Updated: Mar 30
What job is right for my next step in life? What career path am I actually going for? Is my job search setting me well for that? The nagging feeling that a job might not be for you is not necessarily a negative thing, provided you work on it. Instead of dwelling only on what you may be missing out on, assess what you have before you hand over that resignation.
Work isn't quite as simple as it was in the good old days. Your father might have chosen a field then stuck with it for 40 years. He probably had stayed at the same organisation during his working life. Now, things have changed beyond 'job for life' with people changing jobs at least 5-7 times during their lives. Some also change careers.
One of the key reasons for these transitions is 'accidental' career choice. After studies, most of us follow the expected path on autopilot mode and land that first job because of chance encounters, everyone's expectations, or personal connections. Our careers then evolve organically from thereon. As we progress, the paycheque begins to lose its lustre, and we start to introspect if we are in the right job.
With the average Indian spending 48 hours a week at work, stress and burnout have become common in the workplace. According to a 2020 report released by Gi Group India, 43 per cent of corporate India suffers from depression or anxiety disorder.
This statistic would significantly change if you were to get employment in a place where you aren't unhappy. It would be great to have a job that makes you feel great, but finding that, and realising when you have, isn't always easy.
If you're feeling bored or dissatisfied, it may be the job, or field, or You. Have you been in many jobs that don't feel right for you? Every job will have its share of frustrations and challenges. That doesn't necessarily imply you need to give up. But you do need to make an informed decision before taking a significant step.
You can start by asking these twenty-two questions to yourself to uncover whether the current job is the right one for you. Count the number of yeses after you finish. If you score a 14 or more, then your current job is the right one for you.
22 Questions to Ask Yourself before starting that Job Search
On Work and Workplace
1. Do you 'own' your work?
Do you stand by your actions at work- from the achievements to the mistakes? Are you proud of your hard work and the impact it makes on your co-workers and the organisation as a whole?
If you can't wait to put your stamp on every new project and see value in most of the things you do, then your work is a part of you. And you can't leave you.
2. Do you often find yourself going above and beyond your job description?
Do you put your hand up for extra work or ask your co-workers if you can help them with something? Do you often stretch beyond your comfort zone?
If the answers are in the affirmative, then you're not confined to the immediate job description and are motivated in your job.
3. Does your to-do list seem undaunting, and often interesting?
Do you look at your list of tasks and, at most times, want to get to work straight away? In some cases, you might feel the adrenaline rush as you think about starting the task.
Or do you start putting off the tasks on the list for as long as possible? If this is the case, it is evident that you are unhappy with your job.
4. Does time fly at work?
Do you work with an eye on the clock, or do you not even realise when it's past closing hours? Do you often skip lunch to finish the task at hand? If you are nodding to the latter question, then you enjoy your work.
5. Are you your best self at work?
If you're becoming a person unlike yourself- moody, snappy, unfriendly- and there's no other stress in life, then it may well be because you are dissatisfied with your job.
A job should challenge you and help you grow. It shouldn't make you miserable.
6. Are you engaged at work?
Disengagement is a pertinent sign that you're ready to move on. If you find yourself completing your tasks to the bare minimum without putting much thought into your work, it's a sign that you're not invested in your work. It could be that you need to move up within your organisation for more challenging work, or maybe you need a more significant change.
7. Can you overlook the bad days in office?
Most jobs are varied, so loving one part of the role isn't always enough. You may be passionate about writing, but find out that coming out with a book also involves approaching publication houses, writing query letters, and marketing yourself, which aren't your interest areas. Or you might like flexible timings but can't focus with distractions from home, and hence work from home jobs might not be your cup of tea.
There's no such thing as a perfect job. Every work has ups and downs. But despite the hard Monday mornings, if you invariably have a smile on your face when the afternoon rolls around, then you are on the right track. Overcoming the minor obstacles will actually make the job worth it for you.
8. Do other people praise you?
Praise from outside sources isn't everything, but regular praise from your co-workers, boss, or clients means that you're doing work that people see as 'your thing.' You have their trust and gratitude, and eventually, you'll have that promotion.
9. Do you like the people on your team and in your industry?
Are you comfortable bouncing off ideas with your team members? Do the water-cooler conversations with your colleagues make you feel that you fit in?
You are tempted to give your best when surrounded by like-minded people.
Further, if the camaraderie isn't just limited to the office, and you read industry blogs or feel energised while attending industry conferences, you are motivated by passion. And the career is the right one for you.
10. Do you want your manager's job?
If you're dissatisfied with your current responsibilities but envious of your manager's job, you're probably on the right career track. It means you are looking for upward growth in the same job; people in the wrong job tend to look opposite- the nearest exit door.
Don't let all the grunt work and menial tasks let you down in the above case. Lack of patience may lead you to abandon a promising career prematurely.
