I’ve been thinking recently about the factors that I value most in a job. Below are some factors that I take into consideration. For each one, I make sure to ask myself several questions, “How will this work?” “Does it matter to me?” and “How much does it matter to me?”
Flexibility: Will you be able to take time off, set your own hours, and work from home occasionally? Can you work less than full-time? Can you pursue other projects on the side? To what extent do these factors affect your feelings about a potential workplace?
I value my flexibility as a virtual worker immensely. I love being able to work from home or Starbucks occasionally and take long weekends when I want, knowing I can make up my hours on weeknights or the following weekend. Most importantly, I love working part-time, owning a business on the side, and having time for my blog, Change the Triangle, and my social life.
Work/Life Balance: Along the same lines, are you expected to stay until 8 or 9pm or are you allowed to bolt at (or before) 5pm? Does the employer encourage you to have a healthy work/life balance or give your life over to the company? Either way, does it matter to you?
I don’t really have a work/life balance struggle since I work virtually. If I were to work full-time from an office, I would want the ability to maintain a healthy outside life. I feel like I lose a lot of my productivity when I’m forced to keep crazy hours and sacrifice healthy eating and exercising (that being said, I love the adrenaline of occasional late nights and firm deadlines).
Income and benefits: Will you be paid on a salary, hourly wage, or commission or a combination? Will you receive full benefits like a 401k and medical and dental? Do you have a back-up plan if you won’t receive benefits (like the ability to be on a family member’s plan)?
It’s important for me to have a solid income but if I were to pit financials against other factors, it would absolutely rank lower than some others.
Mental and emotional stimulation: Is the job mentally and emotionally challenging for you? Does it help you grow as a person? Again, are these priorities for you or are you fine taking a job that doesn’t propel you forward?
This is incredibly important for me. I can’t stay passionate for a job that doesn’t push me, challenge me, and help me grow. For me, there’s a time and place for doing work that you’re familiar and comfortable with, but tackling new exciting projects is a priority.
Physical surroundings: Think about the location and aesthetics of your workplace. Do you need a chic, elegant office or is a sparse cubicle fine with you? Does the office’s proximity to your home and local resources matter? If you will work virtually, will you work from your bed, a home office, Starbucks, a coworking space, a Regus office suite, or a combination?
My surroundings are somewhat important to me. I value natural lighting, comfortable chairs, and easy access to water, bathrooms, and coffee 🙂 For me, The Raleigh Forum is the perfect blend of comfy but chic. I don’t think I would feel comfortable in a super fancy office. A short commute is very important to me. Additionally, I like working in an office that has restaurants, coffee shops, and activities within walking distance. As a virtual worker, I also value having access to a coworking space because working from home 24/7 makes me stir-crazy!
Office setting: Do you want fun office amenities like a ping pong table and free beer on Fridays or are these superfluous for you? Do you prefer business formal, business casual, or Silicon Valley attire?
I love having a laid-back, fun office. When I worked at The Washington Diplomat, I felt more productive when I was able to take short darts breaks throughout the day! That being said, I don’t need crazy amenities like pony or helicopter rides 🙂 Business casual or office casual attire is the perfect fit for me- cute flats or kitten heels, a skirt or jeans, a cute top, and a blazer.
Coworkers & boss: How important is it for you to have good relationships with your coworkers and boss? Do you want them to be friends or just 9-5 acquaintances? Does their age, gender, and other factors matter to you?
Having solid relationships with my coworkers is important to me. I love feeling comfortable with my coworkers but I don’t expect my social life to revolve around them.
Autonomy: Along the same lines, does the job and your boss offer you autonomy and freedom? Will you make your own decisions or follow the instructions of a superior?
Autonomy is key for me. I feel most productive when I’m self-directed, passionate, and in control. That’s not to say I can’t take direction or I don’t value having a boss and coworkers that I can use as resources!
Security: In a rocky economy, job security is harder to come by. Are you comfortable with having a less secure job (like at a start-up) a or do you strive for a more secure career (tenure, anyone?)? What can you do to increase your job security (like signing a 2 year contract)?
I feel comfortable with the ambiguity of both owning my own business and working at a maturing start-up. For me, job security is a nice perk but not mandatory.
Company values & ethics: Is corporate social responsibility a part of the company’s mission? Do they do well by their direct and indirect stakeholders, including employees, the public, and the environment?
This is a big factor for me. I want to believe in the mission and values of the company that I work for. I strive to work for companies that not only do the right thing in the community but also internally (such as promoting a healthy work/life balance- see above).
What other priorities do you take into account? Which priorities are the most and least important to you when choosing a job?