Landing My Perfect Job

What some people may not realize is that I’m currently employed at my perfect job.. Sometimes I wonder how exactly I managed to get to this place in life and I think I’ve come up with some strategies that I’d like to share with you.

Money is important, but it’s not the most important

I’d extend this to benefits as well. Unless you have a health condition that would make acquiring your own health insurance prohibitively expensive it’s totally optional to find a company that offers benefits. Just factor the cost of insurance and retirement investments into your salary.

What IS important is variable to each person and it can change over time. For me these are the important attributes of an ideal job.

1. Influence

This is my number one attribute for a number of reasons. First it really sucks when you work at a job doing stuff you can’t stand doing. I’ll get into this more later on, but if you have influence at a company you can go a long way into making sure you’re working on the projects and tasks that you want to be working on.

2. Autonomy

I can’t be micromanaged. I’ve come to realize that I’m the most productive if I can come and go and work when is best for me. I’ve found that the best way to achieve this is to work from home. With fast internet I can video Skype, call, text or e-mail my coworkers depending on how important the reason is. Some people might not be able to handle this, but since I’m a bit of a workaholic my boss is never worried about me slacking off.

If I’m feeling like crap I can take a nap and when I get up I get way more done then if I had pushed through the fog and kept working. This is why people in offices spend so much time on Facebook and Twitter. They feel like crap for any number of reasons (florescent lighting, sugar crashing, general tiredness, etc) but they can’t go take a nap so instead they dick around on Facebook.

3. Passion

This is a bit of a loaded attribute. The company I work for builds a tool for grocery stores to manage their expiring inventory. Is that what I’m passionate about? It probably wouldn’t be on the top of my list. However what I am passionate about is building amazing software. I’m passionate about learning how to improve my code and make things work better for everybody involved (users, administrators, developers, etc).

At some of my prior jobs these ideals were a low priority. It was more important to get more features out as quickly as possible, accumulating a bunch of technical debt in the process. I would get scolded for taking my time to do things the right way because we “didn’t have time for that”. Now because of my autonomy and influence I can manage expectations and make sure that I’m passionate about the projects I’m working on.

4. Chemistry

You have to enjoy working with the people you interact with the most. If you

have to spend every day talking and working with people you can’t stand the job

is a dead end. I can honestly say I’m friends with every single person I work

with. Most importantly my boss is amazing. When I had to go have heart surgery

he’s was great about accommodating my time off and my gradual return to full

time. He even came over and dropped off a brand new MacBook Pro! This may not

have been the case if I hadn’t consistently over delivered prior to this, but

that’s irrelevant because when it came down to it, my family and I didn’t have

to worry about my job on top of all of our health worries. That really makes a

huge difference.

5. Transparency

This ties in with chemistry a little, but if you feel like people are lying to

you, you can’t do a good job. For me it’s really important to know what’s going

on in the business. Some people falsely think that working at a startup is more

risky then working at a big company. I’ve worked at a number of startups and I

have to say the only difference is at a startup you typically know what the

risks are and can help mitigate them, at a big company you’re surprised when you

show up one day to find out that a third of the company has been laid off. Can

you handle the truth?

6. Money

I said it was important and it is. If I’m not able to pay my bills or do the

sorts of things I want to do in my free time nothing else really matters. But

once you reach that threshold the importance of money really drops.

How do you get your perfect job?

I’ve written more about this in a follow post Getting the perfect job

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Written by Andrew Shell, a Senior Web Engineer/People Lead from Madison, WI.