Keeping an open mind during a job search can be difficult, especially when you feel the need to focus your priorities to find your dream job. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of writing off companies like Waggy Barker because the office location is inconvenient or Doggo & Co because the product isn’t sexy enough. We’ve all done it! But, in closing yourself off to conversations with certain companies because of reasons x, y, and z, you could be missing out on really great opportunities. By remaining open to conversations with different companies, ultimately, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision when choosing your next company.
But what exactly is an open mind? According to Psychologist Art Markman, “openness to experience” is defined as “the degree to which a person is willing to consider new ideas and opportunities.” Researchers have determined that openness to experience leads to heightened creativity.
Steve Jobs similarly spoke about his creativity theory – according to Jobs, there are many benefits to immersing yourself in varied experiences. The greater your “bag of experiences,” the more diverse the connections you will be able to make between certain things. Because new ideas are really just a combination of old ideas, you want to have as big a bag as possible.
So how does all of this relate to job searching? The more conversations you have and the more opportunities you open yourself up to, the more likely you are to land the best job for you. In opening yourself up, you will have a richer, more diverse job search, allowing yourself to make a more informed decision. The key is finding ways to stay open during your search.
Here are some strategies for remaining open throughout the job search process.
1. Always take the call.
This can be challenging, especially if you’re still working and can barely find time to schedule calls with companies you’re actually excited about. But trust me, it’s worth finding the time. You have nothing to lose! Exploratory calls are a great way to learn more about a company and position that you wouldn’t have insight into from reading a job description or hearing a friend-of-a-friend’s experience working there five years ago. Think of it like test driving a car. You get to talk directly with someone that works at the company and learn things you would only learn by having that conversation. Sure, you can take someone else’s word for what the company is like, but wouldn’t you rather find out yourself? Who knows, it might just lead to your next dream job.
2. Ask the company candid questions (within reason!) that will help you determine if you can overlook your previous opinions.
So you’ve decided to take the call. Great! The next step is preparing questions that will answer any hesitations you may have about the company. This is your opportunity to figure out if you could actually see yourself working there. List out the areas of the company that you’re not crazy about – the product, company size, etc. and make sure you ask your interviewer specifically about those topics. The important thing is to make your questions reflect more on you than the company. The last thing you want to do is offend people by asking offputting questions (i.e. “How can employees be excited to work on such a boring product?”) Make sure the interviewer knows that you’re trying to figure out how you can fit into the equation, so if you’re not sold on the product, I’d suggest asking something like:
“I’m not sure I see myself being passionate about the product for the long term. Would you mind sharing more about the company’s vision and product roadmap, or why other employees are so excited about the company’s direction?”
Admittedly, you may not get the exact answers you’re looking for until you speak with someone within the team that you’d be working directly with, but at least for now, you’ll have a better idea about how people within the organization feel about those topics.
3. Make a scorecard for every company you speak with to objectify your decision-making process.
While it is easier to determine the impact of salary, benefits, opportunities for advancement, etc., evaluating other less tangible parts of a job, like company culture, can be more challenging. To help you objectively weigh all factors, create a scorecard with each decision factor and assign a level of importance on a scale of 1 to 5. And then for each company, rate these decision factors on that same scale. The Harvard Business Review has a neat template that you can use as a guide for your own. Once you complete a scorecard for any prospective companies, you’ll be able see how each company compares, helping you make an unbiased decision.
Although it can be challenging to remain open throughout your search, it’s important to do so in order to make the most informed decision on your next career move. By pushing yourself to talk to as many companies as possible, you’re exposing yourself to new ideas and new experiences. You can have honest conversations with companies you’re on the fence about, which will help you decide what you are really looking for or not looking for in your next opportunity. And to ensure you’re being objective when evaluating your options, use a scorecard to weigh the different factors about each company. These strategies will help you remain open throughout the process, which will ultimately help you decide which opportunity is truly best for you.