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16 Essential Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Job Search

Don't tweak your resume till you've answered these...

by Janna Kefalas in Job Search

Like clockwork, that Monday Morning Dread washes over you as you hit the elevator button. You think, “I HAVE to start a job search! I can’t keep living like this.”

You’re definitely not alone in feeling this way. Too many working professionals can relate to the daily misery of being in the wrong job.

Determined to take action, you open your resume doc, make a few tweaks and start applying for jobs online. You think, “I’ll take ANYTHING just to get out of this situation.” And then, after a hasty job search, you accept the first offer you receive, only to be miserable 6 months later. And thus the cycle continues…

It’s totally understandable. We’re taught that a job search starts with updating our resume, and then we’re off to the races applying for jobs. No time to dawdle or delay.

But without taking the time to fully assess what you don’t like about your current job and how you want your next role to be different, you run the risk of landing one mismatched job after another.

So here are some critical questions to contemplate before diving into your job search. (One note — these questions are most helpful for someone who’s looking to move into a somewhat similar role or a level up, as opposed to someone who’s considering a major career change and unsure of which direction to go into.)

So grab a notebook and pen — or open a new doc — and start delving into these bad boys:

Job Search Questions Examining Your Present

1. Looking at your current position, what do you like most and least about your:

> duties/responsibilities/projects
> supervisor
> colleagues
> company’s culture and organizational structure
> salary and benefits package
> commute

2.  Is your current role in alignment with your core strengths, values and interests? If not, what’s missing?

3.  What are the top 3 things you would change about your current job if you could?

4.  What do you consider your top 5 skill sets?

5.  What types of problems do you most enjoy solving?

6.  What are 2 or 3 of your most proud career accomplishments.

7.  What do others come to you for advice on? (What comes easy to you that others find difficult?)

8.  Which industry-related topic could you easily write a short e-book or give a speech on?

In answering these questions, you might be surprised how removed your current position is from your intrinsic strengths and skill sets. Or you might realize that the nature of your role is spot on — it’s just your environment that needs changing. Either way, gaining clarity on your current situation will aid you in answering this next set of questions.

[FREE CHEAT SHEET: “5 Important To-Do’s Before Starting a Job Search”] 

Job Search Questions Examining Your Future

1. Thinking about your next position, map out your ideal requirements for each of these areas. Write freely and try not to edit yourself. Focus on what you truly want. (You can always modify these later.) Then rank them in order of importance.

> company size
> industry
> job title
> location/commute
> work environment
> opportunity for advancement
> company mission/impact
> organizational structure (hierarchical vs. flat)
> compensation package
> flexible work arrangements
> other company perks (free meals, gym, parties, etc.)

2.  How would you describe your ideal supervisor?

3.  How would you describe your ideal team?

4.  Which current skills would you most want to leverage?

5.  Which duties would you like to avoid?

6.  Which new skills are you hoping to develop?

7.  What types of projects would you like to work on?

8.  What are your 5 and 10-year professional goals?

Putting It All Together

After taking a deep dive into these 16 questions, you’ll hopefully be impressed with how much you’ve learned about yourself. Armed with this valuable information, you’ll be able to approach your job search in a more focused and strategic fashion.

Instead of grasping at any opportunity to quickly exit your current situation, you’ll have a clear set of benchmarks to weigh each position against.

Here’s to targeting the right roles and ending Monday Morning Dread for good!

[FREE CHEAT SHEET: “5 Important To-Do’s Before Starting a Job Search”]