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Since you are going to spend more than 2,000 hours a year on the job, you should give some thought as to what you really want to do and the type of environment in which you want to do it.  Unfortunately, many job hunters do not realize the importance of this step, or they elect to ignore it because of the time and effort that must be invested.  Still others establish some basic goals to begin a search and then refine their objectives as they go along.  Of course, there are always a few who neglect the process entirely, assuming they will recognize the ‘ideal’ position when they see it.The process of identifying your true job objective involves making a ‘wish list’ of all the things you really want out of a new job, and then deciding on their priority or degree of importance.  You may, for example, know you want a position as a Chief Financial Officer, but there may be questions as to the type of industry, location and work environment that would satisfy your needs and interests best.  In other cases, certain aspects of your past work may not have been very satisfying, so you must give some consideration to the type of position you would really prefer.

Establishing a Detailed Objective
In today’s challenging marketplace, many people are making major career changes, with some even taking a step backwards in order to achieve their desired goals.  Others love their career or profession, but have been dissatisfied with the industry, location, or type of people with whom they have been associated.  Still others face the dilemma of declining industries and realize that they had better begin looking in new directions.  A true job objective is more than simply identifying the type of position you seek.  While it may require some real soul-searching on your part, you must force yourself to identify all of the job factors you consider important, and then determine how and where you are most likely to achieve them.  This is easily accomplished by means of a two-step process:

1. Complete a self-assessment  -  A thorough and objective self-assessment is the first step in finding a better position.  This includes a complete review of your past experiences, skills, abilities, strengths, liabilities, preferences, priorities and financial requirements.  Before embarking on a job search you must know where you’ve been and what you have accomplished.  Achieving a better understanding of your innate abilities leads to an essential element for job-hunting success  -- confidence in having something to offer.

2. Define the ideal job  -  Based on the results of your self-assessment, you can begin making a wish list of all the things you really want out of a new job.  If, for example, certain aspects of your past work has been less than satisfying, you must give some serious consideration to the type of position you would really prefer.  In other cases, you may know exactly what you want to do, but you may not know the type of industry or work environment that would satisfy your needs and interests best.

The answers to these types of questions become the basis for identifying your ideal job.  By clearly defining what you are looking for at the beginning of your job search, you will have meaningful criteria to evaluate future job offers.  Remember, just because you get a job offer doesn’t mean you should accept it.  Money can be an extremely attractive lure, but if the job, type of supervision, corporate culture, and a host of other variables don’t match your expectations, you may find your next position is much less satisfying than you hoped.The following list illustrates the types of factors that you might consider when developing your job objective:

Amount of power and prestige, freedom to make more decisions, salary, perks and benefits, potential for personal growth, type and size of the organization, level of risk taking permitted, amount of job pressure and stress, future opportunities (expansion, IPO, etc.), potential advancement, amount of job security, job title and other status symbols, superior’s management style, level of creativity permitted, amount of independent action, job-related travel, intellectual challenge of the work, corporate philosophy and culture, and potential of products or services.

After developing your own list of job requirements, organize it by priority.  In other words, which factors do you consider essential to your mental and physical health, and which ones would be nice, but hold considerably less importance.  Just make sure that you put your thoughts and objectives on paper.  When you write things like this down, you will usually find it easier to achieve some discipline.  Written words have a way of becoming unbreakable goals, and you should find it helpful when trying to harness your thoughts and get things underway.

After completing this exercise, the logical job opportunities that are open to you should then become reasonably clear.  Obviously, your preferences must be reconciled with your strengths, weaknesses and experiences, or you may choose a direction that leads to frustration and failure.  This does not mean, of course, that you should rule out lofty challenges or significant salary increases.  It happens all the time.

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