shutterstock_182257469Ask most people to define what their DREAM job would look like and you’re likely to get answers such as these:

  • “I would make more money and get a significant promotion.”
  • “I would work for a company that gives me considerably more responsibility and authority and my skills and talents would be genuinely appreciated.
  • “My ideal company would be far more respectful of its employees and their contributions than my current company.”

While more money, greater responsibility and authority and how employees are treated are certainly key factors to consider when either defining your dream job or considering other employers, they are hardly the only factors to be considered.

While by no means an exhaustive list, here are TEN key factors to seriously weigh when defining your DREAM job and/or considering a new employer*:

  1. Company Size. What size company is the best fit for you, based upon current or previous experience? Are you most comfortable being a BIG fish in a little pond or satisfied being a little fish in a BIG pond? Or, would you actually prefer something in between, i.e., a medium-sized company. There are both advantages and disadvantages to all sizes of companies. Larger companies generally tend to offer more and greater career opportunities, but they can also be stodgy and slow moving. Smaller companies can be more nimble and more innovative, but salaries and benefits can also lag behind the larger companies.
  2. Company Culture. Every company, no matter the size, has its own distinct culture, and if for some reason you don’t fit in to that culture, your work days can indeed become long and tedious! If you are someone who tends to be rather quite and reserved at work, you probably won’t feel very comfortable in a company that has a “rah-rah” sales-oriented environment. Similarly, if you thrive in such a super-charged sales-oriented environment, you probably won’t fit in very well at all in, say, an accounting firm!
  3. Pace and Tempo of Company. Do you sometimes feel like the proverbial racehorse tied to a plow in your current job? Or, conversely, does the pace at your current job often leave you feeling anxious, overwhelmed and sometimes depressed because of your inability (or unwillingness) to keep up? Make sure that the pace and tempo at any company you may consider for future employment match your preference and are a good fit for both your personality and your work style.
  4. Company’s Competitive Position within its Industry. Everyone likes to be associated with a winner, and usually, though certainly not always, the winner in any industry and/or business segment is the one that has the most market share, or at least is among, say, the Top Ten. And typically, market leaders tend to be more innovative and more creative than the also-ran companies within the same industry. If you’re currently employed by one of the also-rans, how is this affecting your morale, your desire to be innovative and/or creative?
  5. Company’s Financial Stability. Many companies, including some market leaders, were adversely affected by deteriorating economic conditions during the Great Recession. Thankfully, most have regained (or are steadily regaining) a sound economic footing in recent years—but not all! Make sure that any company you may be considering for future career opportunities is economically sound. If it’s a public company, research current and long-term stock prices. Read annual reports. Research third-party articles in the financial news for clues. While you may not be completely satisfied with your current position, few things in your career could be more disastrous than leaving an economically sound company to join a company that is essentially a sinking (or even a listing!) ship.
  6. Company’s Salaries and Benefits. Rare indeed would it be for an employee, any employee, to say that they are being paid what they are “worth.” Plus, many men and women have little or no awareness of the value of their current employee benefits as part of a total compensation package. Indeed, the grass almost always seems greener on the other side of the fence! But is it indeedactually greener? Don’t make that assessment based strictly on “gut feel.” Do your homework and research to accurately determine if, in fact, you are not now being paid a fair and competitive salary or that your benefits are inadequate or not competitive in the current job market. A good place to begin your research is at
  7. Company’s Management Team (including your boss). You could currently be working for a GREAT company, but if the man or woman who is your direct supervisor, leaves something to be desired from a leadership standpoint, you probably are considerably dissatisfied with your current job. Make sure that any man or woman you interview with (if that person would be your new boss) when considering new career opportunities doesn’t have the potential of becoming merely a carbon copy of your current boss! And remember this: Bad bosses rarely exist and operate in a vacuum. Top management has to allow such an environment to exist in a company either because they don’t care how employees are treated, or they tacitly approve of such behavior by line supervisors or managers.
  8. Geographic Locale of Company. Where one lives and works can have a tremendous, dramatic effect on both quality of life and overall job satisfaction. Not surprisingly, and as a general rule, the more populous an area the greater the number and variety of jobs, the higher the salaries, the better the benefits, etc. The trade-off, however, can be a higher crime rate, more traffic, a higher cost of living, etc. If single, the trade-off may be at least tolerable; if married with children, not so much. Your personal background can also be very influential when it comes to choosing the locale of your dream job. If, for example, you grew up in a medium-sized city in the Midwest and you are considering a position in New York City, you should be prepared for significant culture shock! Likewise, though, if you are a New York City guy or gal, you may experience similar culture shock if you’re considering a position in a medium-sized city in the Midwest!
  9. Work-life Balance. Very few people, when they are approaching the end of their life, are likely to regret not having spent more time at the office or on the job. To be sure, in order to survive in today’s still challenging job market, one usually has to put in more than the “normal” eight-hour days. Still, there is a reasonable limit and you should determine what that means to you. After all, every hour (or weekend or holiday or special occasion) spent at the job is an hour you cannot spending with family and friends!
  10. Career Growth Potential. Almost no job offers virtually unlimited career opportunities. Eventually, everyone reaches his/her career ceiling, as the result of being at the top of a pay grade, for example, or simply as the result of there being no place within the organization to move, in order to have the opportunity to advance to the next level. Make sure that you accurately read the career landscape, and your potential place in it, of any companies you might consider for future employment. Otherwise, you risk trading one set of chains for another!

If you are one of the tens of millions of men and women who say they are yearning for the right opportunity to advance their careers, there hasn’t been a better time since 2007 to do precisely that! And that’s particularly true if you can count yourself among the TOP job candidates in the market today. But, as I’ve shown you in this post, you need to carefully weigh any and all relevant factors involved in potential career opportunities you may explore. Make sure they are indeed the best fit for you as a unique individual!

*An excellent source to begin learning a great deal about potential employers is This site includes candid reviews from current and former employees of a wide variety of companies in numerous industries.