Identify your career non-negotiables for greater clarity in your job search

Clarity is of paramount importance in your job search.  When you have a clear list of your non-negotiable needs you can make better career decisions.

In this blog post, I’m sharing an exercise with you which, when applied, will serve you to gain greater clarity on your non-negotiable requirements for your next job.

To begin this exercise,  I invite you to get a blank sheet of paper, a spreadsheet, or a whiteboard and draw out 2 columns.

In the first column, write the heading:  What I’m ideally (and realistically) looking for in my next role.

In the second column, write the heading: My career non-negotiables. These are your bottom line requirements. You are essentially saying: I  will accept this, and anything less than this I will not accept.

In the section below, I have identified some typical priority factors to help you to get started. I’ve categorised them into three headings for your ease: Personal, Employer, and Role Specific Non-Negotiable Needs. 

Think about what is most important to you personally and professionally, and t
ry not to have too many things on your non negotiable list.


Salary: Identify your ideal salary expectation, and your bottom-line salary expectation. 

Additional Compensation Benefits: Do you have any non negotiable requirements regarding the wider compensation benefits an employer offers such as pension or health insurance? Add the applicable ones to your list.

Type of Work: Are you open to full-time work or only part-time? If you are specifically needing a part-time opportunity, how many days a week? What days, and what hours?

Duration of Work: Are you open to permanent roles, fixed term contracts, temporary contracts, daily rate contracts, freelancing, other, or all of the above?

Working Hours:  Are available to work any time? Identify the hours you cannot do, for example evenings/weekends if applicable. 

In-Office/Remote/Hybrid: Identify how important flexibility is for you as a need – rather than a want. 

Location: What distance commute are you okay with? Are you willing to relocate?

Start Date: This can be useful to identify in advance if you have a long notice period, you’re relocating, or you have prior commitments such as a wedding or a vacation.
Identify what you can and cannot be flexible on.


Mission of Employer: Do you have non-negotiable requirements in terms of the type of work/mission of your next employer?

Sector: How open are you to the sector/industry of your next employer? 

Size of Organisation: Do you thrive in being a small fish in a big pond, or do you prefer working in a smaller organisation? Are you looking to work in a startup, mid-size organisation, large company, or are you open to all options at this stage?

Ethics: How about company values and ethics such as social or environmental responsibility?

Company Philosophy: Are you specifically looking to work in a company that is very flexible, creative, agile, traditional, systematic, unionised, free-thinking?

Company Culture: List out any factors regarding a company’s culture that are important to you.

Growth & Professional Development Opportunities: Are learning, growth and professional career development opportunities important to you in your next role.

The Role:

Job Role and Level: Think about what you personally need in terms of job role, and job level. If you manage people, do you have you any deal-breakers around how many direct/indirect reports you are comfortable with?

Supervisor/Manager: A good relationship with a supervisor is vital to your career satisfaction.  Think about what management style best allows you to thrive in your career.

You might not value all of these things in a job, and there may be other factors that are not listed here which are important for you personally.

Some of these factors can only be assessed thoroughly at job interview, or even job offer stage, but identifying these factors now will still serve you well as you reflect on what you are looking for in your next role.

Once you have your list compiled, organise them in whatever way is best for you to get a clear picture on what you are ideally looking for, and what is non-negotiable for you.

Some people like to rank them, prioritise them, or even colour code them. I encourage you to honour whichever way works most effectively for your organisational style. 

By taking this time to prepare your list, you are empowering yourself with the clarity to know what you are not willing to compromise on. This will allow you to channel your attention and energy towards what you do want.  

Thank you for reading this article, I hope you found it useful. If you have a friend, colleague, or loved one who is considering changing jobs/careers feel welcome to forward this resource to them.