You can’t optimize for everything. It is incredibly rare for a particular job to meet or exceed all of your expectations. There are many aspects of the work experience that you will have to understand and evaluate while you are looking for a new job. Some, such as the role, your pay and benefits, and the people you’ll collaborate with on a daily basis, are easy to connect to your personal experience right away. Others, including broader company context and long-term career opportunities, may not be as tangible from the start, but may be among the most important criteria for you.
As you pursue the application and interview process, you will receive a lot of information about each of these topics. Most of the time, the messages will be subtle and embedded into a larger conversation. This is why a clear understanding of what you want to prioritize will enable you to proactively listen for signals and ask specific questions to get a comprehensive picture of how a particular opportunity aligns with what matters most to you. When your core priorities and actual work experience complement one another, you can focus on your achievement and fulfillment. However, if aspects of your work experience don’t match the factors you know are most important to your satisfaction and success, problems will emerge. Initially, the problems might be subtle frustrations. Over time, those annoyances will build and the cumulative impact of an ongoing, growing issue can become intolerable.
As you read through the priorities outlined in this section, reflect on your past experiences and take the time to complete the activity, Rank Your Top Priorities. By doing so, you’ll have clarity about what priorities you should focus on as you interview for jobs. Later, in the Ask Me This Instead section, you’ll have the chance to select questions tied to your priorities that will help you get to the heart of these matters in each of your conversations.