Trusting your gut when job searching

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I am going to start this off with telling you a fundamental truth, job searching is hard. It is often down-right awful. Don’t worry, I promise this article starts getting positive after this. It is simply important for us to first acknowledge that job searching can leave you feeling lost and seeking advice from everyone you know. However, we often forget to get the advice of our most important advisor, ourselves.

A year ago I found myself sitting in a reception area in a beautiful office in downtown Chicago waiting for what I was confident was going to be a final round interview. I was pumped, this organization was a well respected national organization, there was room for growth, everyone who worked there seemed nice, and they had a view of the river! But then I noticed how quiet it was there.

See at this point in time I was working at a community based nonprofit that, in our postage stamp of an office, saw twenty clients an hour. You could not get a glass of water or print a document without interacting with a client. Our office was often loud and chaotic, but it hummed. There was energy and positivity and you were connected with the work.

Back in that waiting room, I started to panic and ask myself, but where are the people?

I later recounted this story to my mentor and who laughed and said “well you probably shouldn’t take that job then.” I realized he was right and I decided to instead work at a school where, yes I have a constant cold, but I get at least one hug from a child a day. I did this because I realized that I was not ready to give up seeing the people we helped each and every day. That panicky feeling I had in the waiting room was my gut telling me that this job I was interviewing for was not going to be a good fit.

We often measure “good” jobs by quantitative metrics like salary, growth potential, and commute time but these things are not the whole picture. Now do not get me wrong, those are great measurements. I am not telling you to take a vow of poverty and work a dead end job with a two hour commute. I am saying that we need to have a more holistic way to measure whether or not a job is “good” before we take it. So the next time you are interviewing, sit in that room and take a second to account for your feelings. What does it feel like sitting in that office and talking with these potential future co-workers? Stop and check in with your feelings, because those feelings are your gut telling you whether or not you should take that job. And while you and your gut might not always agree about your favorite cuisines, it often knows the truth before your mind does.

About the Author

Stephenie Lazarus


Stephenie Lazarus is the Development Director at Providence Englewood Charter School and was previously the Development Manager at LIFT-Chicago. Stephenie is a graduate of both University of Michigan and University of Chicago and volunteers her time with Erie Neighborhood House’s TEAM program and the Junior League of Chicago.

Twitter handle: @StephLazarus

One thought on “Trusting your gut when job searching

  1. Shanti
    August 16, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Great post. I couldn’t agree more. I have fallen into the trap of taking blindly following job search advice (Act Interested! Tell the interviewers what they want to hear!) without taking a step back to see if the job is really one that I would love and be good at.