Developing your own personal criteria for potential occupations is critical for those attempting to maintain a fulfilling career. These rules and expectations will ensure your own personal satisfaction after a hard day’s work as well as appease your employer. Moreover, these criteria can prohibit the all-too-common exploitation of your own efforts and labor by businesses whilst ensuring workplace safety, promoting individual expression, or achieving any other caveat an individual might create in fabricating their own occupational standards. While I do not personally consider myself “high maintenance” or “needy” in my everyday life, I do believe its important for a job to at least provide security for an individual, if they are unable to derive any pleasure from it. That premise forms the crux of my own line of thought behind the development of my personal criteria, the most imperative of which is:
- Does the companies mission coincide with my current personal beliefs?
I would prefer the company I work for to reflect the political, social, racial, and environmental values I currently hold dearly. I wholeheartedly refuse to work for a business that might actively disenfranchise one group of people to generate profit for another. Additionally, I refuse to work for a business actively or passively contributing to the destruction of the planet without having some sort of plan in place to attempt to mitigate their carbon emissions/footprint. This is bar-none my least flexible criteria.
- Does this company offer paternity leave? If so, how much?
While this is not exactly mainstream in the United States currently, I will not miss out on my child first few weeks of existence solely to put more money in someone else’s pockets. The fact I even have weigh the options of spending time with my newborn child, ensuring my presence if health concerns arise, etc. VS. feeding myself and paying mortgage is criminal to begin with and blatantly displays the flaws in our current economic system. Due to paternity leaves lack of prominence this currently seems like a bullet I will inevitably have to bite; however, I will attempt to negotiate this into a work contract.
- What would you like your yearly gross income to look like?
While this might not be immediately accessible upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I am ultimately aspiring to reach a 6-figure salary. I do not nor have I ever held on to any delusions of grandeur involving luxury cars or home theaters. I simply want to make enough money to provide a comfortable lifestyle for a family and support any hobbies or activities they might enjoy. Ultimately, everyone with a job is working to make money and then to use that money to provide for themselves or others, making salary/income another essential criterion to maintain.
- Where would you like to work?
Personally, I would like to work in a city/major city. While I do not have a specific city in mind, I do tend to enjoy the more fast-pace, social, and upbeat feel of a major city. Having been to Baltimore, Boston, New York City, Atlanta, and dozens of other large cities across the east coast I am flexible in whichever one I might inevitably end up in.
- How long of a commute are you willing to make 2 times per day, 5 days per week?
This is another important criterion for me as commute distance is not often considered until you have made the incredibly long drive numerous times and see the wear-and-tear that accumulates. For long commutes you must wake up earlier, drive longer, spend more on gas/car maintenance, potentially drive a less-than-ideal car for the sake of gas/comfort, get home later, etc. There are so many negatives to a lengthy commute that I personally would like to keep mine below 30 minutes. This should not be too crazy to adhere to if I am able to accomplish my goal of working in a city, as most of them have massive suburbs right outside their city limits.
- Is this occupation possible to complete remotely?
As 2020 has shown, weird events and emergencies occur that are often out of your own control. The ability to make work mobile or able to be completed remotely in case of emergency is an important consideration for me now.
- How important is PTO/overtime/hazard pay to you?
Again, alluding to the disaster that was 2020, all 3 of these are incredibly important to me. If my job is unable to be completed remotely during times of public health crises, I would at least like to be reimbursed for the additional risk I am taking. Additionally, PTO is equally significant to me because even despite my best efforts, illness/emergencies still arise. There are some things you simply cannot prepare for and PTO is a very nice safety net. Lastly, additional pay for overtime is critical. I am already allotting 40 hours per week out of my time to work, any extra effort should be rewarded with extra pay.
- What type of office culture am I interested in?
For the most part I am very laid back and am very professional in environments that require such behavior. That said, I also enjoy casual attire, free conversation, and creating relationships with those around me so a happy medium between corporate desk-junkie and bartender seems ideal.
