills
Excellent math skills
Experienced
Extrovert
Flexible
Fluent in other languages
Focused
Goal – oriented
Good delegating skills
Good leadership skills
Good listening skills
Good mathematical skills
Good negotiating skills
Good presentation skills
Good public speaking skills
Good sense of humor
Good team – building skills
Good under pressure
Good written communicator
Patient
Perfectionist
Performer
Physically strong
Precise
Professional
Quick – thinking
React well to authority
Religious
Responsible
Right – brained
communicative
computer literate
confident
courteous
creative
decisive
dedicated
detail – oriented
directed
dynamic
economical
graceful
handle stress well
hard – working
high energy
highly educated (level?)
honest
introverted
learn from mistakes
left – brained
like people
like to travel
logical
love animals
love children
loyal
make friends easily
moral
musical
neat
obsessive
passionate
passive
risk averse
risk taker
sales personality
self-motivated
sports fan
strong – willed
supportive of others
tenacious
welcome change
well – groomed
(other)-----------------

These are all positive attributes, of one kind or another, to one company or another. After you’ve circled all of those you believe best describe you, ask your friends if they agree with your assessment.
You can use this list in a few important ways. First, it will help you better answer two key questions:
How do these positives match up with the qualities you believe are necessary for success in the job / career path you’ve chosen?
Do you have the qualities generally associated with the level of responsibility / job title you are seeking?
Let’s say you are seeking a promotion to vice president at a major corporation, which mean significant financial responsibility and hundreds of employees under your benevolent control. You will have a problem getting an interview, let alone the job, if you can’t demonstrate managerial, team – building, motivational, and financial skills and experience (among others). So if you lack all or most of those characteristics, your current goal isn’t realistic, and you must create a plan to attain the skills and experience you need to reach your professional goals.

Another important question is suggested by this list:

 

How many of these qualities / abilities do you want to use in your job?

Alternately, how many of the qualities you’ve deemed most important to your sense of self do you need to involve in your job? Only you can figure this out, but I suspect most people would be happy if their jobs utilized more of their abilities and interests rather than fewer. The happiest people I’ve ever met are those able to employee the qualities, skills, and talents they deem important at a company at which those specific attributes lead to success.
Another way to utilize this list is to identify qualities you lack but deem important to your next job or your future career. This will enable you to create a plan to develop, attain, or obtain what you want and need to succeed in your chosen path and reach your expressed goals.

 

What Kind Of Life Are You Seeking?

How can you know what you want if you haven’t taken the time to assess what’s really important to you? Look at the list of values below (adapted from Targeting the Job You Want, one of an excellent series produced by The Five O’clock Club, a top job – search group). Rate how important each is to you (“1” for least important, “4” for most):

Adventure
Being considered an expert
Challenging tasks
Chance to advance
Chance to create
Chance to grow
Chance to have an impact
Chance to lead
Chance to learn
Chance to participate
Clear expectations
Clear procedures
Competition
Creativity
Enjoyable colleagues
Enjoyable surroundings
Enjoyable tasks
Excitement
Fast pace
Freedom from worry
Glamour
Having responsibility
Helping people
helping society
independence
influencing people
intellectual stimulation
leadership
meeting challenges
money
moral growth
personal growth
power
prestige
public contact
recognition from peers
recognition from society
recognition from superiors
slow pace
stability (security)
structure
time with family
working alone
working for something you believe in
working on a team

Of those descriptions marked “4” identify the five most important to you right now. Then, of those five, admit which you would give up (if any) if you had to. Which would you never give up, no matter what?
Based on this exercise, you should be able to compose a brief paragraph describing the values of the company you’d (ideally) want to work for and the job you’d (ideally) love to have.

