Taking a “Right Now” Job vs. Waiting for the “Just Right” Opportunity

Woman working at laptop at coffee shop

When you think of your dream job there is usually a combination of factors that make it your perfect fit. Salary, flexibility, benefits, day-to-day responsibilities, the team you’re working with, your office location, and a handful of other variables all have to be just right. 

The bad news: This job is (probably) rare.

The good news: It’s (probably) not impossible to find, but you’re likely going to have to do some serious searching to get to it, which will take time. 

So, if you’re in a position where you need to make a career move or are in need of new employment due to job loss or some other financial impact, and the dream job doesn’t seem to be an option yet, what do you do? You may have to opt to see the good in “good enough” and take the job that’s available right now, even if it doesn’t check all of your boxes.

The “Just Right” Job Vs. The “Right Now” Job 

Defining your “just right” job

What makes your "just right" job? Make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. These may include:

  • Flexibility
  • Salary/pay
  • Benefits
  • Responsibilities
  • Growth potential
  • Company culture
  • Office/work location
  • Your direct team

Look at your list of job must-haves and nice-to-haves. Your “just right” job checks most, if not all of those boxes. It’s the role that pays you fairly, at a workplace where they give you the respect you deserve, and the company values what you bring to the table. The “just right” job is the one that, most of the time, you are excited to work on. It challenges you and drives your career forward. (And if you haven’t created your just right job yet you should spend some time thinking about what it looks like.)

While it’s definitely out there, the “just right” job usually takes some time to find, and you can’t hurry the process, unfortunately. 

Assess your situation

First, you’ll want to evaluate your circumstances. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you need a job to provide for yourself and/or your family?
  • Are you happy or content in your current position?
  • Would taking the job positively affect your well-being in some way?
  • Do you have active leads for any jobs more closely aligned with your “just right” job?
  • Will this bring you closer to your career goals?
  • By saying “yes” to this opportunity what do you have to say “no” to, now and in the near future?
  • Is there anything else you need to consider?

Based on this list, there are some scenarios where the answer is pretty clear, like if taking it would allow you to make ends meet or would get you out of a toxic work environment. If taking the “right now” job would still significantly improve your quality of life in some way, even if it’s not in the exact way you’d hoped, it’s probably worth taking. Remember, your career goals are certainly important, but your personal goals are, too, and there are circumstances where they need to take priority. 

Weigh the options

If, after assessing your situation, the right choice isn’t obvious then you’re probably in a pretty good position where you’re not miserable in your current role or don’t need to work immediately, but are definitely on the hunt for something. Or this could be a scenario where the “right now” job is a pretty good prospect and offers a lot of what you’re looking for in your “just right” job. At this point, it’s time to weigh options to help you make a decision. 

Assuming the “right now” job checks a majority of your must-have and nice-to-have boxes, here are some things to consider:

  • Have you been searching for more than a year for the “just right” job without much success and/or are you running out of prospects?
  • Would taking this opportunity cause you to sacrifice something you need from a job?
  • Even if it’s not perfect, does it have the potential to move you forward in your career?
  • Do the boxes this job checks hold more weight for you than the ones it doesn’t check?
  • Does this job present a learning opportunity with a long-term benefit?
  • Is there potential to negotiate with the company on some of the unchecked boxes?
  • Do you think this is a good move for yourself and your career even if it’s not the perfect move?
  • Will this opportunity bring you more respect or better honor your value as an employee?
  • Is there any other reason this opportunity is standing out to you?

These are the nitty-gritty questions that may take a bit of time for you to find the answers to. The most important thing to remember in this situation is that a really good “right now” job opportunity might still be worth taking, even if it’s not the “just right” job. 

Is a “right now” job a bad opportunity?

Sometimes taking a “right now” job can feel deflating, but keep in mind this opportunity is not a guaranteed bad job. In fact, a “right now” job can still turn out to be a pretty great opportunity, even if it doesn’t check as many boxes as you’d like. 

Taking a “right now” job, after all, is an in to a new company with a new network available to you. You might gain invaluable experience, a helpful mentor, an expanded professional network, or something else that will positively impact your future searches. Once you accept a job, dedicate yourself to learning what positives you can take away from the experience. And it’s okay if that positive is just being able to provide for your family at this moment.

Should you wait for the "just right" job or take the "right now" opportunity?

Don’t give up on searching for the “just right” job

Remember, deciding to take the “right now” opportunity doesn’t mean you have to give up on your pursuit of the “just right” job. In fact, don’t stop searching for it. It’s always a good idea to be on the lookout for that rare, perfect fit job, regardless of how long you’ve held the position you’re in.

Like most things in life, this situation is not black and white. There is no easy answer here and, depending on your circumstances, this can be incredibly frustrating (to put it lightly). It’s one of those situations where you have to weigh your options and do a bit of soul-searching to make a decision you can live with. 

Taking a good “right now” opportunity will not hold you back from finding the “just right” one when the time is right. And it just may turn into the “just right” job you’ve been looking for when you least expect it.

Woman working at laptopRead more in The Study: Finding the Best Career Move for You

Considering a career move? Ask yourself these questions during your career search to determine if a job opportunity is the right fit for you and your needs .

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