Edition Five: On new jobs, finding your path and job description tips

New things happened to me this week, which were a long time in coming. But this newsletter isn’t about me, so….

Tips for finding your path

When I launched this thing, I talked about how awkward I often feel because my career moves are seen as very intentional, when I often feel like I fell into them.

However, this time my choice was entirely intentional. After reported.ly ended, I specifically took some time off. I went to a retreat. I sat in silence with my tinnitus. I found really interesting side projects to start, including The Middles.

Since so many of us are always in transition, it may be helpful to others to hear what I focus on in job searches.

Ask: What do I want to learn next?
I tend to think of jobs as experiences and for the last few, I’ve taken stock of what I learned and gained before choosing something new. I ask myself: What do I want to learn next? You will never know everything and what may be interesting during one job may led you to realize you hate something, thus deciding what is next.

Negotiate. For everything. 
Worth is not always about cash. I’ve gotten to love teaching certain skills and I know what that’s worth to me. Money aside, when I looked at what I would do next, I wanted to make sure I still had health insurance, a fair amount of vacation, personal creative space and the ability to teach.  That meant going against some advice and asking for things people might not usually ask for. It was tricky, but I feel so much better knowing I still get to do my favorite things.

Talk to everyone involved
Learn from my mistakes: I have interviewed with one or two people and as a result, didn’t get a good overall view of an organization. If you get to later stages, it’s worth making a few extra calls. The likelihood is they’re making off-reference calls about you and your working style, so it’s OK to call (trusted) current and former employees to get a read on what is really going on. This is delicate because as a manager, sometimes you get to talk to your potential new direct reports, sometimes not. Is it appropriate? Interviews with those below you often set the tone for your relationship.

Other quick things
– I hate giving detailed strategy documentation. I leave my planned execution out of those so I’m not working for free.
– Contract-to-hire has saved me by making a mutual parting of ways easier.
– Always have the coffee. Always have the talk. A discussion doesn’t mean you’re signing up for the job – interviews go both ways.
– Ask questions the whole time – of yourself, of the organization, of your family.

Pay it forward: Have a tip you’d add to this list? Hit reply and I’ll recirculate next time

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Your tips on job descriptions

Here are a couple of tips sent to me on how to write good job descriptions.
From Sarah Day Owen:  For the tips on writing job descriptions: Even when reworking the way someone does a job (see: social media editors now versus 2010), it’s most important what the central mission of the job, versus how it will be done prescriptively. For example: ‘Will elevate the way we engage with audiences using social media’ > ‘will create content for social media.’ I’m always looking for people who can bring real vision to a position by getting creative with the goal of the job in mind, versus just how I think it should be done.

Links from Sabrina Hersi Issa:
pro-tips
a github repo of job descriptions (!!!)
great article and resources from Fast Company

Recommendations

Great things I’ve read lately
A compensation and equity calculate if you’re in startup world. There’s a unique program at Baylor University Medical Center that lets patents hold their own heart. The meaning of “allahu akbar,” words that can (unjustly) create fear. The new manager death spiral pretty much describes me and many people I know.
Jobs jobs jobs 
From Daily Beast: Audience Development and VP of Brand Strategy. An editor gig at NYT: Race editor. The Society of Professional Journalists offers leadership training: Dori Maynard Diversity Leadership Program.

Adorableness

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