Once or twice a week I get pinged on LinkedIn for job’s that fit my profile. Though I rarely apply for a job, I like to look at them sometimes just to see what companies are looking for, the competencies they request and how they incorporate their cultural values or attributes. It’s interesting.
Sometimes I can see an organization intentionally leading with their culture and strategy. Companies like Apple, Salesforces and Microsoft do this very well. But what I am most struck by when I read position descriptions is how overwhelming many of them look. I can almost see the hiring manager offloading as much of their job as they possibly can. Sometimes the position description looks like it requires a person capable of scaling tall buildings in a cape.
Then I see posts from academics and leadership influencers about the importance of balance, rest, not overworking, etc. Like this most recent one I saw from Adam Grant on Twitter:
“In toxic cultures time off is a reward earned by working to exhaustion. Burnout is proof of commitment, and vacations are required to recover. In healthy cultures, time off is a right granted to everyone. Well-being is top priority and vacations are encouraged to rejuvenate.”
And most of us love these posts! What’s not to love? But, is this realistic all the time in many jobs? And does such a workplace really exist outside of Denmark? Or unless you are a tenured academic?
I imagine it can be daunting when you are looking for your next move. Because it's what companies are not including in the position descriptions that is more important to most of us than the actual responsibilities of the role. Of course, organizations and potential employees need to find a skills, experience and responsibilities match. But what makes us actually love or hate a job is harder to assess from reading a position description.
As I think back on my many jobs, these are the attributes at the top of my list of “most loved”:
When I see this list, I feel elated and excited! If I had ever had a role with all these attributes, aligned my skills, experience and work I enjoy, it would have been amazing. But I never had that job. I had a few of these attributes at several different jobs, but never all of them. And there is a final “attribute” I didn’t include. I am a person who loves work. I am intense and prone to burnout and I needed a boss to say, “That was great, your team did an amazing job! Now I want you to take time off to recharge. I insist. I don’t want to hear from you for a week!” I never had a boss say that. I needed that more than anything.
No job is perfect and it doesn’t need to be. But you need to create your list. Factor yourself in. Be really clear about what is essential, your “must haves” and “nice to haves”. Don’t compromise on your “must haves”. From your list you can create questions that will allow you to focus on the things that matter to you most. I am certain this will lead to a happier work life.
Moira Clarke founded Leadership Consulting Partners 21 years ago to collaborate with leaders, teams and organizations to create more productive, effective, and human people systems and practices. If you are reading this to the end, and you find value, please say so and share with others on LinkedIn and Twitter. Thank you!
Welcome to Moira's blog. I write about the work of building better work places: people strategies, systems, teams and leaders.