What’s in a job posting is very important. But what’s not in the posting may be even more important.
After a moderately successful career in accounting and finance I thought I found my “dream job” on LinkedIn—controller for a startup in Atlanta. It had everything: the right job, the right pay, the right city, autonomy, and the ability to build and shape a company. I prayed and I got my “dream job.” However, that “dream job” was a nightmare. Six weeks later I had to wake up and figure out what to do next.
I learned that no matter how great the job posting may seem, it’s all about the people. You can get a “dream job” but if the fit isn’t right, your “dream job” can become a nightmare. I thought those five things—the job, the pay, the city, autonomy, and the ability to build and shape a company—were important. But I learned that these five things are even more important:
- Honesty. When you interview for a job, the interviewer usually puts the company’s best foot forward. Yet, if you ask good questions and do your research you may find the company and/or the job is not what you thought it would be. And if you feel you were lied to on the interview or early in your employment, beware!
- Clarity. If your boss and your boss’ boss have conflicting and/or unrealistic expectations about your work and your decision-making capabilities, the job description won’t matter. You’ll feel that everything you do is wrong. This will make your stay, no matter how long it is, a living hell. Before taking any job or shortly upon arrival, if you can, meet with your boss’ boss. Get clarity on the expectations and decision-making capabilities of your role. Also, you should have open lines of communication to maintain that clarity.
- Respect. I did similar work in my previous two positions but that wasn’t enough. Despite the fact that I was the expert, as my superiors said, they always made me feel they could do my job better than I could. If you’re going to hire an expert, let that person do their job without fear. If you don’t feel respected, no matter what experience or expertise you may have, you’ll eventually start doubting yourself.
- Empowerment. Bill Parcells once said, “If I’m going to be asked to cook the meal, I’d like to be able to pick the groceries.” However, if you can’t pick the groceries, you at least would like for the person picking them to be on your side. If the person isn’t, you won’t feel empowered. And being told to be proactive without having the necessary tools to do your job will leave you feeling powerless.
- Value. You should add value to any organization you join. But the organization should value you, too. When you constantly see talent exiting either by choice or by firing, watch out. You may be next! Also, when your superiors constantly belittle, devalue, and/or disregard your hard work and expertise, it’s time to start looking elsewhere.
You definitely won’t see these five things or similar things in a job posting. No matter what you do, where you do it, and/or how you do it, it’s the people who will make all the difference. You can’t have a “dream job” without the right people. And you won’t find them in a job posting, either.
So, how can you find out if you found the right job at the right place? Sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn are great resources for reviews and information on prospective employers. If you hear a consistent message, you’ll have a better idea of whether you should work there or not. However, even if you feel good about the job and the people, you still have to work with the people to truly know if you’re a good fit. But whatever you do, never compromise on what’s most important to you—even if it’s not in the job posting.