There are many great reasons to evaluate a job. Maybe you are trying to figure out what you want to do for a career. Maybe you want to look for new professional development opportunities. Or, maybe you want to find areas to improve in your current job to make it more enjoyable and fulfilling.
Doing an honest and thorough evaluation can help you understand what you value and how your values line up with your current role or a possible new one. You might realize something isn’t a great fit, or you might realize there are lots of unrealized opportunities that would help you feel more connected, supported, and valued.
My Evaluation System
When applying to jobs fresh out of college, I tried to create a system to help quantify my feelings towards potential jobs and companies. I had five categories I would score between 1-5. A 5 represented that I felt extremely confident that a job would provide me with what I wanted from that area of work. On the other hand, a 1 represented that I did not believe the job would give me any fulfillment or support in that area.
It’s worth saying that there is a decent amount of subjectivity in some of these categories. Most people will agree on how to evaluate compensation (maybe), but you might get five different opinions if you ask about what a good coworker looks like.
The key for me wasn’t to optimize for the most points but to try and find a job with good scores in every category. That meant I wouldn’t need to sacrifice anything important to me. I’d rather work at a company with all 4s instead of a place that has some 5s and some 1s.
This category is a combination of the coworkers that you interact with regularly, as well as the leadership of the company.
It can be valuable to connect well with those you work with on a daily/weekly basis. Having people that you can enjoy talking to or asking questions can make the day-to-day much more enjoyable. It can be just as important to have leaders at your job that you trust and feel supported by. All in all, part of what we need from our work is to be in relationship with others, to know and be known.
2. Project & Tools
This is the actual work that you are doing. For a product company, this may be the specific product you are building or the team that you work in. In the case of consulting, it would include our client and the software we’re building with them. It also encapsulates the tools that we are using in the process.
Some people value getting to learn many domains and use different tools for each thing they work on. Others may like to build deep expertise in a set of specific tools and use them to solve a similar set of problems. Knowing what you want to learn can help you choose a job that aligns with those learning goals.
3. Professional Growth
This category is all about opportunities, both technical and leadership, to develop and refine your skills through professional development options. Some common examples of this are conferences, graduate school courses, or even time in the actual work week to learn about new technologies.
Based on where you are in your career and where you’d like to go, this can look very different. I highly value the investment Atomic makes in Atoms through software conferences and paid professional development time. The important thing here is to understand what professional development you’d like to do and see if that is an option that your company believes in and financially supports.
The explanation here is pretty simple. Compensation is the combination of the actual salary you are paid and any kind of stock options, bonuses, and other incentives.
It’s very hard to work when you don’t feel properly compensated. I like what Mike Marsiglia wrote in his post about compensation. He writes: “Money is a weak motivator, but a powerful de-motivator. We want people to work at Atomic for many reasons, not just for pay.” Making sure that you feel comfortable and valued for the work you are doing cannot be understated.
5. Work Flexibility
This category is about the flexibility that exists for where and when you can work. So this would include where you have the option to work from, whether that’s in the office or at home. It would also include the ability to take time off during the day and make up the time later that day or on an entirely different day.
We’ve learned and continue to learn more about what work environments can look like. The biggest discussion around company culture right now is In-person vs. Remote vs. Hybrid. Some companies make each of these systems work incredibly well and some that don’t. What’s important here is understanding your values and how you work best, and finding a place that agrees and puts in the effort to make that system thrive.
Professional Development: Exploring What Matters Most
These are the criteria I used to evaluate jobs. It has helped me understand what I want from work and how I can make and suggest changes to improve my job satisfaction. You may have different things that are important to you. But I hope this encourages you to explore what matters most to you in your career and look for internal or external opportunities that get you excited for work every day.