How to find a fulfilling job: 6 considerations no matter where you are in your career
Whether you’re looking for a first job or considering a career change, finding the right role is all about understanding yourself and what you want to get out of it.
According to the career advice organization, 80,000 hours, the six key ingredients that lead to high job satisfaction include:
- Work that's engaging.
- Work that helps others.
- Work you're good at.
- Work with supportive colleagues.
- Work that is absent of things that make it unpleasant.
- Work that fits with the rest of your life.
I dug into these six ingredients that lead to job satisfaction and used them to create six tangible steps you can take in order to find a fulfilling job.
How to find a fulfilling job in 6 steps
1. Reflect on work you found genuinely engaging in the past.
An engaging job is one you find interesting and challenging on a day-to-day basis. It makes you think – you don’t just complete tasks and go through the motions.
To figure out what job would be fulfilling to you, reflect on and write down what you’ve liked and disliked about past roles, projects and assignments and use that information to inspire potential dream job ideas.
For example, I realized as a Driver Recruiter, I enjoy training new hires, helping people learn and while doing do, learning new things myself. Reflecting on the things I enjoyed about this job is what led me to apply for a role in Schneider’s Training and Development department.
2. Figure out what you’re good at and could be good at.
We all want to be good at what we do. Believing you can do well in a job is an important ingredient for motivation, and reaching your goals leads to a sense of fulfillment at your job.
How to determine what you're already good at
Think through and write down all the skills and talents you have, and then consider what you could be good at with a reasonable amount of effort and training. You can determine this by:
- Taking a strengths finder assessment. I recommend CliftonStrengths, VIA Survey and High5 Test.
- Asking your work leaders, colleagues, professors and/or classmates what they think you excel at work or in school.
- Reviewing your resume and/or LinkedIn profile to see what skills you have listed out about yourself.
How to figure out what you could be good at
Doing some experimentation may be necessary to figure out what job you could potentially be good at regarding a job.
In order to get a more complete idea of what a potential career path entails, I suggest:
- Speaking to people in that industry.
- Job shadowing.
- Signing up for an online course at a local tech school or university.
- Taking up a passion project during your free time.
3. Think about what type of work you would find meaningful.
According to 80,000 hours, people with the highest job satisfaction tend to do work that has a clear purpose and other people find valuable.
When trying to determine what kind of work would be fulfilling for you, I recommend:
- Exploring career options in industries you feel strongly about.
- Listing jobs you feel contribute to the greater good.
- Researching nonprofits that support causes you care about.
- Thinking through previous work and projects you’ve done that made you feel satisfied upon completion and considering how those could translate to a job.
For example, as a people-oriented person, I feel a sense of purpose when talking to drivers and seeing how excited they are when they are hired at Schneider. Whereas someone who likes analytic-type work may feel more fulfilled in a role that focuses on evaluating overall hiring data and trends.
4. Determine what type of work culture you would thrive in.
When it comes to finding jobs that are fulfilling, who you work with is almost as important as the job itself.
When determining what kind of work environment you would thrive in, think through things like:
- Would I rather work mainly by myself or with others?
- Would I prefer to work from home or in an office?
- What core values do I want my future employer to prioritize?
- Would I thrive more at a smaller company or a bigger one?
Once you figure out what kind of work culture you want, you can decide if the potential employer’s culture aligns with it during the interview. Some questions you should consider asking the interviewer include:
- How would you describe the work environment at the company?
- How do people here give and receive feedback?
- How often does the person in this role work with others?
- What kind of employee achievements does the company recognize?
- How important are the company’s core values to you as an associate?
5. Lay out your deal breakers.
Keeping a list of non-negotiables in the back of your mind will keep you on track when job searching and stop you from wasting your time pursuing positions that just aren’t a good fit.
According to 80,000 hours, some common negatives that cause people to feel unsatisfied in their careers include:
- Working long hours.
- Having a lengthy commute.
- Receiving unfair pay.
- Feeling a sense of job insecurity.
- Being asked to work in unsafe conditions
While jobs are rarely perfect, there’s nothing wrong with choosing not to apply for an opportunity if it includes one or more of your deal breakers.
6. Think through how the job will fit with the rest of your life.
Take a few minutes to reflect on what your typical day looks like and what’s most important to you. Would the job you’re thinking about applying for force you to change your lifestyle or would the job complement it?
If you’re having trouble deciding, start by thinking through the following questions:
- Will the salary allow me to provide for myself (and my family)?
- Will the hours/shift align with my (and my family’s) priorities?
- Does the company offer benefits that I find important – health care, a 401(k) with company match, paid time off, etc.
- Does the role provide the work location I am looking for – whether that’s working from home or from the office?
If the job is going to cause some major adjustments to your day-to-day life, I encourage you to go back to the previous steps and make sure the job aligns with everything else you’re looking for. If it does, the sacrifice may be worth it. If it doesn’t, it may not be the right job for you.
Need help finding a better work-life balance?
Learn how to maintain a healthy work-life balance after landing your dream job with these five tips from a Schneider HR director.
Justin Warax is a graduate of St Norbert College. He started with Schneider in 2020 as a Driver Recruiting Specialist. Justin is currently part of the Learning and Development team, working with Customer Service and Box Planning. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and exploring Wisconsin’s state parks, spending time with his pets and trying new restaurants in the Green Bay area.