The French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin felt that seeing is the most important thing we do. “Seeing. We might say that the whole of life lies in that verb—if not ultimately, at least essentially. To see or to perish is the very condition laid upon everything that makes up the universe,” he had said. How we see things determines what we feel about them and ultimately, what we do about them.
How you see your job
In the context of our careers, the way we ‘see’ our jobs determines the type of jobs/careers we choose. If we see our careers merely as instruments to earn money, then we will choose our jobs based solely on this criterion. If we see our careers as opportunities to learn and do what we are passionate about, then this criterion will dictate our job choices. If we look at our careers as a means of making a difference in this world, then we will choose our jobs accordingly. If for us, our jobs are the chance to network with people from different countries so that one day we can migrate to another country then we will choose our jobs as per this.
If we see our careers as status symbols in society and among our peers, we choose jobs that make an impression.
It thus becomes critical to be aware of how you see your job. This will help you avoid making wrong career decisions and save the frustration. That doesn’t mean that factors other than our job perception do not affect our decisions, but perceptions are the principle reasons for people making the decisions they do. So the next time, you are offered a job, think whether it fits your perception about your career.
When choosing a job, the second factor you need to consider is the expectations you have regarding the job and the company.
Often, when offered a position in a company, we go to great lengths to find out more about the organisation and the kind of job we would be doing—we search the internet, we probe the interviewer about KRAs or job responsibilities or we query the current or former employees of the organisation.
In spite of doing so much to make sure the job is good, we may find that the expectations we built based on our enquiries do not fit with the reality once we join the company. This happens because sometimes, the expectations we build are unrealistic or we have ignored the nagging doubts in our minds and rushed into the decision. Companies today are going all out to sell a particular image. We live in a world of imagery and effect. You need to be able to carefully ascertain the distance between image and substance before deciding to join a company.
The third area you need to evaluate carefully is whether the identity of the organisation gels with your own.
To find out what your identity is, answer the following questions:
- What do you stand for? [Your core values]
- Why do you exist? [Your core purpose]
- What do you see yourself becoming? [Core vision]
This requires awareness about yourself and some reflection. You need to know the values you uphold. If these values are not practised by the company, conflict will occur. Some companies are known for striving for integrity and transparency, while others are known for opaque and dubious dealings.
Similarly, if your own personal purpose hardly resonates with the purpose of the organisation, then frustration is bound to occur. For instance, if the purpose of a company is to serve the needs of children in the digital space and you do not feel comfortable neither with the digital space nor with children, you might feel uncomfortable working in such a company.
Lastly, if the goals set by the organisation in the context of its vision do not fire you up, you will be lukewarm in your efforts to achieve those goals and realise the vision of the company. This will ultimately affect your performance and, in the long run, your job satisfaction and growth.
Velocity of evolution
Next comes being aware of the velocity of evolution an organisation is experiencing and matching it against your velocity of evolution.
If the organisation is a heavily bureaucratic organisation and takes a long time to make decisions on critical aspects of growth, then it will move at a sluggish pace. A person who wants things to move faster will naturally feel unhappy in such a setting.
Related to the velocity of the organisation is its culture. This determines the way things are done there. For instance, some organisations insist on rules and don’t encourage flexibility. In other organisations, emphasis is on the IT department to develop systems and processes for control and decision making. Still other organisations function as a political system where interest groups exist and power struggles are intense, resulting in conflict, which stymies the growth of the organisation. Then there are organisations that are like a living organism. Here, peoples’ needs are taken into account, there is open communication and transparency and there is healthy interaction and collaboration with the external constituents. The environment is of mutual respect and efforts are made to sustain the same. There are also organisations that are heavily task-oriented and focus singularly on results and results alone, irrespective of the means adopted to achieve those ends.
Each of the above metaphors represents different cultures found in organisations. If the culture of the organisation does not match your own culture, then you might feel choked in such a place.
When you visit the place for an interview, be sensitive for signs that reveal the organisation’s culture. You can get an idea about the workings even by the way the HR interacts with you, how fast your documents are processed and how quick is the turnaround time. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or frustrated with the way you are treated, rethink your decision.
The location of your office is also an important factor to consider when choosing a job. This refers to not just the city in which the employment is, but also where within a particular city are the offices located. A job might lose all its lustre if it requires you to take great pains to commute to office. Sometimes, reaching an office might require you to spend large amounts. Remember, this is money from your salary. Think it through.
Even if you are not the type to work for money, be very careful about this factor. You must be aware of the interpretation of the salary offered.
Sometimes the figure offered to you includes the cost of the car and the accommodation offered. At other times, the variable pay is considered as part of the salary package. However, people seldom achieve their targets because they are so high that one hardly ever gets to enjoy the benefits of such variable pay. Scrutinise the break-up, do not hesitate to ask any questions you deem fit.
After all, it’s going to be your income. Once you start working, don’t expect any changes to occur soon.
Boss and peers
In every job, there are two important factors that decide your job satisfaction on a day-to-day basis—the boss and the peers. One doesn’t leave the company, one leaves the boss. Similarly, it doesn’t take much time to feel miserable in the company if you are surrounded by uncooperative and politicised peers. Sometimes, the physical support structure is not there and one is expected to perform. It becomes very difficult and ultimately one leaves. Probe the interviewer openly about the boss and your future colleagues.
In some organisations, the learning curve is steep and one is expected to cope with the same. While in others, the induction is at a more convenient pace. And one is given time to grow into the job.
There are many other factors that you need to consider when accepting a job. Highlight the key points that are important to you and ponder over them before you make the jump. Let not the heart alone rule when making the decision.