I talk to a lot of folks throughout each week about career history, goals, requirements, and wish lists as they explore new opportunities.  Besides asking for salary history/expectations and relocation requirements — those dream cities they have always wanted to move to (“warm, warm”) —  one of the things I ask are, “What are your top three ‘must haves’ for your next job?”

The most common response to that is, “Hmm, never thought of that.”  I often get, “I don’t have any must haves, I am easy going.”  Then as we talk further and dig in about their past jobs, ideal workplace culture, their particular skills, people will suddenly pause and say, “Wait a minute, I do have a must have.  I REALLY want work/life balance.”

“Oh,” I say, “What does that mean to you?”

This brings a long list of must haves, suddenly.

“My son is in T-ball – I’d really like to coach.”
“I travel all the time and have no time for my family.  I really don’t want to do that any more.”
“You know, I really could do this job at home 2 days a week – they would not miss me – I’d like that.”
“I used to paint in college, but that has gone down the tubes.  I want to get back to that.”
“I can’t remember what my kids look like. I have had client meetings out of town for weeks!”

Suddenly, the list grows.  Of course, people also tell me they want to manage a staff, or be more strategic, or want a bump in salary, but the most frequent answer is work/life balance.  This is not a revelation, I suppose, but I would say that if it comes up as much as it does, then there must be something to that.

Of course, our job requirements and structures are what they are, but sometimes it’s a good idea to inject a little T-Ball into ones life, or revisit writing that great novel, or just going out with friends.  It refreshes, rejuvenates, and helps you to bring your best self back to your career.

So, what are your top three must haves?  A good question to ponder.