Once you’ve figured out your ideal career the next challenge is finding the right place to work. It’s no use working in your dream role if the company you’re working for doesn’t share the same values as you.
In this episode, career coach Lindsay Gordon shares some great tips about how you can find a job and an employer which is a fit for you and how you can make sure your own values align with that of a new potential employer.
Lindsay also emphasises the importance of choice and explains how you can use the interview process to assess whether an organisation is right for you.
Lindsay Gordon of a Life of Options
Website: A Life of Options
LinkedIn: Lindsay Gordon
Facebook: A Life of Options
Lindsay is a career coach for analytically minded people who want to stop doing what they think is “right” in their career and start doing what’s right for them. She helps people get clear about what’s right for them in a job, become confident in their skills and abilities and teaches them how to communicate this to interviewers, managers, and colleagues.
Lindsay started her career working as a recycled water engineer in Melbourne, Australia before landing at Google doing technical support for the Google Apps team. After five years of technical support, she transitioned into career development at Google before starting her own business. She loves applying her engineering brain to helping people find careers that fit, baking complicated pastries, and barbershop singing.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- [1:48] The common challenges analytically-minded people face when changing their careers.
- [2:58] How Lindsay became a qualified coach and started her own business.
- [7:35] How to identify what your workplace values are.
- [10:04] How to find the right workplace for you.
- [14:05] The type of research you can do to find out if a company will be a good fit for you.
- [15:32] The power of making connections and how you can use these to find jobs.
- [19:40] The importance of seeing interviews as a two-sided process.
- [24:21] What to include in job applications to help you find a good fit.
- [25:55] The biggest objections to focusing on values in job applications.
- [29:11] How to make the most out of an interview and ask effective questions.
- [32:36] How to make a decision when you have multiple job offers.
- [38:24] What to do if you notice a misalignment in values after starting a new job role.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.
Episode 115: Choosing the right company to work for - with Lindsay Gordon of A Life of Options
Jeremy Cline 0:00
If you've figured out what your ideal career is, great, well done. The next question for you is how do you figure out where you do it. If you're going to go and get a new job, how do you figure out that you're going to be happy at the place where you go? How do you know that your own values are going to align with your new employer? Those are the questions that we answer in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:39
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. We've talked in the past on the podcast about figuring out what career you want to do. And you may have done some work to discover your own strengths, skills and values. The question then is how do you take that knowledge about yourself and find the specific job that's right for you. How do you identify not just a role that will suit you, but a place where you'll be happy, an employer who shares your values? To help answer these questions, I am joined this week by Lindsay Gordon of A Life of Options. Lindsay started out as an engineer before moving into career development and starting her own business in which she provides career coaching for analytically minded people. Lindsay, welcome to the show.
Lindsay Gordon 1:29
Thank you so much, happy to be here.
Jeremy Cline 1:32
So, as someone myself who is quite analytically minded, I've always thought that being analytical is quite a good thing. So, I'm curious as to what the challenges are that someone who is analytical might face that you particularly help them with.
Lindsay Gordon 1:48
Yes, so I think one of the biggest things is usually that 'analysis-paralysis', right? So, we're thinking over thinking over thinking over thinking, but when do we actually move into the doing phase, into the action phase? And I think one of the kind of frameworks that I help people think about is how do we make a choice. And there is this great HBR article that talks about stop worrying about making the right decision, and actually focus less on that moment of choice, and more on the agency that you are going to have, in the actions in the days, weeks and months after you make that choice. So, I think it's about doing as much of the thinking upfront as we can, and then really identifying, okay, let's make the choice, and then we can figure out how to make sure it's the right choice for us.
Jeremy Cline 2:44
So, before we dive into the topic in a bit more detail, let's find out a bit more about you. What got you into coaching? Perhaps you could describe your journey from engineer to career development to having your own business.
