We are here to help you break out of autopilot mode, and ask yourself the questions that really matter 🤔
What is success?
You can find many definitions of success on the internet. For example, the American coach Jen Sincero says: ''Success = your dreams + fears + doing it anyway''. And now you're probably thinking "OK, but what does that mean in practice?" 🤷♀️ We believe the most important thing is to understand what matters to you and to make your professional decisions accordingly! Otherwise, you might end up stuck in a career you don't like, without even knowing why.
With the help of Etienne Mangino, co-founder of the Leader Journey programme at Fly The Nest, and manager coach, we have devised a method to help you identify exactly what is important to you. Answer our 6 questions to create your own evaluation grid. You will then be able to objectively assess job offers and job descriptions in accordance with your core values.
With this method, there are no set answers. Our questions cover a number of issues, ranging from the more practical (working conditions, salary, etc.) to the more abstract (your values, the meaning you give to work, etc.). This will help frame your reflections and organise your ideas. The main thing is that you be honest and think big!
Set aside some time for this: an evening after work or an afternoon at the weekend will be enough. Believe us, it is worth it. Your answers will reveal your personal definition of success.
Now that the introductions are out of the way, let’s get to work!
Question #1: How do you want to spend your day?
Let's start by imagining what an ideal work day would look like for you.
First of all, try position yourself within the 4 main existing career development paths:
- managing a team
- becoming an expert on a given topic
- entrepreneurship (setting up your own project)
- "intrapreneurship" (managing transformation projects within your company)
Don't think about this too much, follow your instinct. If you can't come up with a clear answer now, move on to the next step. You can always come back to this later.
Next, let’s zoom in even closer on your "ideal job": list all the tasks you perform or would like to perform, then sort them into three categories:
- what you like/would like to do (positive)
- what you are willing to do (neutral)
- what you don't want to do (negative)
Try to be precise and thorough. If you are stuck, you can draw on your past experiences. You can also use job descriptions available on the internet as inspiration.
For a senior developer, this is what the exercise might look like:
✅ What I want to do:
- spend at least 50% of my time coding in Python or Ruby
- mentoring a junior developer
- get more proficient at DevOps
🆗 What I don't mind to do:
- write documentation
- recruit a technical team
❌ What I don't want to do:
- I no longer want to do frontend development
- I don't want to be in meetings all day
- I don't want to work exclusively with British people
Question #2: What kind of environment do you want to work in?
Now that you have defined which tasks you like and which you don't, let's focus on your work environment. When defining what you want this to look like, consider the following three elements: management style, your team, and work organisation. For each one, describe your dream scenario in one sentence.
Would you prefer a hands-on management approach or a lot of independence? Are you more comfortable with a vertical or horizontal organisation? Do you prefer decisions to be made collaboratively or in a top-down manner?
Your ideal team
How big do you want your team to be? What type of profiles do you want to work with in terms of diversity, or experience?
Which type of structure would allow you to perform to the best of your ability? Do you prefer daily standups or as few meetings as possible? Live or asynchronous meetings? Face-to-face or remote? Agile organisation or other?
Question #3: What are your core values?
This question is crucial because it defines what matters to you and helps find meaning in what you do.
The exercise is simple:
- think back to your past experiences and for each one list what you liked or disliked (for example: "I didn't like how little recognition there was in this job")
- group the elements that you think are related and try to name each group ( for example: "need for recognition")
- define up to 5 groups that you want to prioritise: these are your 5 core values
You can use this list of universal needs defined by Nonviolent Communication as a guide to help you in this task.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and it is not meant to reflect everyone's values. It is up to you to listen to yourself and identify the values that resonate the most with you.
Once you have defined your groups of core values, you can move on to the next step.
Question #4: What are your conditions?
In this exercise, the focus is not on "work environment" but rather on practical conditions. What is the "setting" (in the broadest possible sense) you need to be happy at work?
Salary is not the only factor to take into account. Other criteria such as quality of life and work/life balance should also be considered.
Make a list of clear conditions and quantify what can be quantified. Try to be as specific as possible!
- Salary or salary range: for example "I want a minimum of €60K (gross) per year"
- Variable compensation: “no more than 20% variable compensation”
- Bonuses and benefits: these include individual and/or group bonuses, company savings plans, stock options, etc.
