Be Selfish About Your Career

The weekday grind for us office-types is rather straight-forward. We wake up, get ready, go to work, go home, and go to sleep. Sometimes (or all the time), we wake up thinking, “I don’t want to go to work today,” or “I hate my job,” or “I can’t wait to get to work.” These thoughts, as simple as they are, tell a lot about how we view our jobs and our state of mind. However, we leave those thoughts as is, and get on with our day whether we like it or not.

When I interview candidates, I give them time towards the end of the interview to ask questions. The question, “What do you like about your job?” was asked of me several times. I noticed my answers to each candidate were canned responses. That is, generic and boring. I would tell the candidates that I liked the people, the organizational culture, and unique challenges.  But that can be said for all other jobs that I’ve held. It’s a simple question, but as I think more about it, the answer is more complicated.

Upon further reflection, I asked myself, “What do I like about my job?”

Is it the people?
No, I liked the people in every job I held and even developed some great friendships.

Is it the culture?
Every company I’ve worked at had similar cultures; this can’t be it.

Is it the challenging work environment?
Every company presented unique challenges; it’s expected.

Is it because it’s close to home?
If all I care about is how close work is to home, then my career is in big trouble. But it is nice to have a short commute.

Is it because of compensation and benefits?
I already know it’s not always about the money.

Is it because of the perks?
They may be great in the beginning, but eventually, the novelty runs out.

Is it because it fits my work style and career goals?
Yes, but there is more to it.

  • Is it because the job empowers me to make decisions? Yes
  • Is it because my opinions matter? Yes
  • Is it because management provides new responsibilities and resources for skills development? Yes
  • Is it because I can make the position my own? Yes
  • Is it because it may prepare me for a better position elsewhere in the future? Yes

In summary, I like my job because it allows me to be selfish about my career. Of course, I would never say this directly to an interview candidate. At least, not verbatim. The job should align with your career aspirations. It’s not about the people, the culture, the challenge, or that is one-dimensional. It’s ok to be selfish about your career. You should be.

With that, I’m going to ask you, “What do you like about your job?”

As a bonus, I’ll leave you with another question that a candidate asked,  “What don’t you like about your job?” That one caught me off guard. By the way, it’s a great question. Another one that was challenging for me to answer was, “What do you think your manager can do better?”

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