The Job Description Makeover

The Job Description Makeover

Now that you know how to clearly define your values, the next step is to describe the changes you’d like to make in your new job.

To illustrate, listen to the way Pat, Craig, and Neil talk about their respective situations, and how they take their values into consideration:


“I want to have more autonomy where I work. That would mean having a flexible schedule, working different hours each day at my discretion, without having to ask permission. I’d be able to leave early on Thursdays to take my daughter to her acting class, and in return, I’d be willing to spend several hours working at home during the evening and on weekends. With my personal computer, I’d have access by modem to the database in my department, and I’d be able to make a significant contribution to the workload, any time, day or night. Most importantly, I’d be evaluated solely on my performance, not by the number of hours I’ve punched on a clock.”


“I’d prefer to work closer to my home. I didn’t think the amount of time I spent commuting was very important when I joined the company two years ago, but now it really wears on me to sit for an hour a day in traffic. It’s not only nerve-wracking to deal with all the crazy people on the freeway; I could be using the commuting time to be with my family. The reduction of stress would improve my attitude, and give me a higher quality of life. If I could find a job similar to what I have now within a few minutes of home, that would make me happy.”


“I’m interested in my own career advancement. If I stay at this company too much longer, I’ll work myself into a corner technically and never achieve my potential. The people here are nice, but I don’t share their ‘lifer’ mentality. Look at Ed, my boss. He’s been here 17 years, and although he’s a really solid engineer, he’s not familiar with any of the latest advancements in technology. He’d have a hard time finding another job in this market, and it makes me worried, knowing I might someday be in his situation. Besides, I won’t be promoted until Ed retires. So I’d better leave soon, while I’m still attractive to other companies. That would give me the salary increase I deserve and the opportunity to learn new skills with people who are upwardly mobile and aggressive like myself.”

Now it’s your turn. As any advocate of goal-setting will tell you, the more specifically you’re able to communicate what you’re looking for, the faster you’ll be able to get what you want.

Naturally, you’ll want to be realistic with your expectations, and think like a grown-up when considering your gripes. I’ll never forget Barry, an engineering candidate I interviewed a few years back, who came into my office with a suicidal look in his eyes.

“Bill, you’ve really got to help me,” he moaned. “My job is ruining my life.”

“Your situation sounds pretty serious,” I replied in my most empathic tone. “How long have you felt this way?”

“Gosh, I don’t know, but I’ve got to make a change. My personal life is awful.”

“How do you mean, Barry?” I asked.

“I mean I’m never at home, and don’t have any time to spend with my wife and kids. My company makes me travel constantly.”

“Well, I can see how that might make you feel torn between your work and your home life. What can I do to help you?”

“See if you can get me a job where I don’t have to travel all the time. I just can’t stand the separation from my family,” he pleaded.

My heart went out to him. “Sure, Barry, anything to help. But first tell me something. Exactly how often is your company making you travel?”

“Oh, it’s terrible,” he cried. “They make me stay overnight in a hotel at least one night every three months!”