Top 10 Questions NOT to Ask Yourself in a Job SearchYou Might Not Like the Answers

I’m about to say something radical:

If you are searching for a new job, the #1 most dangerous thing you can do is ask yourself questions about your job search.

“What do you mean?” you may ask. “Are you crazy? All the job search guides tell me to answer questions like what my goals are and what my ideal job is. If I don’t ask myself questions, how will I get answers?”

The problem with asking yourself questions is that it is really difficult to have a conversation with yourself. Asking yourself job search questions will get you only the answers that you can generate yourself. Those answers are necessarily limited.

Your conversation might sound something like this: “What do I want to do next?  Oh, I don’t really want to think about that. I’m confused. The economy sucks.  Maybe I’ll never get a job again. I think I have to do the laundry. Wait, what was that question?”

Thankfully, there’s an alternative to this mind chatter: Have someone ELSE – someone you trust – ask you the important job search questions. You might be surprised at the clarity you achieve when you bounce ideas off another human being. That person might be a job search coach or a relative or a friend. It MUST be someone who listens extremely well and asks good questions.

10 Job Search Questions

Here are the top 10 questions to have someone ELSE ask you. Give this list to someone you trust and have him or her read it to you, one question at a time:

  1. What do you love about your current position (or last position)?
  2. What don’t you like about your current position (or last position)?
  3. What would be your ideal work schedule?
  4. Do you work best with people or alone? With a lot of supervision or little supervision?
  5. What size organization and corporate culture are the best matches for you?
  6. How much money do you want/need to make?
  7. Is there a job at your current company that you would want to do? And/or is there a way your current job could become your dream job?
  8. What’s your dream job?
  9. Who in your life can you talk to about what it’s like to do X job?
  10. What will you do to find out more about the day to day realities of X job?

It doesn’t hurt to begin by answering these questions on your own. You might have some success in generating useful answers. But whatever you do, don’t stop there. I guarantee you that some new thought or clarity will come from having a conversation about these questions with someone other than yourself.

If you have a conversation and have success, please report the results in the comments. I’d love to hear about your experiences!


  1. It is possible to apply this strategy to other things apart from job seeking! A similar list of questions can be devised when deciding about pursuing a relationship with someone, starting to write a book, devising strategies when raising teenagers…
    There are many varieties of situations where a list of questions like this, asked by another person, could weed out a number of hidden answers. Or answers you have the potential to make, but need to work on. Well done, Brenda!

  2. Good article. What you’ve done is set up a way to provide a critical assessment without the pitfalls of personal bias and preconcieved beliefs. It’s helpful because so many of us are unaware of just how often we torpedo our own efforts with credulous beliefs and incorrect assumptions. It’s why science has been built upon a core set of reasoning principles designed to eliminate bias and unfounded beliefs.

    I’m much more critical than average by personal choice. Critical thinking skills are easily learned, the hard part is accepting what you learn when you use them. Workarounds to critical thinking like this are valuable because they allow a way to get a more comprehensive and objective assessment done without having to educate about the entire process of critical thinking.

  3. Brenda,

    What a great way to reassess your needs and objectives – the whole process of job hunting (whether you are in a job or not) gets too clouded with emotion and other issues.

    Your list of well thought out questions provides a great brainstorming and analysis tool whether for use by a third party (or if you have to by yourself) and is a wonderful idea.

    Wish I’d had that when I was looking.

    Laine D.

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