Find a job you love

Careers expert John Lees talks to Psychologies about how to find, or create, a job you love. By Rebecca Alexander


Find a job you love

How would you define a ‘job you love’?

It’s the kind of job you would do even if you didn’t need to earn an income. If that seems too idealistic, in realistic terms, finding a job that strongly matches your skills, knowledge, personality and values makes all the difference between drudgery and engaged activity. It also helps to know that you don’t have to have a job you love 100 per cent of the time – about three and a half days a week will do the trick.

One of the hardest things about finding a job you love is identifying what will make us happy and what we’re good at. How can we work out where our talents and passions lie?

First, consider what skills you exercise at least occasionally where you do things well, and when you enjoy what you’re doing. These are your motivated skills, and if you can use 70 per cent of these skills 70 per cent of the time you’re on track for work satisfaction. The second important area is knowledge – not the stuff you learnt at school or college, but whatever you have chosen to learn about in your spare time – what do you enjoy reading, talking, enquiring about? When coaches talk mysteriously about ‘finding your passion’ they really mean a topic that you are happy to live and breathe seven days a week. If it’s a hobby or interest that appears to have nothing to do with the world of work, look at it tangentially.

What’s the ideal job hunting or career change mindset?

Learn how to handle rejection. No matter how brilliant your CV, statistically more people will say ‘no’ to you than ‘yes’. Without care, this will quickly affect your job search strategy and cause you to lower your sights and trash your goals. Learning how to bounce back means having supporters close at hand who can remind you what you’re good at and help you keep making connections. Don’t allow yourself to stay downbeat – put on good business clothes and go and see somebody for a face to face meeting at least once a week. And keep curious – the next great idea may be just around the corner.

What can we do if we’ve identified a career we think we’d love, but it requires a significant period of re-training (and possibly no income)?

Interestingly, retraining is usually one of the big reasons people put forward for not doing anything about career change, and yet in fact there are very few careers that absolutely require someone to begin with a particular qualification. Another problem with retraining is that it can mean you put off career decisions for a year or two before emerging with a new qualification, but little idea how to use it. Ask around – find out what on-the-job training opportunities might be available, and how others have moved into a sector without having the obvious pieces of paper.

Can we change our own attitude so that we can make more of the job we’re in? Absolutely. With many of my clients I suggest that they look at the downside – is it the role, the team, the organisation, or the line manager? Sometimes you can fix the issue that bothers you most, without having to look for a new job:

  • Focus on what is going well rather than what isn’t, and see how far you can nudge things towards the positive.
  • Conduct a quick audit of what you have done over the past 12 months, cataloguing your achievements.
  • Ask for a review meeting, and don’t go in with any kind of complaint but instead have a clear positive idea for how you can enjoy your job more and add more value.

John Lees is a career transition coach and working lives expert. He is author of How To Get A Job You’ll Love. Visit the johnleescareers website for a range of free tools and tips.

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