The first job I ever had was scooping ice cream at a joint called White Mountain Creamery. In the decades between then and now, I’ve worked for or consulted to a lot of companies of varying sizes, grographies, and states of health or disrepair. Naturally that entails working with a lot of different people, as a manager, peer, or subordinate, in addition to sitting on both sides of the interview table as well. I’m sure you can relate.
I started thinking about a model for evaluating a job after reading some of the posts during Guy Kawasaki’s Career Week (start with that post and step forward by day). I’ve tested this model against some of the past work situations that stand out in my mind:
- My manager at the ice cream store who was a recovering alcoholic, so could never make the Bourbon Ball flavor (that used real Maker’s Mark). He did whippits instead.
- The co-worker who I surprised (unintentionally) while he was surfing porn in an open-air cube environment. I was sure to always be clearly heard and seen first in the future.
- The employee who had a family fortune yet toiled away in an entry-level position trying to win the respect of others.
So on to the model. I believe there are three key components to thinking about a job:
Everyone will weight these differently, so the order means nothing and the sub-components carry weight, too:
- People (do I like them? do they like me?)
- Environment: tangible (office space) and intangible (culture/gestalt)
- Content (do I like what I do? does it interest me?)
- Activities (do I enjoy the physical nature of what I’m doing?)
- Tangible, i.e. compensation
- Short-term Intangible: meeting needs (can I spend time with my kids? am I recognized?)
- Long-term Intangible: opportunity (how does this affect the future?)
For me, when I think about these factors vis-a-vis why I left jobs in the past – this clearly shows me why it was time to move on.
It’s also important to remember that change is a constant – both
yourself and in the company, so the model needs to be revisited on an
annual, perhaps even quarterly basis. In the short term, you might
overlook the deficiency of one element, but there needs to be overall
balance for long term happiness (again, according to your preferences). I think balance at a macro level = a career.
Hopefully this helps you, too – whether interviewing candidates, mentoring a friend, or searching for a new opportunity. Any thoughts for improvement are welcome and appreciated!