The Most Important Quote For Your Job Search

Credit: David Schap

As a senior in college, the job search can be intimidating. There are campus career fairs and recruiting events, but those can be a whirlwind of big name companies, resume black holes and intense interviews.

If we don’t know what we’re looking for, it’s easy to get lost, to buy into the hype, and get flustered.

And then you might end up working for a boss like this:


Or this:


I don’t want that to happen to myself or to you. That’s why I’m sharing the most important quote for your job search. It has been extremely influential in my own approach and I think it can help you too:

“When many of us make decisions, we follow a logic of consequence: which course of action will produce the best result? If you’re like [Jackie] Robinson, and you consistently challenge the status quo, you operate differently, using instead a logic of appropriateness: what does a person like me do in a situation like this? Rather than looking outward in an attempt to predict the outcome, you turn inward to your identity. You base the decision on who you are — or who you want to be.”

That’s a quote from Wharton professor and best-selling author Adam Grant’s most recent book, Originals.

After reading this it became clear that I should be using a logic of appropriateness in my job search. I must first be introspective and know what I’m looking for before I can make a decision on a job or even apply to companies.

So, after a good amount of reflecting, I can tell you the key elements of what I’m looking for after graduation.

Keep in mind that this is a work-in-progress, a continuous process. Things may change slightly as I reflect more, as I work more, as I interview more people in various industries and roles. The key elements are…

The must-haves:

  • A position in which I use my skills and strengths every day
  • An impact-driven organization with a mission/vision I believe in (education or youth-related mission is a bonus)
  • Ample opportunities for growth, including: 1) challenging and varying tasks/projects, 2) working with people who I can learn a lot from and who will make me better
  • A team of people I enjoy working with, especially my direct boss — attributes include: 1) do serious work but don’t take themselves too seriously, 2) appreciative and caring individuals, 3) always willing to help
  • Ability to see how I contribute to the organization’s vision and impact

The nice-to-haves:

  • Organization uses technology innovatively and creatively
  • Opportunities to move up within the organization
  • Organization is in a growing industry
  • Flexible work hours as long as I’m working full-time
  • Located either…1) Internationally (whoooa! crazy! 2) Or the more likely, a city where I can bike or walk to work but where I can still travel a short distance to go on adventures
  • Ability to work at or make my own standing desk (yes, this matters to me)

Jake, isn’t that a lot to ask of a single company or job?

Yes it is. But it just shows how serious I am about this. Now an organization might not fit every aspect, but this is what I’m shooting for. This is what I came to after looking inward, and I believe I can add more than enough value to an organization to make up for all that I’m asking of them.

Just remember: “Rather than looking outward in an attempt to predict the outcome, you turn inward to your identity. You base the decision on who you are — or who you want to be.”

This applies to more than just deciding what to do after graduation. It applies to the classes you choose to take, the activities you participate in, and how you behave on a daily basis.

So now I turn to you. What are you looking for? What is it that you want?

I want to encourage us all take some time on this and stay patient. Opportunities don’t always come immediately. Sometimes they take some digging deep, hustling, providing significant value for nothing in return, and praying (if that’s you’re thing).

You can do this. You can make something great. I believe in you.

Thanks for reading :)

P.s. if you know of any cool organizations I should look into or that you have a contact with, send them my way!

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