The title of my column today may sound a bit confusing. It comes from one of my own mentors. Years ago, when I was finishing graduate school in California, I spent a significant amount of time searching for the right job. I would go to job fairs and networking events as if it were my full-time job. I would interview for anything and everything.
Occasionally, a job would pop up that would seem almost right. It would have a great job description. The company seemed stable. The team seemed interesting. But, there was something about the hiring manager that was off – or perhaps the company wasn’t offering a competitive salary.
I would meet with my mentor to tell him about all of the jobs I was considering, and to discuss the pros and cons of each. If a job seemed like the wrong fit, he would encourage me to walk away. The thought of turning down an offer without another in hand was nerve-wracking. My mentor would then remind me, “Jobs are like buses. Just wait; another one is always coming.” The keyword here is always.
He felt it was more important to find the right fit, instead of hoping you could take every job that came along. Looking back, these were wise words. Who else in your life do you spend as much time with as your boss and co-workers? For most, the answer is your spouse. You typically don’t choose to marry your first girlfriend or boyfriend. Why would you expect that at work?
Often, we want to take every job when we’re feeling desperate. We’re miserable in our current position and we think that anything would be better – even if it were just for a short time.
The problem with this strategy is complex. First, your next job may have just as many problems are your current job, if not more. As the saying goes, sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.
More importantly though, planning to take a job for a short time forces you to explain why you’re looking for a new job just after accepting one. This means that you’ll be explaining all the dirt on your old company, including the ways that you didn’t get along with your boss or co-workers.
When you choose to wait and to select the right job, you’ll find yourself there for more than just a short time. While you’re interviewing, you’ll be able to focus on the positives of what you want in the future rather than the negatives from the past. Whether it comes to interviewing or negotiating your offer, focusing on the positive puts you in a much stronger position.
When you’re having a tough day, just try to remember that jobs are like buses. Just wait. Another one is always coming, and you want to be sure you get on the right one.
Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.