A few weeks ago I re-published a piece on whether we might be giving too much of ourselves for our employers. At the time I was on holiday with my family and since this was a popular piece years ago, I decided to run it again. I was surprised at the response, with quite a few individuals writing about their experiences in their current positions.
A good friend of mine read the editorial and then sent me a link to a post by Paul Cunningham that looks at the IT hero. This talks about some of the ways in which we put ourselves out as employees. It's a good read, and it's certainly something to think about when you look for a new job. When I talk about finding a dream job, I'm not talking about a specific job or career path, but rather, what's the right fit for you. That might not be the job I want, or even that your friends want. It's the job that you'd want.
To find your job, you really need to think about more than the work, the company, the location, or benefits. Instead, think about everything and start to rate those items against each other. A friend always tries to scale everything to some monetary value to make it easy to compare jobs. You can put a value on a 5 minute commute v a 45 min commute by thinking of the cost of time. Same for other benefits. Perhaps you can even do this in terms of future opportunities. You certainly can do this in terms of expected work week, on call time, and more.
What you don't want to do is let an employer take advantage of you by asking for a lot more of your time than you feel comfortable giving for the salary. Most of us are happy to pitch in when extra work is needed. I've seen this in restaurants, lawn care, and IT. What we don't want to do is get taken advantage of when extra work is required on a regular basis. You don't need to be a hero to be successful.
Perhaps the final caveat in all of this is that you can't control how all employers treat or view employees. Sometimes you might take a job that isn't a good fit because you need a job, or maybe because you're trading a poor situation for some experience. Just be sure you know you're making that trade.
The other thing I'd note is that finding a dream job, or maybe just a job that fits your life well, means you need to be able to compete with the others wanting that job. Work on improving your technical and soft skills to ensure that when the time comes, you are in the best position to get that job.