Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Get The Most Of Your Ag Job Search - Just Remember What You DON’T Want

Everyone calls me up to tell me what they want. “I want a seed job here,” or “I want an agronomy manager position there.” Unfortunately, most people think they know exactly what they are looking for in a job, and end up never finding it. However, if you are willing to enter a job search by focusing on what you DON’T want, you will have more opportunities to consider. Just flip your thought process around and decide what you dislike. What you have is a list of things to avoid at any cost, and you’ll end up with a rough road map of where you need to go.

The key is to make sure your list contains the things that you absolutely, positively don’t want to do ever, ever again. These are the “deal breakers.”

There are 5 key areas that will help you define your search. Each of these sections are probably the top 5 reasons people leave their jobs. Look at the list and think about what you have done, and would never, ever, do again.

Location. When looking at a great position, people rarely consider the long term effects of commutes or the location of their home in a sales territory. Think about the commitment you are making with this position. Will your time away from home be more, equal or less that your current position? Will the territory grow or decrease in size over time with your success? Is your commute going to be farther, but faster? Could it be shorter, but more frustrating? What are your limits?

Hours of operation. My dad worked in the trucking/shipping industry and worked odd hours until the day he retired. He worked nights, holidays, and strange mid-day shifts. It seemed like when he was home, he was always asleep. When I started my career in retail agronomy, like my father, it never bothered me to work extended hours, weekends or holidays. I guess it wasn’t a big deal to me because odd hours and days seemed normal to me. However, I can assure you that it bothered a lot of other people in my life and plenty of my co-workers too. If the hours or time commitment of a job doesn’t mesh with what you consider “having a life,” then don’t consider it. You’ll be miserable, and there’s no point trying to take a job when you know that you will eventually resent the hours.

Flexibility. There are two types of workplaces these days: Those that say they provide flexibility – and do – and those that say they provide flexibility – and don’t. If flexibility is really important to you, then you first need to define what flexibility is? Is it time off for kids events? The ability to work from home to stay with a sick family member? The ability to take 2 weeks off in a row? Do your homework and find out if flexibility is just lip service. See if you can get the real story on the company culture and what really happens.

Benefits. When you start your career, benefits just don’t seem like that big of a deal. I know they weren’t that important for me as I probably got a cold once or twice a year. Nothing major. Then things change. You get married, have kids, and they start bringing the “virus of the week” home from school. While I know that everyone would like a job with health benefits, it’s probably more critical for parents – especially single parents. If this is one of the reasons you hate your job, then don’t bother seeking positions that won’t offer you the level of health insurance you need.

Travel. You either love it or you hate it. I visit with as many people who love to travel nearly 20 nights per month as I do people that never want to be away from home. I’ve also known plenty of people who hated their jobs because of the travel. They thought being away from home a few nights each month wouldn’t be so bad, but they ended up hating it. It added stress to their families and their job performance. If you hate your job because of the travel, then steer clear of a job that requires it.

We make choices every day. When it comes to your career, those choices can become stressful, confusing, and intimidating. The easiest step may be to simply decide what you don’t want. By avoiding those things you don’t want, you just opened your career to everything you do want. By making this list ahead of time, the typically stressful decision of whether or not to accept an offer just got easier.

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