Lindsay Gordon 2:57
Yeah, well, like any good career transition, I completely fell into all of them. So, I did not know that this is where I was going to end up. So, I started in engineering, I was actually working in Melbourne, Australia, doing recycled water engineering. And when I moved back to the States a couple of years later, I moved during, I think it was 2009, so basically, smack in the middle of global economic crisis, and so I was trying to find any job that I could, engineering, water-related, I have my bio engineering degrees, I was trying to get anything there. And what really worked out for me is getting a job in technical support. That's what I could get at the time. And I found out that I am the unusual kind of human who actually loves technical support, because it's a little bit engineering, and it's a little bit people. And so, I was in technical support for many years. And one thing that I did on the side in that job is I took on the onboarding and training for our team. And I realised that all the new hires that were coming to our team were so stressed about their career. They were like, 'I don't know how to talk to my manager. I don't know how to get where I'm going. What if I get stuck on this technical support team?' And so, it really ended up being this thing that I was doing in my free time. Long story short, people said, 'You would be a really good coach', and I had no idea what that meant. So, I decided to go test it out. I took one course, ended up really liking it, did a year-and-a-half degree. And then, people started saying, 'Are you taking clients yet? I have people to refer to you.' And I was saying, 'No, no, no, no, no, I'm not running my own business. This is not the plan', but decided to say yes, and test it out, as I always talk to clients about, ran it on the side for a little bit, and then, after about a year or two of running it on the side, I thought, you know what, I think there's really something to this, I've tested it out, people are getting results, I'm really enjoying it. So, I took my business full-time about five years ago.
Jeremy Cline 5:10
Fantastic. And I saw on your website that despite having your own business, you also do have a part-time job or another role on the side. So, what's that, and how does that all fit in with running your own business?
Lindsay Gordon 5:21
Yes, I did at some point, which I think is kind of the beauty of getting to make choices along the way. I think it was two years ago now, that I saw an opportunity to do technical support, again, this thing that I love, for a company that I really admired. It was a six-months position, and I thought to myself, 'Oh, my gosh, I kind of want to apply to this job, even though I absolutely love my business, and it's going well.' So, I made the choice, and I knew why it worked for me, I knew why it was aligned with values, I knew what I was going to learn from it, I knew I was going to really enjoy it. And so, I took six months and did this job on the side, you know, my business got a little bit smaller, and I focused on this job for six months, absolutely loved it, loved getting to do customer service again, and then got to choose to come back to my business. So, I think that's part of the fun of getting to give ourselves grace of changing our minds, of trying different things, of yeah, testing it all out.
Jeremy Cline 6:27
I love this idea of trying different things and not being so hung up on the idea of having to get it right and got to do it right the first time.
Lindsay Gordon 6:35
Yes. This whole, you know, figure it out, I have to get it figured out, everybody else has it figured out. I'm like, I'm not trying to have it figured out. I'm trying to have serendipity, I'm trying to test things out, I'm trying to be playful, I'm trying to see what next thing might be interesting for me. I don't want to get to the stage where it's all figured out, because that seems pretty boring over the long term.
Jeremy Cline 7:00
So, let's set the scene for what we're going to talk about. So, we're talking to someone who has done some work on knowing themselves, which they might have done themselves, maybe they've engaged a coach to help them, and they've got a good idea of what they want to do. They've identified their values. Just pausing there, I've covered values on the podcast before, but I think it might be helpful just to have a quick refresher. So, when we're talking in a work context about values, what do we mean?
Lindsay Gordon 7:33
Yeah, the things that are most important to you in a role is maybe the simplest way to say it. And one of the ways that I love for people to discover their values is doing it by looking at the data of their life. So, looking at some of the biggest decisions that they have made up until now, and then looking at the motivation behind those decisions. Why did I make that choice? What was important to me in that moment? What was I thinking about? What was I trying to get more of? What was I trying to get less of? And you can do this in a work sense, you can do this in a life sense, but looking at the decisions that you've made up until now is a really great way to look at what are the things that are most important to you related to the job, so that you can make decisions based on those values.
Jeremy Cline 8:26
Brilliant, thank you. So, why don't we set up a bit of a case study here, so we can kind of talk about a person? So, I've chosen Tom, who, having done all this work, Tom has decided that he wants to be a corporate lawyer. And maybe he was doing that already, maybe he's already a lawyer, and he's looking to change practice area, maybe he's going into something completely different. But either way, he's reasonably sure that's what he wants to do, he's got all the qualifications, and so now he's at the stage where he wants to start looking for a job that's going to suit him. The difficulty for Tom is that there are loads and loads of different ways that Tom could practice. He could go working for a law firm in private practice, or he could go and work in-house. In-house, he could work for almost any big and probably not so big organisation out there. In private practice, he could work for one of the world's largest law firms doing mergers of enormous oil companies, or he could be going to work for a smaller firm, which focuses on maybe smaller transactions with owner-managed businesses, that kind of thing. So, he's got an absolute wealth of choice in front of him, which is quite overwhelming.
