The right job match

Applying for a job is tricky enough. It’s competitive, takes mental and physical energy, can be disruptive, and all the decision making and emotions, pinning your hopes on your dream job.

So, what makes the role you’re going for a perfect match?

When I started coaching in this space a mentor drew a Venn diagram (above) to outline four key elements to making sure the job is right:

Skills – to do the job

Remuneration and rewards

The work aligns to your values

Encompassing these three things is the organisational culture and making sure the work environment is a good match for you.

4 key components for assessing if the job is right for YOU

I like to draw people to these four points, when I coach – to help them understand the importance of not leaping at the first job that’s offered with a good salary. I don’t discount that often a job is about an income to pay the bills. Big tick there. But, if your skills aren’t aligned, adequate training’s not provided, and the work culture is unsupportive and causing stress, then you’ll find yourself back to square one. And resigning comes with angst, especially if you have a loyal work ethic.

In my mid-20s I started a job with a property management firm after backpacking through Europe and the UK. I didn’t do my due diligence and it didn’t last. I took the secretarial job because I had six years’ office admin experience under my belt with great organisations, and I’d made the assumption that all workplaces look after their staff. This one didn’t. Not only was I yelled at across the room for making a typo or missing a comma, my team mate who sat next to me was often ‘bitchy’ towards me. I tried to fit in and I upheld my professionalism. I grinned and bared it. Then I resigned. After six weeks. It was my shortest stint in a job ever.

Fast forward 25 years (or so) – I’ve enjoyed a fulfilling career in HR and career management working in cultures that have been a wonderful match for me – and given me the confidence to start my own career coaching business.

Now, my son has stepped into his first full time job and I’ll share how I supported him to find a role that he absolutely loves…(this story flows on from my previous blog post)!

Aidan finished year 12 last year and decided to pursue an apprenticeship in welding. We looked online together to see what was advertised and reviewed each job ad. My son is introverted, a bit nerdy and pretty smart. We talked about the type of engineering environment that would suit him. He was keen to find a work culture that was supportive and inclusive of their employees. A good sense of ‘team’ with a results focus. There were other factors too, including location (accessible by public transport).

With these criteria in mind it wasn’t long before he found a job that ticked the boxes, he applied, was interviewed and landed a labouring job with an engineering firm that makes sterilisation units for the health care sector. He is SO happy and thriving in the role after five weeks. The team are great. His boss is supportive. The money is right. Location tick!

So, what if the culture isn’t right. You can do the job. The money is right, but the environment leaves you wondering after a few weeks, ‘have I made the right choice?’

Firstly, if this happens, don’t beat yourself up – treat it as a learning curve.

To avoid this situation…review the company – look at the website. Google any articles about the organisation. Check their Facebook page and any reviews you can find. Do you know people who work there? Or past employees you could chat with.

When called to interview, listen to how they talk about the organisation and team.

Interviews are a two way process. You are assessing whether this is the job for you, being curious about the work culture and the job will help you make the best decision in working for them. You could ask – how would you describe the team culture? How does management lead and support the team?  Is there a position description and training (and written processes) for the role?

Having sound leadership practices and work structures in place are proven to reduce the risk of stress for employees in the workplace. This Harvard Business Review article summarises this beautifully on Making Work Less Stressful and More Engaging for Your Employees.

So…for the job seeker – understanding what you want and need in the role AND workplace is a good starting point. When I coach people who are looking at a career change, I invite them to complete a values and motivators exercise. This helps give clarity on what’s important to them and help with decision making and to job search strategically.

This method has proven well for my son, and many others I have coached. Aidan’s workplace pays him a little above Award, gives rostered days off and offers flexible hours. His manager sets clear instructions and guidance, with enough rope to work autonomously, and gives praise and encouragement for his achievements. Aidan speaks highly of his experience and, as a mum, I couldn’t wish for more for my child stepping out into the workforce.

After Year 12

I’m a parent of Year 12 student in Central Victoria. He’s doing VCE and what a time it’s been these past 18 months having to do many months of school from home. Now, it’s crunch time. Not only does my son (and the rest of Victoria’s Year 12s) have exams coming up, they need to submit their VTAC preferences by 30 September, if they’re looking to apply to a tertiary education course.

I’m a mum and a career coach, and I’ve only just tuned in to this piece of information! Whoops.

When I mentioned this to my son I could see that choosing uni courses seemed like hard work. His vibe was, ‘How am I supposed to know what I want to do next year or into the future?’ and, ‘How can I focus on that when I’m barely focusing on my school work?’

My son was overwhelmed.

I suggested we make a time to sit down together and nut some of this out. And keep the session to 30 minutes.

When my son was in Year 10 his Dad took him to a couple of university open days and they found a computer science course my son wanted to study. He’s since worked towards that goal with his subject choices. But, something has shifted and he doesn’t want to do that now. I hear the reasons. He doesn’t want to sit in an office chair on a computer all day (kind of what he does now). 🤔 He now wants to weld. Ok.

We explored career pathways for welders and how to register for an Apprenticeship and courses for a Certificate III in Engineering. Knowing how to apply but not having to commit right now, we agreed to sit with this idea and explore it more after exams.

Let’s go back to the computer science degree. We looked at what universities offer this course through the VTAC site, myfuture.edu.au and directly on university websites. We identified three courses and then my son was spent. Meeting adjourned.

Phew!

What can parents and carers do to support their kids in their future career choices?

Right now there are more unknowns than usual, whilst navigating a global pandemic. I see my son wondering ‘what will it be like?’ about a a particular type of job in the future, and imagining it won’t be so great and talking himself out of this career path. I see this A LOT when I coach people of any age. It’s a bit of self-sabotage.

Hang in there parents. Here’s my tips:

  • Find that balance of supporting, but not pushing. Gently guiding them.
  • Ask them to imagine what the people might be like who they work with. What type of boss will they have. What work will they being doing? What hours? A job isn’t always about turning up to an office/desk and head down. There is the office culture. Many of us will be working remotely and the culture will be across the meetings and work that is done.  Help your child paint a picture of what they would like to see in their world of work.
  • If they get their uni application (preferences) in by the due date, they won’t have to think about it again until AFTER exam time. There’s also a late option with a fee if you miss 30 Sept.
  • Often they’re still figuring it out when they’re at university, and changing courses after first semester is often an option.
  • Gap years are now becoming more popular in Australia. They can enquire about deferring their course once accepted and perhaps get some work + life experience.
  • Entering uni as a mature age student (21 years of age) can also be considered.

Your VCE student doesn’t HAVE to know what they want to do right now, but having a fair idea will help get the preferences in and not have to worry too much.

Handy Link: YouTube video | VTAC guide to applying for year 12 students and parents (2022)

Photo by Moren Hsu on Unsplash