Photo credit: BNMK0819/Shutterstock

Mapping out the next career move can be challenging. Will the new job be the right fit? Does it pay enough? Is the commute too far? These and other factors can play a significant role in loving or loathing a job. More than 30 years of experience recruiting top talent has taught me that there are a number of key factors job seekers should consider when making a career move. Here are a few worth noting:

1. Benefits

With skyrocketing health care costs, benefits can play an important role in deciding on your next job. In general, combined benefits equal approximately 30 percent of an employee’s total compensation. From vacations to bonuses to flexible benefit accounts, be sure to ask a potential employer about the benefits that are most important to your situation and lifestyle. While a potential employer may not offer all of the benefits of your current job, they might offer others that offset the change.

2. Dislikes

Figuring out what you don’t like about a particular job is just as important as finding out what you do enjoy. Job seekers should consider what they like and dislike about their current job for clarity in their next career move. If an employee dislikes direct customer service, then a job that has that term in its description will probably not be a good fit. Considering dislikes will help focus the job hunt and keep a job seeker from repeating mistakes of the past.

3. Learning Opportunities

Job seekers should not only think about choosing their next position, but also about their career as a whole. Opportunities for learning are important. This ranges by company and industry, but could include robust internal training programs, professional development, or tuition reimbursement. Learning opportunities can also include new experiences and challenges, such as helping to manage growth and improving processes. Job applicants should ask pointed questions about where the company – and their roles in it – might be headed in the future. Consider all of the opportunities for professional growth a new job could bring before fully committing.

4. Career Advancement Opportunities

Staying in the same position for too long can be stifling. As such, one should consider the potential for increased responsibilities and leadership within their role and the company before making a decision on a job move. Choose an organization that will allow you to grow your career. Ask if roles include mentorships, “intrapreneurial” opportunities, or volunteer opportunities.

5. Commute and Location

Unless remote work is an option, commuting a long distance can be a pain. It’s important to consider how long of a commute is reasonable for your lifestyle. Where you choose to work can also impact overall work-life balance, such as increasing rent or the ambiance of your community. Determine a favorable commute and location. One expert tip: before accepting a new job, practice making the commute to the location at rush hour.

6. Job Security

While no job can guarantee absolute security, there are still some that fare better than others over time. That is why it’s crucial for job seekers to do the research before committing to any new job. Consider the industry, how long the company has been around, check for high turnover rates, and read reviews. Job seekers can also leverage their networks to speak to current or past employees they may know to get first-hand perspectives.

Questions to Ask

Even after considering these various aspects, ask these self-reflection questions for additional clarity:

1. What activities do you value the most?

2. What skills make you stand out more than others, especially for the desired job? 3. What are your livable salary requirements?

4. Where do you see yourself in the next 3-5 years?

5. Will your skills and education be used appropriately?

6. How much of a responsibility level do you want and need?

7. What are your “deal breakers”?

8. What jobs fit at least six “must-haves” on your list?

9. List key aspects to your preferred working style.

10. Name the best jobs you ever held.

Asking the right questions can make a huge impact on how happy a job seeker will be in their next job.