Lindsay Gordon 9:51
Yes, it is.
Jeremy Cline 9:52
So, give Tom some advice on where he starts the process. How does he start to identify the places where he might fit in and which will reflect his values?
Lindsay Gordon 10:03
Yeah. So, first, I just want to acknowledge Tom for doing the hard work of getting clear about all the pieces, this is such a great place to start, because I think you need clarity before you start answering the next set of questions. So, one thing that I would have Tom do is, I always think in frameworks, and so I have my clients create a one-page document with all of the things that they know about themselves. So, let's get it all in one place, so that we have Tom's values there, we have Tom's top strengths, we have what he needs in an environment in order to thrive, so that it's really all in one big checklist. Because sometimes we forget to apply all of the good work we've done in the decisions that we are making. So, now, what Tom can start to do is to look at, okay, this giant corporation versus this in-house one, how does it start to stack up against what my values are? How does it stack up against how I want to be engaging my strengths? The working conditions are going to be really important to think about in a huge company versus a smaller company. So, that's how I really want people to start connecting the dots of this is what is important to me, how well do I think that would be aligned in this company. I will also mention, there's a great book for us analytically-minded people out there called The Two-Hour Job Search. And I know the title is a little bit clickbait, but it is one of the most thorough, practical, structured approaches to the job search of today. And one of the interesting exercises that they have you do is to make a list of 40 companies that you would be interested in working for. And so, maybe Tom has done this at this stage, but even just starting to get curious beyond, the author talks about how we usually have, you know, three to five companies on our list, but if we really start to look at 40, we can start to look at what are the themes of the types of companies that we're choosing, who are we surprised to find on this list of companies that we would be interested in working for. So, that's another piece of the puzzle that you can do. And then, I think one of the biggest mistakes that I see people do in this process is that they're trying to keep every door open for as long as possible. So, Tom might be saying, 'Okay, let's explore every single one of these options', right? You mentioned the overwhelm, this is such a common experience. I actually encourage people to try to get as many constraints as possible, as quickly as possible. So, in your values, you may have the top two are the most important to you. And maybe we call those non-negotiables, maybe we call those deal breakers. And I want you to be saying, 'Okay, any opportunity that I am considering needs to honour these top two values.' And if these values aren't going to be honoured, then we can say an easy no to that. So, probably, in the big spread of opportunities that Tom has, we can already start weeding things out when we apply values, when we apply strengths, when we apply working conditions. So, I think people have this feeling of like, 'Oh, but maybe this one, maybe that, maybe I should just, you know, pursue all of these at the same time.' Whereas I really think the more quickly you can say no to the ones that aren't going to be a good fit, then you can spend more time and energy on the ones that are going to be a good fit.
Jeremy Cline 13:53
Practically, how at this stage might you know what is and isn't a good fit? What sort of sources of data does Tom have available to him at this early stage?
Lindsay Gordon 14:04
Yeah. So, you can read a lot about a company online. And I had a client say to me the other day, which was interesting, you know, 'I read through all of the company's values that they have posted, and they really resonated with what I've discovered about myself.' So, already, I think you can do some amount from a company's website, you can also look at news articles, how are they perceived, what kinds of stories do you get to hear about them, how is that aligned. There are websites like Glassdoor where you can hear from previous employees. So, you can really start to get a sense of, do I think that this is going to be aligned, and I also think that, anytime we have worries or hesitations, like, 'Oh, I feel like this company is not going to prioritise this value', that is a great moment to turn that into a question that you want to ask down the line. So, you know, I have a sense that this company is dedicated to this, that and the other, can you confirm whether that's the case, or tell me about how this value shows up in your company? So, turn those worries and hesitations into direct questions that you want to be asking in the interview process.
Jeremy Cline 15:19
So, when you've got your list of 40, do you start by making applications to those 40? Or is there more of a process of whittling it down first?
