This post originally started in my head as a response to Mallory Bower‘s fabulous post, Find Your Why, reflecting on her recent successful job search. For the proper context, I recommend you read that first and then feel free to head on back here….I’ll wait….
So, a few years ago, I was feeling my “5 year plan” itch and decided to dip my toes into the job search waters again. I had no real motivation – I had a great job with great coworkers…in fact, I couldn’t have designed a better overall situation for myself back in graduate school. But, I got teased by the “grass is greener” mentality, seeing friends moving up the ladder, and started daydreaming. The challenge (if you can call it that) of working at a place where people enjoy working is that no one leaves, which leaves promotional opportunities few and far between. I was also feeling chafed at having interviewed for a position that, in retrospect, quite a few of my colleagues were definitely more qualified for. So I brushed off the resume, and kept an eye out.
Fast forward not too far in the future and I was a finalist for a position at a private residential institution (pretty much the complete opposite of where I was). I was a half-step up – one of those “assistant dean that’s really a director” positions. I left the interview feeling confident, which says a lot for someone who has always had a self-confidence issue. Still, there were some red-flags. First, the commute would have been significantly longer than my current one. Second, it would have returned me to a life of significantly more nights and weekends, something that working at a school that closes the gates at 9 PM had gotten me quite used to not having to do. Even so, I started wondering about how I’d respond when I got the offer.
And then I didn’t get the offer.
I was actually quite shocked that I didn’t get the offer. Like I mentioned, I felt very confident after the interview. In fact, I felt more confident at the end of that interview than I had in any of the previous ones where I was actually offered a job. Perplexed, I pressed for some feedback…and respectfully kept trying until I was able to get a phone call. During that call, I was told “you were great and had everything we were looking for. But” (here it comes) “we have a lot of events at night and during the weekends and we were really looking for someone who would hit the ground running with those”. With that I had all the feedback I needed and I said thank you.
It was that moment that the grass on the other side appeared to brown a little. I thought back on my responses to certain questions and I realized that I tried to make it as clear as I could that I was going to create certain boundaries – to try and maintain the work/life balance that I have been fortunate enough to have crafted in my current role. That moment, I rediscovered my “why” – why was I searching in the first place if everything I wanted I had. That moment was important for me because I was able to reinvest myself, work on new initiatives, volunteer for new committees, take on new roles in association work, etc. Next semester I get to start a new challenge: teaching a grad class at a nearby university. It’s not always perfect, but no job really is – and if it was, then I’d probably get complacent and bored.
Many times, it makes perfect sense to start a job search, especially when you’re in an entry-level position that isn’t designed for longevity, when you want to be closer to family or a partner’s family, or your career plans change and its time for a career shift. Other times, however, it might be worth it to reevaluate your current situation to see if there are adjustments you can make to buy yourself more time. In any of the situations, though, it’s important to know…really know…what your “why” is.