Target Your Ideal Job by Prioritizing

Published: Apr 07, 2014 By Heather Krasna

Target Your Ideal Job by Prioritizing

By Heather Krasna

If you attend a job fair, networking event, or are in a job interview, you are sure to be asked what your career goals are. Answers like, “I’m open to anything,” or even, “I’d like something in pharmaceuticals,” are not helpful to the people who might otherwise be able to help you find a job. In addition, once you begin apply to jobs, it is crucial to focus your efforts on the jobs that are of greatest interest to you and best fit your skills. When you finally get an offer, you must know what is most important to you so you make the right decision about whether to accept it or not.

A clear objective includes a job title or job function, industry/sector, and geographic location: “I’m seeking a clinical trial coordinator position in a pharmaceutical firm in New Jersey where I can use my background in clinical research, statistics, and IRB approval.”  To develop a clear objective, it is important to prioritize what is most important to you. Examples include:

  • Being able to use specific skills or have a certain job function

  • Working in a particular company culture

  • Having certain types of colleagues or a supportive boss

  • Earning a particular minimum salary

  • Obtaining benefits such as health insurance, retirement, etc.

  • Working within a specific commuting distance of their home

  • Working in a particular industry or on a particular subject matter

  • Having good work-life balance; having minimal travel and/or being able to spend time with family

  • Some may have other specific needs—such as accommodations for a disability, being able to work outdoors, avoiding particular job functions

Most people would like to have all of the above items—how can you choose what’s most important to you? First, brainstorm the things you have not enjoyed in prior jobs. What job functions would you like to avoid? What types of colleagues can you do without? Second, envision your dream job. Write a list of items that you envision as part of your dream job. What is the title you want? How many hours would you want to work, ideally? If you don’t have a clear vision, visit some job boards like and Wiley Job Network to review job descriptions, read profiles of people on LinkedIn, read some books that give overviews of different careers, and speak with a career coach. Third, consider comparing the criteria of various jobs in an imaginary “forced choice” experiment. For example, would you prefer a job with long hours, but high wages? Or a reasonable schedule but lower pay? Would you prefer a job with a longer commute but high wages? And so on. Count the number of times you select each item. Those that are selected the most are your highest priority. Once you have priorities, you will be able to focus your search, find jobs faster, and know which jobs not to accept.

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