I’ve seen reports that the job market is picking up and companies are starting to hire again. That’s great news, especially if your phone has not been ringing lately with interview requests. If you’re serious about a job search and hang in there long enough, eventually the time will come when you get an offer.
Depending on how long it’s been and your level of desperation, you may be tempted to take just anything that comes your way. There are a lot of good reasons to take a job, and dumb ones as well. Be careful of the pitfalls. We can all be seduced by one aspect of a job, even if the rest of the job is totally wrong.
1. It’s the only offer I've had in ___ months. Fill in the blank with a number, and if it’s two digits or more, you may jump at the chance to start getting any paycheck at all. There are a couple of reasons why taking a desperation job is a bad idea. First of all, you may hate it and be miserable every day. A bad attitude shows in your face and work, so you may not be there very long. And that brings up the second reason. A string of recent, short-term jobs on your resume can be worse than a gap in employment. If you can’t see yourself making a job a career or it can’t improve your resume, hold out a little longer.
2. It pays a lot of money. What’s wrong with that? A high salary is a good thing, if the job is right for you. This mistake often happens when you’ve got more than one job offer for similar positions. Just take the one with the bigger paycheck. The job’s the same, right? Not really. Every company is different. Different people, products, culture, policies, opportunities. Don’t be swayed by a number. A big paycheck won’t make up for working for a company you don’t believe in or aren’t proud to work for.
3. It’s got an impressive title. Ah, the ego job. You’ve always wanted to be a Vice President. With the title comes responsibility, so be sure you want the duties that go along with it. Are you comfortable sitting in executive committee meetings, making decisions? Do you have the leadership and communications skills to lead an organization or division? Can you make tough decisions like a layoff, benefit cuts or a wage freeze? Are you willing to publicly defend the company’s unpopular decisions in the media? With a title comes responsibility. Are you up to the challenge?
4. It’s what’s expected of me. You have the degree, the licenses and certifications. What you don’t have is the dream. There are many people working today in jobs that were someone else’s dream. Parents who want a doctor or lawyer in the family, or to continue a tradition of engineers or plumbers or CPAs. Trying to please someone else can lead to dissatisfaction and resentment. Find your dream and pursue it.
5. It has lots of “perks.” You may get to travel the world, get great discounts or a company-paid BMW, but if you wouldn’t take the job without the perks, be careful. You’ll be spending most of your time working, not driving the Beamer to exotic vacations.
There are lots of reasons for taking a job, but be sure the job is the major motivation. Then, the big salary, perks and impressive title are just icing on the career cake.