You’re finally ready to make that long-awaited job or career change. When beginning your search, you might say to yourself: “I want to see what’s out there;” or “I’m willing to look at anything which will pay a decent salary.”

Leaving yourself “open” to many kinds of jobs might get you employed quickly. But in the wise words of baseball player Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” This might be a job you accept impulsively, only to find out it wasn’t what you thought it would be, causing you to quit within a few weeks or get fired for poor performance.

If you want long-term career satisfaction-not just another job-you’ll have to do some serious research and decision making. Don’t rely on a potential employer or a recruiter to do this work for you; if you do, your career goals become theirs – NOT yours!

To help define what your ideal career might look like, use this 10-point checklist:

1. Company size: Do you want to work in a large company with opportunities for growth up the corporate ladder? Or in a small company with consistent yet satisfying responsibilities? Or would you consider self-employment?

2. Deal-breakers: What tasks have you done in past jobs which you want to avoid? What type of company or workplace culture would you never work in again?

3. Environment: What type of workplace culture is right for you? Do you prefer an environment that is controlled and predictable – or unstructured and variable? Do you prefer to work independently or under close supervision?

4. Fulfillment: What work will call on your strongest, most enjoyable skill sets, so you’re challenged and happy at work? In which industries can you do your best work?

5. Location: What city or rural location do you prefer? What might be your commuting time or travel requirements? Would you work from home?

6. Personality Type: How do you prefer to focus your attention (with people or by yourself), take in information (using hard facts or ideas), make decisions (based on logic or people and values) and orient your environment (organized and planned or spontaneous and open)?

7. Salary: What are your 5-to-10-year income goals? What benefits package will satisfy you?

8. Specialization: What areas of expertise can you master, so you’ll always be in demand?

9. Values: Which values — emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, spiritual, work/lifestyle — must be present for you to be your best in your work?

10. Work Preferences: Are you more energized by working with information, people, or things? A combination of all three? In which order?

According to Law of Attraction principles, you’ll draw into your life whatever you give your attention, energy, and focus to. Once you get clear on all 10 areas above, you’ll have a much better idea of how your networking contacts can help you in your search. Plus, you’ll be pleasantly surprised when career opportunities which meet these criteria start showing up for you!

© 2010 Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin. The Career Success Coach. All Rights Reserved.