Your next step – how do you decide if a job is suitable for you?

Whether you are at the beginning of your career, a senior manager, or looking to try a new direction, it can be difficult to decide if a role is suitable for you. Conservation Careers Blogger Gemma Marshall shares some advice about finding the right role for your next step.

Michael-Couglan / Flickr

Michael-Couglan / Flickr

5 Top Professional Considerations

  • Where are you going? Firstly get a picture of where you want to be in five years’ time. Think about the skills you could learn from this role, the people you will work with, the papers you could publish, the environment you will impact on, and make sure this will contribute to your bigger plan.
  • Are you ready? Take a good look at the job description and the person specification; are you ready for this role? Do you have the experience and personal attributes the employer is looking for? Would you feel confident in this job? If you can do at least 80% of the role confidently then go for it, chances are you are just what they are looking for.
  • Will this role stretch you and develop your CV? It’s ok if there are areas of the job description that you are not an expert in, for your own professional development and job satisfaction you need to be stretched in some aspect of the role, and potential employers know this.
  • Who are you working for? Ensure that the organisation is one you want to contribute to and that a role there would look good on your CV and link you to something positive. Research the organisation, its reputation, its links, funders and ethics to make sure it sits well with you personally and professionally. Also find out if there are key colleagues that you could work with as mentors or collaborators. There is nothing better than working with key players on an ethical, well run project, that you can feel proud to be a part of.
  • What will the role be like in practice? – do some research or ask questions to find out more about how the role would work in practice. For example, what the current strategy is and how will you contribute to this? What practical support will be on offer for you, such as funding, equipment or training? You should explore what the role would be like in practical terms to help you decide if it’s right for you.

3 Top Personal Considerations

  • Salary and benefits – There are some amazing volunteer opportunities and internships out there, along with roles that would send your CV into orbit and set you alive with the passion that got you into conservation in the first place. If something would be fantastic for your CV, or makes you so excited that you can’t sleep at night planning what you would do in that role, then my advice would be to go for it. However on the practical side you may need to consider if you can live off the salary/benefits provided and if these are commensurate with your experience and current role.
  • Quality of life – We all need different things in order to thrive, so ensure the quality of life that comes with the roles is right for you. For example: where is the role located; In a jungle? In your local forest? In an office? Does that location suit you? Can you afford to relocate?    Are there safety implications? What will the accommodation / food / facilities be like? Is the environment isolated or will you be living and working with people intensely?  Will you have other responsibilities outside your role? Do you speak the local language? Weighing up such practicalities will help you decide if you will thrive in the role.
  • Passion – Working in conservation can be intense, with pressure and deadlines to meet, perhaps overseas, weekend or evening work or lower wages. Some of the demands might be tough, but at these times your passion, love of the job, and making a difference to conservation is what will see you through. Make sure you have this passion from the outset.

5 Processes to decide if the role is right for you

  • Draw up a list of pros and cons – base your list on the points above to outline what you will gain professionally and personally from the role, along with what the anticipated draw backs of the role would be. Score each point out of ten then add them up and compare them – is the job a ‘winner’ or not? Getting your ideas on paper also helps to organise them and see things more clearly. Logic cannot be used alone though, so chat to your network and listen to your gut too!
  • Talk to friends, family and colleagues (where appropriate) – these people know you well, and know your dreams, as they are the things you talk about achieving and motivating you. Speak to these people; they will have a good, objective view about whether or not this role is right for you.
  • Ask your network – See if any of your contacts know what the organisation is like from the inside, or what the role is really like. Discovering information about the personalities, or pressures in an organisation, or why the role came about can impact on your decision.  
  • Listen to your gut – does the job feel right to you? Does it ignite some spark of passion in you? Did you get a good vibe from the organisation? Would you feel confident doing those tasks? If so that’s great! If your gut doesn’t feel right about the opportunity identify what doesn’t sit right for you and use that information to find the right job. Tossing a coin is a good way to get an instant gut reaction, as it forces you to understand how you feel about something. If it falls on ‘it’s not for you’ and you feel relieved, or disappointed, that tells you something important.
  • You are interviewing them too  – if you do get to the interview stage remember that whilst they are assessing you, you are also making sure the role, organisation, manager and colleagues are right for you, don’t be afraid to ask questions and take the decision that is right for you.

Good luck for your next role, I hope it will be exciting and fulfilling for you!

About the author

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This article was written by Conservation Careers Blogger Gemma Marshall. Gemma is passionate about wildlife and conservation. Her background in fundraising and marketing took her overseas to work on a wildlife sanctuary and conservation project in Namibia for the last two years. Here she was helping to raise funds and publicise the good work of the organisation, along with hand-raising two baby zebras and a baby donkey. She is an avid traveller and currently looking for her next overseas adventure!

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