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Before the 30 Days

First, get there.

Before the first 30 Days in any role, we first have to land the job. Even before that, we need to figure out if the role is a good match for us and one we even want. For true work/life integration, there’s more to this process than the transactional see a job posting, apply for the job, interview for the job, and accept the job.

It is often with amusement, sometimes in shock, and other times with feelings of pure cringe that I watch “Before the 90 Days” and wonder why this couple is even pursuing a relationship with each other. So you live across the globe and we’ve only ever chatted by text? No problem! Of course I’ll meet you in person in a strange to me country while all my family and friends try to tell me this is a bad idea. True love prevails; safety and sense be darned! Just because there is something attractive and even nice about a person, does not mean it’s the right person for you. This is the same with a role in an organization.

We can learn some lessons watching “90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days” on what to do and what not to do before the first 30 Days. There is value in learning how to recognize deal breakers, red flags, incompatibility, and unrealistic expectations. These realizations can go both ways (not to be confused with “The Other Way” which is another show in the 90 Day Fiancé franchise).

Every job is not going to be the one for us and we are not going to be the one for every job. This can be particularly frustrating when we feel “desperate” due to financial and personal responsibilities. However, getting into the wrong business relationship can take a toll of its own. I think we can likely all agree desperation in job seeking or in finding a partner, will not usually reap the best outcomes.

We are drawn to jobs (and people) for different reasons. While I may find challenging projects to be a key factor in being attracted to a position, you may care more about location and pay. There is no specific list on what makes good match but there are some general things we can keep in mind.

When dealing with others, we can only control what we do. This is why we need to consider opportunities based on our own personal expectations, deal breakers, and red flags. From there, we can determine what questions we need to ask during the recruitment and selection process to determine compatibility.

Things to Consider

Pay –In the most general sense, the employment relationship is our time, skills, and output for the organization’s money. You should have a defined range, including minimum you would accept for the right role. Knowing the market rate for the role based on the geographic area, industry, and company is a must. If your numbers are very far apart, that’s not likely to work out.

Benefits – Benefits are a part of the total compensation package and everyone has different needs. If your partner has excellent dependent insurance, the fact that your possible new employer has basic coverage may not matter to you. If you have no dependents or partner, or are still on a parents’ plan, this may not be something you care much about. However, perhaps having a solid 401(k) with a good match is important to you. These are things you need to review when considering a new role.

Paid Time Off vacation, sick pay, holiday pay, etc. are all part of paid time off and part of the total compensation package. When considering the paid time off details, also consider whether or not there is flexibility on unpaid time if not much vacation time is available or whether the company has standard shut downs in addition to the time off package.

Core Hours – We live in a world where we are connected 24/7 through our smartphones. Knowing what the expectations are on work hours (for in office, I call it butt time), off hours response turnaround times, and/or working while on vacation are topics deserving clarity. Personally, I enjoy having time after work and on weekends volunteering for various non-profits or watching TV shows that shall not be named. This doesn’t mean we don’t remain flexible. Many jobs have peaks when more hours are required. You could be the opposite and not mind working 60-70 hours per week on a regular basis.

Industry –Some industries require much more compliance and recordkeeping. Others may require licensing or credentialing. The requirements in others may fluctuate depending on seasonality. Other industries may generally work standard business hours where some are 24/7. Deciding what industries suit you best enhances your chances for success. Another consideration is any you ethically opposed. It’s difficult to be an advocate of an organization if you personally oppose their mission!

Commute – In some areas, considerations on commute are not only based on miles, but also route and direction! The definition of “A long commute” varies from person to person. For some, it could be more than 15 minutes. For others, a one hour commute by car, rail, or bus is typical. Those are criteria to consider when setting a commuting expectation. We can also add Work from Home under this category whether on a long term or short term basis.

Organization Size – In my opinion, this is the most often overlooked consideration. Not everyone thrives in large organization or a small 35 person team environment. There are many, many options in between. Having an idea of preference is helpful. This includes your goals of upward mobility. If you are hoping to move up within a year or two, a 35 person organization may not be the place for you unless they are experiencing extremely rapid growth. If you prefer smaller organizations where you know everyone from the CEO down on a personal level, a large organization may not be for you.

In my opinion, organization size does not equal culture.

I’ve intentionally left out culture from this list. While I believe we can get a sense of reputation and history from research and word of mouth, I find it difficult to define culture without being part of it.

Questions to Ask

A successful interview is about honestly answering the questions posed and asking questions to seek understanding. It is less about landing the job and more about determining if it’s the right match. These are questions that have been useful to me in helping me evaluate expectations, deal breakers, and/or red flags. Since all of these are subjective, no “right/wrong answers” are provided and are listed in no particular order:

  • What is a noteworthy company accomplishment in the last couple of years?

  • How is success defined in this role?

  • If new position – What prompted the need for this new position?

  • If established position – How many have been in this role in the last five years? Why did they leave?

  • What are the response expectations during scheduled time off?

  • What are some of the company’s current community involvement initiatives?

  • What does disagreement look like in meetings?

  • Who is involved in strategic planning? How often does that take place?

  • How is HR currently viewed by other department leaders? What about other team members?

  • In 60 days, what are the top three things the new person in this role should have accomplished?

  • What are some of the general reasons someone resigns from their position?

  • How are exceptions to policy reviewed?

  • What metrics are used during performance reviews?

  • What is the preferred way to present new ideas or initiatives? Who is involved in that review process?

  • How are goals communicated and acknowledged when achieved?

  • How are HR related contracts negotiated? Who is involved in that process?

  • How do most managers define “top performer”?

  • Who handles employee complaints and required investigations?

Those are mine.

Feel free to comment: Do you have a key question you ask to help you define compatibility?

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