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Before You Apply for Your Next Job…

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For those who work 30 or more hours per week, careers can consume a large percentage of your time and energy, each week. So if you’re going to work, you better do something you enjoy.

But is that really possible? Isn’t work just something you do to get a paycheck, so you can spend money on the things and people you value most? Perhaps there’s some level of truth to that notion, but I know too many people (including myself) who love their jobs, so I encourage you to continue searching until you find a career that fulfills your needs.

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Before most job interviews, I spend time preparing to answer questions that a job interviewer might ask me. A couple of years ago, I realized there are several questions I should be asking myself before I even submit my resume for consideration.

1. Why do I want this job?

Are you genuinely excited about the role for which you are applying? I know multiple people who confessed that they followed career paths or accepted promotions because they were seeking the approval of their parents, friends or significant other. This left them feeling empty and unfulfilled. Evaluate the reasons you want the position, and why youbelieve you will enjoy working in that role. High-performing magazine writers have turned down editor-in-chief positions, because they didn’t enjoy editing – they simply love being writers, and that’s important to know.

Part of figuring out where you want to go in your career, is figuring out where you don’t want to go. Even if you are offered a promotion, you should carefully evaluate the offer to make sure it is the right move for your career. Understanding this concept will help you remain focused on accomplishing your goals, rather than being distracted by options that don’t align with your career plan.

2. How long do I plan to stay?

Employees aren’t always in control of when they leave a company or a position. However, you should have a good idea of what you’re hoping to achieve in your position and where you would like to go in your career. Schedule time with your boss to discuss the progress your are making toward your long-term goals. Your best opportunity may be with your existing company, but you first need to make sure they know your interest and skill areas.

3. How much does this company value my integrity?

Is there a dollar amount that will incentivize you to go against your values? Would you report false sales numbers if your boss offered you an extra $25 under the table? Probably not, but you also need to know how you would respond if your boss offered you an extra $25,000 instead. Maintaining your integrity should be valued over any amount of personal or corporate gain. Seek out companies that demonstrate they value ethics and integrity in business.

I’ve always been taught that even though companies are interviewing you to see if you are a good fit, you should also be interviewing them for the same reasons. Conduct online research about organizations before you submit your applications. When you interview for the position, evaluate your in-person experience to see if their actions and behaviors are consistent with the image they project on their websites and in the media.

Always remember, Leadership is a Lifestyle.

— Ryan W. Hirsch
Program Manager, NASBA Center for the Public Trust