(This article is part of a book called How to Find a Job, which now is available as an ebook on Kindle, nook, and Smashwords. All of the chapters have been revised, many have been expanded, and the book contains three bonus chapters (including Negotiating) that are not available on this blog.)
When I lost my job, my wife was an award-winning journalist, and we had a two-year-old.
When you’re a journalist, you have crazy hours. It’s just a fact. You do not go in at eight, eat lunch at noon, and leave at five. You might work late shifts throughout the week. You might have weekend shifts. You might have an early deadline, and head off to work well before the sun rises.
So this meant that my job, whatever it was going to be, had to be on the total opposite spectrum. I did need to work 8-5. I did need to have my weekends free. I did need to know that no one was going to be calling me at ten at night and asking me to come in for an emergency shift.
And I could never be more than 30 minutes away from our day care, because I had to pick up and drop off our child.
Some people want a big salary. Some people want six weeks of vacation. Some people want to work 30 hours a week. Some people want to work from home.
The point is, you need to think about all these things before you start looking for work.
And I should probably emphasize the word “before.”
Once again, you should write them down. Why?
Because it’s more than probable as the weeks go on that you will start to slip on where you’re willing to send a resume.
Somewhere near the tail end of my first year on unemployment, I started to panic. At the time, my unemployment funds were running out, I had no idea if there would be another extension, and I knew that I was close to tapping into the money we had saved up that I had sworn I’d never touch.
So I took an interview in a place that was too far away for me to drive in 30 minutes. And the pay was too low. And while the job involved writing, it was mostly advertising a product I had little to no interest in.
Now, granted, I got the interview. And I showed up in my suit, and because I spent several years taking voice lessons and acting in plays, musicals, and operas, I knew how to act the part of the enthusiastic worker. And more to the point, I was honest about the fact that, while they would always get my 40 hours, I was always going to be a little late and leaving a little early.
And I didn’t get the job.
I would love to say that was the first and last time I applied for a job that I knew wasn’t going to work for the life I had, but it wasn’t. I sent out a handful of resumes while I was job-hunting for things that I knew simply were not going to happen.
I’m here to tell you, don’t do that.
Granted, there may be a week during your unemployment that you have to apply for something, and there’s a job listing in front of you, and it’s too far away, or the pay is too low, or any other number of possible problems.
And it’s all you have to apply for.
If that’s what you’ve got, well, go ahead and do it. But before you do, take a look at the list of things you need, and make a list of all the things you’re going to need to ask them for in order to make the job happen.
Then, after you apply, tuck that list in with the list of jobs you’ve applied for, so if you get the interview you can bring them up.
So let’s go back to that list. What should be on it? Well… whatever is most important to you.
In my case it was:
Within a 20 minute drive of my day care.
No nights, weekends or other odd hours.
Little or no travel.
Willing to be flexible in the event of family emergency (sick child, etc.).
A livable wage.
Did I have other requirements? I did. But these were the ones that I couldn’t budge on, no matter what. And in the end, I got them all.
You might have a totally different idea of what your needs and/or wants are. Sit down. List them. Figure out which ones are the ones that you can’t ever, ever, ever budge on.
And don’t budge.