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How to choose a job that will make you happy

Posted on 19/05/19
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Job satisfaction is an important part of executive recruitment in Jersey. Understanding what makes someone happy with a job can mean the difference between motivated employees and ones who want to leave.

There are many aspects of life we have no control over. The weather. The number of our favourite chocolates in a box of Quality Street. What Trump will tweet next.

But there are many more where we have a choice and can make an impact. For most of us, our careers are an area where we can choose what we do, and where we work.

There are, however, two fundamental things we can do if we want to be happy at work – choose a job that gives us a sense of control over what we do, and find a role where we’re doing something we’re good at.

Cognitive Neuroscience may not be the first thing you think about when you get ready for work, however, understanding how our brains work may help us get into a position where we jump out of bed, full of enthusiasm for the day ahead, rather than crawling into the shower, filled with dread.

Sense of Control

Having control over what you do is one path to happiness at work. If we’re doing a job where we lack autonomy, or are working to other’s whims, it can be hard to plan everyday tasks, let alone create or stick to a long-term strategy.

For full time employment, work takes up more than a third of our day for most of our lives. Feeling like we lack autonomy for such a significant period must mess with our sense of well being and make it difficult to feel happy.

A locus for control is the extent to which someone believes they have control over their lives (internal locus), versus those who believe their lives are controlled by external factors (external locus)

Studies by the psychologist Julian Rotter in the 1960s explored the issue. Rotter found that people with a strong internal locus are more likely to attribute success to hard work, while those with an external locus are more likely to attribute success to fate, or the actions of others.

In relation to careers, an internal locus is linked to a need for achievement, while an external locus may be linked to someone feeling more stressed or prone to depression.

Regardless of our natural locus, there are ways we can take more control over our careers, taking steps to achieve more control over the jobs we’re doing, or taking steps to move into a job that gives us the control we need to be happy in that role.

On a practical level, we can start by being more proactive– understanding that change is something we must engineer (internal) rather than something that will just happen (external). We can set goals that we can achieve, regardless of the goals a company sets for us, creating milestones of where we want to be in six months, a year, or even five years’ time.

We all need dreams, and if we’re realistic about our goals, and approach them in a sensible way, we can be confident that we have a good chance of making them a reality, and of making us happier in the process. It’s not always a question of finding your dream job, but of finding a job with the potential for you to make it your dream job.

Sense of Competence

Being good at your job is in many ways its own reward, however, being rewarded for being good at your job creates an even more significant sense of satisfaction about our roles.

A 2006 study by Castelli, Glaser, and Butterworth showed how the brain likes to measure competence.

In the world of work, rewards such as attaining targets, getting a pay rise, or having a good appraisal all serve as forms of measurement the brain can compute.

We’ve all been in work-environment situations where we feel like we’re not very good at something. That’s normal when we’re at the start of a new position, or where a system has changed and we’re still learning how to do something properly. However, if you’ve had all the training you’re going to get, have had time to get to grips with something, and still feel like you’re not acing it, you’re bound to feel frustrated.

Some tasks will always come easier to us, but if we keep trying, and don’t succeed, isn’t there a point where we’re better cutting our losses and focusing on something else, that will make us feel happier?

A study by the Mayo Clinic found that doctors who did work they found most meaningful for at least 20% of their time were less likely to experience burnout. While burnout can affect people on a personal level, damaging health and relationships, it can also lead to people afflicted being more cynical and performing less well in their roles.

We all have different talents and the world of employment is so diverse we should be able to find a career that allows us to do what we’re good at.

Even in Jersey, where the Finance Industry makes up a significant part of the Channel Island economy, there are ample executive and managerial roles beyond Finance, plus administrative, marketing, communications, and IT career opportunities related to the sector. The Channel Islands also have a thriving legal sector, with well-paid jobs for lawyers and support staff. While property and construction, maritime and aviation, health care, and government also all create opportunities for finding roles that make the most of all our talents.

No matter where you choose to work, or what role you decide to do, a good recruitment agency can advise on the best jobs out there for your skills, and help you position yourself to have the best chance of finding a role that makes the most of what you’re good at.

At Kendrick Rose we’re passionate about what we do … and our many satisfied clients and candidates are testimony to us being good at it too. If you’re looking for help finding a new job in Jersey that allows you to make the most of your talents, please get in touch for a confidential chat.

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