Lindsay Gordon 15:31
Yeah, they have a process. It's so great, it's like so structured and so thorough, there's a ranking system of who has jobs listed that look like something that could be interesting to you, who has been mentioned in the news recently. You know, so there's like a stack ranking that happens. But I think, ideally, I think we all know this, ideally, we want to go through humans, and find those weak connections to the companies. And so, they talk a lot about that, how do you do that. But I am also perpetually amazed at how often my clients still get jobs applying into the, you know, abyss of the online system. So, I never say, 'Don't do the applying online', but I think it really is about trying to get connected to the humans. So, if you're interested in a certain list of companies, you can start to look at who might I know at these companies, what connections might I have, who do I know in my alumni network, who do I know in my LinkedIn network, so trying to make connections that way.
Jeremy Cline 16:45
Let's dive into that a bit more, because my next question was about how you go about applying for the organisations you've identified as possibly being a good fit. So, there's people that you know, how best do you approach them? So, let's say, you know, Tom has found a law firm, and it turns out that someone who graduated five years before him is working as a lawyer in a different department. So, maybe, Tom hasn't really been in touch with this guy before, but you know, he seems to have to go to the same university. So, what's Tom's first course of action then?
Lindsay Gordon 17:24
Yeah, I think thinking about it in terms of connection. So, I think networking gets weird and off the rails as soon as we think about it as, 'I need to get a job, how do I ask this person for a job?' So, I think if we can think about it as a connection opportunity, as a collaboration opportunity, and this is another reason that it's so great to have this work done of identifying your values, your strengths, the contributions you want to make, because you can reach out and say, 'I would love to hear what you're up to, and I would love to hear about your experience in your current job, I would love to hear about your experience in the company', and just get to connect and hear stories, and potentially, you know, make a really great connection, even though you haven't chatted in a while. And then, you can have a conversation of, 'I am looking to create my next thing, here are the things that are important to me. Here's what I'm excited to contribute to the world', and have it be a collaborative conversation of what could that look like. So, we're not specifically asking for a job. We're not specifically asking about open roles. But we actually are looking for opportunities to make connections. And I don't know where this advice comes from, but I kind of love the phrase that, if you ask for advice, you'll get a job, and if you ask for a job, you'll get advice. So, I think it just really reinforces that what you want to be doing is looking for those connection points, and looking for it as a chance to chat with somebody, share stories, learn about them, and not any weirdness of 'I'm going to need to ask this person for a job.'
Jeremy Cline 19:13
And what we've done there is also start the interviewing them process, sort of interviewing the company. So, we've got the connection, we can start to ask the questions which we know are relevant to our own values and get a real sense from these conversations about whether this is someone we want to work for.
Lindsay Gordon 19:36
Yes, and this, I'm so glad you mentioned that, because that is one of the biggest mistakes in the way that we operate in the interviews or in the job search today, is seeing it as a one-way street, where we, as the job searcher, are the person who is being evaluated, assessed, chosen or not chosen and sometimes, we show up in an interview saying whatever we think we need to say in order to land the job. And then, part of the problem is, if you get that job, and you show up on day one or day seven or day 30, or whatever it is, and you're like, 'Oh, my gosh, I do not want this job.' You know, I kind of got into the, I had a client who called it like the dog and pony show of trying to convince somebody that I am the best thing since sliced bread. And so, what I want you to do in this process is to say, 'It is a two-way street, and both of us are trying to figure out if this is the right fit between the role and the person.' So, I I like to joke that sometimes I should warn people who are going to interview my past clients, because they're going to be asking a lot of questions about values, about how the work relates to their strengths, about the type of environment that they have fostered at the company. And so, yes, I want you to do that both ways. And I'll tell you a quick story about asking questions that matter. So, I had two different clients who realised that one of their biggest values was balance. And I think balance sometimes gets a bad rep, because it's like, 'Oh, are you just lazy? Is that why you're asking for work-life balance?' But for each of these different clients, one of them had young children, and one of them was really taking care of her mental health and needed a lot of balance to support that. And so, I said, 'Okay, we are going to have you ask about balance pretty early on in this process.' And they were like, 'Oh, my gosh, I don't know if we can ask that question.' But they ended up asking, and they had two completely different answers. The woman who was trying to take care of her mental health said, 'You know, this is really important to me, and I want to hear about how balance works at your company.' And they said, 'Oh, it's terrible.' She said, 'Wait, what?' And they proceeded to have a very authentic conversation about why it was difficult for the employees to take vacation. And they didn't feel like leadership was really setting an example of being able to prioritise their own balance. And so, she was able to say, 'Thank you so much for your candour, I can see that this is not going to be the right environment for me.' Whereas at the same time, another client was asking about balance, and the company said, 'Oh, absolutely, yes, we want to make sure that our employees are having a great life outside of work, many of us have families, and so we are making sure that there are no expectations to check email on nights and weekends, and all of that.' And she said, 'Fantastic. This seems like a really great place for me.' She ended up taking the job. And you know, in the first couple of weeks, people kept checking in with her, 'How are you feeling about being able to disconnect after work? Are you feeling like you're being able to be there for your family when the time is needed?' And so, it really matters to ask questions about what matters to you, to make that assessment for yourself.
