Ten job requirements and one bonus

In my most recent post, I mentioned that I have 10 requirements of a job.  But that wasn’t true, it was something I wrote because I was typing as fast as my brain could think.  But a couple of people asked me what they were, and I wondered if maybe I really did have a list of 10 criteria.  Turns out I do!

1. No dead ends.  I’ve worked in a number of bookstores.  My parents’ store, a theatrical bookstore in New York City, and a bookstore up here.  They were all positive experiences, and I picked up some skills, but once you get to be a manager, there’s nowhere to go but become the owner.  Owning a bookstore honestly never interested me.  When I look for real, permanent work, I look for something where I can advance, either in the company or in a similar company.

2. They have to pay me what I’m worth.  Not that I’m really great at this, mind you.  When it comes to money, I usually don’t want to think about it, and I fear that I’ve low-balled myself in the past.  You might also recall that I was just at a job where I got paid nothing if I sold nothing.  That was no good.  In this economy, I’m having a hard time finding something that was more than I was making before.  (That includes the position I’m currently mulling over.)  But, if all the other critera are in place, I will try to learn to live on less.  Easier said than done…

3. location, location, location.  I’ve lived in a number of places, and no place as ever felt as much like home as the Hudson Valley, and I really like my town.  My last job, and hour away, was technically in the valley, but that’s because this is a huge geographical area.  If I could walk or bike to my job, I would be in heaven, but I’ll settle for about 30 minutes away by car.

4. The job has to let me schedule my life.  When I worked in film production, I could never make plans.  I was always on call, waiting for a call for a job, or working a job where we’d start at 4:45am one day, and 4:45pm another.  I hated going on vacations or making unbreakable appointments because what if I had to turn down a job offer?  Whenever I had to contact vendors or locations, I’d be so angry and jealous when I couldn’t reach them outside of 9-5.  When I got my very own 9-5 job, I was so happy, because I set my life to the rhythm of a routine, and the job was flexible enough to let me duck out for appointments, personal days, and the occasional two-hour lunch.  I need a job that cares more about getting work done than showing up, and if I could work from home, that would allow me to cancel at least one of these other points.

5. I gotta be me! I don’t know if you noticed, but I like to be a little wacky.  I like to vote for Democrats.  I enjoy sending mail to the bitchy, tunnel-visioned comptroller of my company with a Simpsons stamp affixed to the envelope.  I like to think outside the box.  Sometimes, I’m ever so slightly rebellious.  Fuck it, I fucking hate authority.  Bottom line, I just can’t work a job that makes me blindly follow rules, and where I’m told to do this, do that, don’t ask questions.  I gotta be allowed to let my creativity flow, and future employers take note: I’m pretty easily assuaged if you just let me write a newsletter or create a department.  Simple as that.

6. I don’t need to change the world, but it would be nice to make it a little better. No, I won’t be applying for any positions at Halliburton, the widget pencil pushing omnicorp, or Barnes & Noble.  Okay, I take that back.  I actually applied for a positon at the corporation that sells books.  It was a moment of weakness.  Please don’t take away my indie cred.  They never called me, so I never had to put my morals to the test. When I do find a place to hang my 9-5 hat, I would love it if it’s a place that makes me feel warm and fuzzy because we do things that innovate, improve, and something else good that begins with “i.”

7. Challenges are good, but qualifications are better.  The lesson of the last job?  I need more than a suit, a seminar on annuities, and a life insurance license to be a financial advisor.  You could stop me dead in my tracks by asking me almost any question that could be answered by reading The Wall Street Journal. The world of money is for business school students, not me.  Other occupations that I’m ruling out include: nurse, rocket scientist, and short order cook.

8. Yes!  I want a desk!  And Yes!  I want to walk away from it! Years ago I was at a job interview at a theatre, and the interviewer asked me what my favorite part about my current theatre job was.  I told her that I loved running errands.  “So,” she said, “what you really want to do is get out of the office?”  Yeah.  I don’t want to break rocks all day, and I like jobs where I can go inside when it’s raining, hot or cold, but I also love to be able to hit the road for sales trips or conferences from time to time, or be the person who’s in charge of the Staples run, even if that’s why we have perfectly good interns.  They can get the coffee, I guess.  I always mess up food orders, which is also part of my strategy so that I’m never asked to do a food order again.

9. People people are the best people. Years ago I would have told you that I’m not a fan of people, and put myself in the solidly “shy” category.  These days, I’m all, “bring it ON networking event!”  So much amazing stuff has happened to me since I just started talking to people.  And in my next job, I’ve got to like the people I work with, and I’ve got to be able to go out and meet new people, or at least work with others often.  I just wish I had really understood the importance of networking before I lost my old job.  Even if you think you wouldn’t benefit from knowing some more people, I bet you would.  I’ve had maybe 30 jobs in my life, and 2 were from blindly sending a resume, including the craptastic one that I just left.  The other one was my favorite job of all time, so go figure.

