Here’s a topic that I feel that I am totally qualified to talk and advise you about: job satisfaction. Strangely though, it’s not because I am living proof that if you try hard enough, you can and will find that “dream job” that you really, really want. Rather, like most of the people you see around you who work in a job that they seem to be trapped in, I was one of those people for about 98.7% of my working career and you are probably one of them right now too. But wouldn’t be great to find a job that you love, that you really, really love?
The Work in the Process of Actually Finding “Work”
I guess they call it “work” because let’s face it, it usually isn’t fun, is it? But the process of actually looking for and finding a job is usually far from fun even if the job actually might be fun. I had more jobs then I’d care to relate to you in my career, but it doesn’t always have to go like that.
It makes me think this way: Looking for a job is a lot like finding a date online is today. It can be easy to go online and find some kind of a match for a first date, but then what happens after that is what really matters the most. Will that first date (or first interview) turn into a long-term relationship? Or is it going to be a bust that will make you regret any decision you made about it and you wind up starting over from square one?
Job searching is usually pretty hard work. That even becomes harder in an environment like the one we find ourselves in right now: high unemployment, decreased opportunities, and everyone you see around you looks like your competition for that “great job” you want and may love. But it’s not just a question of finding a job. It’s important to find the right job.
In the Beginning
When you start out looking for you first real job, of course you had your own ideas about what that job will have that you really want. Getting a job, any job may be some people’s idea of a goal, but not yours, is it?
You want a job that is a perfect fit for you now and for your future. A stepping stone for your career or the perfect place you can grow into and be comfortable with for the long haul. The last thing you want is that it turns out to be the wrong job and you’ll end up having to start a job search all over again.
If the position doesn’t work out, besides it being stressful, you’ll face the fact that you may be considered a job hopper if and when you actually decide to write your résumé and leave.
But here’s the shocking part. Job dissatisfaction and making a wrong decision about taking on a new job isn’t just a rookie mistake. If you don’t learn and understand what really needs to be done when looking for a new job, you will probably wind up like what happens when you wash your hair each time: wash, rinse, and repeat. If you are over 30, you have probably learned it by now.
I don’t have to tell you that job searching is time-consuming and difficult to do. What makes it worse is that when a job doesn’t work out or you end up quitting or getting fired, the job hunting then starts all over again.
Must-Do Behaviors to Find a Job That You Love
So like any other veteran of job hunting, I have a short list of must-do behaviors that I took a lifetime to learn that can help you find a job that you will really love!
Let’s rule a few things out from the start
For the purpose of this post, let’s make a basic assumption. You are not a gifted talented protégé of some sort: a concert pianist, a gifted painter, or a guy who can hit a baseball like Mike Trout. And so you won’t be automatically pursued by some mega corporation or other special group who will give you a job and pay you because you are that special! If you are, congratulations and just go on your way to being the fan favorite of the millions who will pay to see you do your thing. For all others, read on.
Must-do behavior #1: Know what you actually want
It’s not just finding a job; it’s finding the “right” job. Make sure that you’re actually looking for that. If you’re not certain about what you want to do, take some time and really think about it. There are even career quizzes you can find online that may help you decide. In the beginning stages of job seeking, especially with no experience, you may want to get career coaching or counseling to help get you on the right track. It might be the right investment that saves you time and money in the long run.
Try to match your special skills, experiences, and interests. At the very least, be willing to learn about those interests on the job if an employer is willing to train you in them.
Must-do behavior #2: Don’t put your salary first
Most people think that having a high income will be the thing that makes them happy in their jobs or at least it will make them happier. They’re not really correct about that and there have been studies done that prove it. I can tell you by my own experience, my favorite jobs were not the jobs that paid me the most! There is a little something called job satisfaction and rewards that money doesn’t always hit the bullseye on.
It may sound like a good logical idea that being well compensated will translate into a feeling of a general positive mood and wellbeing, but if you have never been there, then you know that is just an illusion.
Actually, studies show that people with above average incomes tend to be even more tense and do not spend more time in enjoyable activities.
While getting paid what you believe is your worth is important, don’t make it the most important part of your decision. Your economics should not determine what work you take. What is a 25% raise worth, if it means being stressed, frustrated, and unhappy for 40, 60, or even 80 hours a week?
Must-do behavior #3: You interview them as they interview you
It’s just as important for you to interview the company as it is for them to interview you. They expect you to answer their interview questions, so you should have your own set of interview questions that you are ready to ask them.
I learned to ask about the downside of any job and ask what the big challenges will be, rather than just concentrate on what the employer feels are the high points. The job is open for a reason and I wanted to find out why. You should too.
If you’re not 100% sure about a job offer and you haven’t met the team you’ll be working with, ask if you can meet your future boss and colleagues. Afterwards, ask for some time to consider any job and don’t just blurt out an acceptance at the interview. You need to take time to think it over.
Must-do behavior #4: Find out about their culture
The job may sound terrific, but then they always do, don’t they? Most important is this: Is the company culture a fit for you at this stage of your career? Is it too formal or too casual? How is the organization structured? Are there opportunities there for advancement? Spend some time reading what employees have to say about the company on sites like Glassdoor.com.
Take it a step further. Use your own connections on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other networking sites to discover whom you know in the company and what the company is saying about itself!
You can get real insight and information about any job. You may even have friends and contacts there that can provide you with information and/or a referral for a position. Most of all, don’t believe everything you read that an employer publishes about themselves, but use it as a guideline for asking the right questions when that opportunity arises.
A Couple More Points
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple more points that I learned the hard way over my career.
Make sure you always ask for what you want at the interview
It’s a lot easier to get what you want that way. Let them know that being happy at work matters to you, and tell them what it takes to get you to love the work. It’s true that asking for these things may mean not getting the job, and that’s precisely the point! If that job won’t make you happy, you probably don’t want it!
You can actually make a job great and one that you love
It’s up to you to find a good job, and then it’s up to you to make it a great job that you can love! You can sit around and wait for your co-workers and your manager to make you happy, but that probably means it will never happen. It’s up to you to make yourself happy at work and do something about it.
How can you make sure a new job is a good fit? Make sure that you actually want to work for this company in this new job.
Carefully evaluate any job offer before you accept. Will you be happy doing it? Will it boost your career? Will it give you the flexibility or work/life balance you need? Is the salary what you expected? If not, can you earn more if you prove yourself in the job? Are the employee benefits sufficient for your needs? How about the work schedule, the hours, and the travel, if required? Ask yourself all of these questions to find a job that you love.
If there’s anything about the job or the compensation package that is making you think twice, the time to act is before you accept the offer.
Of course, not all jobs work out perfectly even if you do all the right things. However, you’ll have a better chance of making a suitable match if you’re careful about every step of the job search process and you take the time to do due diligence before you say “yes” to any hiring manager.
Are you looking for a new job right now? If so, what are you doing to prepare for it? What is most important to you? What are you bringing to the table that an employer must have on their team?