Jeremy Cline 23:23
I'm fascinated by the interviewer who proceeded to tell her that there's no balance and work-life balance was terrible. It sounds like quite an interesting thing for an interviewer to do, or at least not without some kind of a positive spin. So, you know, we're committed here, we work hard, and yeah, we work late nights, but that's because we're committed to the mission or some corporate nonsense like that.
Lindsay Gordon 23:48
Yeah, yeah, it's true, it's true.
Jeremy Cline 23:49
It's really interesting that it came out of that way.
Lindsay Gordon 23:53
It's very fascinating.
Jeremy Cline 23:54
I want to talk a bit more about interviews, but just to tie up one loose end in my mind. So, someone who makes an application to a company that they don't have a connection, aside from looking at websites like Glassdoor, is there anything at that stage in the making of the application that someone can do to assess whether a company is a good fit for them?
Lindsay Gordon 24:21
I think probably sharing about your values, again, you know, sharing. This is what I want to be up to, this is the contribution that I would love to be making in this world, have your resume be talking about that, be focused really clearly on your strengths, on the contributions you want to make. And so, I think every resource that you create can be telling a very clear story about what you want to get up to. And so, you know, if they see a cover letter that's talking about a certain set of values and the way that they really want to contribute to this country, and it doesn't align with them, then that's going to be a pretty easy way for them to say, 'This is not the right fit.' But if you're really clear about values that do fit with them, I think that will make a difference to have them be able to tell who you are, even from these first set of things that you are sending into them. I think just the more and more and more you share, there's an opportunity for companies to say, 'Oh, yeah, that's the type of person we're looking for, we do think that this person will be a good fit in the environment.' So, just sharing more of yourself in all these pieces.
Jeremy Cline 25:39
What objections have your clients come up with to doing this kind of thing? Because it's definitely not natural human nature to be open about the stuff that you want to do and your values and all that sort of thing in a job application, in a cover letter?
Lindsay Gordon 25:53
Yeah, I think the biggest objection is the 'Will this land me the job?' Because that's, you know, maybe that's not how we've done it so far, that's not how we're taught to do it. But I see time and time again of people who land jobs that they don't actually want. And then, part of the problem is, when we are making choices that don't align, then it starts to erode our confidence in our decision making. And so, then, we're telling ourselves a story of, 'Well, maybe no job is going to work, or maybe I'm terrible at making a choice for me, or I can't make another move, because this move was bad. What's to say it's not going to be bad in the future?' And so, I think getting to trust that what you want might be different from what somebody else wants, and getting to really say, 'It's important that I choose a job that aligns with my values. And it's important that I get to use my strengths.' I think it's just a very different way of operating, but I don't want that confidence eroded, I don't want you accepting jobs that you don't want, I want you to feel like you are an active member in the process of deciphering if something is a good fit for you. So, yes, it is a very different way of being. And also, I like to mention that there are a lot of systemic barriers in the workplace that don't just make it automatically easy for all of us to just be ourselves in the workplace. So, that's always a process I'm thinking about too, the sexism in the workplace, racism in the workplace, and finding your agency to say, 'I want to be as much of myself as I can, knowing that different groups of people really are perceived differently in interviews.' So, it's all about finding your own agency, and finding the place that's hopefully going to be the best fit for you.
