Don’t Fall in Love with a Job Before You Know It


When you’re in the middle of a job search, it’s natural to be drawn to companies with big names or those that you are enjoy as a consumer. In fact, many people determine up front a short list of companies they would be “willing” to work for. 

We refer to this as the “Disney Prince” pitfall: a job (or person) you see from a distance seems to have all the qualities that would make you happy and fulfilled. Before you know it, you start imagining a job offer (or a proposal), with the two of you living happily ever after.

It is natural to do this, but it’s not the right approach if you are looking for the right professional and personal fit. (It’s also not the right approach to falling in love, but we’ll leave that advice to the dating experts.) 

Why? Because until you get at the underlying factors of what’s going to make you happy at work, your reasons for being attracted to certain companies might be off-track. Most of us experience companies from the perspective of a consumer, so we might think that SnapChat would be a great place to work because we use it. Or Amazon. Or Netflix. But our experience as consumers is 1) limited and 2) may bear little to no relation to what it’s actually like to work at a place or how much we would enjoy the day-to-day.

OK, but what if you’ve read an article about a company’s culture and decided it’s perfect for you? That’s still not a good reason for applying before you’ve done some foundational work first. Culture is extremely important – don’t get us wrong – but it’s not the first step in evaluating what you should do.

So then where do you start?  With the big picture – Industry and Fields. 

Industry = the major source of revenue for a company, such as entertainment, healthcare, or transportation.

Field = the umbrella that holds several specific functions together: for example, accounting contains public accountants, auditors, forensic accountants; marketing includes market research, brand management, advertising, promotions, and public relations. In other words, field describes very broadly the kind of work you’ll do and industry whom you’ll do it for.

Exactly how you do this kind of research is a longer discussion – and something on which we spend a lot of time working with our clients. But in a nutshell, the majority of your research should involve talking to people in these industries and fields.

When you’ve narrowed down your options, you should then focus on function. If working in the field of marketing in the transportation industry is one of the possibilities, what might you want to do: brand management? Advertising? Public relations? 

Once you’ve decided on the function you’re interested in and a few industries you’re open to working in, that’s when you should you begin researching companies and find out what it’s actually like to work for them. 

At this point you may very well find that some of those Disney Prince companies still make the list – that’s fine. You may also find that some of those companies that first attracted your interest are no longer on your list. And you may also find that some surprise companies you weren’t aware of have also joined the list.  

To learn more about how we can help you through this process and more, go  Learn More

Published on 12/7/2018