 

The Practical Aspects Of Your Job Hunt

In addition to assessing the kind of person you are, which will give you a better idea of the kind of people you want to work with and the environment in which you want to work, there are some more mundane questions you need to ask yourself:

Where (geographically) do I want to work?
Do I prefer a large city, small city, town, or somewhere as far away from civilization as possible?
Do I prefer a warm or cold climate?
Do I prefer a large or small company? (define your terms – by sales, income, employees, etc.)
What kinds of products / services / accounts would I prefer to work with?
Do I mind traveling frequently? What percentage of my time is “reasonable”?
How much time am I willing to devote to a daily commute? At what point will its length impact my other priorities (family, hobbies, etc.)?
What salary would I like to receive?
What’s the lowest salary I’ll accept?
Are there any benefits (such as an expense account, medical and / or dental insurance, company car, etc.) I must or would like to have?
Am I planning to attend graduate school at some point in the future? If so, is it important that a tuition reimbursement plan be part of the company benefits package?
Is it important that the company have a formal employee – training program?

 

What Can You Learn From Past Jobs And Bosses?

For each job you’ve held in the past, describe those factors that made one enjoyable, satisfying, or rewarding and another boring, frustrating, or just plain hell. Be as specific as possible. Consider everything from the company’s location, the size of its (or your) offices, perks (or lack thereof), your subordinates and supervisors, responsibilities (or lack thereof), promotional opportunities, and hours.
The more comprehensive you make this analysis, the more easily you will begin to identify behavioral patterns. This exercise may help you hone in on a particular requirement (a corner office), something to avoid at all costs (a boss who’s passive – aggressive), or even some aspect of your own personality that you need to work on (lamenting a lack of promotional opportunities when you’ve never stayed at any job longer than six months!).

What can I learn from past bosses?
How well do I interact with authority figures – bosses, teachers, parents?
Even if every other aspect of a job is wonderful, you could be dying to move on just because you hate your boss. Hey, it happens. So before you extract yourself from the frying pan and deposit yourself directly into the fire, you might want to do the following exercise as well: Make a list of every boss you’ve ever had, using the broadest possible definition of “boss.” Divide them into three lists: those with whom you never have a problem, those with whom you had some problems, and those with whom you always seemed to have problems.
After you’ve developed these three lists, try to identify the common factors that would explain the problems you had with the third group. Were they all old married white men who smoked cigars? Were they all fast-charging sales types? Were they all bosses for the same kind of companies (large, small, whatever)? You get the idea. The more you know about the kinds of bosses under whom you’ve thrived and those beneath whom you’ve withered, the better chance you have of finding the right fit the next time around.
I’ll use myself (again) as an example: One of my early jobs in magazine publishing was as an advertising sales representative for a trade magazine. I was ambitious, passionate, and a very good salesperson. After teaching me about the basics of ad sales, my first boss pretty much kept out of the way and let me run. Boy, did I run! I set a single – year sales record that, I’ve been told, still stands. Now, I didn’t exactly do everything by the book. In fact, I threw the book away. I ignored all requests to do memos or reports or anything that would have taken time away from making sales. (i.e., making more money). I did not communicate, I did not summarize, I did not report. I just sold. After a short time, my boss simply stopped asking for that stuff and decided to revel in the big jump his own income was taking due to my unbridled efforts.
I did so well I got promoted to a bigger magazine, becoming the youngest sales manager in that company’s history. My old boss went to my new boss and sang my praises. But he also told her, in virtually these terms, to just “let him the ---- alone.
He’s a maverick and won’t follow any of your rules. He will make you a fortune, but he doesn’t need to learn anything from you. Just let him sell and motivate his salespeople to sell.”
Well, my new boss wasn’t nearly as flexible as my old boss had been (nor, obviously, as bright). Instead of adopting the recommended hands – off attitude, she wasted days of my time in a series of meetings explaining “how we do things at this magazine.” It was a disaster from the get – go, and it wasn’t long before it was made pretty clear (by the VP of Sales) that one of us was not going to be left standing.
A tremendous opportunity to move up to publisher of a major consumer travel publication materialized, as if on command. It represented a huge jump in responsibility and an equally huge jump in money. The only downside was that if I wanted the job, I would have to move to the Midwest, though I and my wife were confirmed New Yorkers. Plus, of course, she had a job she loved and informed me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t intend to sacrifice her career for mine. (Good for her!) if my new boss had simply followed my first boss’s advice, I probably would have turned the job down and continued on my well-planned rise at that trade publisher.
Well, she didn’t. So I had little choice. Luckily, my wife’s boss found a way for her to keep her job...and do it from the Midwest. So we moved. While the situation looked fantastic, it turned out to be a company in well-hidden trouble with two control-freak bosses (a husband and wife, no less) that I reported to. Within ten months, I was looking for a job again...and making the move back to New York area...where no one particularly wanted to give me a job approaching the money or responsibility I had just had!
The result was a company called Career Press, which I founded not long thereafter, using my severance check from the Midwest. More than two decades later, it is a well-known publisher of 72 nonfiction books a year.
Now, I am not at all unhappy that things worked out the way they did. I became my own boss, and I have absolutely never regretted the unexpected path my career took. But it wasn’t exactly a free choice, was it? It started with a promotion, of all things. Did I ask anything about that first new boss? How compatible we were? Her style of management? Did I talk to anyone else that had worked for her? Did I talk to my predecessor in that position?
NO.
Did I ask about the salary and bonuses and special deals? Oh, you betcha I did. It gets worse. Because I was in an untenable situation, the Midwest job looked like a godsend. Well, did I ask anything about my two new bosses before starting to pack? How compatible we were? Their (absolutely contradictory) styles of management? Did I talk to anyone else who had worked for them? Did I talk to my predecessor in that position?
You know the answers, right?
I do not handle authority well, something I guess I knew in my heart. But I never took the time to analyze myself enough to discover how essential a part of my nature it really was. Even after it caused one meltdown, I walked right into a second.
A single aspect of your personality can have a similar affect on your relationship with a boss or company. Take the time to know yourself well enough to at least anticipate a problem!

