Non-Negotiables In a Job (Guest Post by The Prepary)

Jaime is my go-to for career advice. Especially when I was working in an office-environment, I felt like I constantly had questions. Whether it was negotiating a raise or figuring out how to take on more responsibilities or address a concern in the office, she always has the best advice. (And the experience to back it up!) So excited that she offered to write this guest post. It’s the perfect follow up to my non-negotiables post!
I was inspired to write this post after reading Carly’s March post about the concept of “non-negotiables” in life. Life is all about prioritizing and to be able to do that, you better first figure out what’s really important to you.
Since I’ve spent the last seven years of my career working in HR, Recruiting, and Career Consulting, my mind hopped immediately to careers, and how important it is to think about your non-negotiables when making an offer decision or choosing a career path.
When people get a job offer, they often scrutinize the things printed in the offer letter – salary, vacation, benefits, etc. Of course, those things are important (and hey, maybe they’re your non-negotiables) but true happiness and fulfillment at work is almost always driven by more than just the basics.
Here are a few things to think about before you accept your next offer. 
Challenging + Exciting Work
The nature of what you do day to day can make a big impact on how happy you are at work. Are you following your passion? Do you love the product your company produces? Is the work stimulating and challenging?
The interesting thing about more challenging/difficult/exciting work is that it doesn’t always correspond to a bigger paycheck. I’ve watched many people sacrifice a bigger salary in order to work at their dream company or dream industry.
Opportunities for Growth
Some companies do a great job of providing opportunities to move up and/or around once you join. Others may present a great initial opportunity but with less ability to move around later. Consider how much this matters and how willing you are to switch companies in order to take the next step.
A Boss You Can Learn From
Growth isn’t just about getting promoted – it’s about learning from those around you. Your immediate manager is probably the person you’ll spend the most time with and not all bosses are created equal. I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing bosses who were incredibly smart, and therefore I’ve learned a ton from them. 
Boss/Coworkers You Love
On a similar note, do you care if you really like your boss and coworkers and get along on a personal level? For me, this one is huge. I don’t care how interesting my work is if I don’t like the people around me. That contributes how I feel at the end of the day more than almost anything else.
A Great Company Culture
Every company has a different DNA and way of operating. Some are more competitive environments and others are more collaborative. Some are low key and relaxed and some are very formal. Consider what type of company culture best fits your personality and how much that matters to you.
Work/Life Balance
This one has been a big topic lately. Of course in an ideal world, everyone would love tons of work/life balance. At the same time, it’s not always an option and it’s one thing I’ve seen a lot of people sacrifice for some of the items above (particularly #1).
Being honest with yourself about how you’d feel after multiple 12-hour days (especially early in your career) is important. I worked that type of schedule without flinching in my first job… but at this point in my career that’s not something I’d want to sign up for.
Quick + Easy Commute
People tend to think about commute time separately than time in the office but your commute is part of your work day in that it’s time you can’t spend doing other things.
Maybe the job you choose has great balance and you can leave at 5:30 on the dot. But, if you still have a two-hour commute ahead you’re not likely to feel that balance as much.
Flexible Hours/Location
Do you want to be able to work from anywhere? Is it important for you to be able to get things done on your own schedule versus a defined one? 
It’s a lot more common now to land a remote job or one with a lot more autonomy. I love the idea of being judged on results versus the time you spend in front of your computer. 
While there are so many other things to consider, these are a few of the big ones that come to mind for me. 
No big surprise that these are not things that you can learn from an offer letter so definitely look out for them in the interview process and do whatever research you can before making your decision. 
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to your job? Which of the above do you weigh most heavily?

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Brittany Lee

I just graduated college and am currently in the middle of my job search, so this post is absolutely perfect for me right now. I'm not going to lie; sometimes, I'm more concerned about just finding A job rather than finding THE job, so this helps put things into perspective again for me. Thank you!

Fabulously Unprepared


Don't worry about finding the perfect job, it won't be perfect right out of college. I think many of us have this idea about an ideal job right out of school, heck we worked so hard to get this degree, we deserve our ideal job. But the reality is that 1. We don't really know what we want, or rather what we don't want, and what we are willing to put up with because we have never had a full time job, 2. We don't really have full time job experience, and skills you can only learn while on the job to offer as a bargaining tool. When I was out of college, I thought I would get a good job, move up quickly, get recognized. But jobs don't work like school does. You don't get promoted like you do in each grade, you don't get recognized just because you made the GPA. I actually ended up working as a front-desk person at a lawyer's firm for $10/hr (in NYC). It was the most boring, dead-end job ever. I gave it a year, and decided that was enough to leave. I actually ended up teaching. I spent four and a half years as a teachers assistant while getting my masters in education. It was also a job where I was underemployed, and underpaid, but I learned soooo much from it. The point I'm trying to make is don't worry about finding the perfect job straight out of college because often what we think is perfect isn't until we've gotten that real-world job experience. And there is no such thing as a perfect job. However, with each job, you'll learn what it is that you want, and what it is you are willing to accept even if you don't like it, as well as what your absolute no-no's are. Kind of like dating, you can't refine your tastes until you've actually experienced a few dates 😉 I wanted to share this with you because I know the pressures young women face when they graduate. Don't worry

Jordan Roberts

This is an incredibly helpful post! I graduated last May with a B.A. in Communication Studies and minor in Leadership Studies, and as of right now I am working on a professional certificate in Performing Arts at a conservatory in NYC. When I finish in February 2015, I hope to have a more clear vision of what type of career I wish to pursue, but I believe it is most important to do work that inspires you! Thank you for sharing!