Looking for a new role? Identify your career non-negotiables

Clarity is of paramount importance to your job transition strategy. Having a clear list of your non-negotiable needs for your next role can help you make better decisions, and save you valuable time by preventing you from applying and interviewing for positions that aren’t a good fit for you. 

Taking some initial time at the outset to prepare a list of a list of the factors that you know you are not willing to compromise on will empower you to channel your attention and energy towards what you do want.

In this blog post, I’m going to share an exercise with you which will serve you to give yourself more clarity on your non-negotiable requirements.

To begin this exercise,  I encourage 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. This is your bottom line requirements. You are essentially saying: I  will accept this, and anything less than this I will not accept.

I’ve identified some typical priority factors below to help you to get started. For clarity purposes I have categorised them into three headings: Personal, Employer, and Role. 

Think about what is most important to you based on your unique priorities. Get clear on what you are willing to be flexible on, and try 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 only looking at part-time opportunities, 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? Are there any hours you cannot do, for example evenings/weekends?

In-Office/Remote/Hybrid: Identify how important flexibility is for you. 

Location: How long of a 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, freethinking?

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 it will still serve you well at the outset to give yourself this clarity as you begin your search for a new 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. 


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