Workplace Rights

Weekly (3/10/14)

Topic of the Week  Transformers: Deciding If You Should Take a New Job

  • DO talk to someone who does the job. 
  • DO explore moonlighting, part time or temporarily doing the job. 
  • DO shadow someone while they do the job. 
  • DON'T forget that you can change a job.

What should you do if you aren't sure if you should take a job being offered to you? This question reminds me of a woman who desperately held on to a windshield wiper blade on the hood of a minivan as it raced down a Northern California freeway. No, this isn't from a movie. It turns out she and her husband had an argument and he started to drive away. His wife grabbed onto the vehicle assuming he would stop the minivan. He didn't. According to police he hit speeds of 100 miles an hour as she clutched onto a windshield wiper. Finally he slowed down and she was able to roll off the hood.

Talk about going on a long ride against your will. The same situation can apply to a job, if you end up in the wrong one it can seem like a long and dangerous ride. That's why I'm offering three Do's and one Don't to help you decide if a new job is a ride that you want to take. For more, check out Rene Carew's book, "Complete Idiot's Guide to Discovering Your Perfect Career" (Alpha, 2005).

DO talk to someone who does the job. There is nothing quite like a first hand view of a job from someone who is currently doing it. Just remember that people tend to focus on the good or the bad, so you might want to ask follow up questions. Because everything is changing so fast, be careful about talking to someone who did the job a few years ago, the job could have changed dramatically in that period of time.

DO explore moonlighting, part time or temporarily doing the job. Some jobs lend themselves to rolling up your shirtsleeves and actually doing it. This can take a lot of time and effort, but when you think about spending eight hours a day in a job you hate, it's a small down payment on your future personal happiness and fulfillment.

DO shadow someone while they do the job. I've shadowed a number of people as they went through their daily tasks. This first hand experience is a great way to inhabit the job that you're interested in. Again, there are negative Nellie's out there, but most people tend to be pretty upbeat. So you might have to push them to find out the dark underbelly of the job.

DON'T forget that you can change a job. Okay, maybe not the first day. But I've known a number of people who transformed a job once they took it over. There are many variables in play here, your boss, your company, your department. But just because a job focus on A, B and C, doesn't mean that you can transform it to address X, Y and Z over time. However, you have to realistic, most jobs take some effort to change.

Follow these tips and you'll enjoy your ride at work. And who knew that a minivan could do 100 miles an hour?

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"There are so many things you can learn about, but you'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut."

–Dr. Suess

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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