Okay, before reading any further – you do realize there is no IDEAL job. What you’ll find is a job which matches MOST of your wants. You are very lucky if you find a job which matches ALL of your wants. So why go through this process? To help you create a checklist to stay focused while job searching.

Keep in mind, the LEAST effective way to network when searching for a job is saying, “I’m looking for anything.” This statement doesn’t give the person you’re talking with enough information to help you. It also makes you sound desperate (even if you are desperate, remember don’t let them see your desperation).

To begin defining your ideal job, here are seven questions to think about in order to better articulate what you want:

1- Which industry am I pursuing?

You may decide to stay in your current industry. Or you may decide to branch out into a new industry. If you’re moving into a new industry, take time to list your transferable skills. These skills can be used in any industry – for example, sales, marketing, accounting, management. Also, practice your response when asked why you are switching industries.


2- What type of role am I targeting (e.g., entry-level account representative, sales manager)?

Strive for roles which help you stretch in your career development but be realistic – don’t apply for a Senior Vice President role if you’ve never been in management or held a Vice President role. If you are considered “over-qualified,” practice your response to this issue. Also, be prepared to explain how this role fits into your overall career objective.


3- What responsibilities should my ideal job have?

Not all job titles are the same. For that reason, it’s important to read job descriptions. A “Relationship Manager” at one firm may have additional responsibilities than the “Relationship Manager” at another firm. When determining the responsibilities for your ideal job, read job descriptions from jobs which interest you.


4- What companies do I want to work for?

Identify 10 companies where you would like to work. If you don’t have a list of companies you’re targeting, then Google your industry and location. This search will help identify companies you may want to consider.


5- Where do I want to work?

Are you willing to relocate? If you live in a large metropolitan area, do you have commuting limitations?


6- What is my acceptable salary range?

Use your current income as a guide. If you are looking for a pay increase, define how much you want. Some job descriptions state pay will commensurate with experience. For this reason, it’s important to know your target salary range.


7- What type of benefits do I want?

Benefits include paid time off (e.g., sick time, vacation, holidays), retirement savings (e.g., 401k, pension plan), health insurance (e.g., medical, dental, vision), flexible work schedule, etc. Decide which benefits are important to you. Benefits offered may offset shortfall in salary expectation.

Answering the above questions will help you clearly define your ideal job. When networking, you can now use a succinct statement. For example, you may say,

“I’m looking for a [insert role] opportunity in [insert industry] with [insert company name] in [insert location].”

Use your answers as a checklist when evaluating job opportunities. Realize no job opportunity will meet ALL of your wants but having a list will help keep you focused.

Finding a new job is hard work. Remember to stay PEF (positive | enthused | focused)!


Niv PersaudNiv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter and as a financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”