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Questions to Ask Yourself Before Jumping Into a Job Search


Employment & Learning

Before you jump into the job search, it’s important to figure out what matters most to you in a new job by asking yourself a few crucial questions.

The job search is like dating, says Jacqueline Mitchell, a career and life coach at her own consulting firm.

“This is a relationship that you’re getting into. If you don’t know what type of relationship you want, and you go out there seeking a relationship, you’re going to get offered so many different things that don’t align with your values,” Mitchell says.

Much like going on a bad first date, there will be bad first interviews or recruiter screenings gone awry if you don’t know what you are looking for in your next job.

Common job search advice can include researching the company and preparing for frequently-asked interview questions, like ‘Why do you want to work here?’ or ‘Can you tell me more about yourself?’ But Mitchell says these are some of the most important questions to ask yourself before applying to jobs.

What are my boundaries?

First, Mitchell recommends asking yourself, ‘What are my boundaries?’

“During the interview process, a lot of people don’t realize that how you interview, how you ask questions and the way you state who you are and how you do things, you’re setting your boundaries right there,” Mitchell says.

Boundaries at work, whether you’re working in person or remote, can include any physical, emotional or mental limits that keep you from overcommitting or burning out — Do you only want to work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.? Are you comfortable being on call for your position? Do you need work-from-home flexibility?

“What is not overwhelming for you? What brings you harmony?” Mitchell says. “Boundaries are self-preservation and self-care. Boundaries help you navigate this world, whether it’s professional or personal.”

What are my values?

Establishing values is important for the work you’ll be doing, Mitchell says. Will there be collaborative projects to work with peers? Are there opportunities to learn new skills and improve your talents? Does the role allow for future advancement in your career?

You have to ask yourself what your values are before applying for jobs, or like dating, you’ll end up with a match that you’re not happy with, she added.

“A lot of people don’t like to do that. Successful people will literally pause and ask themselves, ‘What am I looking for?’ and then go after that,” Mitchell says. “As opposed to throwing a wide net and seeing what you catch.”

What life do I want to live?

Deborah Grayson Riegel, a management expert who has taught at Wharton and Columbia Business Schools, recommends people think about how changing jobs will fit into their life goals.

Do you picture living in a loft in a big city or a house with a pool, maybe with kids or three dogs or two cats, or even driving across the country in an RV? If you want any or all of these things, how can your next career move help you achieve these goals?

If you’re just starting out in your career, these goals may not be easily attainable with your first job or even within the next five years, Grayson Riegel says that having a goal is the first step. Then you can reconfigure your goal as time goes on.

“If you’re a young person in your 20s, it is highly possible that your life is going to change a number of times and in significant ways in the next 10 years,” Grayson Riegel says. “So think about ‘What do I want my life to look like for the next three years?’ and then you get to think about that again in three years.”

These are some big questions and might feel overwhelming, but you’re not alone. Our employment counsellors at the Employment and Learning Centre are here to help you finds the path that best helps you achieve your goals.


Information on our job search programs at the YWCA Employment and Learning Centre can be found at: Employment & Learning

This article was adapted by Shaylyn White. You can view the full original article by Mikaela Cohen of CNBC Make It here.