Yes, You Can Have Deal-Breakers in Careers, Too — Here's How to Decide on Yours

Careers, like relationships, aren’t something to settle on. Knowing what you want –– and don’t want –– from a future job and employer is extremely important. No one wants to dread their day-to-day life or end up with a job that leaves you living for the weekends. Life’s too short! I’m a firm believer that your career shouldn’t feel like work. You should be passionate, motivated, and excited about what you do every day, or else what’s the point right?

It’s 2020 and it’s time to put you and your needs first. Think about what’s important for you to be happy and successful in your work. Prioritize your must-haves while also being aware of what you prefer because it’s okay to be a little selfish –– this is your career after all!

Why it’s important to prioritize

Priorities are your best friend. They are the key to really knowing yourself. If you can take a pen to paper and list out what’s most important and valuable to you, then nothing can get in your way. Job hunting can be an overwhelming and intimidating process (trust me, you’re not alone), making prioritizing a necessity for every job hunter.

There are so many factors to consider but fear not, I’m going to break down all the steps you can take in order to curate a personal list of career priorities –– and deal-breakers –– to get you feeling as confident and prepared as possible.

What’s your ideal work environment?

Another firm belief I hold is that your environment heavily affects your level of productivity, as well as (and arguably more important) your mood. You can’t do incredible work operating under a negative, unhappy mindset. This might sound odd but go back to the basics. In what kind of atmosphere do you feel most motivated and inspired? Where do you get your best work done, whether that be for school or business?

Do you see yourself at a desk job working a 9-5? Do you thrive off of travel? Do you need to be in the hub of a city? All these questions are to get you thinking about where you see yourself working. You can’t begin the job search until you know, on a basic level, where you want to be.

Location, location, location

Canal Street Station Signage

Now that you know the type of environment you want to operate under, it’s time to narrow in on a location. Some things to consider in terms of geography are transportation, commute times, weather, and lifestyle.

Are you looking to drive to work every day, or would you rather take a train or the subway? How much time are you willing to carve out for commuting? This then transfers over into weather conditions (especially if you’re driving yourself) and your lifestyle habits. Do you prefer morning workouts, meaning you need some extra time in the morning to fit that in, instead of spending that time on commuting? Do you prefer to sleep in? Location will impact so much of your life both in and outside of work, so really dig deep into what you prefer.

These might seem like minor details, but they affect your daily habits. You don’t want to neglect that. It’s often the little things that people are quick to overlook.

Do your research!

This one may seem broad but it’s so important. Do some digging! Acquire some info on the company’s employee retention rate. Reach out to former employees to see how they felt about working there. What were the biggest challenges they faced?

I’d first start off by looking up the company’s website. You can tell a lot from just that alone –– the kind of work they’ve done, some background on their current employers and how legitimate they seem to be. Throwing in a simple Google search also never hurt anyone! You can see if any articles have been written about the company, some of their credentials and, again, you will be able to tell how legit and well-known they seem to be.

Some other things to consider are gender gaps, age differences, and opportunities for growth. Gender and age demographics contribute heavily to your work environment and the overall atmosphere. Your co-workers are who you’ll be spending most of your time with, collaborating, socializing after work, etc. And opportunities for growth are important so you know how you can move up in a job. You don’t want to stay at entry-level forever. LinkedIn really breaks down why each of these factors are important.

There’s nothing wrong with asking questions and doing a little detective work. It’s completely normal and incredibly responsible. The last thing you want to do is walk into a job having no idea what to expect because you haven’t done your research!

What’s your preferred dress code?

This is another one that may seem minimal but really affects your everyday. What level of casualness are you looking to work under? Are you looking for something more corporate where you’re rocking a pantsuit and blazer on the daily? Or are you looking for a career where you can wear jeans and some booties? This is important! Be honest with yourself about what you need to be happy!

Related: How to Stay True to Yourself When You Enter The Workforce

What to do if the job you have isn’t matching your wants

It’s important to acknowledge that not every job has to be the “perfect” one, especially your first one, or few. Initially, it’s all going to be a learning experience. You’ll be figuring out what you like, as well as what you dislike. Learning the kinds of jobs you don’t enjoy is invaluable! It’s better to learn early on than to waste your time pursuing something you’ll come to dread. The job doesn’t have to be easy (nor should it be) but you don’t always know what you want right of the bat –– that’s what experience is for!

These are all huge parts of staying true to yourself when it comes to entering the workforce. Really sit down and think of your absolute musts along with your absolute must-nots. Hopefully this gave you a good step-by-step breakdown on the factors to consider and the questions to ask yourself when thinking of your career deal breakers. Stay true to you and don’t settle!

Here’s to finding your dream job — you deserve it!