Should You Make Compromises in Your Job Search?

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Should You Make Compromises in Your Job Search?

Compromise gets a bad rap sometimes, but it’s a huge part of what makes society work. For example, under ideal circumstances, government is all about compromise. Look at the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare: The bill went through over 100 public hearings and received 161 amendments from opposing parties before it was passed. Nobody got everything they wanted … but no one went away empty handed either.

Compromise is also a significant factor in the hiring process. Admit it: when you’re reading through the openings on, more than once you’ve scanned a job and thought “Man! I can’t do all of THAT!” The “ideal candidate” description for the position would have to be a gold-medalist in multiple disciplines, have 30 years of award-winning experiences … oh, and be willing to work for in intern’s stipend.

In the HR world, that’s known as a unicorn: in other words, you won’t find one. You can get an animal with a single horn, or a horse’s body, or cloven hooves, or a goat’s beard and tail … you might even be able to get an animal with a two or even three of those attributes … but an animal with ALL those traits doesn’t exist.

By the same token, finding a marketing candidate who is a high-end designer, an Addy-winning copywriter, a master photographer, a multimedia genius, and an omnichannel programmer–well, that type of multiple discipline Renaissance Man hasn’t existed since Da Vinci … and even he didn’t have an MBA.

Thing is, though, companies know that … they know they’re not going to find their mythological ideal candidate. Job descriptions aren’t really descriptions at all: they’re more like wish lists. Sure, a manager would love to find a candidate that meets or exceeds all their criteria … they’d love to, but they don’t really expect to. They know they will have to compromise.

Which brings us to you, the potential hire: do you have to compromise as well? Most likely, yes–that’s why it’s so important to think through your wants and needs before you get too far into your job search. Compromise will be necessary, but there’s also a point of diminishing returns, when you can compromise too much. In the words of positive thinker, Zig Ziglar, “Be careful not to compromise what you want most for what you want now.”

So exactly how do you straddle that fence? Well, to start with, you need to take a good look at yourself and figure out the non-negotiables: what are the things you know you cannot live with? And on the other side of the equation, what are the things you absolutely can’t live without? Your first step is identifying the deal-breakers.

You’ll probably find some good indicators simply by looking at your most recent position. What do you love about the job? What are the parts you’re not crazy about, but you can live with? And what are the things you swore you would never accept again?

Look at everything from drive time and vacation days to co-workers and salary. Was the atmosphere conducive to getting things done? Were the company’s goals in line with yours? Was there enough flexibility? Start a list with pros, cons, and maybes. Figure out what job YOU would be an ideal candidate FOR.

Keep in mind that yours is a wish list, too: it’s doubtful you’ll find a position that completely aligns with your description.

The ability and willingness to compromise can be a great tool in your job search. Once you know what you won’t compromise on–the things that really matter to you–you’ll be in a better position to find the job that fits.

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Laid Off? Consider Taking Some TIME Off.

Most people understand that taking a little time off now and then is good for you. But what if you’ve just been laid off or terminated? Surely your priority at that point should be finding another position, right?

Actually, experts point out that it may take a little time to recover from the shock of losing your job. Obviously, it will depend on your financial situation … and it’s not a great idea to stay out of work forever. But if you can afford it, a lay-off can be a great opportunity to look into things you lacked the time for when you were working 40 hours a week. Rather than throwing a pity party for yourself–tempting as that may be–or immediately diving into a frenzied job-search, consider making the most of your suddenly free schedule.

No one is suggesting irresponsibility here: if you only have $300 in the bank, this is not the time to book the three-week cruise you always wanted to take. But being responsible and being a touch impractical are not mutually exclusive. For example, this could prove to be an ideal chance to delve into some of your passions.

Have you always wanted to write a book, but found yourself coming home every evening after work too exhausted to focus on it? Well, now you don’t have that excuse: fire up your laptop and give it a go. Maybe start a book on how to deal with getting fired–people could certainly relate. Who knows? Maybe you’ll come up with a best-seller and start a whole new career.

Ever wanted to try yoga or train for a triathlon? Keeping your body healthy will help keep your mood up and your focus sharp. Have books on the shelf you promised yourself you would read “when you have time”? Guess what? Now you do. This can be particularly helpful if you’re learning new information that can help with your career … or learning about potential NEW careers you might enjoy.

In fact, if you’ve ever thought of a change in career paths, there’s no time like now to start investigating your options. Step back and re-assess your career, your position, and your industry. Make a list of pros and cons, and decide for yourself if this is truly where you want to be. Maybe you enjoy your field, but think you’d be happier in a different capacity. Or maybe it’s time to change industries completely. In either situation, find out all you can. Check into courses offered locally (or online) that might help you further your credentials or open the door to a new career track.

Finally, if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of starting your own business, you won’t have a better opportunity. Maybe you’re the entrepreneur-type, or perhaps you like the idea of being a freelancer. Try it now. You really have nothing to lose taking the chance: if it works for you, you’ll be happier in the long run. And even if you decide it’s not for you, you’ll still gain valuable knowledge and experience … not to mention hopefully picking up a few bucks to help while you find another position.

So before you launch yourself straight back into a job-hunt, consider making the most of your time now. Remember, making a living is important … but not nearly as important as making a life.

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