Jeremy Cline 28:03
I love it. It's such a mindset shift from the notion that you've got to be almost subservient and presenting yourself as being the best person for the job, when in fact, you can afford to have a bit more of the attitude that, hey, you're interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you. And that's equally important.
Lindsay Gordon 28:24
Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.
Jeremy Cline 28:28
Going back to the interview process, you mentioned asking questions, so you can draw out things, how they match your values and what you want to do, are there any ways that you can approach it, so that you don't risk giving the impression that you're taking over the entire interview, and you're basically bombarding them with questions? How can you approach the interview, so that you get out of it just as much as they do, but you make sure that both of you do get everything that the other wants out of it?
Lindsay Gordon 29:12
I have a wonderful colleague, Suzanne O'Brien, who talks a lot about job search too. And she says, 'You win the interview when you are yourself.' Which I love, which is such a different idea than, 'You win the interview when you get the job.' Just kind of the way we think about it. So, I love this framing of, 'Okay, I'm going to win this interview if I am myself.' So, I think you always have the opportunity to learn more, in every question, whether you are answering the question or whether you are asking the question. So, listen in their answers, sometimes we can get caught up in like, 'Okay, how was my answer? Did I give the right answer?' Listen in their answers. Can you tell things about their values? Can you tell things about the environment that you might be in? So, I think listening in their answers is one thing you can do. I think also, really making the most of the question time. So, at some part of an interview, they usually ask you do you have questions. And what I find our default way of being is, let's just ask some generic, you know, basic questions to make sure that we check the box of 'Did this person have a question to ask me when I asked them?' So, this is really the moment where you get to say, 'Yes, I would love to ask you some questions, because I'm really dedicated to figuring out if this is the right fit as well.' And so, make sure those questions are incredibly tailored to what you're trying to understand, rather than just, you know, 'Tell me about this role', you know, whatever generic questions we love to ask in an interview. So, I think there is a nice balance, but use their responses as a way to learn more, even if you're not the one asking the question.
Jeremy Cline 31:05
The answer to this is probably, 'Both is equally good', but is there merit in trying to feed your questions in during the course of the interview? So, maybe they'll ask you a question, you answer it, and then that leads you to ask a question, and it kind of bounces around that way, or is it a case of leave your questions to the end, or is it you just tailor it to how you think the interview is going?
Lindsay Gordon 31:31
Yeah, I would guess that there's a bit of tailoring. Some interviews are more formal than others. Some interview styles might be like, 'Okay, I have these questions I need to get through.' But I think if you're clear about what is the story that you generally want to be telling, like if you're winning the interview by being yourself, what is the story you want to get across. And yes, see if there are moments for you to add in a question here or there, or to direct the answer of a question to a conversation that you want to talk about. But I do agree that it's going to be a little bit of tailoring based on your experience in any particular interview.
Jeremy Cline 32:11
So, Tom has been through the application process, he's been through the interview process, and he's got three job offers. How does he make his decision?
Lindsay Gordon 32:23
Yes, this is the moment. So, I always have people go back to that framework. And the first step would be just double check. Let's see, so we've got these three offers, we want to be incredibly clear, I have it in a spreadsheet, of course, because, you know, engineering brain. So, I put the three jobs in a spreadsheet and look at, okay, values, which ones are going to be honoured? Strengths, which are going to be engaged? Working environments, the environment you know you need in order to thrive, how is it checking out? And I want you to be eyes wide open about any trade-off that you might be choosing. Because it's not that the job is going to have absolutely everything on that checklist. But if you can say, 'I know that my top four out of five values are going to be honoured and prioritised, and I am choosing this other one as a trade-off', great, I want you to have that clarity of choice. So, let's say, for argument's sake, that they are all just as good as the other one, right? There's no one that is clearly a red flag. So, there are a couple ways that you can think about this. So, one exercise I love from the book Design Your Life, they talk about grokking a decision. And they say, 'Once you've done all of the analysing, as much thinking as possible, and there's no real right answer, you want to take it into kind of the body realm.' And so, they say, 'For whatever it is, 24 hours, 48 hours, three hours, however long you have, let's live life as if we have chosen option A and go about your day.' Eat lunch as if you have chosen option A, brush your teeth as if you have chosen option A, and see what kind of feedback you get as to your energy, how you're feeling, are you getting excited, is there some dread, are you like, 'Oh my gosh, I definitely do not want this thing.' And sometimes, even when I'm explaining to clients, like how they would go about this grokking process, they start to get little indicators of, 'Phew, okay, I'm actually not sure I want that one.' So, do option A for 24 hours, option B, 24 hours, option C, 24 hours. That's one way to kind of get past that analysis paralysis. Then, there's this philosopher Ruth Chang who talks about hard decisions, she studies hard decisions. And she says, 'There is no right answer in hard decisions. Hard decisions are hard, because one is better in some ways, and the other is better in other ways.' And so, the question that she says is, we need to turn inwards and ask ourselves, 'What can I commit to?' And so, again, it gives us that agency, instead of 'right answer, wrong answer', it's, can I commit to being the person who works at Company A? How does that feel? How does that align with my personality? We're kind of selling ourselves a story, because we, as humans, are meaning-making machines. So, I would really try to focus on, there is no right choice, I think that gives a lot of freedom, check in with the alignment of your framework that you have created, and then, do as much as possible to see if we can get out of just thinking about it in a brain way, and see if we can ask our body for some feedback.
