Home > Career Advancement, Communication, Job Hunting, Networking > Are you satisfied with your job and what are you looking for?

Are you satisfied with your job and what are you looking for?

Apparently I was randomly selected from my college to participate in the 2010 National Survey of Recent College Graduates conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in the email it specifies that they cannot substitute another person for me given the process. I was also told that this important national study is the only source of data on the post graduation plans and experiences of recent graduates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, and health fields.

All sounds very interesting. But I want to direct your attention to one of the questions they asked me during the survey:

How much are you satisfied with your current job in the following respective aspects? And also, with a scale of 1-5, how would you rate the importance of each aspect to you?


In case you are one of those debating over several options, I want to list the 9 aspects below and my personal takeaways for each aspect, and to give you an idea of what questions you should ask yourself and your potential future colleagues, before making a decision on joining the firm/or switching to something else.

  • Salary
    • An entry level base of 65,000 vs. 70,000 may not be a big difference, but a base of 45,000 vs. 70,000 would much likely raise a bigger question mark.
    • How much is the rough increase every year?
    • What is the industry-level pay for this type of position? Is the pay scale above or below average? How about bonus level?

  • Benefits
    • What’s the health care plan? Retirement plan? Stock purchasing plan? Employee discount programs?
    • What are the paid vacation days, personal days/sick days policies?
    • If you’re an international, do they sponsor work visa? What’s the policy on Green Card?
  • Job Security
    • How’s the turnover rate particularly with this team? Do most first-years stay for 2-3 years and leave or transfer internally?
    • Were there any layoffs happened in the past for this team? How closely is the operation of this specific team related to the core of the business?
    • Is your role easily replaceable by others? Are you hired for anything skills specific that you can bring to the table?
  • Job Location
    • This is obviously more important to some people than others, because location means LIFESTYLE to some people but not so much to others. But a good way to think about how flexible you are with this is:
    • Am I willing to be on the road on the time?
    • Am I willing to be in anywhere in the US? Europe, or Asia?
    • Or am I willing ONLY to be in NY if it’s the US, and London if it’s Europe, and HK if it’s Asia?
  • Opportunity for advancement
    • What is the general culture of the firm and the particular team? Is it very hierarchical or relatively flat?
    • Do the senior managers on the team spend much time training and mentoring the junior folks? Do they provide guidance on internal transfers or other exit strategies?
    • Does your role typically interact only with the people on your own team or you have the opportunity to work with various groups at the firm and with external clients/managers/organizations?
  • Intellectual challenge
    • How different is your responsibilities day-to-day? Do you feel you are doing the same thing again and again after a while?
    • Does the role require much critical thinking and creative analysis skills and the ability to come up with customized solutions (even if not now but down the road)?
    • Do many of the people on the team have advanced degrees such as PhDs in engineering or even physics? Is the team culture to some extent academic?
  • Level of Responsibility
    • As an Analyst/Associate do you only get to work with VPs on your team, or you have access to MDs and senior people from other departments as well?
    • Do you have much of a choice in terms of getting high-exposure projects or assignment or you only get the shitty work for your first few years?
    • Does the role will involve some managerial aspect 2 or 3 years from now? Will you be in a position to have other people working for you?
  • Degree of Independence
    • Do you always have to come into office at a set time? Can you leave at flexible and predictable hours?
    • Are you free to make the final call if this is the area of your expertise or you always have to report to and get confirmed from senior management?
    • Is there a set pattern or dominant rule on how things should be done or you have much room to be creative with your answers, solutions, in terms of explaining a process, pitching a product, or defending a position?
    • Does your line manager/supervisor have a more “hands-on” style or more “laissez-faire”? Are you comfortable with how much your line manager/supervisor trust your work and respect your judgment?
  • Contribution to Society
    • If you are choosing a job in non-profit or government, maybe this is something on the top of your list which may not be that obvious for many others looking for entry level positions in, say finance.
    • The importance of how much your job and yourself may contribute to the society has an evolving nature and many choose to work elsewhere first to accumulate the money the network and the skill set, before they can move on to really follow their passion transforming the world to a better place.

  • How would you rank yours? Is there anything else you care about but are not included in the list yet?
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  1. Sandy Zhu
    February 9, 2011 at 8:50 am

    whatever it is that you are working on–good luck!!!!

    • February 9, 2011 at 10:03 am

      oh lol, a lot of things. but that’s how life is exciting, right?

  2. February 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! However, how can we communicate?

    • February 10, 2011 at 10:34 pm

      Thanks I’m glad it was helpful. If you look at the top of the website there is a “Ask Danye” button and you can contact me directly by filling out the contact form. Cheers!

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