This year I began my first full-time job with the #1 job site in the world. Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about jobs a lot lately. I’ve learned that the average person spends 90,000 hours at work over the span of their lifetime, and yet more than half of Americans feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled with the job they currently have. That’s because employer’s naturally seek out a bigger bottom-line while today’s generation of employees want a job that’s worth more than just a paycheck. Many of us want a job that is able to combine passion, mission, and profession all in one. The last thing we want is to end up driven by the kind of compulsive workaholism that mistakes making a living for having a life. So how do we find fulfilling work out of college, how do we create more fulfillment in the job we already have, and how do we know when it’s time to transition to a new job?
In my search for a fulfilling career, I came across three core elements that I believe every aspiring professional should look for in their job search, and those elements are meaning, flow and freedom. If you can find a job that allows you to affect meaningful change, a job that you can become unselfconsciously absorbed in, and a job that gives you freedom to pursue your dreams without reverting to work for work’s sake, then ultimately you will achieve fulfillment in your job. The greatest thing about these core elements is that they can be worked on and developed. Don’t think your work is meaningful enough? Then make it meaningful. Figure out how you can make the biggest charitable impact with the least amount of money and then set aside $100 a week towards that cause. Don’t think you can achieve flow at work? Clear away all distractions and focus on tasks that lie somewhere between boredom and anxiety. Don’t think your work gives you enough freedom? Offer to help out with tasks that demand more creativity in the office while seeking out life-enhancing projects outside the office.
The point of a job is not to achieve some tension-less state, but rather to strive and struggle for some goal worthy of your time. We need to go boldly where most personality tests fail to take us, and explore exactly what kinds of fulfillment we wish to seek in our careers. Everyone’s got different priorities and it’s important to take a meticulous look at your own. Figure out what your career drivers are and what motivates you to get out of bed every morning. Are you driven by money and recognition or by the thought of doing work that is interesting and engaging? Would you be willing to sacrifice a relaxed schedule with a well-known company in exchange for a job with a network of friends and great leaders? To find the perfect job for you, start by ranking the career drivers below from 1 to 6. Your top drivers will help you decide which companies to interview with and which offers to take. Keep in mind that your career drivers can change over time along with your circumstances, and if your career drivers are now opposite of that when you started, it might be time to find a new job that excites and motivates you the way a job should. No matter where you are in your career path, you must ultimately remember that there is no such thing as a perfect job, just jobs that are better suited for you.
Once you know your career drivers it’s time to start searching for the right job for you.