Easily the biggest mistake people make when they decide to leave a company, is that they just do it. Now I'm not talking about individuals who work in a hostile work environment. By all means, get out as quickly as you can. I'm talking about the majority of employees who are dissatisfied with their job, recognize their current company isn't right for them, and apply to as many different places as possible because they want this situation to be over.

Unfortunately, this group of people rarely reflects on what's causing the dissatisfaction. Yeah, some people will say,"My boss is shitty," or that "the work sucks," or that "the hours are unbearable," but that doesn't help in the future. Understanding why they felt their boss was shitty, why they felt the work sucked, and why they felt the hours were unbearable, that's what will bring them a fulfilling experience at each new opportunity.

But that doesn't happen. And as a result, they take the first job they're offered. And yes, that initial switch feels so good (so, so good), but it doesn't last. Soon (so, so soon), you're back to being frustrated and the cycle starts over. Hell, you may even end up missing your old job.

Avoiding a Series of Disappointment - Finding the Why

To make sure you're getting the most out of every destination, you need to develop your own Positional Criteria, Company Criteria, and Career Goals. And all these are, are a set of standards and core principles that you can use to gauge your current and future work situation(s).

To make this easier, I've put together a list of key areas that will be useful to define. (Don't hesitate to add your own to the list.)

Positional Criteria
  • Use Specific Sets of
    Hard Skills A specific, teachable ability that can be defined and measured. (Speaking a foreign language, Building graphs on excel, Repair AC units)
    Soft SkillsPersonal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. (Creativity, Adaptability, Resourcefulness, Communication Technics)
  • Working in a Group
    • How much time should be spent in a group vs. doing independent work?
    • What role do you want in a group? (These are best described as soft skills too)
    • What type of group do you thrive in?
  • Pressure Situations Where You're Comfortable vs. Uncomfortable
    • Working with Short Deadlines
    • Giving Verbal Presentations
    • Delivering Bad News to a Superior
  • Type of Supervisor
    • What's the level of guidance he/she should be willing to give on harder assignments?
    • What should their stance be on taking initiative without their permission?
    • How persistent do they want you to be when you have an alternative idea from their own?
    • How should they give you feedback when you do something incorrectly?
  • Types of Subordinates
    • Independent Workers vs. Employees Who Prefer a Hands-on Supervisor
    • Those Who Speak Up vs. Follow Directions
    • Part of One Group vs. Part of Several
  • Time Spent Traveling
    • Preferred Distance to Work
    • Traveling for Work
  • Workplace
    • In an Office
    • Remotely
    • Combination of the Two
  • Willingness to Work Overtime
    • What's your stance on Home/Work Balance?
    • How much vacation time do you need?
  • Type of Authority
    • Ability to Redeploy Low Performers / Promote High Achievers
    • Ability to Create New Positions
    • Ability to Decide Who Gets Hired/Fired
    • Ability to Make Policy Changes in the Office

Company Criteria
  • Which should the company value most - expressing opinions vs. doing as you're directed?
  • What should be their dress code?
    • Formal Attire
    • Business Casual
    • Casual
    • Uniform
  • How driven should they be by their mission statement?
  • What's the ideal number of employees?
  • What type of benefits should they offer?
  • Should employees find meaning in their work or view them as tasks to complete?
  • Do you thrive in a competitive or cooperative environment?
  • Do you prefer when decisions are made through consensus or from leadership?
  • Would you prefer your work change or be consistent day-to-day?
  • Should the company's products/services be revolutionary or time-tested?
  • Do you thrive when the company's focus is more on today's goals or future goals?
  • Do you feel more fulfilled when a company's focus is on increasing customer satisfaction or profit margins?
  • Are you happier when the company celebrates individual achievement or group success?
  • Is your work enhanced in environments where employees view each other as friends or strictly co-workers?

Career Goals (Long Term)
  • Specific Financial Targets
  • Reach a Specific Positional Level within a Company
  • Develop a Large Network of Professionals
  • Become an Expert
    • Obtain Particular Degrees, Certifications, and Recognition
  • Have a Robust Portfolio
  • Work for a Specific Company or Individual
  • Be Stable in Your Position
  • Personal Growth
    • Become More Organized
    • Handle More Responsibility
    • Learn to Take On Less
    • Deal with Stress
    • Develop Better Communication Skills
  • Work to a Specific Age
  • Start Your Own Business

By understanding your feelings toward these situations and ideas, you'll have given yourself a great career tool. You'll know what's vital at the next opportunity. You'll know what to strive for at the next opportunity. You'll also know when it's time to leave the next opportunity (if it ever gets to that point).

Additionally, if one of your needs isn't being met, you can recognize it early and work with management to implement a solution. It's also possible that you find out that your current situation isn't that bad - you just need to make a few adjustments. (I just started this blog, so stay connected. I'll be explaining how to use this list in all the situations I just mentioned and beyond.)

Now it's important to remember that your stances are not set in stone. As you grow older, gain more experiences, your views may shift - and that's okay. In fact, that's great. And even though, what you write down today, may not be the same tomorrow, it doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. It actually makes this more important, because it allows you to avoid previous mistakes. You'd be amazed how easy it is to forget these errors in judgement. Writing them down and noticing the adjustments, lets you see the whole story and make accurate corrections. That is how you end up with a fulfilling career.

Bonus - The Interview

Another mistake I want you to avoid, is blaming the previous company during an upcoming interview. I know, it feels good to get your frustration out about an old employer, but you should hold back. This will only be a red flag to the interviewer.

So when they inevitably ask, "Why are leaving Company X," I want you to focus on this list. An example answer could be, "I thrive in an environment where employees view each others friends, and while looking through your website, that was perception that I received. Would you say that's true about your company?"

This response, on top of being true, shows the company that you've done the research and validates your answer because you followed it up with a related question. This is how you impress an interviewer and find a job you'll thrive in.

Article By: Tom Kieley

About the Author

Tom is the creator of Fulfillingly. He absolutely enjoys giving people the tips and tools they need to find a satisfying career or dependable employee. Tom does
this by combining years of experience with incredible outside sources.

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