- Do you need your job to provide health benefits?
Yes. I would like an occupation that provides adequate health benefits for my family and I. This is nonnegotiable and another incredibly important criterion for me, personally.
- Would you rather work for a larger corporation or smaller, local business?
I believe there is a larger upside to working under a large corporation versus a smaller company/start-up in the early days of your career. That large job, if unable to provide internal promotions/opportunities, will at least provide name recognition when searching for your next. Additionally, larger business simply has more resources and access to more/better benefits in general.
- Is there opportunity for professional/career development internally?
Ideally, I would like to remain with one company for the entirety of my career. Realistically however, that is probably not going to happen. As unfortunate as that may be, it is why I would prefer a large company with plenty of internal opportunities within to help navigate and advance my career. This is also important because changes in jobs often require massive relocations, exchanging of assets, and tons of other stressful details that must be finalized upon switching employers.
- What type of management style might you prefer?
My largest criteria involving management “styles” is simply not to feel bullied or like I am taken advantage of. While I am by no means confrontational, I am conscious enough to recognize habits/tendencies that may be reflective of exploitation and will happily advocate for myself. Aside from that, I am incredibly flexible in how I approach and receive direction from superiors. I seldom take issue with instruction and excitedly listen to constructive criticism, as self-reflection is a never-ending process.
- Does this company offer a retirement/savings program?
Another benefit I would really like to receive would be assistance towards my own retirement. I would like to work for a business that is willing to match 3-6% of my gross salary per year and place it in my retirement account along with what they dock from my pay. That would go very far in keeping my satisfied knowing that not only is the company paying me bi-weekly, but also investing in my future.
- Would you like your employer to fund your education?
This one may seem a bit of a stretch, but at this moment in time I would prefer a company who would like to fund my masters or PhD. While I am aware that typically obligates you to work for the company for a predetermined amount of time, that sort of investment in my education, career, and future would certainly be appreciated. If my desire to pursue graduate school dissipates then it would be just as nice to have my undergraduate tuition reimbursed. That, however, is a stretch coming right out of undergrad.
- How does your job need to make you feel at the end of every day?
I wanted to finish on this question because I feel everyone should ask themselves this. Think critically on how you value your time, energy, mental, and physical health. See if your job is positive towards those or detrimental. Then consider if you feel that you are being adequately reimbursed for your efforts and time. As long as you feel positively about those listed characteristics you will likely experience some longevity in your position but as soon as those criteria are no longer met, you may want to begin your search for a different position. I personally know for a fact that I will never derive pleasure from work. I do not have a “dream job” because I do not dream of working. That makes this question relatively easy for me, if I feel that I am being adequately reimbursed I will continue there. I am not looking to feel stimulated, or angry, or happy in completion of my work. I truthfully am working to provide the lifestyle I want for myself/my family during our free time, everything else is secondary.
These are my personal criteria for jobs I will be looking into upon completing my Economics degree here at North Carolina State University. I realize that many of my criterion will not look similar to yours or even most peoples, but they are what I believe will satisfy my career goals and leave me feeling complacent in my line of work. Additionally, I am not fond of using the term “criteria” as it implies, I am requiring all of these to happen to accept a job offer and that is not the case. For instance, I would be willing to compromise with a longer commute for a higher salary. Many of these are not inherently standards that the job has to meet, so much as strong preferences. Hopefully, this post will have several takeaways that you all can consider when it comes time to accept your first job offer. Thanks for reading and good luck in your own occupational endeavors!
Richter, Felix. “Infographic: The Typical U.S. Commute: By Car, Alone.” Statista Infographics, 26 Sept. 2014, http://www.statista.com/chart/2767/types-of-commuters-in-the-us/.
Abrioux, Bruno. “Leadership and Management Styles: the ‘Prêt-à-Porter’ Collection.” Leader Syndrome, WordPress, 24 Mar. 2015, leadersyndrome.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/leadership-and-management-styles-the-pret-a-porter-collection/.