No job is perfect. Not because perfect jobs don’t exist. They do. But what makes the perfect job for one person could make the same job a terrible fit for someone else. If you want to find your perfect job, the key is knowing what you’re looking for — specifically.

What Makes You Thrive At Work?

Often, we think we know what creates (or would create) real job satisfaction. But when asked, most of us rattle off a list of things we don’t want in a job. That’s partly because of negativity bias. But knowing what we don’t want is not the same as knowing what we do want. It’s valuable, sure. But it’s not the same.

It’s more than just deciding what type of company or industry you want to work in. It’s also about identifying the things that are really important to you in a job (e.g., working with smart people, being challenged, or having opportunities to learn new skills).

Before you get clarity on the role you seek, you need to get clear about YOU. What makes you tick at work? What helps you thrive?

Your Personal Core Values

Begin with the foundation everyone skips – check in with your values. What are the qualities, beliefs, and behaviors that are most important to you?

These are the things that would make you feel happy, at home, in a position that is right for you. It could be something as simple as being around people who share similar interests to yours or having a boss who truly listens to what you have to say. What kind of work environment do you want? What style of management fits you best? Do you prefer working with others or independently? Do you want more responsibility, more autonomy, a wider impact?

Identify the traits that you value most in yourself and in others—characteristics like being fair-minded, honest, generous, hardworking, attentive to details. These may be personal factors or professional ones, but they’re important because they will help guide your decision-making process when it comes time to find your perfect job.

Remember, values change as we go through life. (The Great Resignation on the heels of our recent global pandemic is the perfect example of priorities shifting for people.) So, even if you have done the exercise of determining your core values in the past, it’s a good idea to check in with them again to see if anything has changed. Understanding what matters most to you now can help guide your job search in a positive direction. 

Your Strengths and Superpowers

Your strengths are your superpowers. They’re the innate talents and capabilities that you can draw upon when you need to be at your best. They are the things you’re great at that you also love to do.

Strengths don’t have to be related directly to what you do for work (although they often are). Strengths also show up in unexpected ways. They can be a combination of qualities or an accumulation of a variety of skills. Try asking yourself what situations energize you (and why)? These are areas where you feel more effective than others or more capable. Where do you feel in control, or most able to make a difference?

Understanding your strengths can help you find job opportunities that align with who you are and what you enjoy doing and will set the stage for success in those roles. After all, it is much easier to thrive when the work we do is consistent with our natural inclinations. Knowing how you operate best will help you find roles that require little additional effort from you and allow you to shine.

Your Pragmatic Requirements

Your pragmatic requirements tend to be more objective than personal core values or strengths. They can also change if some aspect of your life changes (e.g., you have kids).

What do you want from a job in terms of pay, location, benefits, travel, career advancement opportunities (if any), type of company, or industry? There are no right or wrong answers. Your requirements will depend on a variety of factors.

This is the time to think about what is most important for you at this point in your life (e.g., flexibility, work-life balance). What can a job offer that would make it worth leaving your current position? How much do you need to earn? Is there an opportunity for advancement or career growth with your current employer? Do you have any special needs? Do you need quiet time in your day?

Which ones are most important to you and your lifestyle? Which ones are your non-negotiables and which are the things you can negotiate for?

5 Questions To Finalize Your Job Search Criteria

After all that self-reflection, now it’s time to answer these 5 questions to make sure you haven’t missed anything important:

WHAT ACTIVITIES do you want to spend your time on daily, weekly, monthly?

WHO do you want to spend your time with (by role)?

WHAT DECISIONS do you want to make?

WHAT IMPACT do you want to create?

WHERE do you want to do all this?


Now you have a complete job description for your ideal next job!

Creating your search criteria beforehand helps you focus your efforts throughout the job search process by narrowing down potential roles/companies/industries based on your specific needs. This allows you to quickly determine if an opportunity is right for you or not.

If you need help with your job search criteria or are stuck, we should talk. It doesn’t have to be hard to find your perfect job. Click the button below to schedule a time.

Take This Free Career Assessment

And Discover Your Epic Next Job!


Download Must Have Executive Keywords

And Get More Interviews/More Offers!