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Change is tough! But change can be exhilarating, especially a job change. I coached college basketball for 19 years and for most of those years I thought I would coach my entire life. But I began to suffer burnout and began looking for a change.

My first step was to take a career assessment class at a local university. This test was helpful. It revealed I would not be a gifted surgeon…no surprise there! But it did indicate a strong aptitude for sales.

I had no idea on how to get started in business or what people did to make money outside of higher education.  I needed to jump start my business knowledge. So I took a network approach to job hunting. I began meeting with business men and women to find out what they did, how they were compensated, etc. At the end of every meeting, I asked them to give me the names of 2 or 3 other people I could speak with about business and set up meetings with these referrals.

After a few dozen meetings, I began to formulate ideas about what I wanted to do and what my ideal job would feature.  I developed My Big 3 “Musts”.  A job had to offer these 3 elements or I wouldn’t be interested.

1) Must Have Flexible hours.  This was very important to me. I didn’t want to have to punch a clock or write my name on an “in or out” board.

One job I had required me to use an “in and out” board. I had to move my magnetic dot every time I was in the office and every time I stepped away from my desk. After about 2 months of this, that sign mysteriously disappeared!  If I wanted to take the afternoon to chase butterflies, I didn’t want to get any grief about it. And if I wanted to work 20 hours straight, that was my business too! I didn’t want to be in violation of union rules or have overtime pay issues.

2) There Must Be No Limit On How Much Money I Could Earn. Remember, I had just come out of the education system, and their compensation situation is just totally screwed up. First, the pay is low. The standing joke at every campus is that the student parking lot has better cars in it than the teacher’s parking lot.  And heaven help you if you earned a merit raise. The jealousy and bickering about who-got-what was surprising. One of the things I totally love about sales is that your success is largely in your own hands. And the better you do, the better you are compensated.

Early in my job search, I was introduced to a business owner who was looking for a director of sales for his company. I have no idea why he was considering me at that point in my life, as I had zero business experience. Nevertheless, he offered a very good starting salary and benefits package. But there was a cap on what I could earn. I didn’t  think twice about turning this position down because I had established my 3 Musts.  I would not accept a position where there was a cap on what I could earn. Hey! Sales is tough enough, right?  Without hope, without dreams, life would be dull.

3) Must Be Able To Earn A Six Figure Income In 3 Years Or Less.  If the job didn’t have the ability to get me to this number, I wasn’t interested.  Why six figures? I am not sure but it seemed like a good number. And perhaps I set my sights too low.  I now wonder what would have happened if I said my 3rd “must” was to make a Million dollars a year within 3 years… Anyway, this too became a guiding principle for me.

In summary, if you are contemplating a job change, begin to do some serious research. Get counsel from others.  Find out what you are good at.

And determine what are your “musts?”  Yours may be very different than mine.  But whatever your criteria is or how many “musts” you come up with, I encourage you to come up with a baseline that will guide you in choosing the perfect job and perfect company.

Good luck out there!

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Image courtesy of daily sunny

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