Job Hunt – Self-Assessment

This is part 1 of a brand new series called “Job Hunt”! 

One big part of saving funds and investing into your future, is having funds to save to begin with!  Not every job out there is going to pay you six-figures right off the bat, and if you’re just starting out in an entry level position, well, making sure you get a paycheck is important to start.

In my post college career I’ve held quite a few jobs.  These have typically all been sales positions, but each role has been a new experience that has helped me grow as an employee, and as a person.

Since I have “job hopped” so much in my life, I’ve gotten the opportunity to help quite a few people who were not happy in jobs, get out of their position and into something better.  I actually really like doing this for people, because in a post-2008 economy we’ve all got to help one another out.  So that’s what I want to do, I want to help out everyone who wants a new job, but is unsure of where to start, how to write a resume, how to navigate this weird employment system we have.

In this series of posts I’ll answer any questions you have regarding job hunting at any time, as well as post how to create a resume that is eye catching, create a cover letter that is compelling to read, where to find job listings and how to hunt out scams, how to negotiate salary, and how to act in an interview.

Can I guarantee you a high paying job with little effort?  Absolutely not.  One thing you need to know straight away is that if you want a new job, chances are so do hundreds, if not thousands, of other people.  If you want to truly get out of your current position and into something new, or something different, it’s going to take a lot of work.  So much that you might feel at times that you have a second job.

Are you tired of being comfortable and miserable?  Are you tired of looking at your paycheck every couple of weeks and sighing while you say “someday I’ll make more money”?

Well the time is now, so strap up your boots and load up your resume, because it’s job hunting season…and it all starts with learning the spectrum of employment and self-assessment.

The Spectrum

Before we jump into what exactly self-assessment is we need to give you a nice picture of some of the normal people you will encounter in an office at a job.  I’ve boiled them down to 3 different categories.  Think of this more of a spectrum than an absolute list.

The Honeymooner

Honeymooners are fresh faces, typically they are fresh out of college and starting their first job, or they are just new hires coming from an old job that they didn’t like, hoping that this job will be better than the last.  Typical traits of these types of employees are: genuine smiles, repetition of the phrase “best job I’ve ever had” or “I love it here” without an ounce of cynicism in their voice, and the uncanny ability to overlook obvious issues at the company.  This phase typically lasts about 6 months.

The Tenured 

The Tenured are people who have been at a job a year or longer.  These are the realists of the company, and your best source for an honest opinion of the company without all the scathing remarks.  They still work hard, because the job is still better than their old job, but they can see the problems and know how to work the office politics without creating drama.  They are typically pretty cynical, but in a lighthearted way.

The Toxic

These are the people whose attitudes are so negative that you can’t even say “good morning” to them without getting a lecture about how horrible a company is, or without getting a snippy response.  These people can be found roaming an office talking vocally about how they wished they would get fired or find a new job, however they will never quit or look for a new job.  These people complain and stir the office pot.  They will draw you into their drama hoping that you will feel miserable as well, because hey misery loves company.

Where do you think you fall on this spectrum of employment?  In between honeymooner and tenured?  All the way to the far right of toxic?  Where would you like to be on this spectrum?

Let’s look at an example shall we?

Let me quickly describe a typical day at my very first job for you all.  I would wake up at 4:30am and get ready, make a quick cup of coffee, and then be out the door by 5:30am to drive to the closest Metra station.  My train would come in at 6:00am and I would have an hour ride from the outskirts of Chicago into the city.  From there I had a 10 city block walk into work.

Once I actually made it to work, I would grab another cup of coffee, sit at my desk, pick up my phone, and make anywhere between 100-120 phone calls a day trying to sell technology to companies.  Sure emails would come through every now and again, but my calls were monitored and if I was off the phone for too long I would get a visit from my boss, my boss’ boss, or the VP of sales in the company – all of whom would scream at me to get back on the phone and get selling.

PS – there was a stain near my desk I didn’t make – that being said the management of the company gave me the nickname “Pigpen” – which I then held for the full duration of my employment at this company.

P.P.S. – this company and said management also threatened to fire me on birthdays, before holidays, and on the very day I was taking my grandmother off of life support, as well as called me at her funeral to tell me that they would fire me if I didn’t hit my quota for the month.

Can you guess where I was on the spectrum after my first year of employment of this company?

Self-Assessment

Performing a self-assessment periodically throughout a given year can help you avoid getting into situations like I was in.  It can help you recognize you are unhappy with your current position much sooner, and help you avoid becoming a toxic employee, toxic friend, and toxic person all together.  When you perform a self-assessment you need to be alone with a pen and paper.  This is a time for you to focus on yourself.  No TV.  No iTunes.  Just you and your thoughts.  I want you to write down the following questions, and answer them honestly.  Do not share this information with anyone!  This is a private and personal project, you have nobody to impress with your answers.

Self-Assessment Questions:

  1. Am I treated with respect in my current role?
  2. Do I ever leaving work feeling as if I have no idea how I am able to maintain my current position?
  3. Am I dreaming about work?
  4. Has work become my only subject of conversation with people?
  5. Would I consider my work environment “toxic”?
  6. Am I making enough money to not only survive, but also enough to have some left over for saving?
  7. Am I happy?

Even if you know the answers to these questions, take the time to think about your response to each one.  If you feel the need, write out the reasons why you feel this way in answering the questions.  Don’t filter yourself, let yourself put it all on paper.  When you’re done read what you’ve written.  Are your answers happy?  Do just reading those answers make you angry?  Sad?  Hopeless?

Now after reviewing your answers to these questions – think about where you fall on the spectrum of employment, and where you think your co-workers, spouses, or family would put you on this spectrum?

If your answers to your questions are negative, and you place your self anywhere close to Toxic on the spectrum, or you feel others might, it’s time to look for a new job.  Don’t worry, you’re not alone, I’m going to help you get a new job, and make a lot more money when you change!

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