Jeremy Cline 35:58
And I think that last point is really important, isn't it? Because I'm sure you've had people who approach this in the analytical way, they put it into spreadsheets, and they go through everything, and it comes up with the results, and they look at the results and actually feel slightly disappointed. You know, they've done the analysis, and on paper, it looks like the right choice, but somewhere inside them, somewhere in the gut, they're just not entirely happy that that's necessarily the right course of action.
Lindsay Gordon 36:28
Yeah. And that can be hard. And one thing I always tell clients is, even if you have a set of choices on the table, you don't have to take any of those. If you are really feeling that none of these are lighting me up, maybe I did a little bit too much of trying to get a job that other people thought I would want to have, or maybe I didn't do as much assessing in the interview, that is still fantastic information. And you get to choose anything you want, as long as you know why you are choosing it. So, you could say, 'I have these three jobs, I actually don't feel as good about them as I hoped. And yet, I am going to choose them because that is what I need at this phase in life. Financial stability is the most important thing to me. And that would get me into a really good place where I could maybe do a little bit more exploration.' You can absolutely choose that, if you are clear about the why. Or you could say, 'Wow, okay, I would love to have more options than this. And I would love to feel something more exciting about the choices that I'm making.' So, never feel like, 'I have to choose this thing because these are the options on the table.'
Jeremy Cline 37:43
So, Tom has made his choice, he's accepted one of the offers, he's started work, he's probably got a bit of a honeymoon period to begin with. But if my experience is anything to go by, there will be a period, probably in the first few months, where something happens, and it knocks your confidence, and it makes you think, 'I don't know if I made the wrong choice here.' You know, there's something. So, how long does Tom give it before making that kind of assessment about whether he has made the right choice or whether perhaps it was not best for him?
Lindsay Gordon 38:25
Timeline will be different for everybody. But the thing that I would have Tom do, because he did all that great work that helped us out in the job search, the great thing is, it becomes immediately applicable in the job too. So, when you start a brand-new job, you can start to be incredibly clear and intentional about, okay, how am I going to really prioritise my values in this role? How am I going to make sure my strengths are engaged? So, what I would first do is to look at what feels out of alignment. Because I think the hardest thing about that feeling is, 'Oh, gosh, I don't really know what it is, something feels bad.' And we automatically jump to, you know, maybe I've made the wrong decision. So, if we can start to get really clear about is it a values misalignment, is it a strength misalignment, is it an environment misalignment, and then what are the things that we can do to start doing some experiments, to shift things up. So, I want people to think in a really practical way of, okay, how can I learn about this, how can I get curious about what's out of alignment, before we jump to the major like, 'Oh, God, maybe I have to quit or maybe I made a terrible choice.' So, I always like to help people think about like a 1% trajectory change. So, let's imagine that growth is one of your biggest values, it starts to feel weird because you start feeling stagnant in your first six weeks or whatever it is. Start looking for, okay, now I know that growth is a little bit out of misalignment, I feel like I'm not growing as much as I would like to, how could I start to change that, if I wanted to make a 1% trajectory change? Because we're not trying to fix it all at once. We're not trying to get it to 100%. You know, sometimes we take on, like, how do you fix everything all at once? So, what are the smallest things that you could try to see if they make a difference? So, I want you to be in kind of brainstorming prototyping mode, instead of, 'Oh, my gosh, I've made a terrible decision overall, and maybe I need to quit.' So, that's kind of how I would keep applying that clarity about what's important to you to see what changes can we make, and what can we learn here.
