"Helen"* saw a job description for a big job at a non-profit organization and commented: "that's supposed to be even more dysfunctional than the place I work now!"
My response was in the form of a suggestion:
"If it's the kind of work that interests you and the kind of prestigious organization that appeals to you, see if you can get an interview.
An interview is really the only place you can get to know for yourself what an organization's culture is like. The first interview can give you a pretty good gut indicator.
Other people may find a place dysfunctional, and it may be the kind of dysfunction you thrive in. My theory is that most places are dysfunctional in some way, so part of the transition process is to find the one that maximizes my effectiveness and minimizes my dissatisfaction.
That's why the Must Have List is so important - it's the place you identify where and how and in what circumstances you are happiest and doing your best work. Going to an interview armed with that self-knowledge is very empowering - you now are interviewing them at the same time they are interviewing them. It changes the power dynamic from the get-go. Your consequent self-confidence will really help you recognize and then listen to your gut impressions and feelings.
It's also very empowering to go to many interviews, to "try on" various jobs and organizations so you're more and more certain of what fits and what doesn't. And when you find your "right fit," it all just falls into place. Thus, more interviews than less are highly desirable.
Our goal right now is to get you interviews, not to get you a job. That comes later. At this point, interview experience is our data base. Also, did you know we have a sort of brain in our gut? That's the one to start listening to. And that takes practice."
We'll see what she decides to do! As I like to say, more shall be revealed...
* changed to protect privacy