Whether you’re at a job you like but don’t love, or you’re on a job search that you are sick of being on and you are ready to settle, I want to help you break down how to decide when to take the job that’s in front of you, and when to hold out for your dream job.
It’s a big conundrum that I see a lot of job seekers face. Here’s what I would keep in mind when making the decision. You should take the job that’s in front of you – or stay in the job you’re at, if the following conditions are true for you.
It’s a stepping stone job
If you are dying to get into the startup scene in Palo Alto and you have traditionally been working in government in Washington, D.C., but you’ve got a startup job offer from Palo Alto that would get you there – even if it’s not your dream job but it helps you make a big career leap, it is absolutely seen as a stepping stone.
That might be reason enough to take the job if it has a clear pathway to where you want to go. There’s no shame in taking a stepping stone job, instead of trying to skip over said stepping-stone, to get to your dream job immediately. Incremental progress is still progress, so don’t feel bad for taking a stepping stone job.
You lack clarity on your dream job
Another condition that might lead me to think you should take the job offer in front of you is if you’re still very unclear about what your dream job actually looks like. I actually talked about this earlier this month. You need clarity, you need direction before you can execute a plan. If you are lacking in clarity and you’re really not sure what you want, it’s hard to hold out for the right job because you don’t know what the right job is yet.
If you find yourself totally unclear on what you really want, it’s not a bad idea to take the job offer in front of you, because what you actually need is time. You need time to test it out and figure it out and try things on for size. Unless you’re not in need of a paycheck, it might make sense to take the job in front of you so that you can work to clarify your ultimate goals while working for a paycheck that will support your life.
You still gotta pay the bills
When logistics like budget, money, time, location are not on your side, it’s really hard to pass up a job opportunity. If you need to take a job for finances, take the job. Don’t don’t feel bad about it. Don’t feel like it’s a cop out. Know that you can continue your job search on the side or you can give it six months and then continue your job search.
If you are trying to move across the country or have a baby and you need healthcare, or you are frankly out of cash to fund your unemployment, or to fund your job search continuing without income, those are reasons to honor your reality and not run from your reality.
Essentially, if logistics require it, there is no shame in taking the job in front of you, instead of holding out for the perfect opportunity.
On the flip side, I would encourage you to hold out for a better opportunity – to hold out for your dream job, if and when the following different set of conditions are met.
You feel qualified for your dream job
If you know that you are qualified for something better, then it’s just a matter of time until you get that opportunity, hold out.
Of course, this also requires financing. Take the time to take stock of your actual financial situation. If your budget allows it, feel free to continue your job search.
We all need to take care of our basic needs first. If you are strapped financially, make sure you’ve got the budget to allow you to keep a high bar. If you’re going to continue your job search, keep the faith if you have clarity on what it is that you’re holding out for.
You’ll resent taking the job
It’s really easy to fall victim to the grass is always greener syndrome where you’ve got a job offer in hand, but maybe there’s something better out there.
Ask yourself, ‘If I take this job, will I feel resentful about taking it in three months? Six months, nine months, 12 months. If the answer is yes to any of those questions, you should pass on it. The reason you should pass on it is because you are essentially saying by taking this job that you will be starting your job search again in three months, six months, nine months or 12 months.
If you take that job feeling resentful now, I guarantee you you will be back on the job search in at least 12 months, if not sooner. Know what you’re setting yourself up for in that instance. And honestly, statistically, because you are likely to land a new job within the next five months.
Truthfully, you need to ask yourself, “Am I setting myself up for resentment or am I setting myself up for sustainability? And if you’re setting yourself up for resentment, don’t take the job.
Your time frame allows
One final condition to consider when it comes to taking this job or holding out for something better is your time frame. I like to ask job seekers to really think about how long they would be comfortable being on the job search.
Only you can determine how long of a job search you’d be comfortable with, assuming that you’re holding out for a really great opportunity.
Set time limits. You can say to yourself, “OK, it’s February, I’m going to give myself permission. I know that my budget allows for this to be on a full-time job search until the end of June and at the end of June if I still don’t have something great in hand, then my conditions for taking a job will change. Then I will lower my bar.”
Basically, what I’m saying is that at that point you can lower your bar and you can take whatever you can get, but give yourself some time parameters to maintain a really high standard based off of what you can live off – what you are comfortable with.
Setting time parameters for yourself can really help provide the necessary structure to your job search. If at the end of those X number of months, that effort has not yet paid off, at that point I would pivot.
Think about your time and timeline and how you can structure yourself to really sustain your high expectations and motivation by using false deadlines frankly – made up deadlines that help you provide a little focus and structure to your own job search.
These are tough situations to talk about because typically the answers to questions like, “Should I take this job or should I hold out for something better?” are very personal, which is why Hired is such a personal program where you get really personalized feedback.
That’s why career coaches, in general, are so expensive, because having someone or a small group cohort of people to bounce ideas off of and really get personalized feedback can make a huge difference in navigating the job search process. Head to Hired to learn more, and let’s get you Hired in your dream job this year.