There is nothing like a terrible job to make you seriously re-evaluate where your career is headed. Today, I’ll write about the worst job I ever had, and articulate the lessons I picked up from the experience. At my wrong job, I whizzed through the interview and training processes, made a few assumptions along the way, and then spent three long months dreading going to work every day. Hopefully you can avoid making the same mistake.
Facts about my interview process:
1. A salary range was not posted in the job description and when I finally learned what it was, it seemed way too low for what the job description and requirements said.
2. My interviewers kept asking me how I would manage the administrative responsibilities of the job. What I heard was, “Tell us how you keep organized,” and not what they were really asking, “Tell us how you feel about filing and photocopying.”
3. Throughout my entire interview and training process, I never got to meet the woman who would be my direct manager because she was off on a short-term sick leave.
4. I was feeling pressured to get a job immediately, and didn’t consider what I wanted, what I was good at, or what was important to me.
5. The organization seemed to be run inefficiently, but I figured that I could contribute my skills to help improve it.
Lesson# 1: Know What You Want - It helps to begin a job search with good self-knowledge. You should know how much you think you are worth for what type of work, and what role you want your job to play in both your personal life and your career path.
“What is important to me in my career, job, and lifestyle?”
Don’t take a job until you’ve found something that fits.
Lesson # 2: Make The Link – You will gain valuable information very early in the interview process. What you do with it will determine whether you find a job that is a good fit.
“What does that really mean?”
Make the link between what they were truly saying and the impact it will have on your work.
Lesson # 3: People Matter – The people with whom you work have a huge affect on your life. Do what you can to find out (and meet) who you will be working for, with, and who will be working for you.
“Do I like these people, and do their actions reveal values and traits that are aligned with mine?”
Remember that you will be spending at least a third of your time with these people.
Lesson #4: Earn Respect First – Don’t go in all guns-a-blazing, telling everyone you meet that you are going to change the giant organization. It has run just fine without you up to this point, and no one will listen until you’ve first proven yourself to be worth listening too. Wanting a job because you think you can fix the company is probably not the best reason for taking it, unless you are Jack Welch or Donald Trump.
“Am I ok working at this company even if it never changes? Can I wait until I’ve earned the respect of my colleagues before I start making suggestions for change?”
Stick with the decisions you have made, no matter how tempted you are to change your mind.