My ideal job description? It's hard enough finding any job let alone an ideal one!
Yes, yes that's true but since you're looking for a change anyway, isn't it better to start from a position of knowing what you do best?
It's vital to know what work brings out the best in you--that is jobs where you both enjoy the work and are productive for your employer. Once you understand this, you'll know what you're looking for and will be more likely to recognize it when you see it.
So how do we go about doing this?
1. List the characteristics of your ideal work.
Without necessarily listing a job title, start writing work qualifications, duties, and environment that resonate with you. Maybe you'd start with:
- I spend 25% of my time traveling.
- I get to use my financial and analytical skills on a regular basis.
- I have a manager who provides direction, but doesn't micromanage me.
- I work with a small collaborative team.
- I interface with end users (or the general public) 10% of each day.
- My commute is under 30 minutes and I work from home once a week
- I'm in a minimal number of meetings.
- I believe in the mission of the company.
- I own my own project but contribute on others.
- Promotion is a possibility.
- Management encourages career growth
- I can earn $100K within 3 years.
Ok, so now you have a dozen or so aspects of work that would be ideal in that you'd be both interested in the work and productive. Now put them in order of importance. And after finishing that, draw a line between the entries that MUST be in your future work and those that would be nice to have.
Now, let's take a moment to explain these "must" haves. If you don't know where your next meal is coming from then you take whatever job you can. But if one of the must haves is missing, you know that from the get-go, you're going to keep looking for a better job. A must have is just that--an aspect of work without which you wont be happy and/or will not be maximally productive.
3) How to use the ideal job description
By identifying your ideal work environment, you can compare any job you're applying for or networking about to this ideal. You know what questions you need answered for the job to be a "go" for you. You can even tailor your personal brand (elevator pitch, resume profile, success stories) to match this ideal vision.
Potential employers whose vision of your role doesn't match yours can back away from you without losing face. Instead of having to say "we micromanage here and don't allow our managers much freedom," they only have to say "I don't think we have a good match here" and they back away from you, but if that freedom is a non-negotiable for you, you want them to back away.
On the other hand, if they like the role and vision you describe, they will be attracted to you. Then there is a win-win scenario—you’re happy and they get the best effort and value you can produce.
Now we all know that there's no perfect job any more than there's a perfect person. But the question to ask yourself is "how far off my ideal is the potential position I’m considering and can I live with the aspects that aren't ideal; are there any show stoppers?"
As I mentioned before, do not use this strategy if you're desperate for work and want the job at all costs. But in situations in which you have some latitude, this strategy maximizes the likelihood that you'll find work that makes you come alive and you deserve that!