10. I must be okay with being defined by my job. I used to have a friend who hated when people asked her what she did.  She had a lot of issues, and thought that people would judge her by her choice of work.  What they did do was judge her on her willingness to be judged by people.  If you’re going to spend a third of your life or more at a place, then you have to be willing to be introduced at parties as that person.  “This is my friend Peggy, she’s a copywriter.”  “This is my friend Bob, he’s a personal trainer.”  “This is my friend Barack, he is The President.”  I am Noelle.  I write a blog.  I consult for my mother’s book company.  I am the best damn Customer Service rep an independent book wholesaler ever had.  I’m licenced to sell life insurance in New York and Connecticut.  I can help you make your Hudson Valley based business better if you hire me.

BONUS! AKA the holy grail of work.  Wouldn’t it just be great if I supported myself by running my own highly profitable company?

That’s my list, I suppose.  What do you look for in a job?

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12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Allison on September 24, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with all of these. my biggest criteria has always been *the other people at the job*, which is why some of my very favorite lifelong friends/mentors have been from work (and Sunday School, natch.) If you just follow the people you want to be around/learn from/emulate, and then gravitate toward the things you are good at/enjoy/think are valuable, then things just work out.

    apropos of nothing, today i made a smoothie using frozen bananas. It was MUCH harder to blend, but MUCH more delicious (almost ice cream like, with no dairy.) Maybe there is a good metaphor hiding here somewhere….

    You spend more waking hours with the people at work than anybody else, so it really helps when they’re good. I can’t find the smoothie metaphor yet, but it’s probably because I don’t like bananas.

  2. If I were to follow your job requirements, I would meet 5 of the 10. If I were a glass half full person, I’d say I should be halfway to happy, but I am going to go with the fact that 50% is an F.

    I was trying to guess at which 5 they were, but it just made me feel sad. I hope it picks up soon.

  3. Posted by Kate on September 24, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    Many of the same things that you listed. Since I’m unemployed I’ve been thinking a lot about these things too.
    If I don’t derive some personal satisfaction from my job- it won’t last long. Here’s hoping I find that…

    Exactly. How many people these days have the stamina to do something awful?

  4. How far is Armonk from you? Have you considered Swiss Re?

    Far and hells to the no.

  5. This was my favorite line, “The world of money is for business school students, not me.” I’m a business major only because that’s where the MIS degree was. I hated all think business and still do. You know what, businesses are in business to make money. Once you grasp that, you’ve earned a business degree.

    Business and finance careers are like a snake eating its own tail, but with all the life sucked away.

  6. You’re absolutely spot on. To me convenience and not to be able to think about the money – being paid enough – is very important. Then, i can work wonders. Also, the job has to be not that daily grind kind of work. There must be some community service for self satisfaction in the mix. That’s why i chose the insurance agent career. Keeps me on my toes and i find great reasons to guide people.

    Oh, insurance spambot, you are getting smarter, but you so obviously didn’t read the entire post, or the rest of the blog, where I warn the world that insurance jobs are for losers.

  7. Ha, nice try, Insurance Licence Training. So close.

    I think your criteria are perfectly reasonable, and I’d be very happy if I could find a job that meets at least most of those. I, too, dream of running my own business, because then I wouldn’t have to deal with people as much. In every job I’ve had, it’s not the work itself that’s made me miserable, it’s the people.

  8. Posted by Jennifer M. on September 25, 2009 at 9:27 am

    It is amazing how the commute thing sneaks up on you. For over 6 years I commuted more than an hour a day. It was what it was, didn’t really think about it and I got a lot of recreational reading done on the subway. Then I got a new job that cut my commute in half! I would get home before the sun set! And at one point when I wasn’t too happy and started applying for jobs, the #2 reason I turned down an offer at a firm one block from my old company was the thought of doing that long commute again.

  9. I have to work reasonably close to home (around 30 minutes away). No more three- to four-hour roundtrip commutes for me.

    I have to be interested in what I do. I’ve taken jobs just because I needed a job, but I’m easily bored and if I wasn’t really interested in what the company did in the first place, well … you can do the math.

    I need a balance of structure and the ability to be creative. Doing what I do now — I’m an editor/office manager hybrid — suits me to a tee.

    I can’t work for crazies or asshats. Now, when I interview, I pay very close attention to those who will manage me. If I get a bad read on them, I move on to the next opportunity.

    I want to leave at 5 p.m. and have weekends off.

    I need to be around people who don’t take everything too seriously and have a sense of humor. Oh, and computer skills. PLEASE HAVE COMPUTER SKILLS.

  10. Re: #10. I have the same problem. I hate when people ask me what I do. Not so much because I’m afraid of being judged (because whatever, blow me), but because it’s so goddamn boring. Let’s talk about cool movies, or politics, or even favorite diet sodas, imaginary party stranger! This hypothetical convo is not off to a good start.

  11. After being in my current job for almost a year, my number 1 thing is the people. I spend my days talking to people on email and IM because I don’t talk to anyone here. It makes me miss my previous jobs where I loved the people I work with.

  12. You’ve gotten to the point where you ENJOY networking? I am duly impressed. And also baffled. HOW??

    My commute is just over a half hour, but still, it wears on me. How I’d love to have a job close enough that I could walk there. Someday.

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