11. Do other people love the job?
Take a pause and look at your colleagues or peers at different companies in the same industry. Are they happy, progressing in their careers, and making money? If other people love the job, then the problem isn't with the organisation. Maybe it's you.
Are you taking things too personally? Are you taking every constructive criticism as a slight on your abilities? Do you expect great things to happen overnight? If so, then stop blaming the job and start working on yourself. Unless you do, you will feel the same way in your next job.
Your Actions Outside Work
12. Are you making voluntary personal sacrifices?
Are you giving up your family time, recreation, parties, dates, pretty much everything for the sake of your job? If so, why are you doing it? Assuming that you aren't in a toxic workplace where you'll be fired if you don't stay late, it means that you are invested. The job must be working for you at some level.
If you're prepared to work at night rather than binge-watch Netflix, then it shows that there must be something right in your job.
13. Are you able to afford the things you want?
Money isn't everything, but it matters. If you indeed are happy in your job, money usually isn't the reason, but it can be one reason you are unhappy. Does your job permit you to live the lifestyle you want, if not now, then at least in the foreseeable future? If not, then the job will not work for you.
14. Do you love talking about 'What Do You Do?'
Do you launch into a detailed explanation when people ask what you do? Or do you brush off the question? When you're in a career you enjoy, you will want to talk about it with the same indefatigable enthusiasm as some people talk about their favourite IPL team. Of course, I don't mean complaining here!
15. Do you tell other people they should work at your company?
This is a big one. If you constantly find yourself encouraging friends or contacts to apply at your company, then you should probably stay where you are- in your dream job!
Your Thoughts and Feelings
16. Do you not get the Sunday blues?
You wonder when your colleagues confide about spending their Sunday afternoons dreading going back to work on Monday when you have not experienced the same.
But if those pangs appear for you, week after week, it is a clear sign that you don't like your job. The next step is to introspect whether you dislike the specific work or don't fit in the entire field. Do you dislike the interactions with your supervisor, conflict with your co-workers, or the actual day-to-day work?
17. Do you wake up happy on weekdays?
Trust me- most people don't wake up energised and enthusiastic about going about their workdays. If you actually look forward to going to office, congratulations! You've done it!
18. Are you confident in your abilities?
When a problem comes across your desk, do you dive with enthusiasm? Or do you wonder if someone else is better equipped to handle the issue, or worse, pass the onus to someone else?
If you think that you are not the man or woman to do most of the jobs that the job calls for and have no urge to bridge the gap, you're in the wrong job. Conversely, if you do, then you will also push yourself to be better than yesterday.
19. Are you a little scared?
If you find yourself a little nervous and stressed at times, it is a good sign! It is a myth that you are always happy and comfortable in the job you love. Prolonged comfort is a precursor to boredom. If you don't feel somewhat nervous and anxious at work, then it is a sign that the job is not challenging enough for you or that you don't have enough passion for either the industry or company to make it work in the long run.
20. Have you felt the Imposter Syndrome at work?
Have you ever taken on a challenge at work and then started thinking if you are handling it well? Have you had the feeling of being in a situation over your head? At times, you would have felt not worthy of the praise and recognition that your colleagues heaped on you. If so, then it is a good sign.
Imposter Syndrome means that you care enough to achieve something, and you still have sufficient motivation to succeed. When you downplay your achievements, it means that you have something to brag about in the first place! When you set high goals for yourself, that means you care. It is not the imposter syndrome you have to fear but the indifference- the latter signals that you don't care about your job.
21. Does your work align with your values?
Early in your career, you have to take a job to eat and pay rent. The priority then is to take a job and build experience. This does not hold true five-six years into your career. Working long-term in a job that doesn't align with your values isn't sustainable; you are bound to feel disillusioned.
If you feel that your work isn't making an impact or want to do something more meaningful, it might be time for a job change.
22. Are you not daydreaming about going to live in the woods?
Do you think about starting a lucrative side hustle that will permit you not to work at all? Do you find yourself researching executive courses or visas to other countries?
Part of disliking your career choice is also abhorring the very thought of work. People who don't love their job don't just dream about finding a better one; they long for a life where there's no work at all.
If you're looking for indirect escape hatches and want to run away from all responsibility, it is time to start looking for another job.
Now that you have thought through these questions, what's the verdict? Are you in love with your job or working at the wrong place?
Remember, job satisfaction isn't as black and white as others make it out to be. Not many people in the world wake up happy each day and lavish praises on their organisation. You have to cut through the noise to assess whether you are investing your talents wisely. Take conscious steps rather than jump ship prematurely.
Not Sure About Your Next Step?
Did you figure that you are satisfied with your job but would like to get better at what you do? Or your nagging doubts about the current job just got confirmed, and you don't know WHAT career you would like. Find the right coach to help you figure out the answer.
Book a Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your career situation and clear a crystal-clear vision of your dream career. Take the first step to create a career you will love.