I received a call from a prospective client recently who asked my advice on what information to include on a resume that would let an employer know s/he didn’t want to work more than 40-hours a week or hold a stressful job. I’ve also had a number of clients tell me that they are looking for a job that they can retire from. Are these worthy goals? Of course. Are they realistic? No, because the world has changed and while these may be desirable goals for more work/life balance and job security, they are simply not reasonable requests to make of an employer, even when the economy is steaming along.
Since every employer is in business to make a profit, they expect that you will return more than you cost. There will be the inevitable downturns in the business cycle when employers are forced to increase productivity, change their business model, tighten their belts, find work to keep their employees busy and access new sources of revenue (customers). So how can you establish limits for a potential employer?
You apply to jobs that match your skills, abilities and energy level. Avoid applying for positions in industries where you’ll have to work unusual hours, long days, on weekends or holidays, etc. Do your research and ask good questions in the interview to identify a potential employer’s performance expectations. How are work schedules determined and how is work allocated? How productive was the last person in the job? Did s/he always finish the workload within 40 hours or were there often nights and weekends involved? How helpful are coworkers? Is this an environment where everyone takes their work seriously and pitches in to get the job done or are the same people routinely given the lion’s share of responsibility? Is the work divided equally? What challenges does the department/business unit face? How intense is the competition and what is the employer putting in place to overcome that? Would the interviewer mind if you spoke with the department supervisor . . . the employee that is in the job now? Why did the last person who held the job leave?
You are in control of your career. You decide whether or not to take a position based on your research and the information you obtain in the interview. That’s it. If you are offered a job you don’t want to do or where you must report to someone with whom you suspect there will be a personality conflict, you decline the offer. You only need one job. Be selective; you have much to gain by finding a position that meets your needs and much to lose by taking a position that will exhaust you, upset you or make you physically or emotionally sick.
Have a personal job search experience to share? I invite your comments!
Ellie Vargo, MRW, CCMC