 

Don’t Wear Sandals At A White-Shoe Company

Birds of a feather do flock together. And different companies tend to attract particular “species” of employees. A company’s physical environment, management attitude and policies, and the personality of the “birds” that predominate, comprise its corporate culture. Is it a loose atmosphere, with jean-clad creative types running amok? Or a buttoned – down, blue – suited autocracy, with a long list of rules to follow during timed coffee breaks?
Some companies are dominated by a single personality – a still-active founder or an executive who has exerted a strong, long-lasting influence on policies and style. Think Jack Welch at GE, Bill gates at Microsoft, or Larry Ellison at Oracle. While there are exceptions, such companies tend to be closely held fiefdoms whose every level reflects the “cult of personality.” If that personality is a despot, benign or otherwise, even a decentralized management structure won’t create a company everyone wants to work for. (Gates, for one, is reportedly a very difficult boss.)
Family-owned companies often pose similar problems. Your chances to make decisions and take responsibility may be tied to your last name. barely competent family members may wind up with cushy, highly paid jobs, while you and other “outsiders” do all the work. While many such firms are privately held, even publicly traded companies in which family members hold a significant block of stock (like Ford or Dupont) still answer primarily to the family.
`many larger, more decentralized companies will spread decision-making power and opportunities for advancement somewhat more evenly. However, such companies often encourage competition among workers, rather than focusing their collective energies on competing organizations, products, or services. If managers regularly spend half their time politicking or writing self-serving memos to the boss, it’s a survival-of-the-fittest (or survival-of-the-best-memo-writer) atmosphere. People attuned to corporate infighting might relish such a company; those who just want to do their jobs and be rewarded for the work they do will find it an unfriendly place to work.
Some companies are bursting with energy. Their offices seem to reverberate with a steady hum of activity. Such a high-key environments is right for aggressive go-getters who are unafraid of such a fast pace and more than ready, even eager, to jump into the fray. Other workplaces are calmer, quite, almost studious in nature. Such low-key firms are probably better choices for more laid-back personalities.
While a high-energy or low-key atmosphere says little about a particular company’s chances for success, it may have a lot to do with your own on-the-job performance, success, and happiness. Matching dissimilar corporate and individual personalities usually results in a new job search.
If you run across a company that seems to give off no signals at all, be aware! This is usually the directionless organization, one that lacks both an agenda and dynamic leadership. Without such leadership, you can be certain that this organization will founder, usually when things start going wrong and the timely implementation of company-wide decisions is required.
Clearly, the more you know about the companies you’re considering, the better off you’ll be. For those of you – and that should be all of you – who want to research a specific company and/or job description, Chapter 3 will give you the necessary hints and resources.
Once you’ve analyzed yourself and investigated a targeted company’s culture, a simple but extremely important question should come to mind:
How does your self-description match that of the culture at the company you’re thinking of joining?
If you are laid back and not particularly driven to overachieve, a company that describes itself as “hard-charging” may not be for you, even if you can actually convince them to hire you.
The Gallup Organization is a unique example of corporate culture. When my good friend Tony Rutigliano was recruited by them, their offer was so enticing that it seemed like a “no-brainer” … until Tony asked about exactly what he’d be doing, his job title, and to whom he’d be reporting.
“well,” the recruiter confided, “we work a little differently here. We expect that you’ll wander around for a while, maybe a few months, and then you’ll tell us what you really want to do. We don’t really have formal job descriptions. And you can use any reasonable title.”
Needless to say, Tony, a veteran of a number of traditional magazine publishing companies, was a bit taken aback. Wander around? Create his own job description? Choose his own title? Since Tony was a bit of an entrepreneur at heart and a confident bloke to boot, he decided to give it a try. Luckily for him, Gallup’s corporate culture, as unusual as it was, turned out to be a great fit for him.
Would it have been an equally rewarding and ultimately successful move for you? Not if you were someone who expected or required a rigid organization chart. Anyone too uncomfortable to just “wander about” would probably have run for the hills after a couple of days (presuming they were crazy enough to take the job in the first place).
There may be nothing inherently wrong with an organization you’re considering – it just might be a horrible fit for you, have outlined. Maybe you will survive, maybe you will thrive, maybe you will find yourself looking for another job in six months. Or maybe it will cause you to positively change your goals. In any event, you must know what you’re getting into and do everything you can to prepare for that environment.

