I wrote this post on how to find a job you like back in 2017, but felt the need to update it now. Here we go.
Since I started working on Repurpose Your Purpose, I heard from many people who are stuck in jobs they don't like and cannot find a different position that will fulfill them, both intellectually and financially. Does it sound familiar? Do you keep finding jobs that expect you to know everything without offering any training, positions that are woefully underpaid, or companies that require you to work over 50 hours a week? Or maybe you are stuck in a job that makes you feel a bit more unhappy every day, but try as hard as you might, you cannot find anything better.
People have been offering all sorts of reasons for this: not enough people have the STEM skills required by the modern workplace, millennials want too much and feel entitled, robots are taking over and making professions obsolete, too many people have college degrees and now you need a Master's degree to get a good job, university programs are outdated, nowadays we have a global pandemic, and on and on and on.
Some of these reasons might apply more than others to your specific situation, but they are not why your job sucks.
It's so hard to find a job you like because we live in a society that encourages us to think only about ourselves. In other words, some people are starting companies and creating jobs so that they individually can make lots of money, and damn everyone else. Can I outsource my IT to another country and pay less? Check. Can I pay minimum wage even though I know it is not enough for someone to have a decent life? Check. Can I pay my top managers $200K+, but refuse to offer health insurance to lower level employees? Check. Can I start my own business and use unpaid interns to get it going? Check. Can I make lots of money while my team is unhappy and quitting often - but I get to keep my job? Check. Can I disrupt an entire industry, offer high salaries to the small group of people helping me disrupt it, and leave thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people without pay? Check.
This is why you don't have a job you like. You cannot find it, because it is completely acceptable, and in some circles encouraged, for companies to not prioritize whether you like your job, make enough money to live off your salary, get to spend time with your kids, or feel safe. Some even play the game of pitting some workers against each other, see the recent controversy about childless employees working more than coworkers with kids, while getting paid the same as before. Such an arrangement destroys goodwill, instead of creating a shared sense of purpose and solidarity. What would it be like to work for a company that respected individual differences, balanced the needs and wants of many, collectively created solutions that value life outside of work, and fostered a shared sense of purpose?
Change Starts from Within
The hardest part of all this is looking in the mirror. Companies are run by people...people just like you and me. Often job seekers get very bitter by the lack of support they receive and fall into the same mentality: what's in it for me?
Unfortunately, that's the absolute wrong mindset to change careers - the exact same mindset that prevents you from being fulfilled at work. Look in the mirror: why are you reading this blog? Are you looking for a quick way to make six figures? Are you looking for tips on how to work only 4 hours a week, while you pay someone as little as you can to do the work? Are you constantly thinking about how you can get paid more without also thinking of how you can deliver more value? If you cannot find a job you like, and all you do is worry about yourself, it's time to stop and consider you are not so different after all from those companies and bosses you love to hate... If you complain about how much you get paid without understanding or worrying about your colleagues' pay or your company's needs, you are playing the same game.
How to Find a Job You Like
Do you really want to Repurpose Your Purpose and find a career you love? Find what you love to do AND how you can serve others, look into what business you'd like to run AND how it would contribute to your community, find ways to be appreciated and financially rewarded for your hard work AND start paying others what they are worth, look for a job to take care of yourself AND contribute to your new workplace.
The more we get down and negative, focusing on what we are not getting, and how other people are not supportive, the more we end up closing up and defaulting to a similar attitude. The good news is that many people are starting companies and creating jobs to help their communities, do good, and offer fulfillment to their employees. Just tonight, as I am writing this post, I talked to a friend of mine who got a new job. I checked in to see how it was going, and she told me she loves her new position because the entire company values work life balance. She stayed a few minutes after 6 pm, and her boss stopped by to ask her if she had been given too much to do - he was worried she was not taking care of herself and going home at a decent time! There are many companies and bosses who are caring, generous, and out to make a difference. They create non-profits, for profits, socially responsible organizations, tech companies, they lead teams within corporations, they are everywhere. They understand that having a team that is happy is better for business, they get that business doesn't have to be only about profit, it can be about profits AND doing good, they value our human experience and life outside work. And these companies are hiring as well as the soul sucking ones. But here's the catch: the good companies are looking for a good fit, someone who has a bigger sense of purpose, and will contribute to their caring culture. Could you fit in?
Gandhi is reported to have said* "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." This is probably one of the most shared and famous quotes of all times, and yet I think lots of us got so used to hearing it, we forgot what it means. It means that you first have to embody the change you want to see, instead of waiting for it to come from the outside. If you want to live in a world where you are appreciated and taken care of at work, you have to start by appreciating and taking care of those who work or might work with you, including your boss. I know it's tough out there, and I know that if you are reading this blog you probably feel unfulfilled, and might be experiencing low self esteem, or a sense of hopelessness. But there is a way out: it goes through both what you need and what the world needs. The journey starts with opening yourself up to caring for more than yourself: do you want to have a small business? Start shopping at small businesses. Do you want to lead a team? Start helping your neighbors, or your current team. Do you want to get a job at a company that takes care of its employees? Start thinking about how you could contribute to that caring culture. Are you already in a position of leadership? Use your power to create a culture of caring at work.
This doesn't mean not caring for your own needs, on the contrary: your own needs are the starting point for expanding into a felt sense of compassion, interconnection, and Purpose.
The world is changing, and we are all called to collectively shift from an individualistic to a more community oriented view of life. Ask yourself: What world do you want to live in? Start building a world that works for you and others, that's what is going to help you find a job that is fulfilling and aligned with your purpose.
*This quote is often mistakenly attributed to Gandhi. In reality, its exact origin is unclear, but it does sum up correctly some of Gandhi's philosophy.