How do you know if a job opportunity is right for you?

Andy: This is such an excellent question. We will, naturally, write over 700 words answering it, but in short: You can’t know.

Emma: Nope. It’s unknowable! What you can know is just a little bit — I think the closest you’ll get is 30% certain that a job opportunity is a good one.

Andy: Which is….crazy low. I think that central unknowingness is the reason lots of us stay in one place.

Emma: Who wouldn’t prefer to feel rock-solid about their decisions? But most of the time, I’m going to say: go for it. If you’re curious about the opportunity, if it piques your interest, that’s reason enough to take the leap.

Andy: Most of knowing if a job opportunity is a good one depends on what you want from your job. Do you know what you want from your job? Try making a job scorecard!

Emma: Lol you know we love a scorecard, and one about the job you want is such a helpful tool if you’re going to be sifting through incoming job opportunities. You’ll have a much better shot of getting what you want when you know what that is.

Make Your New Job Scorecard

You can grab our Build Your Own Scorecard worksheet here

This exercise may be a breeze for you. It also might be a total stumper. It’s okay if you aren’t super clear on everything you want out of your job. You’ll learn more about what serves you (and what doesn’t) the more jobs you have. Plus: everything you write down now is apt to change in a year, and again in five years, and so on as you live more life. The goal is simply to get started.

If you’re drawing a blank, try these questions to get your brainstorm started:

What I don’t want:
    • I’m unhappy at work when…
    • I’m leaving my current job because…
    • I never want to work with people who are…
    • Nightmare job =
    • At my next job, I don’t want to feel….
What I do want: 
    • I’m happy at work when…
    • If I had these things, I’d stay in a job forever…
    • I’d love to work with people who are…
    • Dream job =
    • At my next job, I want to feel…

Emma: I coincidentally just did this exercise with a good friend who is embarking on a new job hunt and wants to avoid wasting time on something that won’t ultimately serve her. She is very bravely allowing us to sneak peek her scorecard-in-progress.

Andy: I can’t wait.

Emma’s Friend’s New Job Scorecard-in-Progress

I am creative
    • My work feels authentic to me
    • My work piques my curiosity and sense of exploration
    • I have access to new and different mediums and experiences
I am valued
    • My work and style is a core part of the product/output/brand/etc
    • I am paid at least $90K/year, with great benefits and perks
I have a great manager
    • My boss provides consistent and supportive feedback
    • My boss goes to bat for me, my work, and what I need to do a good job
    • They have reasonable expectations, especially around workload, mental health, and investment in the company/project/work
    • My boss trusts me to do good work without oversight
    • They are thoughtful about structure and process
    • ??? Maybe something like… I feel encouraged to provide my own feedback, questions, and concerns ??? 
I love my team
    • My team respects, appreciates, and admires my talent and what I create
    • My team is highly skilled at their own jobs
    • They are open-minded, easy going, and curious when we’re working together
    • They are like-minded — we are friendly, if not friends

Andy: Oh wow, I love this scorecard! It’s specific, but not too narrow. It covers a lot of territory, but is also entirely reasonable. Most of us could use this scorecard and, if we checked Yes for all these things, would likely be pretty dang satisfied with our jobs.

Emma: The problem is… being able to check Yes to anything outside of salary and benefits requires actually going and doing the job. And some of them you won’t know for weeks, if not months. 

Andy: It’s not super different from picking a restaurant: you won’t know you like the food until you eat it. Still, you can glean some useful information by hopping onto Yelp and asking a friend who’s eaten there recently. In the job market, your best shot at real, 30%-confirming intel is during the interview — remember, they might be in the driver’s seat, but you’re interviewing them, too. You know, this is a juicy enough scenario that it should probably be its own newsletter…

Emma: Oh, totally! Next week?

Andy: Next week. Stay tuned.

Emma: Outside of an interview, you have the internet. Which is… obviously not an ideal source of truth. Company websites and press are just marketing materials, and reviews on sites like Glassdoor tend to come from the supremely disgruntled or the supremely smitten. Your scorecard can help you spot any patterns that matter — if there is a litany of reviews about working long hours, and your scorecard demands work-life balance, that’s probably something to consider.

Andy: A personal “career mirror” can be really helpful to me here. That’s someone who knows me and can articulate back to me things I might be blind to or ignoring. My husband is one of mine, and Emma, and I have a few others I know from previous jobs who fill the role, too. By talking a job through with someone who knows me and my industry, they can help me sort out what’s wishful thinking and what’s potentially a great opportunity.

Emma: I also recommend reaching out to people who’ve worked there and getting their input on the stuff that matters most on your scorecard. This is what networking is all about — and also something that should be taken with a grain of salt. One of my former coworkers told me about the worst place she’d ever worked. She quit after two months. My boyfriend took a job on the same team less than a year later, and it was one of his favorites ever. Like we said: you only get 30% certainty.

Andy: In the end, deciding if a job opportunity is right for you will probably mostly be a gut feeling, which is just as real and important as any research you do. I love the story Malcom Gladwell tells in his book Blink, about the Getty Museum buying a $10 million marble statue. If the statue were real, it’d be one of a kind, a huge scoop. They ran all these authenticity tests on it: mass spectrometry, X-ray diffraction, you know, high-powered microscopes were involved. It passed… but of course, if it were a stellar fake, it’d be made to pass those tests.

Emma: Just like a stellar recruiting and interview process!

Andy: Exactly! So The Getty asked expert after expert to come look at it. Each took one look at the statue and knew it was fake. How’d they know? Gladwell summarizes one expert’s experience like this: “Because when he first laid eyes on it, he said, he felt a wave of ‘intuitive repulsion.'” He just knew. You might also just know.

Good Boss Achievement Stickers: Greener Grass Edition

Four illustrated digital stickers: [1] A classic marble statue captioned 'trusted my intuitive revulsion' [2] Avocado toast next to a bunch of starred reviews captioned 'Did my research' [3] A crystal ball captioned 'I know (at least a little bit) what I want from my job' [4] A meter that goes up to 30% captioned 'I'm going for it!'