 

The Importance Of Goals

I’ve mentioned the importance of goals already. Now it’s time to emphasize them. Short – and long – term goal setting must become a habit. Once a year, reevaluate not just the progress you’re making toward your long – term goals, but whether they need to be tweaked, heavily modified, or even changed completely. Life is not static. Neither are your goals; they will (and should) change with circumstance, age, position, and the like.
Remember that setting goals will not only help you define where you want to go, but what you need to know and do to get there. If you have decided that you eventually want to be Chief Financial of a large corporation, you may well need an MBA or similar graduate degree. When do you plan to get it? Would you go to graduate school full – or part – time? If the later, will the company allow a modified work schedule so you can go to school while you work? Does the company offer a tuition reimbursement plan? Is there already a program in place to which you can apply? Your goals, and your estimation of what you need to do and be to reach them, will greatly influence the questions you ask.
It’s equally important to make your goals realistic. There is nothing wrong with reaching for the stars, providing you have the right-sized step stool. If you aren’t a high school graduate, you can aspire to becoming chairman of IBM, but your short-term goals better include some serious additional education! If you want to be a prize-winning author, passing a creative writing class might be a nice first step. Goals are realistic if there is a clear-cut path that you can follow to reach them. It may be a hard and long road, but if you truly believe you can actually reach its end with sufficient effort, then the goal is realistic.
Even if a goal is completely unrealistic, I would not necessarily counsel you to drop it. First of all, who’s to say it really is unrealistic? You may have little or no natural writing ability and couldn’t draw a straight line if your life depended on it. Would I be willing to bet you probably won’t become the creative direction of one of the world’s top three advertising agencies? Well, I’m a betting man, so I probably would take that bet. But the human spirit is an amazing thing. Who says with the right education, jobs, and practice that your goal, though “unrealistic,” couldn’t be realized? And even if it weren’t, the additional education and dedication certainly wouldn’t hurt your career prospects!
What if the goal is realistic, but you are simply unwilling or unable to do what’s necessary to reach it? Change it – why kid yourself? While luck plays a factor in many careers, it is certainly not the only factor; the one common denominator of virtually any success story is hard work. If you aren’t willing to work hard, almost any goal may be unrealistic.
Your immediate and future personal/financial goals will, of course, have a great effect on your decision making and on the questions you ask (and answers you absolutely need to know). If you’re unmarried and childless and someone actually offers to pay you to wander the globe, you may be more than all right with the arrangement. But what if you anticipate getting married or having kids in a year or two? What if you know you have to prepare to take care of an older relative? Your financial needs may dramatically change. The kind of hours, travel, and work load that you’re willing to take on now may need to be radically overhauled. You may not mind relocating once a year now but resist relocating at all after you’ve “settled down.” If you have chosen a job / career / industry / company in which declining to relocate may mean the end of your job / career, your future plans must be part of your current equation.

