Do you really like your job? It’s a simple enough question, but many of us struggle to answer it.
Because, despite its simple sounding nature, this question forces us to assess a combination of different factors – from how we feel carrying out the day-to-day functions of our jobs, through to how we like being a part of our organisations, to how this position fits in with our overall career plans and goals.
If you’re not happy where you are, before you commit to a career transition, stop to assess the situation properly. Is it your job that doesn’t satisfy you, or is it the company that employs you? Because, sometimes, it’s not easy to tell the difference.
Here are four questions that will help you determine the best course of action:
1. What do you like about your current job?
Firstly, ask yourself what you like most about what your current position. List all your key responsibilities, and perhaps some of the big projects you’re a part of, and see what stands out to you the most.
If you have no trouble identifying one or multiple aspects of your job that gives you a sense of satisfaction, then this is probably a good indicator that you’re in the right career.
But if the favourite part of your job is the free health insurance, it might be time to make a career change.
Then think about the negative aspects of your role. What tasks do you hate doing? Are these less favourable aspects of your job due to your employer? Or are they something specific to your position?
2. What words best describe your surroundings at work?
Now, instead of focusing solely on what you do, it's also worth considering the environment you do it in.
When you think about your boss or colleagues, what are the first three words that come to mind?
Are mainly positive words popping up, such as "supportive" or "motivating" – or did negative adjectives tend to dominate the page, such as "abusive" or "untrustworthy"?
The environment in which you work can have a huge impact on your happiness levels, and on your career as a whole, so taking the time to evaluate what you really think about the people you work with and the overall culture or your company will help you identify what it is that’s leaving you feeling unfulfilled.
3. Describe your dream job or company
Identifying what you don’t like about your current job is a useful way to pinpoint what you’re missing out on, but you can’t focus purely on the negative; it’s also worthwhile highlighting the features you are looking for in a job.
If you could pick and choose, what type of organisation would you most like to work for? Perhaps they have a relaxed atmosphere, flexible hours and a casual dress code. Or maybe you're looking for something a little more structured.
If your current business seems to be close enough to what you are looking for, it could mean that your position does not quite meet your expectations, and it may be time to explore your options.
But if your current organisation and the one of your dreams are as different as day and night, it's not the job you hate, it's your employer.
4. Have you ever been satisfied at your job?
Whenever you’re feeling lost in your career, you can learn a lot by delving back into your past experiences at previous organisations.
Did you ever hold a similar position elsewhere – and did you enjoy it?
If you did, what made you decide to leave? Was it for a better salary, or more responsibility, or the possibility of learning new skills? Now answer: why did you join your current organisation? What were you hoping to achieve – and have you been able to achieve it?
When the position and the organisation are so intimately linked, it can be difficult to separate the two, but hopefully these four questions have provided you with some helpful insights into the changes you need to make, if any.