When looking for the right job, whether you find it after a months-long search or a 30-minute chat, being ready for the opportunity — and knowing that it’s the right opportunity for you — comes only after a good deal of pointed soul-searching and preparation.

So before your next job search, ask yourself the following 10 questions. Answer as completely and candidly as possible, and if you get stuck, don’t hesitate to seek the services of a certified career coach to help you gain greater clarity and direction.


  1. Am I already in the right job? This may seem like a silly question, but before striking out for greener pastures, it’s important to consider whether a smaller change — like shifting your focus to work on projects that interest you more, or moving to another team within the company — might bring you greater job satisfaction. But if your wages or opportunities for advancement and learning have maxed out, then it might really be time to move on.
  2. What am I good at? What kind of work has given you the most satisfaction thus far? Why was it satisfying? Keeping in mind that we often receive confirmation of our gifts through the feedback of others, think about praise you’ve gotten in the past. What about you made the work a good fit?
  3. Do I want a new job, or a new career? If you enjoy your current job tasks but not the environment in which you’re performing them, that next right job could be the thing that puts the pep back in your step. On the other hand, if your feelings of dissatisfaction run deeper, you’ll need to dig deeper. Do you really like what you’re doing? Don’t let your answer be clouded by how much you’ve already invested in terms of education, years on the job, and so on.
  4. What do I hate about my job? Far too often, we talk ourselves into the wrong job for the wrong reasons, but now’s the time to be brutally honest with yourself. What do you hate about your current or last job? You may discover that you hate reporting to a boss — any boss — and you’ll never be happy until you start that new business or become a freelancer. Or maybe you’re frustrated by the bureaucracy of a large organization and want to work for a smaller company. Whatever the answer, use it to find the right job.
  5. What am I qualified to do? What have your life experiences, past work and education qualified you to do? (Note: A good career coach can help you discover vocations you didn’t know existed or ways of transferring your current skills to new and different careers.)
  6. What am I willing to learn? Perhaps you aren’t quite qualified for the next right job, but you’re ready and willing to do what it takes to get there. Know your limits before moving forward, and don’t set your sights on a job that will require effort you’re not willing to expend.
  7. What’s my ideal lifestyle? Are you a morning person or more of a night owl? Do you perform well under stress and tight deadlines, or would a slower pace suit you better? Do you enjoy dressing up for work, or would you love a job where you could wear jeans? Is flexibility that allows for maximum time with family a priority right now, or are other concerns more important? How much time do you want to spend commuting between home and work? If you have specific standards in this area, the right job has to meet them.
  8. How much money would make me happy? It’s hard to be happy when you’re worried about meeting basic living expenses, but loads of cash and a stressful job with long hours aren’t that great, either. How much money do you need for the lifestyle you desire?
  9. What compromises can I accept? No job is perfect, so where are you willing to compromise? Would you accept lower pay for fewer hours of work? What about the risk of joining a startup for the opportunity to learn the hot new skills in your field?
  10. What are my career goals? It’s not the right job if it will derail you from your long-term career goals. However, this doesn’t mean the right job has to be your dream job. If a temporary job that pays good money allows you to stash some cash for your “Great American Novel Adventure,” it could very well be the right job for you right now. By the same token, that high-paying, high-stress, high-visibility job could be all wrong if you’ll be doing something you hate, or if the time commitment doesn’t allow you to explore your next best career move.

The right job can be enormously satisfying, but getting there can be a challenge. Give yourself every opportunity to find the right job by carefully pondering these questions before you begin your next job search.

Stuck in the wrong career - four steps to get unstuck