Jeremy Cline 40:47
Brilliant. I love the framework, I can see that it's definitely going to be worth the revisiting the whole before where you identify your, skills, strengths and values and all that sort of stuff covered in the past, but I think that's possibly the topic to dust off again. Lindsay, this has been, I absolutely love your approach, it chimes with me perfectly. You mentioned quite a few resources. Are there any other books or tools, quotes or anything which you recommend that people take a look at?
Lindsay Gordon 41:19
Yeah, one of the things that I really enjoyed, when I first was getting started in business, and I love just giving this tip to people, if they're thinking about business in particular, is local councils. So, there was so much that helped me think about what I wanted to be doing, how to think about going into business. So, if there are free classes that your town or city puts on about business ownership, that's always a tip, if that's an interesting direction for you. And then, just another interesting kind of resource that I've really enjoyed is a book called The Soul of Money. And I think a lot of times, we think about what is money to us, and why do we make money, and what is our contribution to the world, how does money fit into that, and what I love about The Soul of Money is the idea that money can be an extension of your values. And so, when we're thinking about the jobs that we want to take, the work that we want to do, how salary plays into that, think about how money is an extension of your values, and I think it gives you a very different framework to, 'Oh, my gosh, should I just get a high-paying job? Oh, my gosh, should I just, you know, give up a lot of salary?' So, that's always been an interesting question for me of how does money get to be an extension of my values in the jobs that I choose to do.
Jeremy Cline 42:53
I'll look that up, because that's definitely something that people do get hung up a lot on, 'Oh, but I really like this as an area, but I've heard that it's really badly paid, and maybe I should just go for this thing, which I don't really enjoy, but is better paid and so on.'
Lindsay Gordon 43:10
Jeremy Cline 43:11
So, I'll look that up. And if people want to find you and get in touch with you, where should they go?
Lindsay Gordon 43:18
Yes, my website is alifeofoptions.com. Or if you're on LinkedIn, feel free to connect with me, I love connecting with people, and I share a lot of client stories, frameworks, way to think about job in a really practical and structured way. So, I would love to connect with you on there too.
Jeremy Cline 43:37
I'll put links to all of those in the show notes. Lindsay, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.
Lindsay Gordon 43:42
Thank you. It has been a pleasure.
Jeremy Cline 43:45
Okay, hope you enjoyed the interview with Lindsay Gordon of A Life of Options. Lindsay had loads of great tips about how you make sure that your own values align with the place that you want to go and work. But by far and away, the biggest takeaway for me is this realisation that it is a choice. A lot of people go to a job interview very much in the mindset that the balance of power is with the interviewer, with the employer. Our job is to do whatever we can to get the job to say what we think they want to hear. Lindsay's message is that the balance of power really is two-way. Yes, you want to give the potential employer evidence that you're the right person for the role. But equally, your job is to get evidence from them that the role is right for you. It's easy to get stuck in the mindset that they're the one doing you the favour by offering you the job and considering your application. But if you approach it from the mindset that you're interviewing them as much as they're interviewing you, then you stand a much better chance of finding somewhere where you will be happy. You'll find detailed show notes which summarise everything we talked about, have links to the resources that we've mentioned and include a full transcript of the interview, and you'll find them this week at changeworklife.com/115, that's changeworklife.com/115. And whilst you're there, please do check out changeworklife.com/support or click the Support tab at the top of the website. You'll find there all the ways that you can support the show, be it through leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or making a contribution to the costs of keeping the show going. Anything you can do will help, so please again, do check out changeworklife.com/support. Next week's interview, well, it's going to be a good one. I'm chatting with the man described as America's career coach. So, if you want some amazing value from that episode, make sure that you subscribe to the podcast if you haven't already, and I can't wait to see you in next week's episode. Cheers. Bye.
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