- Type of contract: permanent, fixed-term, freelance work, etc.
- Work hours: full or part time, fixed or flexible?
- How is your work organised? 100% remote, hybrid, regular offsites with the team?
- Time off: 5 weeks paid leave? Do you get to choose when you can take time off?
- Commute: “I don’t want my commute to exceed 45 minutes on public transport”, “I want to be able to walk or cycle to the office in less than 25 minutes”, etc.
- Where? the countryside, the seaside, a big city, the city centre?
- Services available within the company or nearby: “I want to be able to go to a gym, or have an hour-long run during my lunch break,” “I want to be able to bring my dog to work.”
Think big and list everything you want!
Question #5: How meaningful do you want your work to be?
The question of “meaning” is a tricky one. This question encourages you to reflect on what your ideal society would be and the direction in which you hope to see the world move in the future. Based on this, you can then sort companies into three categories: your dream companies, the “OK” ones, and companies that are not aligned whatsoever with your values.
Think about your ideal company and answer the following questions:
- What is its role in the world?
- What impact would your work have on society as a whole and on your target audience?
- How meaningful is the project?
- Would you feel proud to be involved in this project, in this field, to work for this client?
- What would your legacy be?
You can now sort companies into three main categories:
- Dream companies: these are completely aligned with your personal values, how you view the world, and your own commitments.
- OK: you can accept to work for these companies because their actions do not directly conflict with your core values, or because they meet most of your ethical standards…
- No go: you won’t even look at their job listing, and you would never consider working for them in a million years. Next!
This exercise has the advantage of being quick and easy: we all have companies we dream of working with, and industries we would not touch with a ten foot pole. The tricky part is figuring out the space in between, your grey area!
Question #6: Comfort zone or challenges?
This last exercise is meant to help you define how you want to balance stress and boredom! How much of a challenge do you need to feel excited, without ending up burned out?
First, let’s establish how comfortable you are with trying new things:
- What are you good at and which skills do you want to capitalise on?
- What are you not good at and what do you want to try next?
- Are you ready to take the plunge?
For example, if your dream is to become a CTO, but you know nothing about managing a team, it could help to look for a leadership position to learn the ropes of management.
Now ask yourself how you want to go about learning new skills:
- Do you want to learn on your own or do you need a lot of guidance?
- Do you prefer a gradual approach (e.g. two days a week) or to learn it all in one go?
- Do you want to follow a training programme or would you rather learn on the job?
Your answers will precisely determine the kind of structure that suits you best. For instance, if you want to be heavily mentored, a more established company will probably suit you better than a start-up.
Well done for getting through our six exercises! Asking yourself the right questions is the first step in getting out of autopilot mode and taking charge of your career.
Now that you have established what is important to you, you are well equipped to prepare for job interviews. These are, after all, a two-way street: the recruiter is evaluating you, but you should also use this opportunity to assess whether the company is right for you.
Use all the elements in your evaluation grid to prepare targeted questions. During the interview, do not hesitate to ask for clarifications. After the interview, think about how their offer matches your personal aspirations.
💡 Use our Job Matcher to organise your ideas and objectively compare your different offers
The Job Matcher tool is easy to use and allows you to create your own personal evaluation grid. You will be able to simply list and rank all your needs (for instance, salary might be very important to you while you might not care as much about work organisation). Then, all you have to do is run each job offer you receive through the Job Matcher tool to find out if it’s score matches your needs. You can also do this with your current job 🙂
Click here to download the Job Matcher 📊
Our final tips
These exercises will help you see things more clearly, but the most difficult part is to actually get started.
Begin by setting short and medium term goals to give yourself a clear course of action. For example: “within a year, I want to be managing 2 people and to have improved my skills on a given framework.” By taking things step by step, planning only 1 or 2 years ahead, it will be easier for you to make adjustments. This is a bit like the agile methodology, but applied to your professional roadmap.
Then, get someone more experienced than you to approve your plan. Ideally they will already be working in your dream role or at your dream company. You can use social networks like LinkedIn to contact them directly and invite them for a coffee or a quick chat. This feedback will reassure you and motivate you to move forward!