 

Show Me The Money!

What is your current standard of living, and are you happy with it?
Can you comfortably afford your current lifestyle, or are you living beyond your means with nothing in the bank and a fistful of maxed-out credit cards?
What standard of living do you aspire to in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?
What salary (or package) is required to meet these targets?
Besides salary, what benefits or package components do you consider essential? Nice? Un-necessary?
Answering these questions is obviously important. You have to realistically define your financial wants and needs. How can you know how much you need if you can’t figure out how to live on what you’ve got right now? Develop a budget. Develop a financial plan.
As you analyze the cost of some of your long-range planning. You’re going to shock yourself. Especially if you are a recent college graduate, laying out what “life” costs could be daunting. But don’t forget to look at the other side of the coin – what you’re going to earn. Even if your starting salary were $25,000 and you never got a better job or a raise (and leaving out the costs of inflation, which is just a pain in the butt anyway), if you work for 49 years, you’ll earn $ 1 million. Earn on average, $ 50,000 a year, and you’ll wind up making $ 2 million. And if you quickly ascend to that $ 100,000 a year level? That’s right - $ 4 million or more 40 years from now.
If you are (hopefully) given the choice between two or more jobs, you need some basis on which to decide between them. If one job pays substantially less than the other but is much closer to your ideal career path, has more promise, or has some other greatly appealing quality, you really need to know whether you can afford to take it … because you very much might want to take it, despite the lower pay.
You need to look farther into the future than tomorrow. Companies still do survive and thrive, and a company you’re considering (especially if it is a non-hi-tech behemoth that’s been a fortune 500 company for decades) may very well be around when your grandkids are reading this book. What does this mean in terms of your job hunt? Your financial prospect at that firm 2, 5, or even 10 years in the future may be very relevant indeed. Taking a position that pays less than you would like at a company where you believe (based on your research, conversations, maybe even promises from the interviewer) your financial goals could well be reached or even exceeded farther down the line, may be a smart move. And the bigger the company, the more likely there will be significant opportunities to change jobs, even areas (hence, careers), without leaving the company.
What if you are offered more, perhaps substantially more, rather than less? Simple question: What will you earn if you’re fired or quit after a month, or three, or six? Isn’t that a reality you need to at least consider?
If you choose a job purely because it pays substantially more, and the job (or the company!) disappears after a month, or two, or three, what have you actually made? A heck of a lot less than you thought you were getting! Suddenly a $12,000 annual difference becomes a difference of $3,000, $2,000, or even $1,000. Not to mention that you are now out of a job. How much are you losing while you find another job? Yep. More than the $12,000 on which your supposedly well-thought-out decision was based.
There’s more to life than money, and money is only aspect to consider about a job offer. Make sure you know enough about who you are, where you want to go, what you need, and what you want so you’re ready to make an informed decision, not just a comparison of dollars and cents.
This is not your grandfather’s job market (or, for that matter, your mother’s). there is no security. Do you remember (or have you heard about) those days when you took a job and could count on reasonable raises for 40 years or so until you retired with your gold watch? Those days are long gone, so making a decision to take a job that does not really fulfill your long-terms goals (maybe not even many of your short-term goals) just because it pays more money (even a lot more money!) is not necessarily smart.
Interestingly, keeping money in this kind of perspective meshes nicely with the Five O’clock Club’s notion of creating a “40-year vision” of your career. If you read any of the books by its founder, Kate Wendleton, you will see how often her members choose between three, five, or more offers and wind up taking the one that pays the least in the short run. This is not because each of them has decided that money is not as important as some of the other factors we’ve been discussing. In many cases, it’s because they had a clear vision of the financial potential of each offer and made a more long-term decision.
Besides, I doubt there are many people who have fervently proclaimed on their deathbeds, “I wish I had just worked harder” or “I just wish I had made another sale.” Always give personal goals the same weight as career / professional goals unless you have consciously decide anything of the sort; we just let the professional goals overwhelm the personal. We “become our jobs” - , which is not inherently a bad thing, but not a good one if it throws the rest of our lives completely out of balance.
Be careful how many of your decisions in life, including, of course, where you work, are based solely on money. The older I get, the more I see how many of the decisions I’ve had to make have been based far too much on money (either wanting or not having) and not nearly enough on conscious lifestyle choices. I feel sometimes, and I suspect many of you do, too, that money makes a mockery of the term “choices” – what do you mean, choices? A man’s gotta do what a man can afford (or not).
Not to get into a Dennis Miller rant here, but if money isn’t the root of all evil, it can certainly be considered the root of one heck of a lot of dissatisfaction. There are, at the risk of sounding simplistic, a lot of people without what many of us would consider “a lot of money” (define with your own number of zeros) who are quite content in their lives, thank you very much. And, of course, there are a plethora of “poor little rich kids” who seem to have received nothing but grief with their inherited zillions. So keep money in its place. It’s important, even essential, but it ain’t all there is.

