Discover more from Thinking Through
How to Find the Job You L❤️ve
(5 Min Read) "If you find a job you love, you'll never work again" - Winston Churchill
It's not news that so many people dislike their current job. We all know it intuitively. But if you look at surveys, you see number ranging between 50-95% of working populating dislikes their job. So that's the problem, what's the solution?
The obvious but not the easiest solution is to switch jobs. It is the solution that most people choose. The biggest problem with this solution is how to ensure we avoid running into the same or similar problems in the new job? Because that is the worst-case scenario.
To ensure that we don't run into the same issues in the new job, we need to identify why we are unsatisfied with the current job. While everyone has their own reasons, here are the top reasons why people say they are unsatisfied with their jobs.
I agree and to be honest, I have made a job switch for the above reasons as well.
Unfortunately for me, during one of my transitions, I landed in a place with similar issues as my previous job. And that was depressing. I vouched not to make that same mistake again.
Fortunately, I have a great circle of mentors. When I asked my mentors this question on "How to Land the job I Love?" I got so much great advice that I feel it would be a crime not to share. Sharing verbatim advice without context is useless. So I am sharing some principles that I've derived from the advice:
Direction: Don't run away from something, instead run towards something.
Optimize for Happiness: Find what you like and don't like about your current job. Then try hard to make sure you keep the things you like in the next job and avoid the things you don't like. Keep on repeating this with every transition.
Reflection: Be on the lookout for the signal when you stop learning. Reflect every six months, and if you haven't learned anything new that progresses you towards your career goal, time to start looking.
The last two are sub-parts of the first principle, but I like to keep them separate as they have small subtilities. Let's look at each one and break down what they encompass.
The following is the best piece of advice I've ever received, and surprisingly it applies to other endeavors in our life as well.
Don't run away from something, instead run towards something.
Many engineers get frustrated with their current role, so much so that they want to get out ASAP. The result is the flight response, i.e., running away from something.
While that is an acceptable response, we don't realize that in the workplace, we usually have time to choose where we want to go. And that’s what we should do. Pause, think, and move towards something.
For example, imagine a thief is chasing you. You start running, but you keep on turning your head to see how far the thief is. You turn the corner and run into a closed alley. Same scenario, but instead of looking back at the thief, you are looking for the crowded open areas with many people. In the latter case, you are running towards something vs. running away from something,
The same is true for the next job. Run towards a job that you want, i.e., run towards a company whose:
Mission aligns with your value
Has excellent reviews about management
Cares about diversity and inclusion
Is building tech that you want to work for
Is known to pay above market
In short, run towards something you care about. It's way better than running away from the company whole mission doesn’t align with you, has bad management, or doesn't pay well.
Optimize for Happiness 🥰
Every role has aspects that we like and dislike. Increasing the things we like and decreasing the things we dislike collectively contribute to our Happiness. And that's what we should optimize for.
When looking for a new job, we have an opportunity to drop things we dislike and keep things we like. Making a list of such things is always helpful.
For example, in a software engineering role, an engineer may like
Working and mentored by senior engineers
Working on a specific technology
The paid-time-off (PTO) policy
In the same role, the engineer may dislike:
Reporting to the non-technical manager
The bureaucracy of a large organization
On-call load on the team
Looking at the above list, know we know what we should optimize. While not fool-proof, the chances of landing a job that where we optimize for our happiness are higher. It also overlaps with the direction principle, i.e., running towards happiness.
We all want to grow, and when growth stalls, we feel dissatisfied. If that feeling prolongs for more than six months, it's time to start looking.
But the most challenging part about being in engineering organizations is that learning is happening all around. We need to be more specific. If we are not learning things that are progressing us towards our career goals, that learning doesn't count.
For example, if you want to be a published author, but you learn about cooking, unless you want to be an author of a cooking book, it's rather useless in that context.
Similarly, if you want to be a frontend or a mobile developer but you are learning about databases, yes, it's useful, but it doesn't move you closer to your career goal. And if it's happening for over six months and your manager does not have a growth plan, it's time to find a new position.
The reason I pick six months is that all of my previous employers had six months performance cycle. Writing a self-evaluation during that cycle gives me a good time to reflect on things I've accomplished and has moved closer to my career goal. (If you are interested in how I think about writing self-reflection, I have written a tweet thread about it here)
The next step:
Once you have gone through the above process and realized that it's time to find a new job, take a pause.
A new job does not necessarily mean outside of your current employer. Often there are excellent opportunities within the current organization that may be the perfect fit for you. Explore them.
How to find such opportunities within an organization is another whole post. Subscribe to get that delivered to your inbox.
But if you decide to look outside the organization, then you need to prepare for the interviews. In the last few weeks, I’ve written a couple of posts about interviewing. Do check them out
I hope you find this post interesting. As always, would love to discuss it in the comments.
Subscribe to this Free Newsletter
A free subscription gets you:
🎉 📰 Every new issue of this newsletter is delivered right to the inbox.
🔖 😲 Free access to previous posts is soon to be moved behind a paywall.
🏆 😊 Top posts that made it to the front page of hacker news with comment thread.