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August 5, 2015 / Stephanie Anderson

Job search gut check: 8 questions to ask yourself before you apply

How do you measure success in your job search? Obviously a successful job search results in a great new job, but along the way you’re probably focused on the number of applications submitted, or  interviews landed. Here’s the problem, if you’re applying and interviewing for all the wrong jobs, you’re ultimately going to extend the length of your job search and increase your frustration.

Before you hit go on another application, stop for a quick job search “gut check.” Consider these eight questions to determine if a job’s worth applying for, or if it’s a non-starter.

1. Is this a real, legitimate job?

That old saying “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” applies tenfold to job hunting in the digital age. Old, fake or scam job listings abound on the Internet. Carefully evaluate a job ad before you reply. Is the job advertised on the website of a legitimate company? Can you find information on that company? Does the ad or application require you to reveal personal or financial information before you can even talk to someone at the company? Be sure to check out our post on how to spot job scams.

2. Am I qualified for the position?

Minimum requirements are one of the most important components of a job description. They dictate what skills and experience are required of a candidate to be considered for a job. If a sourcing specialist scans your resume and you lack the “5 years of retail experience” required for the job, your application is destined for the trash and your so is your time.

3. Can I handle the commute?

Everyone wants to work from home, but it’s more likely you’ll end up commuting to an office. Is that commute going to be reasonable? Will you need to relocate, and are you willing to do so? Will the commuting time require you to rearrange child-care plans? If it will be a long drive from home to the office, are there affordable alternatives like public transportation?

4. Will this job allow me to maintain my work-life balance?

Yes, you want a job, but that job shouldn’t take over your whole life. As you evaluate the job and company, watch for work-life balance red flags. For example, does the company have a bad online reputation on websites where current and former employees anonymously review companies? Can you find information about the work-life balance or company social activities on its hiring website?

5. How stable and reputable is the company?

If you’re out of work, it can be tempting to grab any opportunity that comes your way. But it’s important to know how stable the company is and its reputation for how it treats employees. If the company has been riddled with layoffs and bad earnings statements, working for them may be a big risk. If the company has more layoffs or goes out of business, you could be out of a job again.

6. Do you like the leadership of the company?

Of course you know it’s important to get along well with your immediate supervisor, but how you feel about the higher-ups is also relevant. You may not interact with the CEO on a daily basis – or ever – but if he’s made public statements that you can’t respect, or has a reputation for treating staff poorly, you may end up unhappy in the job. Antipathy toward leaders can be a sign you’ll clash with the company’s culture, too. Finally, if you don’t “like” the leadership’s business acumen, you may never be confident of the company’s future, or confident in your job.

7. Do you believe in their product/service or mission?

If your passion is animal rights, do you really want to work for a retailer who makes money selling real fur coats? That might not bother some people, but would it trouble you? If you don’t believe in what the company is selling, you could eventually feel like a sell-out and your self-respect will suffer.

8. What’s the single most exciting thing about this opportunity?

Is it the work, the people, the product, the chance to make a difference? There’s no single right way to answer that question, but there is definitely a wrong way. If you’re taking a job solely for the money, you will almost certainly conclude one day that it just wasn’t worth it. The best jobs fulfill your desire for meaningful work, as well as your need for a paycheck.