"job search"– Knowing What YOU Want by Carole Martin

Reading through the various tweets and blogs – all the experts are talking about what you need to do to get a new job – meaning what you should do to please the future employer. That’s good advice and it is a part of the interview process. But it is not the entire story! Ideally it will be a win/win situation for both the employer and you as the new employee.

A situation where you will have a job that you really want and where you will be able to fulfill and exceed the employer’s expectations — that would be in an “ideal world.”

But right now the world is less than ideal and the job opportunities may not be those that you can pick and choose. But if you take a job that you really don’t want it may end up hurting you in the long run. According to a recent survey by AOL Small Business, nearly 50 % of employees have thought about quitting and 21 % have applied for another job in the past 6 months.

Feeling stuck in a job can lead to nasty results. It’s called “passive-aggressive” in some cases. People “hate” their jobs but can’t afford to lose the job so they just “suck it up” and live through each miserable day. The risk is someday having just one too many irritants and doing or saying something rash, resulting in job loss. Or, becoming more and more unhappy and less and less motivated and beginning to receive negative comments on your performance appraisal. Neither of these situations is good and I can think of many more negative scenarios with a long lasting impact.

So, what do YOU want? Think about when the last time you did a values check? When did you last think “What is important in my life?” If you are changing jobs or seeking a new job this is the ideal time to consider if the work and the companies where you are interviewing have values in-line with what you value. Are you selling out? What are your goals – short-term and long-term? Will this job bring you closer to your goals – or are you settling?

Before you begin a job search, the first question to ask yourself should be: “What am I looking for in the new job?” Most people don’t bother, they head straight for the job boards to see what’s out there. In my opinion that is the wrong approach. If you will take some time to think about what is important to you it will help you be more selective in where you apply, interview, and hopefully end up working.

Doing some thinking about what you want professionally will also boost your passion – or enthusiasm – toward the next job. When you are asked the question, “Why do you want to work here?” you will be able to answer the question with honesty and sincerity. Using interview questions as your guide, try flushing out what is important to you and what is not. In the end hopefully you will have your own “Wish List” of job requirements to go by.

A good place to start thinking about what you want is with the question: “When have I been most motivated?”

This question is more than an interview question, it is a question that you should be asking yourself before an interview. Think about when you have been most satisfied in your work. When did you feel like you were making a difference or making a contribution with your work?

If you are struggling with the answer to this question, a simple exercise that will help you look inside yourself is to think about what you “want more of,” and what you “want less of,” in your next job. Most people perform at a higher level if they are satisfied with the work that they do – and, as a result are more motivated.

Begin making a list of the tasks at any job – those tasks that you were particularly proud of, or that energized you. In other words, “when your job turned you on.” Think about the last time you were so involved in a project or task when you woke up thinking about how you could improve the situation. Write those experiences down and try to determine what the factors were that were satisfying for you.

What were the stimulating tasks of this job? Was it the leadership aspect? Or, was it the challenge of coordinating the details, and people? Was it completing the project on time or below budget? Were there customers involved (internal or external) – if so, is that what you found most challenging? Then look at the other side of the equation – what didn’t you like, and hope that you will do less of in your next job?

After you have written this list for your current job, try doing the same thinking about previous jobs. If you recently graduated from college, think about the classes that were most stimulating and interesting for you, or the projects you worked on with teams.

By making lists of motivating experiences from your last two or three jobs, you will begin to see patterns of projects and tasks that stand out. Analyze what you did and the answers to these questions will give you possibilities for fulfillment in future jobs with similar responsibilities.

Take this list of motivating experiences and script an answer to the interview question, “What motivates you?” There is no such thing as the “perfect” answer to this question. Your answer will be individual and based on your own satisfactions and dissatisfactions. No one can do this for you. Only you have the answer.

“What is it that you want in your next job? Being able to answer this question will make you feel more confident about finding the right job. And remember, if you don’t know what you want, you will probably not recognize it when it is presented to you. Even in tough times it is important to not lose sight of this.

The Interview Coach, Carole Martin, is a celebrated author, job coach, and speaker on the subject of interviewing and recruiting. Contributing writer at Monster.com and featured on talk radio. Carole is using her proven methods for coaching job seekers on competitive interviewing skills in technical and non-technical industries. You can download her free worksheet for DEtermining your Values Exercise

Follow The Interview Coach on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to learn about current workshops and seminars Carole is offering.