While it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find a job that’s a “perfect fit” — two words you hear a lot when people talk about careers — it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. After all, most of us spend more time with coworkers than we do with our friends and family, and it’s important to find work that stimulates the mind, nourishes the soul, and feeds the old bank account.
That’s some of the thinking behind “5 Essential Factors to Consider When Selecting a Career,” a helpful Black Enterprise post written by Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. As founder of the international consulting firm WordSmithRapport, Mariama-Arthur knows a thing or two about career satisfaction, and she says it begins with the ability to thrive. In fact, the first thing she urges jobseekers to ask themselves is “Do I have the competency necessary to be successful?”
According to Mariama-Arthur, it’s not always necessary to possess all of the skills and educational experience commonly associated with a job. Some of these things can be picked up along the way through professional development. But she offers a word of caution: Doing “subpar work” could hurt your cred and get you fired, so when considering a certain job, it’s vital to think long and hard about whether you’ve really got what it takes.
Next up, Mariama-Arthur invokes another “P” term — not “perfect fit,” but “passion.” She’s a firm believer in doing work that matters that to you and keeps you engaged day after day, week after week, year after year.
“When passion is part of the equation,” she writes. “you’ll be more focused on the quality of your work, as well as the impact that you are making.”
Of course, feeling passionate is no good if you can’t enjoy yourselves on your downtime, and question No. 3 on Mariama-Arthur’s list has to do with work-life balance: “Will I have the lifestyle that I want?” Before you sign up for a career, think about whether you’ll likely do a lot of traveling or log a ton of evening and weekend hours. Is there flexibility in the schedule? Is that something you care about?
The issue of lifestyle naturally leads to money, and Mariama-Arthur’s next question is one many people probably consider right off the bat: “What’s the current salary and earning potential?” Salary is important, but one should also think about potential for raises and bonuses, retirement savings, and other such issues. Will this job provide you with enough money to have fun in the present and save for the future?
“Opportunities that support your overall financial growth are optimum choices,” Mariama-Arthur writes.
Lastly, she turns to a word that’s probably not bandied around enough: “culture.” Some jobs are fast-paced and thankless, while others offer more opportunities for working closely with others and receiving feedback.
“Will you feel like just another cog in the wheel or will your contributions be recognized—encouraged even?” Mariama-Arthur asks.
Some might be happy as cogs; others will be miserable. The key is to think about it first and get as close to perfect as possible.