What to Consider before Conducting a Job Search

This series was inspired by a blog post by Bernard Marr published on LinkedIn and titled:  “Stop! Don't Look for a New Job Before Answering These 10 Questions.”

LEVERAGE is the first book in the "Carson Series."  Click the image for more information.

LEVERAGE is the first book in the "Carson Series."  Click the image for more information.

Not all jobs are suitable for all skill sets, personality types, or career goals – in fact, some jobs can even work against the long-term achievement of your goals (pigeon-holing you as a specialist, for example, when your ambition is to go into general management.)  And certainly your personality type and specific set of skills can make a particular job fit like a comfortable shoe, or cause it to feel like an iron boot three sizes too small and stuffed with razor blades.

Getting the match correct requires a knowledge of self that many people lack.  Even among those who are self-aware, many fail to re-examine their fundamental wants and needs before applying for anything and everything that pops up on a job search screen – particularly if it meets their geographic and/or salary requirements.

If you lack the kind of insight needed to pick the right job (or are in too big of a hurry to engage in deep reflection) then what should you do?

Book #2 in the "Carson Series."  Click the image for more information.

Book #2 in the "Carson Series."  Click the image for more information.

There are a number of questions you can and should ask yourself (and, in some cases, others) before hitting the send key on that job application.  Properly answered, these questions can at least prevent you from walking into a job that is a horrible mismatch.

And while a few probing questions can’t substitute for a true deep dive into what motivates and drives you, it can at least keep you pointed in the right direction.

So without further ado, here is my list of pre-interview questions, which I’ve attempted to arrange in order from broadest to narrowest (and not in order of importance):

  1. Before you launched your career (and sometimes going back to childhood) what did you enjoy doing?
  2. What motivates and drives you?
  3. Where do you think you’d like to be in ten years?  In twenty years?
  4. How much (money and other aspects of work) is enough, and how will you know when you get there?
  5. What are you good at?  What do you enjoy doing?  What are you bad at?  What do you hate?
  6. What concessions or compromises will you make to achieve a proper work/life balance?
  7. What did you love/hate about your previous jobs?
  8. What did you love/hate about your past supervisors?
  9. How much risk are you willing to take?  How much risk can you afford to take?
  10. What is your personality profile and how does it fit with the proposed job?
  11. What can you learn about the prospective company and your prospective boss?
  12. What does the external world have to say about you?  Will that help you or hinder you in your search?  What can you do about it?
First look at the cover of OUTSOURCED, the final book in the "Carson Series"

First look at the cover of OUTSOURCED, the final book in the "Carson Series"

As has been my practice with other series, I will be examining each one of these topics individually, trying in the process to bring in stories from my own work experience to help bring the subject to life.  While you can gain advantages from reading any post by itself, taking in the entire series is likely to provide the best “bang for the buck” when it comes to making your most effective job search.

Unlike some of the other series, I plan to wrap this one up with a final article on “Truth and its role in the interview process.”  While you might think that honesty is always the best policy, when it comes to interviews, everyone is, at a minimum, on their best behavior, and in many cases both candidates and companies “lie like a carpet.”  Deciding how to deal with this reality can have a big impact on whether you can land the job of your dreams.

Watch each week for a new post in the series, and enjoy the ride.

Posts in the “Greatest Boss” Series (in Chronological Order):

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If you are intrigued by the ideas presented in my blog posts, check out some of my other writing.



Rather than feature one book in today’s post, I’ve decided to show all three covers in my "Carson Series" including the latest cover (alas, the book is still several months away from publication) OUTSOURCED. This series follows Mark Carson in his transformation from Corporate whistle-blower and amateur detective, to fugitive from the law and semi-professional espionage agent.  Click on any cover images to get more information in the book (which should open up in a new tab and won’t cause you to lose your place here.)

My novels are based on extensions of 27 years of personal experience as a senior manager in public corporations.