This is the second post in a series. Read part one here.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a recliner eating chocolate Goldfish*. Somewhere along the way someone in product design was like “What if this was super hard to open and then the reseal sticker folded in on itself immediately after you did? That would be awesome.” Some jobs are like that, too. Sometimes you get the job, open the package, and realize there’s a fundamental design flaw preventing your enjoyment.
Fortunately, you can tell if the job is a chocolate Goldfish job before you get there. Essentially, you’re trying to answer the question: Does this further my career? And here’s how you can answer that for yourself.
Consider the title
Look at the title of your prospective position from a future boss’ perspective. Does it show upward movement from your last position title? This is easy if you’re moving to something that says “manager”, but if you’re not you can still make this work for you. I started my career as a “Communications Consultant”, a title that in my industry means you’re in corporate communications. What I really wanted to do was marketing. I decided I wouldn’t take any job afterward without “marketing” in the title, because you can’t move to an industry if you can’t show you already live there. Now no one thinks twice about my suitability for a marketing job.
Consider the projects
More important than the title, of course, are the projects you’re involved in. Does this job let you do more of the things you want to focus your career on? When I moved on from each job, I made sure the next move had more marketing and less corporate communications. You probably can’t just jump industries, so do it by degrees.
Even if you’re not in your dream industry, you can still use this tip. I once had a customer service job involving the occasional opportunity to write a press release. Life is weird.
Consider the prestige
Prestige means something different depending on your goals. But no one working at a utility company is going to have a big, disruptive career.
So part of what you’re looking for to further your career is an increase in prestige. Depending on your industry, your definition of prestige may vary. In marketing, agencies are very prestigious because it’s one of the few jobs where you’re surrounded by crazy people with a lot of big ideas. Agencies are like the fun, hot, cool girls in high school and employers assume you are too if you’ve worked there. If you’re an accountant or a risk analyst, the definition of prestige might be Fortune 500 investment bank, something that would read as a snore on a marketer’s resume.
To know if you’re getting a bump in prestige, ask yourself if this company has more of the qualities your industry values. In marketing, we value “coolness”. (I know, we’re insufferable.) If you’re unsure, what kind of LinkedIn job update makes you jealous? Follow that envy.
How are you navigating your job change choices? Tell us in the comments.
*No one at Pepperidge Farms paid me to say this, although I dearly wish they had.