 

Are You Moving Too Fast?

Don’t be too ready to give up what you already have (your current job) just because you believe the grass just has to be greener “over there.” Ask yourself some smart questions first:
Can you achieve your ultimate career path in your current company?
How does your current job differ from your ideal job?
What specific skills and experience do you need to transform one into the other?
How can you transfer skills you already have to a completely different career?
How would you describe your absolute dream job? Where would you be? What would you be doing? Who would you be working with / for?
What would you be earning?
What additional education or training would you need to achieve this dream job? If you obtained the education or training but didn’t attain the dream job, how do you think your current job or career path would be affected?
You may be putting the cart before the horse if you’re already gung-ho on interviewing at other companies but haven’t asked yourself these important questions. You already have (one hopes) a good reputation at your current job. A good history, friends. Experience. Respect. If all of that is true, you should want to move on only if your answers to the above questions are negative.
If there is any way to stay at your current job and / or at your current company if the answers are positive, think long and hard about why you would want to make a change. My advice would be to evaluate what you would need to do to create your ideal job at your current company, even if you hate your current job, current boss, or current situation. Analyze first what it would take to make you happy. And if you can fathom my way to do it without going through the job-search process, do so. It’s a jungle out there, and better the frying pan you’re already in than throwing yourself upon someone else’s pyre.
Of course, this is a moot point if, having done the analysis, you conclude there is simply no viable way to get even remotely close to your ideal job at a compensation level that you need. Or if the very nature of the company (10 employees, a field you want out of completely, etc.) makes it moot.
But don’t be afraid to ask the questions raised at the beginning of this section and, perhaps, two more:
Are there any training programs available that may make the kind of move you want possible?
Presuming there is “room at the top,” what specifically do you think you would have to do to earn the job title / salary / responsibilities / etc. you want?
Can you do it? Within a timeframe you deem reasonable?
By taking a more patient approach, you may give yourself the best of both possible worlds – working toward your goals at your present company while still testing the waters at others.
By the time you finish the exercises in this chapter, you should be ready to sit down and describe not just the companies you’d like to work for, but your duties and responsibilities, your new boss’s personality, the people you will be working with, and where you’d like to be 2, 5, 10 … yes, even 40 years down the road. If you have honestly and completely answered the questions you asked of yourself, I think you will be able to do so.

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