Career Choices: Figuring Out My Interests

In my previous careers blog post, I talked about how, for each company that I am researching, I am listing its (a) positives, (b) negatives, (c) deal breakers, (d) deal makers, (e) verdict, and (f) rank.

The companies that get a ‘yes’ verdict will be assigned a rank based on their positives and negatives while the companies that get a ‘no’ will, obviously, not be ranked at all. To determine the weights assigned to each positive and negative aspect, I’ll be borrowing a lesson from my Negotiations course. In that course, we talked about how each party involved in a negotiation has (a) stakeholders and (b) a list of issues, positions, and interests. To prepare for a negotiation, you need to figure all of those out for both yourself and for the other party. What is crucial, though, is for the parties to share their interests with each other. If they manage to do that (and a few other things, of course), the negotiation is usually successful.

Applying for a job is, in many ways, one big negotiation. Now I’m obviously not going to discuss all of the things I listed in the previous paragraph in this blog post. What I wanted to point out, though, was that it’ll be my own stakeholders and interests that will determine the weights I assign to each of the positives and negatives. For example, things that are important to me include:

  • A full-time job, preferably permanent though I will also be applying for suitable contract jobs (e.g. tech consulting jobs)
  • A steady salary (think of my stakeholders: I have to pay off my loans) and a good overall compensation package
  • A good job (strategy-based, good career development, etc.), working in a good team (fun, interesting people), for a good company (that has strategic value in the industry, for example) that has a great CEO (which will be the cherry on top; this this case, literally!)
  • Flexible working hours and habits; with a dress code that is as casual as possible
  • Melbourne-based (Nadia is starting her PhD at the University of Melbourne next month and so we’re going to be living in Melbourne for at least the next three years)

The key thing here is that these are my underlying interests (and that they are partly influenced by my stakeholders). These interests will then determine my positions (e.g. acceptable base salary range) and issues (e.g. start date, compensation package breakup). But, basically, it is my interests that will determine the weights I assign to each of the positives and negatives during my short-listing process (e.g. better career progression obviously weighs more than casual dress code).

I’ll write more on this topic over the coming weeks and months as I figure my own interests out in more detail. When, and if I can, I will compare my interests to the interests (and issues, positions, and stakeholders) of the company to which I have applied. I will then attempt to explain the process by which we determined and then shared each others’ interests. I hope to conclude each such posting with the lessons learnt (maybe by both parties) and, of course, the result of my job application.

To give you an example of what I mean, when I was applying for an internship in April last year, I got to the very end of the candidate selection process with a certain company. Let me highly original and call it Company X (they will all be equally originally named, I suspect). I reached that stage — at which the company was down to two candidates — about a month before my study term ended. What happened then was that Company X adjusted its priorities (it was in its early growth stages when this was most liable to happen) and realized that it needed its intern to start work immediately and not, as it had originally intended, by mid-May. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job while the other candidate, who could start next week, did. My point: all but one of our interests matched and, in the end, that became the deal-breaker. (Next time I’ll write about the internship that I did get…this one with Company Y!)

By the way, I’m not sure how feasible it will be for me to blog about all of this during my job application process. I suspect I’ll have to wait till the process is complete and the results are in either way...but let’s see how things go. I might be able to squeeze in a cryptic mention here and there.